Trip Report
FA: Psychedelic Wall, Sentinel Rock, 1966
Saturday December 12, 2015 3:44pm
Thanks go to Ed Hartouni for kindly scanning the slides from which these images are taken. Also, thanks to LileBiene for transcribing this and other stories from the UCLA Bruin Mountaineers journal, "Occasional Miseries."

North face of Sentinel Rock
North face of Sentinel Rock
Credit: BooDawg

Sentinel Rock; the route ascends through the ceilings on the left side...
Sentinel Rock; the route ascends through the ceilings on the left side of the face.
Credit: BooDawg

In early September, 1966 Dennis Hennek and I laid plans to do a new route on the north face of Sentinel Rock in Yosemite. After first carrying food, water, and equipment to the base of the rock, I fixed the first pitch; Dennis came up and cleaned it.

Credit: BooDawg

Credit: BooDawg

Credit: BooDawg

The next day, we hiked back up to the base of the face and began the climb. After we jumared up the first pitch, Dennis led some difficult free-climbing followed by some difficult aid. The crux was a large roof which he passed by placing a tiny “URP” (a piton smaller than a RURP) into a thin crack.

Credit: BooDawg

On my lead, the cracks were in places non-existent, so I drove some RURPs directly into seams of rotten granite. Dennis' next lead brought us to some small, uncomfortable ledges at dusk.

Credit: BooDawg

Our bivouac, although uncomfortable, was still enjoyable because less than 100 feet away Jim Madsen and Kim Schmitz were spending their first night on the Robbins-Frost Route. We joked back and forth and listened to their radio, and their company kept our morale up and vice versa. We had all decided that retreat from where we were was nearly impossible due to the severe overhangs below.

The following day was rather uneventful, mostly moderate to difficult aid climbing, except for passing the very impressive, huge band of ceilings half way up the face.

Credit: BooDawg

Credit: BooDawg

The climbing was awkward, if not difficult, so we only did three pitches that second day. Kim and Jim, meanwhile, would occasionally erupt in loud curses and swearing, usually directed at Robbins, because they felt quite insecure with the lack of good anchors that Robbins and Frost had placed on their first ascent, having done their climb in excellent style without a single bolt.

Credit: BooDawg


Credit: BooDawg


Credit: BooDawg


Credit: BooDawg

While Dennis belayed at a horizontal crack just before sundown, I fixed forty feet of the next lead before descending to Dennis' position, where we would bivouac.

Credit: BooDawg

Jim and Kim, across the wall, had found a large ledge where they could bivouac, and they took great delight in telling us of their comfort. However, when they saw us stringing hammocks, they offered us no more sarcastic sympathy. Unwilling to lose the dispute about who was most comfortable, Dennis, knowing they had little water left, poured out nearly half a quart of our large supply while they helplessly watched. Again on the bivouac, this friendly joking and teasing with Kim and Jim kept all of our spirits high and gave us all a great deal of confidence.

Credit: BooDawg

The following morning we got going early and began nailing slowly up the dirty cracks toward the summit. In the early afternoon, after three pitches, Dennis led up and right to a seam of rotten granite. Several RURPs driven straight into it took him to a good crack which he nailed to the summit.

Credit: BooDawg

After I cleaned, Jim and Kim, Don Lauria and Conrad Willet (who had climbed the Chouinard-Herbert route) and Dennis and I sat happily on the summit B.S.ing for a short time before beginning our descent to the Valley.

Credit: BooDawg

Summit of Sentinel Rock; L -> R:  K. Boche; K. Schmitz; C. Willett;...
Summit of Sentinel Rock; L -> R: K. Boche; K. Schmitz; C. Willett; D. Lauria; J. Madsen.
Credit: D. Hennek

That night we partied in Camp 4 until quite late, enjoying the company of good friends.

Credit: BooDawg

This story and photos can also be found here:

http://yosemitecloseup.com/first-ascent-psychedelic-wall-sentinel-rock/



For more background on Ken Boche, please go here:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1079288/Welcome-to-Ken-Boche

  Trip Report Views: 4,144
BooDawg
About the Author
BooDawg is a social climber from Butterfly Town.

Comments
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 03:59pm PT
great to see this TR!
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Author's Reply  Dec 12, 2015 - 04:01pm PT
Stoners! Dontcha KNOW!?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 04:37pm PT
Fantastic account Ken!

Mark Force

Trad climber
Ashland, Oregon
  Dec 12, 2015 - 04:06pm PT
Thanks for the gold!
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Author's Reply  Dec 12, 2015 - 04:16pm PT
This was the only route that was established that year. Five of the 6 routes were being climbed at one time.

Kor-Denny - 1963

Frost-Robbins - 1962

Chouinard-Herbert - 1962

Kor-Fredericks - 1965

Steck-Salathe - 1950

Gobi Wall came later: 1969

I heard that the Psychedelic Wall has gone free. True? Details?

What other routes have been established on Sentinel's north face?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 04:49pm PT
Ken- I just corrected my mistake on those routes after looking them up.

The intensity of activity is what I recalled not first ascents.

Your comment about Kim and Jim complaining about the lack of bolts is going to make Tom Frost chuckle when I get a chance to tell him. Dennis pouring out water torture is classic!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 04:42pm PT
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200319900/North-America-United-States-California-Yosemite-Valley-Free-Climbing

Free climbing. Yosemite 2002 was the setting for what I can only call a dream season. In the spring Jake Whittaker and I freed the Psychedelic Wall on Sentinel Rock—solid 5.12. This route was first ascended by Boche and Hennek in 1966. Memorable sections include a 5.12c sloper crack traverse, a 12c slab boulder problem, and a 12' roof that goes from squeeze to offwidth to fists to hands to fingers.

In the summer José Pereyra and I freed The Medicine Wall (a.k.a. The Uncertainty Principle), also on Sentinel. This entailed five completely new pitches, but also freed existing aid pitches of several routes, including the first three pitches of a line first attempted by Steve Roadie and Ben “Wa” Zartman, and four pitches of Early Times (FA by Bryan “Coiler” Kay and Josh Thompson). The route joins with the North Face (FA Frost and Robbins, 1962; FFA Thaw and Wainwright, 1995) for one pitch in the middle, and for the two summiting pitches.

We rated the Medicine Wall 5.13a, or really hard 5.12. The crux pitch was bolted on the lead and provided 80' of brilliant, slightly overhanging face climbing. But perhaps the finest pitch is the second, which starts with 100' of 45° overhanging hands, leading to a short, hard offwidth section, to tight fingers, and finally to an overhanging, run-out boltless face. Both the Medicine Wall and Psychedelic Wall were redpointed, no falls, in a day, after being freed from the ground up over weeks of effort, using fixed lines. On both routes I swapped pitches with my partner and had the pleasure of leading the respective cruxes.

As fall gave way to winter, I managed a three-pitch variation to the Northeast Buttress of Higher Cathedral Rock. I redpointed pitches one and three, but managed only a pinkpoint of the prize pitch, a 50' roof 800' off the ground. This pitch, the “Gravity Ceiling” (5.13a), and the preceding one were first aid climbed by Brian Kay, Mark “TBag” Garbarinni, and Johnny “B” Blair. The Gravity Ceiling is, hands down, the single most impressive pitch of freeclimbing I have ever had the pleasure of playing on, and seems destined to become a megaclassic.

As winter rolled around, I found my world crushed by the news that Jose Pereyra had passed away. Jose was not only one of the best finger-crack climbers the world has known, but he was the most realized, spiritually in-tune person I have known. I am very thankful that he and I shared the experience of freeing the Medicine Wall, before he moved on to bigger and better things. I dedicate all of these climbs to José; may his soulful, honest, penetrating spirit inspire climbers for centuries to come.

Cedar Wright, AAC
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 05:37pm PT
Nice post Ed!

Strong work with those images too.
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
  Dec 12, 2015 - 05:10pm PT
really great photos and story. thank you fellas for sharing.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 05:33pm PT
Thank you, Ken, for that excellent trip report. Your picture you posted on Facebook whetted my appetite to hear more.

I think the first Summit Magazine I bought had Robbins' summary of 1966 Yosemite climbing. I remember his mention that there were five parties on five serious routes on Sentinel simultaneously, all successful. I think he described the climb as "a new route by two southern California climbers." Too bad it lacked any detail -- particularly that pouring out the water so ostentatiously.

I was also in the Valley when you and Pratt climbed the Gobi wall. I remember seeing Pete Thompson's note after you'd gotten down: "Pratt-Boche new route on Sentinel."

John
mtnyoung

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Dec 12, 2015 - 05:53pm PT
This thread is why Supertopo lasts - in spite of the frequent nonsense, there is brilliant history to be seen here. Great photos and great trip report.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Dec 12, 2015 - 06:00pm PT
Thanks for reflections on the past there BooMan- What a cast of characters on the summit!

Now that Ed has scanned all your slides and it is winter we expect some more gold on your routes. Oh wait, you are off to Asia for the season so I guess we have to wait until Spring.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 06:31pm PT
So Boche and Kor are deadlocked at two routes a piece along with Robbins, Frost and Chouinard. Pretty good company!
H

Mountain climber
there and back again
  Dec 12, 2015 - 06:27pm PT
Thanks to Ken and Ed for making supertopo worth coming back to time and again.

Great story, great reproduction of the shots. I guess some of the pictures were taken of Schmitz and Madsen?

Have a wonderful trip in Asia; you lucky (boo)dog.
WBraun

climber
  Dec 12, 2015 - 06:56pm PT
This was long time ago when men were men and women still did the cooking.

I loved this kind of caveman climbing with pitons.

This modern climbing is boring and lame.

Bring back the sledge hammers .....
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Dec 12, 2015 - 06:43pm PT
Incredible . . . what a gift!

Thank you very much!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 06:55pm PT
And RURPs for all!
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
  Dec 12, 2015 - 07:03pm PT
Wow!
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 08:53pm PT
This is awesome. Love tales from the way back machine. Go Bruins.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Dec 12, 2015 - 09:56pm PT

This is a great photo


This photo fills me with nostalgia. Hard to believe that - if I'm v. v. lucky - I'll be able to look back on photos of afternoon light I took nearly 50 years prior in Yosemite.

Thanks for sharing.

And holy sh#t did CW have a killer season of FAs in '02.
Fuzzywuzzy

climber
suspendedhappynation
  Dec 12, 2015 - 11:27pm PT
Fantastic!!!
JOEY.F

Gym climber
It's not rocket surgery
  Dec 13, 2015 - 01:10am PT
Just awesome, who wouldn't want to be a Valley climber after seeing that picture of wicked rock and the shimmering Merced River.
BrassNuts

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
  Dec 13, 2015 - 02:50am PT
Great stuff, thanks! Love all the first ascents detail, very cool.
F10

Trad climber
Bishop
  Dec 13, 2015 - 06:33am PT
Great post, thanks
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Dec 13, 2015 - 08:55am PT
Great report, thank you for sharing. I have a short video of the Frost - Robbins FA. It is a classic. Makes me wonder about how was that filmed?! They likely had a film crew fix a long line than film the FA, or did they re-climb the route after, for the film? Shots of them laybacking difficult looking cracks and placing pins far up from other pro is impressive.
Anyway, awesome scans! I didn't know there was color to the photos in the 60s. I believe photos from my family who were in the Soviet Union back than are black and white!
Great post from Ed too.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 13, 2015 - 12:16pm PT
Vitaly- Please provide more information about this film. You aren't talking about Sentinel the West Face are you with Robbins and Chouinard climbing?

If not, I can sell you one. LOL
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Dec 13, 2015 - 02:04pm PT
Sorry Steve, I was confused in the morning. I got the copy from you. :) Do you know how that one was filmed?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 13, 2015 - 02:35pm PT
In Tom's words, "In September of 1964, we went out and hiked up our favorite gully and rappelled down the face to fix ropes in alongside the route and pulled the top three ropes to be able to reach Tree Ledge. Roger Brown shot the long shots and he showed me how to work his Bolex camera for footage on the climb. He was so impressed with my work that he put me first in the credits. We had a great bivouac scene which we put together because we were behind schedule that utilized afternoon sun as a sunrise. Nick Clinch became our only detractor and used to ride us mercilessly. "The sun only rises on the west face for you gentlemen!" Barry Corbet wrote the script and edited it. The film turned out well and it was a great experience."

Roger Brown, Royal and Tom discussed the making of this early and classic film at the second Oakdale Climbers Festival. Tom Frost had an interest in making motion pictures before he started shooting stills in 1960 so this film played right into his passion in 1964.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Dec 13, 2015 - 06:32pm PT
I'd rate this one of the top 10 historical threads of Supertopo.

The pictures are marvelous. A complete set too: a shot of the wall, pictures all the way up, summit photo featuring all the characters, and an after party photo to boot!

Though the rock was purported to be somewhat funky, it sure commands a terrific position and draws the eye.

"U.R.P." … Ha ha!
dee ee

Mountain climber
Of THIS World (Planet Earth)
  Dec 13, 2015 - 07:03pm PT
Nice! So classic.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 13, 2015 - 07:17pm PT
If you would like some first rate information on these early ascents of Sentinel then look no further than the Summit Register.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1533071/Sentinel-Rock-Summit-Register-Classic-Whos-Who-1934-1976
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Dec 13, 2015 - 08:29pm PT
So vivid I almost felt I was there. Thanks so much for posting this Ken.-lars
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Author's Reply  Dec 15, 2015 - 05:35pm PT
Thanks Ed for your posting about subsequent ascents on Sentinel and to all of the rest of you for your kind words and contributions.

Guido: Ed hasn't done ALL of my slides, less than 1/4th of them, actually. Whether I'll get another TR up before March when we return from Vietnam remains to be seen.

Ed has scanned Tom Gerughty's slides of Tom's and my second ascent of
the Kor-Fredericks route on Sentinel. At some point I'll put them up...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 15, 2015 - 06:31pm PT
Looking forward to that posting Ken.

Have a great time on you upcoming trip.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
https://nutagain.org
  Dec 16, 2015 - 12:37am PT
This definitely jumps out as an instant classic thread, perhaps one of the best. I've never seen that picture on Sentinel with the Merced shimmering behind- maybe that's my new favorite Yosemite climbing pic.

It's hard to imagine 5 parties on Sentinel at one time on different routes. But there is soooo much rock up there, must be tons of FA potential still.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Dec 16, 2015 - 08:17am PT
thanks for the recognition, but I only just scanned the slides...

I don't know how long the scanner will work and play nice with the computer, but any of you contemplating taking me up on my offer to scan your slides might want to do it...
...my "compensation" is threads like this one!

LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
  Dec 16, 2015 - 06:18pm PT
AWESOME!!!!! Think I'll do another loop... :D

So cool to see the pictures tell the story.

I will try to make my way through more of the Occasional Miseries while you guys are away -- safe and excellent travels!
RP3

Big Wall climber
Newbury Park
  Dec 16, 2015 - 06:45pm PT
This is absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing. It brightened my day.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Dec 16, 2015 - 07:27pm PT
outstanding! Thanks for going to the effort!


That one shot looks like perfect 'Rest Step' technique.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Dec 16, 2015 - 07:29pm PT
"...Dennis, knowing they had little water left, poured out nearly half a quart of our large supply while they helplessly watched."

Dennis' sense of humor smacks of hubris, but all's well that ends well.

I have often wondered about the name this route was given.

What was in your minds when you selected Psychedelic Wall? Was it simply the bright and colorful lichen? (I am reminding myself here that I ask this of a dude who had a snazzy pair of hand-painted shorts.)
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Author's Reply  Dec 20, 2015 - 08:48am PT
I am visiting Dennis at his home now and giving him a bunch of scanned slides. We thought that a few more pictures would be appropriate:




The Psychedelic goes to the right of the left-most roof in the photo.


In the picture above, the bottom half of Sentinel's north face is not visible because the bottom half below the band of roofs on the left side of the face overhangs severely and is also obscured by the roofs themselves.


Can a TR have too many pictures? LOL!

wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
  Dec 20, 2015 - 08:54am PT
That beautiful picture with the shining Merced below captures the essence of climbing in Yosemite like very few I've ever seen. That shot needs to end up in a book somehow.

Thanks for the very cool TR.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 20, 2015 - 10:33am PT
Three cheers for the Book of Boo!!!
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Dec 20, 2015 - 11:36am PT
Hennek and Boche together? Call the cops!
melski

Trad climber
bytheriver
  Dec 20, 2015 - 01:01pm PT
The glissning snakey band, the blue shadows , wow, makes instant flashback,,silver blue, and gold,,way to show the power of this place we all know and respect,,,
limpingcrab

Gym climber
Minkler, CA
  Feb 16, 2016 - 12:10am PT
History bump
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Feb 16, 2016 - 07:04am PT
Wow thanks for this! I always wondered about those routes to the left of CH and SS.
PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
  Feb 16, 2016 - 08:24am PT
I missed this TR first time around.
Great story, wonderful history. And it rekindles memories from a remarkable era.
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
  Feb 16, 2016 - 10:11am PT
Light is Wright. Or something.
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
  Feb 20, 2016 - 05:37pm PT
No, Ken, a TR like this cannot have too many photos!!! ;D
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Jul 9, 2017 - 09:55am PT
Bump for a "superior effort" by all concerned...
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