Central Pillar of Frenzy 5.9

  • Currently 5.0/5

Middle Cathedral

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
Dinner for one, and a snow cone for breakfast
Friday May 3, 2013 1:01pm
Full report is on here but check out my blog too if you want:

Aw "climbing season" is upon us! Well I guess when you don't stop going to the Valley all year the climbing season is never really over, but I mean longer and warmer days are here. Time to get ready for big walls and long days of climbing!

Another couple days free and it's time to go back to the Valley of course. In typical fashion I have no one to climb with. I make a desperate post on Supertopo looking for a partner and luckily a guy named Robin can climb on Friday. Woohoo! Thursday was still solo, so what to do? I didn't want to go tr solo, it was time to bust out the Silent Partner. Alright I've been talking big game about soloing this year so time to get out and use this thing. I looked at the West Face of Leaning Tower topo and thought about going for the push, but decided I should get a little more practice in, get the roped solo systems dialed, and then go for a wall. So, I decided I would climb to Dinner Ledge on Washington Column via the South Face. I had climbed the route in a day last year (see link) and I knew the first few pitches would be good to warm up on. South Face TR link from 2012

Hello my old friend! On the left is the South Face, and the weight line going up and right higher is the Prow

Credit: briham89

Start of the South Face

It's just you and me pal, let's not screw up!

Seeing as how I just wanted to get in some more practice with the SP I decided to just bring a liter of water and a cliff bar and not haul a bag or wear a backpack.

The first pitch went smoothly, although I immediately realized that consequences would be higher if I fell at certain parts. For example about 10 feet off the ground the crack becomes unprotectable for about 6 feet. With a good belayer if you blew it here they could probably keep you off the ground. With the Sp I was pretty certain I would hit the ground with the small added time it would need to stop me. Oh well, just be conscious of the situation, but don't let it control me. First pitch is done and I haven't died yet.

After stopping at the first anchor I realized, hey rope drag, what rope drag, so I continued past the first anchor, across the ledge to the start of the second pitch. I know it seems trivial, but the realization that rope drag literally was not an issue really got my mind running, and made me even more stoked on soloing.

Mark Hudon inspired anchor at the start of pitch 2. If you haven't seen this, this is the best big wall anchor ever. The bolt on the right has a butterfly knot with a long loop and the left bolt has a clove hitch. Boom easy to equalize and very clean. I have the end of the rope also clipped to the left bolt, because when you are soling you have to untie (which always feels weird, make sure you are clipped in to something else) and rappel to clean the pitch and jumar back up. It's a lot of work, but it's also a really rewarding and fun way to climb (and can also be scary as hell sometimes!)

Here's an older picture showing the anchor a little more clearly for anyone interested.

On pitch 2 I opted for the c1 aid corner over the 5.10b free variation, because the point of this practice run was to get my solo aid / wall systems more dialed for my first solo wall later this year.

Looking back down the bottom half of pitch 2 while jugging back up.

I'm having a great time!

And I'm stoked that things are going so smoothly!!!

Pitch 3 went well, except for when my feet slipped out from under me on the 5.7 section. I thought for a second I was going to have to really test this SP today, but luckily my hands were super solid so I was able to hold on and keep climbing. The best part about this pitch was no rope drag at the top! I maniacally laughed as I placed gear and didn't extend it, knowing that the evil rope drag had no power over me!!! MUUUAAHHHAAAAAA! Ok maybe I'm starting to enjoy soloing a little too much.

I rapped, jugged and cleaned three and then I was walking over to dinner ledge. Victory! Yeah it was only three pitches but I was still proud at how smooth it went solo. I was even more proud to look at my watch and see that it had only been two and a half hours since I started. I thought hey I should keep going and just go for the push! Then the logical part of my brain kicked in, I have no water left and only one power bar....yeah maybe next time. Also the wind then cranked up to help me make my decision to stick to the plan and go down even easier.

I don't know if I'll ever learn that chocolate coated power bars melt every time in my pocket....

Looking up at the Kor Roof. RIP Layton

The views of Half Dome never get old!

After relaxing, enjoying a snack, and getting some sunshine on Dinner Ledge I headed back to the ground. I wish I had brought bivy gear I would have loved to just sleep up there. Oh well, still a really successful practice run that left me psyched for my first solo wall soon.

I always like scoping out Astroman on the way down.... some day!!!!

The next day I met up with Robin and we decided to climb Central Pillar of Frenzy on Middle Cathedral. I had to be back home that night and up really early the next morning to guide a backpacking trip, so a classic 5 pitch climb sounded perfect!

Ummmm, dude.... did you bring your ice axe????

The first thirty feet of the climb are still under snow. The approach up the ice was a little exciting to say the least. I ended up putting in a cam for the belay because there was a thirty foot drop between the ice and the wall!

The first pitch was well....you know. But then it got classic! I led the second pitch which was sooo good. Although in my opinion the rest of the climb is going to follow that description haha. The 5.8 and 5.9 fingers were continuous and oh so fun!

Robin following the second pitch. You can spot the hole of death at the start of the first pitch.

Looking up the splitter start to the 3rd pitch. The roof looks intimidating but it's not bad. We had a 80m rope so we linked 3 and 4. However, we were trailing a 60m and when Robin made it to the top of the 4th, if I remember correctly the 60 would have made it, but just barely.

The 5.8ow on the 3rd pitch turned to be perfect wide hands and fist for my huge hands. This was again, classic!!!

What dreams are made of!!!!!!

The views of El Cap are spectacular. My buddies Alex and Phillip were climbing The Nose at the same time we were up there. It was cool to look across and see their progress.

On the rap back down we top roped Bircheff-Williams which is a beautiful 5.11b corner that is top ropable from the last rap anchor (with a 80m rope). After a couple falls I got it, but man it was tough!

Robin stemming at the lower 5.10c section.

View from the top. After the 5.11b stemming section is a 5.8 lieback. I tried to do it as an OW but man it was very hard at the entrance. Not wide enough to bridge a foot but to wide for a stack, and all in an awkward corner.

So there you have it, another awesome couple days in the Valley! T-minus 19 days until I graduate from college, and become a full time climbing dirtbag!!! It's going to be a great season :)

  Trip Report Views: 2,568
About the Author
briham89 is a big wall and trad climber from San Jose, ca.

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  May 3, 2013 - 01:43pm PT
You KNOW how much I love that big red pulley lookin' thang!




30 mins. from suicide USA
  May 3, 2013 - 01:55pm PT
this is helping sway me twords picking up a SP ..thanks.

  May 3, 2013 - 01:57pm PT
^^^^^^ YeahBaby! ^^^^^^^

Solo smart and live to talk about it!


Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  May 3, 2013 - 02:00pm PT
this is helping sway me twords picking up a SP ..thanks.

The thing rocks!

You KNOW how much I love that big red pulley lookin' thang!

Me too!

Social climber
Lida Junction
  May 3, 2013 - 02:07pm PT
I always enjoy the fact that you are climbing any time you can. wish I could do that
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  May 3, 2013 - 02:47pm PT
I have top catch you one of these days and learn how to use that Silent partner thing. Was about to try learning this weekend, but noooooooo gonna go climb with a loud partner instead.

Thanks for posting. CPOF is like one of my favorite routes in Yos. Pitch 2 is rivaled by only few other 5.9s!

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  May 3, 2013 - 02:55pm PT
Nice job, surf-rat-boy.

Big climbing crews coming up here this weekend, and, as far as I can tell the next several weekends.

Are you gonna make it (I've got three totally new, never explored crags/areas of crags that we're gonna need to start developing)?

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  May 3, 2013 - 05:05pm PT
Vitaliy - If you like pitch 2 of CPOF, and ever find yourself in Salt Lake then you must to Coffin Crack in little cottonwood canyon. It's superb dare I say...better than the 2nd pitch of CPOF.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  May 3, 2013 - 05:59pm PT
NIce outing!

Keeping the stoke alive and well.

I have to do some free climbing soon.

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  May 3, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
10b4me, I just can't sit still. I always love a day out on the rocks!

V, I'd be happy to show you.

Brad, thanks for the invite, but unfortunately I will be guiding. Sounds cool though. It's been too long, I will try to get up there soon.

Mucci, yeah I usually get too focused on one or the other (aid vs free). It's good to mix it up. Keeps the stoke high!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  May 3, 2013 - 06:21pm PT
Awesome pics and report. Interesting those catches of snow still hanging out in those shady spots. For sure sounds like an interesting approach. Great climb, and very neat being just across from yer friends on the nose!

Have you run that by your parents how they feel about you graduating college and becoming a full time climbing dirtbag???? Sorry, the college-tuition-paying-Mom comes out in me!!! My advice...DO IT NOW, before you get powered down with major responsibilities! Good on you!

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  May 3, 2013 - 07:08pm PT
nice man. good stuff. about to graduate? and this much stoke? damn, gonna be a good summer for you. keep em coming.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 3, 2013 - 11:30pm PT
Nice Bri, way to rock it, Thanks!

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  May 4, 2013 - 12:58am PT
My advice...DO IT NOW, before you get powered down with major responsibilities! Good on you!

Thanks Susan :)

And as far as mooching from the parents go, luckily I have been working since I was 14, and somewhere along the line I was smart enough to start saving. I've never been one for a hangout, and I'm proud to say the burden of this experience will be on me and not on my parents. That and I'll be guiding on weekends to help keep me going too! And they are very supportive of me taking some time off to enjoy life for a bit.

And thanks everyone else. Good to see the stoke alive!!!

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
  May 4, 2013 - 01:10am PT
Cool! Nice TR and pics.

Oakland, CA
  Mar 23, 2016 - 08:36pm PT
I wonder if you could link 1, 2, and 3, or 2, 3, and 4 with an 80m... I've heard from solid sources that all of New D can be linked into one lead with an 80. Man, got to pick up an 80 at some point.

Solid TR! Thanks for posting!

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Mar 23, 2016 - 10:02pm PT
That would make for some badass continuous climbing!!!!

DO IT NOW, before you get powered down with major responsibilities!

Holy moly three years have gone by, and look at me now. A working stiff, who "barely" climbs. Susan you called it!!!! Time to get stoked and send this season; job and all!!!!
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, A sailboat, or some time zone
  Mar 23, 2016 - 11:29pm PT
Man time flies.

You CAN do it!
You may be a working stiff now, but certainly not a cubicle puke...I think your work place looks super cool!
Then there's always retirement to look forward to! That's when real stiffness begins.

Rock on...climb high


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Middle Cathedral - Central Pillar of Frenzy 5.9 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Central Pillar is considered one of the best climbs on Middle Cathedral.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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