Direct North Buttress 5.11 or 5.10 A0

 
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Middle Cathedral


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Ho Chi Minh Trail: The Journey
Wednesday June 12, 2013 11:13am
It was the best long multi-pitch free climb I have ever done. Better than Beckey-Choinard in my honest opinion. Any 5.10 leader who enjoys mixed climbing and long routes should put Ho Chi Minh Trail on their short list. There is really nothing else that a climber can ask for. This route is clean, has sustained climbing of high quality, takes a beautiful line, and has great views. Only thing it lacks is topping out on a spire-like summit. In any case it deserves 10/10 stars!

It was a HUGE goal of mine to free climb this route and I put in a lot of work training for it. In the end, my TR ended up being BIG and I really do not have the time to transfer it all to ST. Way to busy at work these days...lots of photos on my blog entry:

http://vividrea1ity.blogspot.com/2013/06/ho-chi-minh-trail-journey.html

Ho Chi Minh Trail
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Credit: Vitaliy M.

Gleb re-lives the classic guidebook shot, just after the crux of DNB
Gleb re-lives the classic guidebook shot, just after the crux of DNB
Credit: Vitaliy M.

View of the big stone. Especially nice from right across the valley!
View of the big stone. Especially nice from right across the valley!
Credit: Vitaliy M.

  Trip Report Views: 4,208
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

Comments
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Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jun 12, 2013 - 11:16am PT
Better than the B-C?! Wow! What made it so much better than the B-C Vitaliy?
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jun 12, 2013 - 11:25am PT
I thought the climbing was a lot more varied. Beckey Chouinard had a lot of straight in cracks, which got a bit boring after a while. HCMT had a lot of varied climbing including face, crack, thin sections, some lie backs, roof underclings, squeeze chimney, hand cracks. Plus it has more pitches, is more sustained, approach is about 5-10 minutes, doesn't require carrying an ice axe/crampons, and has less danger of getting stormed on (since it is in Yosemite). Just my opinion though.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Old West Crackramento
  Jun 12, 2013 - 11:30am PT
Pretty cool TR, but you blew my onsight!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jun 12, 2013 - 12:07pm PT
Great stuff!
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
  Jun 12, 2013 - 12:13pm PT
Nice Report. TFPU

Random side story: Hiking out to Crimson Crysalis in RR NV. We got off the trail two days in a row so I always now refer to the approach as the "Ho Chi Minh Manzanita Death-March"
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jun 12, 2013 - 12:18pm PT
Way to go V!!!
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Jun 12, 2013 - 12:30pm PT
This is a nice tribute to the Vision that Clint had for a new and spectacular line in an area that was already well-developed. Days and days (weeks?) of effort over a long time went into this to develop the route...
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Aurora Colorado
  Jun 12, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
Great job Vitaliy, I feel like I know all about this route from reading so much about it here.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Jun 12, 2013 - 12:35pm PT
Dang Vitaliy. Are there any weekends you're not out knocking off big projects?
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jun 12, 2013 - 01:05pm PT

This is a nice tribute to the Vision that Clint had for a new and spectacular line in an area that was already well-developed. Days and days (weeks?) of effort over a long time went into this to develop the route...

Did he ever write about how much time he and his partner put into this line? I would love to hear about it. I thought it would be really hard to climb it even in 2 days on a first ascent.
ag.Fox

Trad climber
Reno, NV
  Jun 12, 2013 - 01:06pm PT
Great TR Vitality!
Where do you think you got off route above the Turret? You say the climbing gets easier around the arete - is that moving from the right?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Jun 12, 2013 - 01:49pm PT
Nice onsight! Glad to hear you liked it.

Did he ever write about how much time he and his partner put into this line? I would love to hear about it.
Yes, I wrote this up back in 1989:
http://www.stanford.edu/%7Eclint/rep/dnb.htm
Impaler

Social climber
Oakland
  Jun 12, 2013 - 02:02pm PT
Great job, Vitaliy! Молодец! Glad that you are still racking up crazy mileage in the mountains! I still haven't gotten on this one...
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jun 12, 2013 - 02:34pm PT
It's nice to be an armchair climber and be pulled along for the ride as Uncle Vittles probes more deeply into the gnar.
orle

climber
  Jun 12, 2013 - 03:20pm PT
Yes, probe more deeply Vitteroni, probe more deeply into the gnar!

Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jun 12, 2013 - 05:41pm PT
I can't believe it doesn't get traffic. Clint put so much work into this route, and it is worth it. Hope more people will get interested in doing this route after reading my TR, classic status for sure IMO. I enjoyed it more than Reg. NF of HD as well. If I could free 5.12, maybe it would be different, but for 5.10 leader HCMT is great. But long. Taking 1L of water each was not enough.

Read Clint's report about FA. HE had a JOURNEY. We on the other hand, had a little short walk in comparison. Makes me feel even better about onsighting the route, in a day without a bivy. Doing North Buttress prior was a good way to scope out Kat Walk. Helped a lot to avoid spending the night up there.

I managed to make the move by barely reaching for a dubiously thin "Thank God" branch extending from a tree above.

HA! When I saw 'grab tree' in the topo I thought I was off route when I barely got a hold of some thin (semi-alive) branch.

From the first time I heard the name the DNB, it always seemed a bit larger than life. The acronym seems to assume that the route is important enough that you should know what it stands for and where it is.

100% agree! Still remember that day in the Valley when I was looking at the topo, reading about the route, and looking up at that line. Thinking to myself that I might be able to climb that buttress after 5-10 years of climbing. It looked so impossible, unreal and suicidal back than.


Where do you think you got off route above the Turret? You say the climbing gets easier around the arete - is that moving from the right?

I am not sure. From the notch we went straight up some crack, than lieback, stance. From that stance the tree was to the left and above, and we traversed left around the arete towards it. Probably traversed left at a different spot. Topo said it is supposed to be 5.8, probably more than one way to do it.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jun 12, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
Fantastic TR and climbing, Vitaly! Over the years, Middle Cathedral Rock has been my favorite formation in the Valley. Your pictures are motivating me to get back in shape (though for something easier). Thanks.

John
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Jun 12, 2013 - 07:14pm PT
> Where do you think you got off route above the Turret? You say the climbing gets easier around the arete - is that moving from the right?

I am not sure. From the notch we went straight up some crack, than lieback, stance. From that stance the tree was to the left and above, and we traversed left around the arete towards it. Probably traversed left at a different spot. Topo said it is supposed to be 5.8, probably more than one way to do it.

There was a key bit of beta that is not shown properly in the topo in the 1994 guidebook.
From the notch behind the Turret, you step left into a right-facing corner.
But you do not go up it. Instead you immediately traverse left into a small left-facing corner. It's a fairly long reach around, but there are footholds.
You go up this halfway (about 15'?), then traverse left again (at a good foothold) to the bigger left facing corner with the tree.


Here's Gleb at the start of the right-facing corner. The easiest way is to traverse immediately left.


Here Gleb has continued up the right-facing corner. Looks nice, but hard.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 12, 2013 - 07:55pm PT
Strong Work V,
You're making us all jealous, but way to go!!!!
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Jun 13, 2013 - 04:32am PT
Sick, thanks!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jun 13, 2013 - 11:03am PT
Ezra, I don't wan't to make people jealous, I want people to climb this line!



From here he climbed up (it was 5.7-8) than did a step left into another 5.9ish short lie back. Than got to a stance on a big arete. You can put in pro there and do a very improbable looking traverse left around that arete which was the crux of this pitch by a mile for us. I am not sure how good the climbing on the original variation is, but this was really fun, with a spot of desperation (don't think it was harder than 10b - d though. Would add another 5.10 pitch to already sustained climb.
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  Jun 13, 2013 - 11:20am PT
i have looked through your pics of this climb like twice in the last few days. sweet stuff.
ag.Fox

Trad climber
Reno, NV
  Jun 13, 2013 - 12:38pm PT
Can't wait to tick this one off! Thanks for all the great pix and beta.
Cheers,
Jon
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Jun 13, 2013 - 01:25pm PT
This is one of those climbs that a lot of us 5.10 people keep in the back of the mind. Hmm, we think, maybe this'll be the season? And the seasons keep rolling by... Good on you guys for going for it!
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Jun 13, 2013 - 01:37pm PT
Wonder if Paradise Lost just to the lest ever gets much traffic?

Great TR. Great stretch of old-school trad stone.

JL
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Jun 13, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
Love the flavor of these kinds of climbs: thanks for putting the report together V!

Paradise Lost: climbed up that in 1988. We had previously climbed the first half of the DNB and rapped down Paradise Lost to beef up the anchors a little bit as they were at the time reputed to be pretty bad. Climbed the full DNB later that season and remember looking over at the terrain on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and was wondering what was going on over there.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jun 13, 2013 - 02:34pm PT
Where can I find a topo for Paradise Lost, and/or North Face route? Any more routes that go to the top of this formation right of Ho Chi Minh, or North Buttress (aside from Father Time)?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Jun 13, 2013 - 03:05pm PT
Paradise Lost topo: Don Reid Yosemite Free Climbs, 1994, page 288.
11 pitches, 5.10 A, ends at the Powell Reed ledges. This is why it was a natural to fix the actors after doing the DNB only as far as the Powell Reed exit option.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Jun 13, 2013 - 05:41pm PT
Chad and I went up Paradise Lost in May 2010 (he climbed, I jugged).
We fixed ropes for Roger, who then rebolted it.
The 1994 topo is a bit outdated because of Jim Beyer's newish route which now overlaps it.
I posted a couple of photo overlays showing where the 2 routes go and current belays are located (plus some photos of Chad leading it) on the "Paradise Lost beta" thread:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1218264
Bottom line is that Paradise Lost is no longer as runout as it once was. Beyer added bolts, fixed copperheads and a fixed pin to the pitch that is marked "poor pro" on the old topo. Apparently he did not understand where the route went, and thought his route was covering unclimbed rock.
The Chief

climber
Laughing at all you angry blinded a$#hat Sheep
  Jun 13, 2013 - 07:39pm PT
Now that is a route worthy of spraying about VM. Did it back in the late Spring of 94' and also found it to be one of the very select few in the Ditch that I call Badass.

Nice job.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Jun 13, 2013 - 08:03pm PT
Done the DNB, Ho Chi Mihn and Paradise Lost. Most of the traffic hits the DNB for famed classic reasons.

Both DNB and Ho Trail share the lower runout slab pitches with less than obvious moves, was terrifying when I expected them to be 5.9 (old ratings) Ho doesn't get as burly as the DNB does up higher with it's sandbagged and physical chimneys.

None of that on Paradise Lost except the run outs. It never gets super hard if you manage to stay on route but good luck with that!

All good mental game climbing and better keep going or you're coming down at night (or sitting and shivering)

peace

karl
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jun 14, 2013 - 02:43pm PT
Thank you Tarbuster, Clint and Karl Baba for your input!

The Chief, nice to see you online, hope everything is good with you! And thank you.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Jun 14, 2013 - 03:03pm PT
Woah, somehow missed this one. Awesome reporting & climbing as per usual Vitaliy. Thanks!

And what a line! Reports like these, showing the lesser climbed areas of the valley are really cool & inspire me to spend some time there sometime.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Jun 14, 2013 - 05:26pm PT
... I'm really choked because Clint beat me to the FA.

haha, this made me smile.
Let's see, what FA/FFAs were you doing at around this time (1986-1991)?
Life Worth Living 5.11d
Return to the Stone Age 5.11a R **
Zap the Gipper
Catch a Wave 5.11d
Abazaba 5.11c A3
Going Nowhere 5.11b
Dancing in the Dark 5.11c *
Holidays 5.8 R/X
Power Point 5.11c R **
Pimper's Paradise 5.11d
Ribbon Falls - West Portal 5.11b
Thin Line 5.11c R
Roadside Infraction 5.12b TR
Cookie Monster 5.12a ***
Machine Gun 5.13c
Ribbon Candy 5.11c **
Southern Belle 5.12d R ***
The Affliction 5.11d R A0 **
Min-Ne-Ah 5.11d
Black Fly 5.13b ***
End Game 5.11b
Sentinel Rock - West Face - Woody-Cos var. 5.12b A0 **

And of course The Shaft (free Muir Wall) in 1994, way ahead of its time.

I think you got in some really good ones!
Of course, there's always room for a few more, and a few tend to "get away". :-)
slidingmike

climber
CA
  Jun 24, 2013 - 12:30pm PT
Another fantastic TR -- great job, Vitaliy!
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Jun 24, 2013 - 02:04pm PT
Most excellent TR. The rock on MCR is so amazing with those little dishes and divots. Watta rad lookin' line.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Jun 24, 2013 - 02:33pm PT
Cool pics and climb - WOW!
wstmrnclmr

Trad climber
Bolinas, CA
  Jun 24, 2013 - 08:51pm PT
Great TR! Jaywood and I climbed the first pitch of Paradise Lost before dark cragging over there this spring. The Reid topo is not right for the first pitch. There are not two bolts at the start of the first pitch off the crack at the pitch 1 belay as shown. The first move is sketchy and unprotected up through 5.9 protected by a couple of wires to get to the first bolt. The bolt is at the junction of two options shown to get to the 5.9 crack. The 2nd pitch belay is actually at the top of the 5.9 crack, at least that's where we found two new bolts.
Edit. So in looking at Clint's overlay (I think I have it right), Pitch 1 of the Reid guide is "a" on Clint's overlay and the second pitch belay I was refering to is Clint's pitch 1. I think you can stretch it out with a 60m but not sure.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Jun 24, 2013 - 08:41pm PT
I'm putting this one on the short list!
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Jun 27, 2013 - 05:35pm PT
"Beyer added bolts, fixed copperheads and a fixed pin to the pitch that is marked "poor pro" on the old topo. Apparently he did not understand where the route went, and thought his route was covering unclimbed rock."

Maybe Harding, or CG, will get their hackles up and pluck his gear in a fit of [self-]righteous indignation.

She was a Ho...
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Mar 17, 2014 - 03:28pm PT
Bump b/c the season for the Cathedral group is ON
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Mar 17, 2014 - 04:10pm PT
I always assumed that this would be a good route given the quality of its neighbors: Stoner's and Paradise Lost (have yet to do DNB). Glad to hear the rumors are true.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 17, 2014 - 05:00pm PT
AWESOME BUMP! THIS ROUTE + DNB AND NORTH BUTTRESS OF MIDDLE IS NOW CLOSED! DUE TO NESTING. : (

But me and Gleb did climb on Middle Cathedral yesterday and it was awesome! And for sure is the season for it!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Mar 17, 2014 - 05:47pm PT
Nice write up. Would love to do some of these routes if I ever get back there.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Mar 17, 2014 - 06:49pm PT
CLOSED!

NOOoooooo. Here's the info:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/climbingclosures.htm
The following areas are identified as cliffs closed to visitor use, including climbing activities, beginning March 1, 2014 and remaining in effect until July 15, 2014, or until further notice:

Arch Rock Area – Lower Merced River Gorge. Closure includes all routes with the following exceptions: routes west of and including “Later” and northeast of and including “Juliette’s Flake” remain open.
B.O.L.T. Wall – Immediately southwest of Leaning Tower. Closure includes all routes on the B.O.L.T. Wall.
El Capitan, Southeast Face – Closure includes all big wall routes between and including “New Dawn,” “Reticent Wall,” “Wall of Early Morning Light,” and “Mescalito.” The first 10 pitches of the closed routes, from the base of El Capitan, remain open.
El Capitan, Southwest Face – Closure includes all routes between and including "Aquarian Wall" east to "Cosmos." The closure also includes the portion of the "Thanksgiving Ledge" between "Aquarian Wall" to "Cosmos." All other portions of the "Thanksgiving Ledge" remain open. The Salathe Wall remains open.
Hetch Hetchy – Closed area includes Wapama Cliff (immediately west of Wapama Falls).
Medlicott Dome (Tuolumne Meadows) – Closure includes all routes between and including “Shambles” to “Bogey Meets Mr. Porcupine.”
Middle Cathedral Rock – Closure includes “North Buttress,” “Direct North Buttress,” “Ho Chi Minh Trail,” and the Kat Walk. At the base, the first 5 pitches remain open.
Rhombus Wall (above Ahwahnee Meadow) – Closure includes all routes west of “Super Slide” to the Ahwahnee Ramps, including all routes on the Rhombus Wall.
The Rostrum (Lower Merced Canyon) – Closure includes “Super Nova” and extends west to all climbing routes on all sides of the Rostrum. The “Jungle Gym” area remains open. Slack-lining is prohibited at the summit and the top of the adjacent cliff.
Yosemite Point – Closure includes all routes between and including “Yosemite Point Buttress” and Yosemite Point Southwest Face, “Min-Ne-Ah.” At the base, the first 5 pitches remain open.
Nest sites will be monitored to provide current information on nesting status and to ensure prompt re-opening of these areas. Closures are subject to change based on current nesting status. Your cooperation in complying with these temporary restrictions is greatly appreciated.

The designation will remain in place until rescinded.

I love birds. I'm all for the ban and speak up for it when people rage about it being bullsh#t.

But god damn the selfish bastard in me wants to climb the Ho Chi in the blissful weather of April! Hoping it gets rescinded early!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 18, 2014 - 01:00am PT
That ban is horse sh#t. Anyone I talked to that seem to know a lot about those birds told me they usually nest wherever without giving a sh#t about humans (that's what other people told me, not claiming it is true, cuz im no expert). Why did they start a nest anyway on the most populated cliffs where humans are gang banging routes every weekend?
Do hope they lift it sooner than later.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Mar 18, 2014 - 01:24am PT
Good shit! Nice job!!!!
overwatch

climber
  Mar 18, 2014 - 01:58pm PT
bump for climbing
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Mar 18, 2014 - 03:38pm PT
Well, I support closures too, but that seems like an awful lot.
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Middle Cathedral - Direct North Buttress 5.11 or 5.10 A0 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
DNB follows a direct and intimidating line up the North Buttress.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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