Astroman 5.11c

 
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Washington Column


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Astroman Dreamin
Thursday May 15, 2014 1:11pm
For the last several months I had an obsession with Astroman. I was unable to go a day without talking to someone about it. I tried to put extra hours in training, eat fewer burritos and thought about the logistics a little too much. The plan was to train hard and attempt it in the late September. Fortunately, my mind did not let me. I could not stop thinking about the damn thing. It seemed like the perfect challenge that haunted me since December 8th 2012. According to mountainproject that was the day my friend Tom dragged me up the Enduro Corner. Back than it seemed like an impossible pitch. Watching him go for it and send it was one of the most incredible things I have witnessed. 5.11c crack, I was stunned. When it was my turn to follow, I had trouble getting to the rest stance third of the way up. From there I hung every five feet or so. That pitch is just one of the many cruxes that make up Astroman. I thought it will be beyond my reach for eternity – a dream. It was for people like Tom, crushers that been climbing for years. I thought if I get stronger, someone could drag me up it one day, if I am lucky. Maybe. Maybe not.

Astroman is a STEEP climb!
Astroman is a STEEP climb!
Credit: Vitaliy M.


Washington Column. Overhanging Enduro corner and the line of ascent is just right of center


Me leading the Enduro Corner


Cristiano on the pitch prior to Enduro Corner

Time trickled by. Days spent cragging at the Cookie Cliff gave birth to improved crack climbing skills and decreased fear of falling. Climbing big walls made me realize that if I am unable to do a crux, in the worst case I can French-free it. That led to an attempt of The Rostrum. Hamik and I climbed it in October 2013. I surprised myself and had only two hangs. In January 2014, I came back with Gleb and did it clean, without falls, leading my first 5.11c in the process. Maybe it is a soft 11c, but whatever, no one gave me extra credit for sand-bags I ticked.


Cristiano following the 5th pitch


Cristiano on top of the Enduro Corner. An awesome ledge.


Cristiano leading the 6th pitch

Astroman seemed like a big step up. Compared to the Rostrum’s eight pitches, Astroman has twelve. Rostrum involves no commitment, it can be rapelled from any point. After the first seven pitches one would have to leave gear if they decided to bail from Astroman. The difficulties are more sustained and as a nice kick in the balls the last pitch is a “5.10d R.” Since routes on Middle Cathedral, Arch Rock and The Rostrum were closed for peregrine nesting, Gleb and I decided to get our feet wet and try the bottom half in the late winter. “Astro-boy” worked the hell out of us. We hung more than I would want to admit. On that day my muscles cramped by pitch five. Getting my ass kicked was a great motivation to get in a better shape and work harder. In addition to training, I took two week-long trips to Red Rocks which helped my confidence and fitness. Before attempting Astroman I wanted to believe I could lead the last pitch (5.10d/b R). For me, it was probably the most intimidating pitch of the route. I knew by the time I am there I would be tired, and would not be able to pull through the crux, since it is about 20feet above your pro. Many of my stronger partners told me it is scary and not at all trivial. Some even slipped or fell following it. I was told many teams hike to the top to top rope it, hang a fixed rope with loops they can clip for pro while leading, or ask the stronger team ahead to fix their tag line. Part of me thought it was a good idea. But I knew it would not be the same perfect challenge and experience would be changed if I took the required fear out of it. When Cristiano and I decided to attempt the route, both of us were nervous about this pitch and decided to rock, paper, scissors for it when we get there. Neither of us wanted to endure a sleep-less night, even though both of us did anyway.



Cristiano on the Harding Slot


Shane having a good day


Guy named Chase climbing up the 6th pitch while Cris is leading the Harding slot


Aside from length of the experience and the crowds, anticipation before attempting the Astroman to the top reminded me of losing virginity. You are way too nervous prior and feel like a changed person when you are done. We started the hike early enough to be the first in line. I linked the first two pitches, a 5.8 and a 5.10 lay-back. Since it was our first trip up the route we decided to skip the “boulder problem” and Cristiano led the 5.10 variation that seems like a natural way to approach the Enduro Corner. This pitch was my lead, and I was not psyched about it being all in the sun, but surprised myself by leading it clean - without hanging or falling! Higher up I noticed a wall climber on Ten Days After (V 5.8 A2+) and at some point realized it was my friend Shane! We got into mountaineering in 2010 and climbed our first multi pitch rock climbs in Yosemite together (snake dike and munginella). Just about a year and a half after we started mountaineering we climbed Mt. Denali and followed it up by Liberty Ridge on Rainier. It was awesome to see Shane again and I made sure to take a load of photos of him.


My friend Shane soloing Ten Days After (V 5.8 A2+)


Cris leading the 7th. Cruxy start.


Yay, we got a smile!

I led the following 5.9 pitch and Cristiano took the block of next three pitches (5.10, the mega classic Harding Slot 11c and another 5.10). First up was an awesome hand crack with a crux getting into the wide pod. Cool stemming and crack climbing took us below the Harding slot – an overhanging squeeze chimney with a difficult entrance. Cristiano had some trouble getting into it but made relatively fast progress moving up to the belay. On the other hand, I almost got the entrance clean, but hung on the rope once after messing up my footwork after I got to the “jugs.” I got back to the stance and climbed the entrance clean without much trouble. However, moving up through the slot seemed like a Chinese torture. In comparison, the Narrows (Steck Salathe) feel like a stemming corner. By the time I was mid way up the monster the team behind us caught up and was enjoying a good day on their belay ledge. Every time they laughed I wanted to cut someone’s throat. Moving 0.05 inchest per 500 calories worth of effort was a frustrating.


Incredible views


Mark and Brett, two crushers from Canada. Loking down at brad while she onsights the harding slot


Cris following the changing corners pitch

After what seemed like an eternity I got to the belay ledge. Cristiano led the following 5.10 pitch, which seemed fairly hard. I had terrible cramps in my fingers and forearms while following it. The little coward in me thought of giving up the “Changing Corners” (5.11b) pitch. Glad I did not. It turned out to be one of the best pitches on the route and despite intermittent cramping I was lucky to lead it clean. Part way up there is a spot when climbing in the corner gets too difficult to continue. I tried to figure out the move, but than realized I step over the arête onto crimpy face instead. Incredible edging led up to another finger crack in the corner. At times I get blown away by the pitches nature (or pin scars) creates. Cristiano led the next 5.10 pitch and a short 5.8 traverse to a big ledge at the base of the final obstacle. Since it was technically my turn to lead I didn’t let myself think much and racked up.


Mark pulling hard on Changing Corners


Cris stopped to pose while leading the short traverse (pitch 11)


Looking down at another perfect crack (Pitch 10)


Bratt crushing pitch 10

The 10d R climbing wasn’t too scary but at one point your upper piece of protection is a head. If you fall, and it blows, you will land on the ledge. I heard people use the piton as a nice foothold, but avoided the temptation. I was able to find adequate protection in a crack to the left. Yellow and Orange metolious cams seemed solid. I got to the big dagger and was able to get a few cams in it also. People advertise it as an expando flake, but it seemed like one of those cams would hold a fall. In any case when I attempted the next set of runout moves I got to a good crimp but my hand started to cramp. I shook it off but wasted too much energy to feel solid for the 10b crux 20ft up from my pro. Carefully I down-climbed back to the stance below my pro and ask Cristiano for a take. I wanted to massage the cramping out and since I hung on the Harding Slot I did not feel too bad about it. On the next attempt I was able to commit and do the moves to a roof where I placed some Thank God pro. I took a step left and climbed straight over the roof. Another 40 feet and I tied the large Pine tree from which we unroped and scrambled to the summit.


Awesome ledge before the last pitch of the climb


Me starting up the 5.10d R pitch


"We are on top of the world" pose


"We are super serious" pose

We laughed, enjoyed the warm rays of sun and took in the breath taking views from the top. It honestly felt like a special moment. Team that climbed behind us joined us for glory shots and the descent. This was my favorite free climb of my life, and one of my favorite days on the rock. Greatest thing about it was that I worked my ass off, kicked ass, got my ass kicked, overcame my fear and received a lot more motivation to come back stronger. Even though I can’t claim a true send of the Astroman, I feel like I send the fight against my fears and insecurities, which is probably more important than a “RP” tick for the record. The ascent was not ideal. While both of us did the route clean, neither of us did it all without hangs. Personally, I had two. There are harder variations that we skipped, like the boulder problem on pitch three. All these things will motivate me to eat less burritos, make fewer trips to Yogurtland, skip a few more birthday parties, do less spraying on the internet and as a substitute do more training before I come back for another round.


View of Half Dome from the top


North Dome. Next time we are linking Astroman to West Face of El Cap and than to Crest Jewel.....not!


We were stoked and took a lot of silly shots!!

PS: Totally joking about less spraying and fewer trips to Yogurtland! : )




-ALMOSTMAN

  Trip Report Views: 3,115
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
W.L.

climber
Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
  May 15, 2014 - 01:22pm PT
Solid work brother, good shit! Great read about your personal journey with that route. If yer in The Meadows next weekend I'll be around...best of luck this weekend, I know you'll crush.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  May 15, 2014 - 01:33pm PT
Great stuff V!! Lots of good shots too!


What an all time climb, I gotta get up there someday. Thanks for the psyche!!!!!


Those were some friends from Squamish behind you, crushers for sure!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  May 15, 2014 - 02:02pm PT
This TR well deserves a bump. Well done in every aspect -- climb, story and photos. Thanks much.

John
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 15, 2014 - 02:19pm PT
Nice V,
Way to send it, you'll be back!!!
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  May 15, 2014 - 02:21pm PT
Nice job guys! Stronger and stronger...keep it up!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 15, 2014 - 02:38pm PT
Great job on an irresistible classic!
Thanks for sharing.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  May 15, 2014 - 03:11pm PT
great shots!
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  May 15, 2014 - 03:16pm PT
The vittles just keeps movin' on up in life! Great job dude.
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  May 15, 2014 - 04:11pm PT
YAAAA DUDE!!! Maybe next time you won't hang. How's that sound?
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  May 15, 2014 - 04:52pm PT
Whew! Taking a breather from the dark side of this site. Question V. How much water are you taking per person up this thing? I've heard rumors.....
Sabirila

Trad climber
Sunnyvale, CA
  May 15, 2014 - 04:59pm PT
Astro-lopithecus are sending. --Cristiano
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  May 15, 2014 - 05:07pm PT
How much water are you taking per person up this thing?

That's based on temperature and skills. On the day we did it we hauled our back pack with a tag line. We had our shoes, water, food, and extra clothing in the haul bag. We brought 3L and it seemed just right. It wasn't a super hot day. Maybe temps in mid 60s?

Guys behind us were SUPER crushers and they brought 0.5 L each and had najority of their water when they got to the upper pitches. I was impressed. Their day was shorter but still. The difference is for them it wasn't too much. For us it was climbing at our limit pitch after pitch. For them it was probably something like climbing the Nutcracker or Central Pillar of Frenzy for me. Different people have a different strategy here. I think strategy is a good thing if you are planning to push yourself up there.
WBraun

climber
  May 15, 2014 - 05:15pm PT
I was told many teams hike to the top to top rope it, hang a fixed rope with loops they can clip for pro while leading, or ask the stronger team ahead to fix their tag line.


Wow I never knew people did this.

But that will work and is a better option then falling and breaking both legs up there.

Good job guys with your climb.

Astroman is one of the premier very clean free rock climbs in the world ......
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
  May 15, 2014 - 06:06pm PT
Vitaly - huge congratulations to you both!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  May 15, 2014 - 06:17pm PT
Sweeeet!

Have the very best of adventures on the Salathe if you're up there this weekend, V!
lucander

Trad climber
Shawangunks, New York
  May 15, 2014 - 06:59pm PT
Vitaly continues to be a reason to sign in to the Taco. I almost never climb with strangers these days, but would make an exception for this guy. Great write up, the kind that makes my palms moist when reading.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  May 15, 2014 - 08:27pm PT
Great TR for one of the finest crack climbs on earth!

After one false start when I tried to suck a 16 year-old Hugh Herr through an anchor carbiner after I pumped out trying to sling a broken fixed bong and fell just short of the rest on the Enduro Corner, we sent it in six hours hauling a small pack once the route went into the afternoon shade.

One of my finest days of climbing. Being a Gunkie, Hugh lead the Harding Slot with only three chimney pitches of ANY grade under his belt! He ground his kneecaps up pretty good but kept going anyhow.

Superb climb with more hand jams than you can believe!

More of the Sweetness here:

http://www.supertopo.com/forumsearch.php?ftr=Werner+and+Ron+do+astroman
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
  May 15, 2014 - 09:13pm PT
Awesome TR. Felt like I was there.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  May 15, 2014 - 09:22pm PT
Sweet!
TFPU
Tad
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  May 15, 2014 - 09:27pm PT
So stoked . . . thanks.
I'm Rick James, Bitch

Social climber
Up in it and down on it
  May 15, 2014 - 10:53pm PT
Super duper TR!!!!! You guys are rad bitches!!!!!!

CIRJB%%44433300:0
The Chief

climber
Laughing at all the Sheep
  May 15, 2014 - 10:56pm PT
Now that is Badass VM.



You've come a long way and are now kicking some royal ass.



Keep it up.... Kid!
Marshall

climber
bay area
  May 15, 2014 - 11:00pm PT

Inspiring!! thanks for the great TR, and congrats on the send.
philo

Trad climber
Is that the light at the end of the tunnel or a tr
  May 15, 2014 - 11:01pm PT
Fabulous Vitally your stoke is incredible.

anticipation before attempting the Astroman to the top reminded me of losing virginity
Too funny.
harryhotdog

Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  May 15, 2014 - 11:25pm PT
It's great to watch your progression in climbing. Your climbing so much it's like you've crammed in 10 years experience in 2 years compared to an average climber. So happy for you on this one, great trip report and photos too. Can't wait for your next adventure. Please make your way up to Squamish eventually as there are many of us that would love to show you around. Cheers
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  May 16, 2014 - 12:18am PT
Really this time I'm serious THE BEST TRIP REPORT EVER

I worked my ass off, kicked ass, got my ass kicked,
That says it for me. I liked the honesty and analysis w.r.t hanging and clean, but the photos were great. What did you use for a camera, or should I read the above posts?
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  May 16, 2014 - 12:40am PT
Nice job and a super write up as usual.
nopantsben

climber
  May 16, 2014 - 06:58am PT
great tr, thanks.
that is a fine route...
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
  May 16, 2014 - 09:41am PT
nice work man you killing it!!
Bad Climber

climber
  May 16, 2014 - 10:30am PT
Vitaly, you are one of the treasures of Supertopo! Thanks again for inspiring us all to try harder.

Loved the TR, but my vote for top TR--about Astrohuman, anyway--is the one by that young woman some time ago. I'm sure many of you remember it.

Keep crushing, Vitaly and friends.

BAd
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  May 16, 2014 - 10:55am PT
fantastic man. its days like these keep us all coming back eh? thanks for sharing.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  May 16, 2014 - 11:16am PT
Nice work V and Christiano! Very cool to see Mark and Brett in action. I was wondering who took those top out photos for them! :)

Astroman was probably an average day for them but the descent seemed like the crux since they didn't make it back to c4 until well after dark! One of their sitemates almost called yosar but i told her they'd be ok... Lol
E Robinson

climber
Salinas, CA
  May 16, 2014 - 11:49am PT
What a classic...good read and photos...put the corner on Powerpont next on your hit list...it"s like a wide version of the Enduro Corner.
Chief

climber
The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
  May 16, 2014 - 12:30pm PT
Nice work!
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  May 16, 2014 - 12:49pm PT
RE ^^
Does anyone have any photos of Power Point? I was unable to dig up any by searching. The network ubiquitous name makes searching for it a little more difficult.
JohnnyG

climber
  May 16, 2014 - 01:09pm PT
nice write up and good job
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  May 16, 2014 - 02:01pm PT
It's just amazing how many experiences folks have had on this climb over the years. What struck me looking at the photos is the climb is just the same as my memories some 30 years ago. How many folks have had the time of their lives on the exact same moves. Astroman is the ultimate Disneyland ride Three cheers for the FA Team!
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  May 16, 2014 - 02:03pm PT
We laughed, enjoyed the warm rays of sun and took in the breath taking views from the top. It honestly felt like a special moment. Team that climbed behind us joined us for glory shots and the descent. This was my favorite free climb of my life, and one of my favorite days on the rock. Greatest thing about it was that I worked my ass off, kicked ass, got my ass kicked, overcame my fear and received a lot more motivation to come back stronger. Even though I can’t claim a true send of the Astroman, I feel like I send the fight against my fears and insecurities, which is probably more important than a “RP” tick for the record. The ascent was not ideal. While both of us did the route clean, neither of us did it all without hangs. Personally, I had two. There are harder variations that we skipped, like the boulder problem on pitch three. All these things will motivate me to eat less burritos, make fewer trips to Yogurtland, skip a few more birthday parties, do less spraying on the internet and as a substitute do more training before I come back for another round.

F*#king awesome and inspirational. Thanks for always posting amazing TRs.

~peace
Michelle

Social climber
1187 Hunterwasser
  May 16, 2014 - 02:38pm PT
Another great tr!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  May 16, 2014 - 03:32pm PT
First time through read the words carefully. Second time through scoured the pictures. F'n loved it both times.

Me and a friend have unintentionally been following in your footsteps around the Valley this season:

1) a second go on Beyond Lunacy,
2) East Butt of Lower Cathedral Rock
3) Windfall to Wind Chill

I don't think we're going to follow you up this one, though.

Respect, Vitaliy, and well done!

Edit: Up on the Salathe this weekend? Astroman and Salathe in succession - two of the most classic lines in the Valley. A man of discerning taste, and not only in burritos and froyo, hahaha.
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
  May 16, 2014 - 03:43pm PT
Really well written and great photos. Another top shelf TR. Thanks for taking the time.
dkny

Trad climber
Irvine, CA
  May 18, 2014 - 12:20pm PT
Super inspiring man! TFPU
Chim-Chim

climber
  May 18, 2014 - 12:27pm PT
Nice, been on that climb twice, didn't get it clean though.
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  May 18, 2014 - 12:52pm PT
Greatest thing about it was that I worked my ass off, kicked ass, got my ass kicked, overcame my fear and received a lot more motivation to come back stronger.

Hats off to you.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  May 18, 2014 - 04:56pm PT
But that will work and is a better option then falling and breaking both legs up there.

+1
I wish Changing Corners was closer to the top. I would probably go up and top rope the crap out of that pitch too, wow what an amazing pitch. Belongs at Arch rock!

Thanks for all the nice comments!

Mike, seemed like this day was something below average to your friends. haha They took 0.5L of water on route and had majority of it when they topped out. And yes, I took their shots on top. The descent was ok, we made it down the crap part in daylight but did the trail back to the car with headlamps.
msiddens

Trad climber
  May 18, 2014 - 08:10pm PT
Nice work great read
lostinshanghai

Social climber
someplace
  May 19, 2014 - 11:55am PT
Not the first time, second or third and most likely more climbs to come: great writing and as well as photos, VM, keep it up.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  May 19, 2014 - 12:22pm PT
Dood, when you gonna change yer name to Наверху? Excellent writeup! ;-)
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