Regular Northwest Face 5.12 or 5.9 C1

 
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Half Dome


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Mark's Near Onsight of the Half Dome Death Slabs
Saturday March 22, 2014 4:30pm
Before Mark and I set out to attempt an onsight of the slabs, I remember my strategy to live through the Death Slab part: trust that I should have no problem soloing the 5.6 sections with the fixed ropes; should I slip for some reason I'd use the rope to catch my slide. That worked for me. Unfortunately, Mark will have to attempt a Red Point of the approach next time. We did get the onsight for the route though.

Moments after this was taken, Mark ass rode the section from the trees...
Moments after this was taken, Mark ass rode the section from the trees at the top of the gully through the bushes and past the lower border of this photo.
Credit: The Jardness

I remember the incident with the clarity that comes from a near brush with death. I was soloing the slabs with rope in hand... just in case. Mark mentioned the s#$% rope, moments later he is pruning a slab dwelling manzanita with his ass, and next he is wiping his freshly soiled pants down the granite towards me. If not for the shrubs, he likely would have tomahawked though 100+ feet of 5.6 (my preferred medium for performing the tomahawk maneuver is snow). His slide was of a semi-controlled nature: mostly sitting on his pack and glissading on his approach shoes.

Seeing him clutch the flaccid rope, after some moment of confusion, I was able to decipher the dire nature of the scene that was unfolding. There was a moment of terror and disbelief when I realized that I must make a split second moral judgement call: attempt a somewhat futile intervention (putting myself in great danger), or get the f$#@ out of the way and possibly deal with the emotional ramifications of being a bystander of my friends demise.

Being the foolish romantic that I am, I had to attempt to prolong this bromance. My plan was to swing into him at such an angle as to slow his rate of descent, grab his bag to slow him, and additionally direct the good rope towards him as he passed (in hopes that he may grab it). My greatest fear was that he would instinctively latch onto me and drag me down with him.

He never did grab that rope, but miraculously stopped on some small protrusion 15 feet before a near vertical section. Simultaneously, a melange of relief and dread washed over me. I was relieved that Mark and I were still alive, but terrified that he may never want to climb or bivy next to me again. I down climbed back to him relieved to discover only minor wounds.

Now overcome with despair at the inevitable prospect that Mark would wish to bail, I prepared for the walk of shame back down to Mirror Pond. Before either of us could begin a dialog (other than the sort of obscenities and laughter that ensue after such an incident), that crazy bastard put down the 30 foot section of cotton rope that had no business being up there and proceeded to have another go at the approach. I took a deep breath of of that intoxicating Sierra air, and proceeded forward towards the crux of the approach. This time I made sure that I was not in his fall zone. I was both happy to be alive and spend one more night under the stars bromancing with my partner, my climbing partner, Mark.

Happily Ever After!  Someone had to cull that dangerous tat from the r...
Happily Ever After! Someone had to cull that dangerous tat from the route.
Credit: The Jardness

Despite getting jammed up by some slow parties we couldn't pass we sti...
Despite getting jammed up by some slow parties we couldn't pass we still did the HDIAD.
Credit: The Jardness

Selfie from somewhere on the RNWF
Selfie from somewhere on the RNWF
Credit: The Jardness

I loved the route so much I came back for seconds the next week with m...
I loved the route so much I came back for seconds the next week with my partner Ivan.
Credit: The Jardness

  Trip Report Views: 1,154
The Jardness
About the Author
The Jardness is a trad climber from San Francisco. He is happily married to his wife Pamela who has since strangely lost her interest in the multi-pitch experience after hearing too many such stories.

Comments
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Jim Clipper

climber
from: forests to tree farms
  Mar 22, 2014 - 06:30pm PT
I thought it was customary to bring a knife for the tat.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Mar 27, 2014 - 11:02pm PT
LOL, sweet!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Mar 28, 2014 - 12:05am PT
Glad the slabs didn't live up to their name!
TFPU
Tad
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Mar 28, 2014 - 12:07am PT
hey there say, the jardness... very nice report... thanks for sharing... i can see pics now, and it wonderful! nice rock there!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Mar 28, 2014 - 01:24pm PT
I lol'd - clever writing always gets me good. Write up another!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Mar 28, 2014 - 02:45pm PT
I love this, and I loved the companion TR as well.

John
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The Regular Northwest Face.
Photo: Mark Kroese
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