Regular Northwest Face 5.12 or 5.9 C1

  • Currently 5.0/5

Half Dome

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
NW Regular - Climbed by Knot Swinging
Sunday November 29, 2015 9:40am
It was fantastic to climb this classic over 3 days (16th-18th Sept) as I had wanted to do it for over a decade and we thought after the rockfall were probably being a bit optimistic even starting.

We nearly ran away after getting to the bottom of the wall and it rained overnight and morning of 15th. But having come this far we dried out our gear and headed up Wednesday morning. We were travelling light without a porta-ledge, but hats off to the two Mexican lads who were also at the bottom (Jose and his mate) who did not even have a sleeping bag, singing in the rain at night under a tree!They walked out as we headed up.
Drying out ready to head up
Drying out ready to head up
Credit: Climbingtrev

So we headed up, having put a rope on the first two pitches between showers the day before (well done Gav for free climbing the 5.10C pitch). We got across the first pendulum on pitch 9 but could see a wandering shower across the valey and also figured we did not have enough light for the missing pitch so retreated to sleep on the ledge at the bottom of pitch 7.
We headed back up to the Robbin's traverse and the new pendulum with the extra new bolts, which worked really well to take us the the arcing groove before the gap to the hanging chimney. As agreed I would get this fun part trying to bridge the gap. The guys at the gear shop in Curry village had told us that one party had crossed the gap but we had no idea how. So after 2 hours I had tried penduluming, sky hooking both tiny flakes and the hairline crack running down from the chimney but these were just too tiny to make headway without putting any permanent hardware in. As two visiting British climbers we did not feel we had the right to put anything permanent in this American classic. By this time I was as high up as I could get on aid gear, about 6 foot higher than the old bolt on the right wall of the corner to the left of the blank slab. From a 1/2" shallow cam placement I tension traversed around the corner almost level with the bottom of the chimney and about 30ft left of it. I pulled up 40ft of haul bag rope and tied a monkey's fist in the end (remembered from scouts) After a few tries a loop with the knot went into the bottom of the chimney and part of it out of site down a crack on the left. Gavin lowered me down onto the wall as I pulled carefully on the haul rope. It held my weight, hallelujah, I jumared up the haul rope into the chimney.
The missing section, from the chimney on the other side
The missing section, from the chimney on the other side
Credit: Climbingtrev
Wedged monkey's fist
Wedged monkey's fist
Credit: Climbingtrev
Interestingly the knot was knot was not tight as the rope itself had wedged just before the knot. So for anyone following - any knot will do, you do not need a fancy one.
We then headed up to big sandy for the night then finished at 10.30pm on head torches the following night.
Gavin Singleton left and Trevor Wilson Right resting on thank god ledg...
Gavin Singleton left and Trevor Wilson Right resting on thank god ledge
Credit: Climbingtrev
This was long, hard and fantastic but someone will have to put something else in the missing pitch to make it a sane crossing. Probably a few bolts up and out onto the blank wall to allow a pendulum into the chimney base.

Thanks to our friend Katy Mouritz and the ranger who met us at the top, Katy's guide down saved us about an hour, just as well as our plane left 12 hours after we topped out. Also thanks to our other friends back at camp who packed up our tents and stuff while we were on our extended wall trip.

Happy Climbing

Trevor Wilson & Gavin Singleton
Peak Climbing Club, Sheffield UK

PS feel free to contact me if you want any beta

  Trip Report Views: 4,355
About the Author
Climbingtrev is a trad climber from Sheffield, UK.


Trad climber
  Nov 29, 2015 - 09:48am PT
Nice job, cool trick with the knot throw!

  Nov 29, 2015 - 09:52am PT
Good job men ......

  Nov 29, 2015 - 10:04am PT
Thanks for the TR!

Mountain climber
The Ocean
  Nov 29, 2015 - 10:33am PT
Pretty sure you are the second group I have heard of succeeding by use of a rope throw.

Almost sounds like consensus..hah! pretty classic technique actually. Gotta want it bad to pull that out of the bag of tricks.

Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
  Nov 29, 2015 - 11:24am PT
BBST. Nice TR.

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Nov 29, 2015 - 11:42am PT
Very cool! Congratulations.

Ice climber
  Nov 29, 2015 - 01:02pm PT
Very nice !!

  Nov 29, 2015 - 11:13pm PT
way to get it done. excellent improvisation

Gym climber
Minkler, CA
  Nov 29, 2015 - 11:45pm PT
Sounds like it should be call the Irregular NWFHD now.

head torches
Many British terms (stand in a que?) sound kinda dumb, but I wish the USA would adopt this one. I'm going to!

I'm no aid climber but I wonder what the aid rating on something like this is?

Thanks for sharing and congrats on topping out the INWFHD!

PS, where is Sloan when you need him?


Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Nov 30, 2015 - 02:16am PT
Well done, you two! Crossing with a rope toss strikes me as something Robbins would have done if confronted by a similar problem. I think your ascent preserved the essence of the first ascent.

In answer to Daniel's (limpingcrab's) question above, the first ascent of the Rowell-Coe route on the South Face of Fuller Buttes involved a nut throw of fairly long length. Rowell rated it A3 in one account, and A? in another.


Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Nov 30, 2015 - 10:26am PT

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Nov 30, 2015 - 12:26pm PT
It sounds like A1, meaning that the knot throw is solid, and you don't have to worry too much that it will pull out. From the looks of it, anyone could do it given proper motivation.

Pain in the butt A1, though.

What would happen if you fell, or the knot slipped as you got near it? If you faced swinging back and hitting something, like a corner, it would be different. It looks like you will just take a big swing on a bolt if the knot pulls out.

I think that this is three ascents that we have TR's on since the rockfall. Everyone did the same thing, right?

Trad climber
  Nov 30, 2015 - 02:58pm PT
VERY SPORTY,,,I have a feeling theres gona be some variations to this route for hopfully a long time,,cheers mates,,

Trad climber
Portland Oregon
  Nov 30, 2015 - 04:04pm PT
At least until somebody posts that they did it not swinging.

Good job.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Nov 30, 2015 - 04:32pm PT
well done with the knot throw!
Flip Flop

Earth Planet, Universe
  Nov 30, 2015 - 09:03pm PT
Woop woop! Nice TR. Sea monkey tricks. Noice!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Nov 30, 2015 - 09:53pm PT
Tricks and shenanigan fun!

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  Nov 30, 2015 - 10:47pm PT
Was so psyched for you guys when I heard this went down. Congrats!!!
Half Dome - Regular Northwest Face 5.12 or 5.9 C1 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
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Photo: Mark Kroese
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