Southwest Face 5.10c

  • Currently 4.0/5

Mt. Conness

Tuolumne Meadows, California USA

Trip Report
Mt. Conness SW Face (Harding Route)
Thursday June 20, 2013 2:18pm
Bellow average snow year helped me out one more time - Hamik and I managed to climb SW Face of Mt. Conness in mid June! Even though this winter brought a bit more precipitation than last, it already feels like mid August in High Sierra. SW Face was one of the few reasons why I initially thought ability to climb wide cracks was a vital skill to have. At first I couldn't execute a basic heel-toe (for weeks). Than I learned how to knee jam and perform variety of stacks. After a while it actually became fun to learn techniques that depend on practice, rather than ability to crank.

SW Face of Conness
SW Face of Conness
Credit: Vitaliy M.

Hamik jumping over some creek

Memorial plaque at the base

Multiple different people, including a world class alpinist, told me Harding route was serious business. I can't say I got good sleep the night prior, but what's the worst thing that could happen when you are 30ft above your last piece of pro in a wide crack? Again, my worries were obviously silly - no one falls out of squeeze chimneys! And we did end up sending. But whoever said this route was burly, was correct. It was sustained and did not feel very easy. Climbing was pure fun on rare occasions, and often required some thought to get through crux sections.

Hamik starting up pitch 1

Pitch 2...a bit tilted, and super epic

Pitch 4 starts with a nice hand crack and transforms into a slightly overhaning OW

Even thought we did not end up making stupid mistakes on the climb itself, we made one by leaving our vehicle at 5:15 am. We were up above the descent gully by 7:45 am, but our route did not receive any sun till 9:30! Hamik, I, and our new friend Natalia spent almost two hours bathing in the sun before we made our way down to the base. At least we had something to talk about - on our way up we met two climbers who attempted West Ridge, but bailed, and had a forced bivy. It was a bit fortunate they did not see sock-less Natalia hiking in a pair of sandals on her way to solo her first alpine route. At times it is entertaining to observe people epic, but than you got to snap out and concentrate on avoiding own f-ups. We started down and Hamik started leading at 10:45.

Bolt protected OW! Just like going sport climbing :)

Hamik coming up the final squeeze

Hamik starting up 6th pitch

We climbed the route in 8 pitches and divided it in four blocks of two. Hamik's ability to crush thin cracks and lie backs earned him first two, and my ability to trash my way up OWs earned me the following couple. I thought pitch two and four were two distinct cruxes of this route. Second pitch has a powerful roof with a thin crack (strenuous for a guy with above average hand size) and a delicate lie back section higher. Fourth pitch starts with an awesome hand crack that goes from thin to wide and transforms into an OW. It is protected well by a BD #6, but unfortunately was left side in (my weaker side), and seemed slightly overhanging. Business didn't last too long and I was chimneying up remaining squeeze while adoring the old bolts placed by a FA party. Even thought these bolts are more like a historic artifact rather than a piece designed to keep you from decking, I clipped one anyway. : )

One of the last headwalls (pitch 7)

Hamik feeling a bit fat

View of Half Dome and TM from the summit

Hamik led the next two pitches above the big ledge, and I took the last two before we unroped and scrambled to the summit. There was some serious ice fall coming from the corner into which the original route transitions and Hamik took his pitch straight up to a big roof instead. From there he climbed a moss filled hand crack which felt like a painful 5.10c in it's present wet form. Remainder of 6th pitch had beautiful grooves with horizontal dikes that formed great stems or stances for rest. After 6 hours and 15 minutes on route we huffed our way to a hard earned summit. A few weeks prior I appreciated the view of Conness from Half Dome and today it was nice to view Half Dome aligned bellow other mountaintops. We were able to hike out with plenty of time to spare before the sunset. It was a real treat to start my 'alpine' season with a Harding route, hopefully I will do the other route of his on Keeler by the time this year expires.


Natalie crushing 5.10 slab in TM

Sunset. View of Cloud's Rest

Tip of the month for all of you OW lovers out there: do not expose too much skin at work after a weekend of trashing - people will question your sanity if you tell them the truth. : )

Alpineglow on Half Dome

Half dome a bit later in the evening. TM is a beautiful place with a lot of climbing!

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Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

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Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
  Jun 20, 2013 - 02:21pm PT
TFPU!!! that one is on the list fo sho. Solid work by both you and Hamik!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Jun 20, 2013 - 02:25pm PT

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jun 20, 2013 - 02:36pm PT
Excellent! Thank you much.


Trad climber
under the sea
  Jun 20, 2013 - 02:41pm PT
Sweet photos of half dome etc...can't wait to see what goes down in Peru.
CA Dreamin'

  Jun 20, 2013 - 02:49pm PT
Good man! Nice trip report on a phenomenal climb. It brings back fond memories. Keep sending and sharing your TRs. They are thoroughly enjoyed.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 20, 2013 - 03:06pm PT
Way to go V!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sounds burly!!!!

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Jun 20, 2013 - 03:13pm PT
Great route and excellent TR. Thanks for sharing!

Social climber
the Wastelands
  Jun 20, 2013 - 03:26pm PT
good read and photos

well done guys!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jun 23, 2013 - 11:39pm PT
Thanks! Hope Peru will be a safe and filled with lots of climbing of all sorts!
Harding route is for sure a must do, WML!

Mountain climber
I offer nothing to the discussion
  Jun 24, 2013 - 11:06pm PT

Gittem V!

Trad climber
  Jun 24, 2013 - 11:29pm PT
Sweet pics. Nicely done!

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Jun 24, 2013 - 11:36pm PT

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Jun 25, 2013 - 06:35am PT
my friend told me that we are all closet masochist. Def. question our sanity.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jun 25, 2013 - 07:13am PT
Nice TR.....great pics, I love that climb!

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  Jun 25, 2013 - 09:37am PT
Great work V...

I actually met and climbed with Natalie this last weekend... she ranted about having a blast climbing with you and H. ;-)

I gave her an off-width 101 in TM at olmstead canyon this weekend... she passed with flying colors... she crushed the intro exam on Ivory Tower left... ;-) and got a solid A in the two OW pods on Lord Caffeine.. ;-)


Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jun 25, 2013 - 09:43am PT
Sounds like I should add Vitaliy and Hamik to the celebrity sightings thread! Nice job guys.

Social climber
  Jun 25, 2013 - 09:47am PT
Great pics! Thanks.

Trad climber
  Jun 25, 2013 - 11:34am PT
great post thanks
laurel arndt

Trad climber
  Jun 25, 2013 - 05:31pm PT
Awesome post, beautiful alpine glow pic!!!that is the route we aimed for and ended doing West Ridge (also glad to hear someone else had to bivy it)

Social climber
Rohnert Park, CA
  Jun 26, 2013 - 02:09pm PT
To be fair, we only bivvied, we didn't bail.
Brian Biancardi

Trad climber
  Jun 26, 2013 - 02:23pm PT
Thanks for clarifying Pat. Summited late, yes. Epiced, yes. Cold, yes. Bailed, no.

Mountain climber
Pasadena, CA
  Jun 26, 2013 - 02:59pm PT
Way to keep going, dudes. Having been in your shoes recently V and I legitimately felt your pain and wished we had some tea in a thermos or something. So the green camalot station wasn't yours?
Brian Biancardi

Trad climber
  Jun 26, 2013 - 04:34pm PT
There was a party below us that did bail and I know they left a lot of pro. That was below the notch on the West Ridge though.
Jebus H Bomz

Peavine Basecamp
  Jun 26, 2013 - 04:59pm PT
I hate V.. He's doing my entire season's objectives in a month.
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
  Jun 26, 2013 - 11:31pm PT
V just goes from one great climg/tr/photos to the next. Love those alpenglow shots.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jun 26, 2013 - 10:29pm PT
There was a party below us that did bail and I know they left a lot of pro. That was below the notch on the West Ridge though.

Yeah, our friend said she racked a nice rap station which included a nut, cam, sling, quickdraw and a locker. She was super happy.

Nice to meet you guys, but hope next time we see each other in different circumstances!

Jebus, I had to get all the desire to climb rock out of me before a 7 week trip to Peru. One more trip report from High Sierra and that's it till August or September. :(

Mountain climber
Pasadena, CA
  Jun 26, 2013 - 11:06pm PT
What the hell do you think I'm going to do--lead all the rock pitches in Peru while you jug, eat cuy, and pet alpacas? Bring your damn rock shoes! :-)

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jun 27, 2013 - 02:27am PT
And that's when you go for the Harding route on keeler needle?

Nice work! Classic route

Trad climber
  Jun 27, 2013 - 05:21am PT
Very envious. Thanks for the pics!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jun 27, 2013 - 08:59am PT
And that's when you go for the Harding route on keeler needle?

That one is on the list, but I hope I get to do some FAs when I return. Hope to get on Keeler too though...

Social climber
  Jun 27, 2013 - 11:21am PT
Nice pictures Homie! Cool report! I second the motion re. Harding route on Keeler. I'd love to see some of your pictures from there.
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Mt. Conness - Southwest Face 5.10c - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Tuolumne's proudest face.
Photo: Craig Adkins
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