South Face C1 5.8

 
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Washington Column


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
My Second Wall - South Face Washington Column IAD 7/2012
Wednesday July 25, 2012 12:52am
Last month I tackled my first wall. The Prow on Washington Column, TR here:

http://www.supertopo.com/tr/The-Prow-my-first-wall-6-2012/t11504n.html

After The Prow I found myself thinking, these walls are tough man, is it really that fun? But as my body healed and the fear faded, the stoke of my first wall remained, and I was ready to get on another one. I get a call from my buddy Laughlin (pronounced "Locklin") saying that he has some time off in July and wants to get on a wall in Yosemite. He is a really strong free climber, but has not done much aid climbing at all. Despite this, I know he is a solid and smart climber so he will be able to figure it all out when we are up there. We meet up and decide that the south face would be a good route since the aid is easy and there is a decent amount of free climbing. We make the typical planning of fixing to the 5th pitch, sleeping on dinner, and then finishing the next day. Sweet, good plan, see you in a couple weeks and let's do this thing!

In the following weeks I had a lot of time to day dream about the wall. The thought kept popping into my head; maybe we should just do it in a day? The first three pitches will be fast...the kor roof doesn't seem that bad....only three real pitches of aid after that.....then some free climbing and we are there....yeah it could work.

Laughlin and I met up a few days before the climb to make the final plan and sort gear. We looked at the topo, and almost simultaneously said, maybe would should just shoot for a day? We had the usual back and forth of what if this or that happens, but in the end it was decided, in a day it is!

We got to the Valley around 12 at night and parked at the Ahwahnee. We packed my Metolius Quarter Dome haul bag tight and started the approach. About 5 minutes from the base of the wall I had a horrible sinking feeling inside me as I realized something.... I was going to strap my helmet to the haul bag on the outside, but I forgot to. DAMN!!! Time to walk all the way back to the car....
Realizing I forgot my helmet in the car
Realizing I forgot my helmet in the car
Credit: briham89
I always wanted to do the approach twice!!! Oh well, what can I do. I run back and forth and soon we are near the base. We bivy at the base (i know tisk tisk) and I toss and turn all night because I can never sleep well before a big climb.

The next morning we are climbing by 6am. No one in front of us!! Woohoo SF to ourselves.
1st pitch Washington Column
1st pitch Washington Column
Credit: briham89
The first pitch is basic, and the 5.8 free climbing is pretty fun!
2nd pitch south face washington column
2nd pitch south face washington column
Credit: briham89
Laughlin wants to free climb the 5.10 section on the 2nd pitch, but he ends up on the 5.11 section. On the topo it shows the 5.11 part right above the tree, but it is to the left and the 5.10 part is even farther left. Oh well time for him to get some real aid climbing in anyways!
Looking down the 3rd pitch. South Face, Washington Column
Looking down the 3rd pitch. South Face, Washington Column
Credit: briham89
The third pitch is easy free climbing and BAM we are on dinner ledge!!! I said, I'm glad we are doing this in a day because we would have been hanging out here for a long time if we decided to do it in two days.
Traverse over to dinner ledge
Traverse over to dinner ledge
Credit: briham89
Laughlin racking up for the Kor roof pitch
Laughlin racking up for the Kor roof pitch
Credit: briham89
Looming up above us was the Kor roof. After doing the Le Conte Boulder the roof didn't look that bad. Even though I wanted to lead it, it was Laughlin's turn and he took off up it.
Laughlin heading up the 4th pitch
Laughlin heading up the 4th pitch
Credit: briham89
As I was belaying him a party was heading up the third pitch. Turns out to be a young guy from New York and a guy from the Czech Republic. They had never done a wall before (or aid climbed) but met in camp 4 and decided to give the South Face a whirl. The were pretty sure they were going to bail after the 5th pitch, but I said you are up here early, you might as well give it a go!
Laughlin about to pull the roof
Laughlin about to pull the roof
Credit: briham89
Laughling cruises the roof and only uses the top bolt as pro to make cleaning easier. HOWEVER, he back cleaned his first few pieces after the roof. As I am cleaning the roof, I see the rope go from the top bolt and then sharply over the roof to the right. This will be interesting..... I clean the top bolt (kind of hard, I had to swing and pull on the bolt) and then let go.....I swung really far right, and the rope sawed across the lip of the roof back and forth as I swung in space. I knew it was unlikely that the rope would actually get cut, but it was still a horrible feeling watching and listening to the rope saw across the roof as I swung. I managed to not die once again, and finished cleaning the pitch.
Looking down to dinner ledge from the anchor at the top of the 4th pit...
Looking down to dinner ledge from the anchor at the top of the 4th pitch
Credit: briham89
Cleaning the 4th pitch. SF washington column
Cleaning the 4th pitch. SF washington column
Credit: briham89
Leading the 5th pitch. SF washington column
Leading the 5th pitch. SF washington column
Credit: briham89
The fifth pitch starts to the left of the anchor and goes up two bolts to one placement and then a roof. The bolts were not shown in the topo correctly, but follow the two bolts to the left of the anchor (pretty obvious which way to go.) The pendulum on this pitch is really fun!!! I know it isn't quite as epic as the king swing, but I still had a big ol' smile on my face as I swung across. Laughlin cleaned the pitch quickly, I taught him how to lower out, and we were cruising. We didn't haul the fourth pitch and instead hauled from the top of the 5th with the bag sitting on dinner ledge. This worked out nicely and was fine with a 60m rope.
Credit: briham89
Laughlin headed up the 6th pitch and then started to move really slow as he got close to the belay. I couldn't see him, but yelled up to see what was going on. Apparently he missed where he had to free climb right and ended up aiding up a crack to the left. He figured out a way to access a ledge and walk back down to the belay. Meanwhile, I was watching the young kid aid through the 5th pitch. He seemed a little freaked by some of the blind placements on the roof, but I cheered him on and he made it though it.

The next problem occurred when I had to clean where Laughlin had gone off route. I jumared up to his high point and watched how the rope went from the one green alien I was standing on, back down about 15 feet to my right and 5 feet below me. Trying not to think about how far I would swing if that piece blew, I reached high, clipped a fixed head, cleaned the alien and had Laughlin lower me so I could pendulum to the anchor. The crack was close enough that Laughlin cleaned the draw off the head when he was cleaning the next pitch. I could have also lowered out, but this seemed faster. Sweet! Problem solving on a wall is actually kind of fun after all.

Next I start up the longgg 7th pitch. This pitch eats up nuts (haha I just said that) and is pretty straight forward c1 with some easy free. The one part that was exciting was starting up the double crack section on the second part of the pitch. I started in the left crack and then when that stopped I had to make a big reach to the right crack and blindly stuff a cam in. The placement was bomber, but the reach was a little exciting. I get to the achor, fix the rope, and start hauling. When the bag gets to me I immediately pull out a water bottle and food. I'm dehydrated and starving. I always make the mistake of forgetting to eat and drink. I also had a why do this moment. I was tired, hungry, and dehydrated. I looked over to Half Dome and thought, how am I going to climb that, or El Cap if I'm already tired on this. I said why do I climb walls? It's hard work, it's scary at times, but for some reason it's all I want to do (except in this moment.) The food and water helps, and I find myself starting to have fun again. Alright, my head is back in the game let's finish this thing.
Credit: briham89
View from top of pitch 7
View from top of pitch 7
Credit: briham89
Hanging out at the top of pitch 7
Hanging out at the top of pitch 7
Credit: briham89
Laughlin reaches the anchor and says something to the effect of, my feet hurt like hell! Walls are tough. I'm glad he was feeling the same way I was. I say, at least the aid is mostly done and we are almost there! He starts up the 8th pitch with some aid and then frees the rest. The haul bag got stuck a lot in the chimney, but I was able to guide it through when I was cleaning.
Laughlin starting up the 8th pitch
Laughlin starting up the 8th pitch
Credit: briham89
Looking up the 8th pitch chimney
Looking up the 8th pitch chimney
Credit: briham89
Sweet views of Half Dome from SFWC
Sweet views of Half Dome from SFWC
Credit: briham89
Looking up pitch 9. It start with a little easy chimney work and then ...
Looking up pitch 9. It start with a little easy chimney work and then moves out right to some face moves to a crack that gets easier the higher you get.
Credit: briham89
The 9th pitch went smoothly with a little aiding in the middle and then free climbing the rest. The ledge at the top of pitch 9 was nice to sit on. It's not very big, but it was nice to not be hanging. Laughlin headed up the 10th pitch and then I got us to the top on the 11th. The bottom anchor for the 11th pitch (top of the 10th) was to the right and not to the left of the big pine tree. I walked over to the left just to see if I could find the anchor, but could not. Instead I climbed up and left from the anchor and into the sandy gully. Hauling this sucked, but we were at the top!! It was 5:58pm. We had done it in just under 12 hours! I had my typical walls are hard, why do we do this moment, but of course it was also mixed with excitement from another summit victory. I asked Laughlin what he though of his first wall and his feelings were similar to mine when I finished The Prow. He was tired and wasn't really sure he liked walls (especially after we hiked down north dome gully and back to the car.) However, the next day we hung out in El Cap meadow for a little while and the stoke hit him. He was excited for his next wall and so was I. Visions of climbing El Cap while we were on the Column were just of suffering, but from the meadow it looked fun. I'm sure we will be on the big stone soon....probably this Fall. And then I'm sure we will get a real taste of suffering and stoke at the top!!! Second wall in the bag, Grade V IAD check, feeling stoked and ready for more!!!
On top!!! Woohoo!
On top!!! Woohoo!
Credit: briham89

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briham89
About the Author
briham89 is a big wall and trad climber from los gatos, ca.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
10b4me

climber
  Jul 25, 2012 - 01:02am PT
always wanted to climb that
Shack

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
  Jul 25, 2012 - 02:17am PT
Nice Job.
Looks like you could have done without the pig or just left it on Dinner.
Nanook

climber
  Jul 25, 2012 - 06:00am PT
Congrats! Nice report.

Wild to think that the thin crack of Southern Man has gotten climbed enough to start suckering people away from the C1 easiness of the SF,hahaha. If lowering off the fixed head wasn't an option, the two cracks are still relatively close there and your buddy could have swung over while cleaning the next pitch and retrieved your alien(might have had to clean a few pieces and then rap down and grab it but easy enough with the grigri).

Going all the way to the summit(and walkin it off) really sets the wall stoke deep. Good thinkin.....might want to have the second jug with the bag on pitch 11 if you do it again.

cheers,
erik
yosemitebigwall.com
RP3

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Jul 25, 2012 - 07:43am PT
Great job and congrats!
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 25, 2012 - 10:21am PT
10b4me- Get on it!!!

Shack- We wanted to walk off the top and not rap since we wanted to walk all the way to the top. A backpack could have worked for sure, but it was nice to have a small bag and not have to carry a bunch of water on our backs.

Nanook- Thanks! And what you described is actually what we did, I just wrote this last night and wasn't clear enough (lazy) in that section. I'll edit it so it makes more since, but thanks for the tip anyways!! That was the plan to walk off the top. It's proud to get all the way to the top.

Thanks RP3!
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Jul 25, 2012 - 10:25am PT
excellent!!!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jul 25, 2012 - 10:49am PT
Great job! You got faster than 'just slow'! : )
WyoRockMan

climber
Flank of the Big Horns
  Jul 25, 2012 - 11:14am PT
Strong work! Nice TR.
neversummer

climber
30 mins. from suicide USA
  Jul 25, 2012 - 02:29pm PT
Good stuff...
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Jul 25, 2012 - 03:04pm PT
Twelve pitches climbed and hauled is a great day, and attests to a good partnership working smoothly together. Nice job, dudes!

When you go for HD, I'd favor the second carrying a backpack over hauling. It's what everybody says, and everybody is right!
laughlinbarker

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jul 25, 2012 - 05:19pm PT
Since you'd been aiding more than me Brian, I just wanted to make those sections a bit harder for you. ;-) Next time I'll leave more pieces above the roof traverse for ya!
Shack

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
  Jul 25, 2012 - 05:44pm PT
We wanted to walk off the top and not rap since we wanted to walk all the way to the top.

Got it.
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 25, 2012 - 08:20pm PT
Haha Laughlin. I'd say all and all we did really well for never really climbing much together before!!

Vitality- haha thanks. It seems that way at least :)

Thanks for the tip le_bruce and thanks everyone else
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jul 25, 2012 - 08:47pm PT
briham! you did it! great stuff!

briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 25, 2012 - 10:46pm PT
Thanks munge! Hopefully I'll see you on the pass soon
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jul 25, 2012 - 11:46pm PT
Yep, def. Not this weekend, but the following.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 26, 2012 - 07:51pm PT
Nice job and write up boys!!!
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 27, 2012 - 11:14pm PT
I'll be climbing Thursday - Saturday next week. Might head up to the pass munge.

Thanks Ezra!
mtnyoung

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Jul 27, 2012 - 11:25pm PT
I'm proud of you for summiting (and for not rapping from one pitch below the top and then saying you "did" the route). Good job.
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 28, 2012 - 02:17am PT
Thanks Brad. You were right; I definitely had to climb that last pitch. It would not have felt complete without it.
Macronut

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
  Jul 29, 2012 - 01:04am PT
Makin' me jealous! Great stuff and nice report. Way to think on your feet. Seems to me that's what this big wall stuff is all about. Seems were runnin' parallel lives, but were putting El Cap off until next fall. Keep it up!
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 29, 2012 - 06:03pm PT
Thanks macronut! I have dreams of climbing the captain this fall, but August just filled up with a rafting trip (I know poor me) and then school starts again :( So might not happen but I can dream right? You're totally right about the parrel thing. I remember reading your guys's TR on royal arches right before I did it haha. Hopefully I'll see you up on the big stone someday!
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Washington Column - South Face C1 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The South Face of Washington Column.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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Astroman takes a brilliant steep and clean line.
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The line follows a series of small features.
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Skull Queen.
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The steepest route on the Column.
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Ten Day's After, A3 5.8
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A series of steep corners lead to an exposed face.
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