Gold Wall C2 5.9

 
  • Currently 4.0/5
Search
Go

Ribbon Fall Wall


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Gold Member II - A Wall of Solid 24 K Granite
Sunday May 16, 2010 1:25pm
Gold Wall via the Silent Line Variation
Gold Wall via the Silent Line Variation
Credit: Chris McNamara

A week after the South Face of Watkins with Tommy Caldwell, i called up my longest-known climbing partner Mark Melvin. Mark is the guy who first took me up the West Face of El Capitan when i was 15 after i decided to give him all my Little League money (snack shack, umpire and groundskeeper) to invest in Touchstone Climbing. It was that ascent of the West Face that made me addicted to walls. After transferring that addiction to BASE jumping for three years, looks like the transfer back to walls is back.

We were looking for something neither of us had done that could be done in daylight... Gold Wall!! We were not sure if the route would be wet from the falls, but that just keeps the crouds off, right?

First crux was getting through the mud on the wood lot road. Test the subi for sure.

The first crux: getting through the mud on the logging road. Subaru Ou...
The first crux: getting through the mud on the logging road. Subaru Outback made it... but it was exiting for a bit. Speed is your friend.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Mark led off. Temps were just above freezing. So he couldn't feel the holds well. The first pitch is one of the only ones with route-finding and tricky placements. From there on out you just follow the endless flared crack.

From here, i'll let the photo captions do most of the story tellin.

Mark Melvin on the first moves. Kinda tricky... or was it the freezing...
Mark Melvin on the first moves. Kinda tricky... or was it the freezing temps?
Credit: Chris McNamara

Looking over at the West Face of El Capitan. Note the big wet streaks....
Looking over at the West Face of El Capitan. Note the big wet streaks. Its been the wettest spring in (my short) memory.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Mark leads Pitch 2 as the sun hits the wall (around 9am). The ...
Mark leads Pitch 2 as the sun hits the wall (around 9am). The temps went from freezing to perfect.
Credit: Chris McNamara

One of the best parts of gold wall is the unique view across the valle...
One of the best parts of gold wall is the unique view across the valley. From left to right: El Cap, Middle Cathedral, Lower Cathedral, Bridalveil Falls
Credit: Chris McNamara

Mark Melvin at the third belay. The Silent Line free variation (be...
Mark Melvin at the third belay. The Silent Line free variation (best way) is left and the original route is right.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Mark wishes he brought tape. So did I. The flared cracks eat your hand...
Mark wishes he brought tape. So did I. The flared cracks eat your hands.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Mark starting up pitch 4 on the Silent Line Var. Classic long flared h...
Mark starting up pitch 4 on the Silent Line Var. Classic long flared hand crack.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Pitch 5 climbs through the very intimidating looking roof. This is one of the more unique pitches on any big wall anywhere. You climbing up into a massive gaping chimney... then climb out through hole. Awesome! And awkward. But mostly awesome.

Looking up at the awesome and intimidating pitch 5 roof.
Looking up at the awesome and intimidating pitch 5 roof.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Looking out the belly crawl on pitch 5. One of the more unique big wal...
Looking out the belly crawl on pitch 5. One of the more unique big wall sections I have done.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Looking back into the belly crawl pitch.
Looking back into the belly crawl pitch.
Credit: Chris McNamara

After this pitch, i took over the lead. I was scared because I had not led Yosemite cracks in years... but I had the new La Sportiva TC Pro shoes on my side. It was actually the first time i used them. In a word awesome: loved the ankle protection.

Looking up at pitch 6. Classic 5.10 flared hands with some short wide ...
Looking up at pitch 6. Classic 5.10 flared hands with some short wide bits.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Mark following pitch 5.
Mark following pitch 5.
Credit: Chris McNamara

At the top of pitch 9 you get a great view into Ribbon Falls.
At the top of pitch 9 you get a great view into Ribbon Falls.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Great view of the West Face of El Capitan. Still some hints of snow on...
Great view of the West Face of El Capitan. Still some hints of snow on the top.
Credit: Chris McNamara

The next two pitches were steep and bottomless 5.10 hand cracks with a few short wide sections.

Chris McNamara leading Pitch 6 of Gold Wall (pitch above roof)...
Chris McNamara leading Pitch 6 of Gold Wall (pitch above roof). Photo by Mark Melvin
Credit: Chris McNamara

Then Mark generously took the lead on pitch 8 (he linked with 9). I was really glad he did. The 5.9 chimney was running with water. Nasty.

I got my own punishment on the next pitch (the last). It was another 5.9 chimney that was wet. Nasty. I get the sense that very few people do these last pitches. Most people rap from pitch 8 in the SuperTopo. It's hard to recommend the last pitches on a quality basis. However, it does feel really good to get them done and top out.

There were no rap slings on the last pitch. So we did two 100 foot rappels by rapping the lead rope around trees. Then we got to this anchor on pitch 10. Three things that all were suspect: a skinny flexing tree, a slung boulder we could have trundled and a piece of rock barely slung. Not ideal. But it held!

Mark getting ready to rappel from the top of pitch 10. Do three crappy...
Mark getting ready to rappel from the top of pitch 10. Do three crappy anchor points make a good anchor?
Credit: Chris McNamara

After the climb, Mark drove back in search of the elusive 24 hour bay area to bay area time. He got it! 23.5 hours from the time he left his house to the time he got back.

I headed to El Cap Meadow to see how the Moses Tomahawk worked as a bottle opener... it works awesome!

The Tomahawk works as a great beer opener.
The Tomahawk works as a great beer opener.
Credit: Tim Parr


Overall thoughts on the route:

This route is for 5.10 climbers that like flared cracks. It is awkward to aid after pitch 1. It makes great training for a route like The Nose or Salathe. The rock is awesome but the cracks are flared. So it's a good but not mega classic route. That said, the location is awesome. So overall a very rad climb.

Also, the original route is not as good as the silent line variation (even if you are aiding). The original route looks much slower, involves more tricky aid wanders.

RACK WE BROUGHT
The rack for Gold Wall
The rack for Gold Wall
Credit: Chris McNamara

1 set CCH Aliens
2 sets Black Diamond Camalot C4 to 4.5" (most folks will want extra 1.5-3")
1 set Black Diamond Stoppers (didn't place any)
1 set DMM Brass Offsets (only used on first 2 pitches)
2 of the bigger sizes of Omega Pacific Link Cam (didn't place much)
10mm x 60mm Rope
8mm x 60m rope for rappelling
10 Black Diamond Oz Quickdraws
10 Black Diamond Oz extra biners
6 Black Diamond Dynex Runners
10 Metolius FS Mini


Metolius Adjustable Gear Sling
Wells Lamont Leather Work Glove
CAMP Quartz CR3 Harness
La Sportiva TC Pro
Patagonia R1 Hoody
Trango Cinch
Five Ten Chase
Patagonia Traverse Pant
Wild Country Alpine Shield Helmet

  Trip Report Views: 7,922
Chris McNamara
About the Author

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  May 16, 2010 - 01:23am PT
Killer Report Chris. I always dreamed of that route but never could drag myself up there.

Peace

Karl
gonzo chemist

climber
the east coast, for now.
  May 16, 2010 - 02:42am PT
Flared cracks?! Sounds like a great route to help transition from a winter of Joshua Tree crack climbing...

karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  May 16, 2010 - 04:55am PT
Thanks chris! I too seek the bay area round trip in a day style, last fall I got snake dike from san Jose up and back in 22.5 hours. Then I slept for 24 hours! Looks classic up on the goldy!
MisterE

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  May 16, 2010 - 10:28am PT
Great TR Chris! Glad to see you back on the walls!
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
  May 16, 2010 - 10:42am PT
Nice TR and great pictures of the exit from the chimney. Really pretty area with great views.
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  May 16, 2010 - 11:38am PT
awesome homework break read. stoked!
10b4me

climber
  May 16, 2010 - 12:19pm PT
nice tr Chris,
that belly crawl looks interesting
Pate

Trad climber
  May 16, 2010 - 12:59pm PT
NIce send Chris- you're really getting after it this spring. That belly crawl pitch looks wild, thanks for taking the time to shoot a few images of it.

And nice shameless plug for La Sportiva, the only thing it's missing is a picture with you holding it up on display with a cheesy smile on your face!
Credit: Pate
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  May 16, 2010 - 03:07pm PT
Forgot to add, on the way back home stopped at the Priest Station Cafe. Cheeseburger + sweet potato fries + Sierra Nevada = perfect end to yosemite trip.

Perfect conditions this time of year for dinner on the deck. Also, they now have cabins for $89 a night. Check em out

msiddens

Trad climber
  May 16, 2010 - 04:41pm PT
awesome....i so got no excuse to not get on this route
TripL7

Trad climber
san diego
  May 16, 2010 - 06:54pm PT
Thanks for the tr Chris!

Brings back allot of great memories of the original(Kor)route, and the scary pitch off of Tron ledge back in '75. Expanding flake if i remember correctly...
Nanook

climber
  May 18, 2010 - 01:25am PT
Nice Tr Chris.

It appears that the tree on the top of pitch 10 is not getting bigger, as several recent parties have commented to me about it's dubious well being.

That said, if you top out and do the original rap route down the gully to the left of the route you do 5 or 6 rappels off 2-3 inch Manzanita limbs or similarly small/flexing trees/bushes. So it's probably still better to rap the route.

My second time on the route Logan and I put in the rap anchors at 7 and 8. Maybe one of the next parties could add a station at 10?

many cheers
e
ShibbyShane

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
  May 18, 2010 - 11:32am PT
Thanks for the TR Chris.

Were you guys doing single line rappels with a tag line to pull? Just curious as you didn't mention any tube-style belay devices in your gear list.
seth kovar

climber
Reno, NV
  May 18, 2010 - 11:45am PT
Sweet, Thanks for the TR and all you do...

You rock Chris...
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  May 18, 2010 - 07:27pm PT
Chris, wondering what grade you though pitches 2 and 4 deserved? They both felt harder than .10c to me, but I'm no authority, whereas you ARE an authority on grades. So?
Fletcher

Gym climber
A very quiet place
  May 21, 2010 - 02:19am PT
I enjoyed that Chris... you always tell a good tale. Thanks!

Like the belly crawl...
hoipolloi

climber
A friends backyard with the neighbors wifi
  May 22, 2010 - 03:17am PT
Man, I don't remember the Silent Line being flared at all. I remember that as being one of the most spectacular pitches. We linked it and climbed through the tree and then on forever in one amazing pitch.

It is definitely not 5.9 in a lot of place where the topo says it is (especially the part labeled 'Glory Hands!'). Felt pretty solid 5.10 for me, but I thought worth every minute of t he steep ass hike.


Edit:

Bruce- I had always heard pitch 2 was .11b. Don't remember 4.
Gus

Trad climber
Venice, Cali
  Jun 2, 2010 - 01:00pm PT
Climbed the route on May 12th. Approach was only 45 minutes. After 3 approach pitches the first 200ft pitch of silent line is one of the best. Thin hands to fists and every type of jamming. Then a 5.9 flare to a triangular shape bombay chimney, and shamu finish that spits you back out on the face. Magnificent!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  May 4, 2011 - 03:34pm PT
Bumping a killer TR
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  May 4, 2011 - 07:20pm PT
Rad.


Super rad.
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
  May 5, 2011 - 12:44am PT
Nice. Super Nice!
Erik
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  May 5, 2011 - 03:29am PT
kickass!
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  May 5, 2011 - 04:03am PT
WHAT YOU SAYING BOUT THE ORIGINAL ROUTE FOOL???? <br/>
 <br/>
Gangster, the st...
WHAT YOU SAYING BOUT THE ORIGINAL ROUTE FOOL????

Gangster, the straight Krunk.
Credit: mucci
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  May 29, 2012 - 06:28pm PT
I made one attempt on Gold Wall, ca. 1970 with Cowboy Larry. A horn, flake, whatev, that I slung broke and I hit my elbow hard, hurt a rib pretty bad. Next time I got higher, but the garbahge in the wide cracks gave me no reason to continue. The bongs were not getting set, Bruce Price was not very hot for that, either, and became the voice of reason. "Can't have fun, phuck it." We bailed, with regrets, because it is at a distance so fair to look at.

Excellent shots of the route, Chris. Real good looks at what to expect.

SuperTopo excels in this. Keep it up.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 29, 2012 - 07:19pm PT


cliffhanger

Trad climber
California
  May 29, 2012 - 08:10pm PT
Spectacular area and route. Thanks.
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
  Oct 17, 2012 - 09:46pm PT
Great TR..

Belly Crawl pitch?

That is bad ass!!!

Thanks for taking me there...


Just noticed the OP date...

Where the hell have I been?
Andrew Barnes

Ice climber
Albany, NY
  Oct 18, 2012 - 01:41am PT
Great TR, thanks. I only saw it recently even though it is a couple of years old. One thing I've always wondered - Do you take a pencil and paper up with you on all these climbs you do? To makes notes for the topos, or do you just have a really good memory, so you can remember pitch by pitch details even after a grade VI wall? Just curious.
Thanks.
Andrew.
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Go
Ribbon Fall Wall - Gold Wall C2 5.9 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Photo: Chris McNamara
Other Routes on Ribbon Fall Wall
Ribbon Fall Wall - Reason Beyond Insanity A3+ 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Reason Beyond Insanity, A3+ 5.7
Ribbon Fall Wall
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Ribbon Fall Wall - Laughing At The Void A2+ 5.9 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Laughing At The Void, A2+ 5.9
Ribbon Fall Wall
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5