North Face 5.11c

  • Currently 5.0/5

The Rostrum

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
North Face of The Rostrum (IV 5.11c)
Thursday November 21, 2013 10:59am
Getting out to Yosemite is always fun, but even better when a good friend is celebrating his birthday. Hamik and I have not climbed together since Peru, but were psyched to try something difficult.

Two psyched guys + birthday climb = The Rostrum

We talked about working up to this route since the Spring. I was skeptical about getting on this Yosemite test-piece in 2013. Concentration of 5.11 pitches seemed high and just a few weeks earlier I got spanked by Don Juan Wall (5 pitch 5.11b). I did not want to fall all over this route and cause a traffic jam. However, I saw photos of other people climbing the Rostrum, got excited about trying it for myself and wanted to see if I can correct some of the things that went wrong on Don Juan. In addition, Gleb and Mark were also joining us on the route to maximize the stoke.

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Me starting up the first 5.11a crux (thin fingers to thin hands)

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The Rostrum and colors of the Fall

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Reed's Pinnacle

The Rostrum turned out to be as good as I expected. Pitch after pitch of steep crack climbing made me wonder how did the nature create such a perfect climb?! My personal battle was to avoid overprotecting tough sections and to commit to hard sequences once I managed to place adequate gear. After Hamik led the first pitch, I got my first test – a thin 5.11a section. It was went well and I did exactly what I planned to do. I placed a piece from a good stance, fought off fear, and climbed past the crux till it widened enough so I can get a semi-solid hand jam. It felt good. Hamik took the third pitch to the large ledge where we had lunch and discussed how thin and scary the crux pitch looked. Before jumping to pitch four, I must say the third pitch is one of the best pitches on the route. Not hard enough to spit us off, but very sustained and interesting. It has challenging sections which involve lie backing, stemming, and straight jamming.

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Hamik on 3rd pith - 5.10b

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Me on 5.11c fingers crux.

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Hamik on 5.10d LB pitch. IMO one of the cruxes of the Rostrum

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Since pitch four is the crux, we used ‘rock, papers, scissors’ to decide whose lead it was. Last time we played this game was on the summit of a 6,001 meter Chacraraju, in a whiteout. We wanted to determine who will abseil from the sketchy anchor first. On the Rostrum this game was much more pleasant! Like on Chacraraju I won. Since I never led a 5.11c pitch I was a little intimidated. I can’t even ‘flash’ 5.11c in the gym! But after picking the rack (mistake #1) I started up. To my surprise I found good finger-locks, placed adequate number of cams, and ran the 5.11c fingers section to a rest stance. The rest stance is sort of active, and I couldn’t get a no-hands rest. I went into the ‘5.11b lie back’ and found it to be very different from what I imagined. It was more like a delicate face climb through a series of flakes. Here I made my second mistake – I got pumped placing a piece right before making the last few moves to the intermediate anchor. Even though I transitioned into the final crack on my left, I did not have any juice to do a thin hand jam. It was a little frustrating because after I fell and took a few minutes to rest the moves seemed trivial. Even though I did not “send” the pitch, and no longer could glorify my mountain-project tick list with “soft, flashed the 11c pitch brah,” I was proud of my attempt. By the way, my first mistake was taking all the gear to link the two mini pitches. Even though it helped us with time management, it did not help me carry less weight. Who knows, if I dropped off all the gear larger than a single BD .5 cam, maybe my ticklist would be a little more impressive!? : )

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Me showing off the butt on 5.10c traverse

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Mark is psyched about climbing the Rostrum for his 583721th time, this season

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Team behind us on 10d LB

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It is a freaking steep LB!

Back to the climb itself, Hamik took the next pitch. Eh… just another one of those amazing cracks with a fierce 5.10d lie-back at the end. If you saw that gnarly youtube video and wondered “How the f*#k am I ever gonna climb the Rostrum?!” yes, this is THE pitch. Hamik took a BIG fall going for the glory on the lie-back. If it was my lead I do not think I would have a chance in hell to get it clean. My arms were feeling like spaghetti on the final moves, but somehow I got to the final jug. With the pump through the roof it took me forever, and a small fall, to figure out the 5.10c traverse to start the sixth pitch. Not sure what my mistake was on this section, maybe I just suck at face climbing? But after figuring out the traverse I was surprised by the strenuous climbing ahead. I expected to walk the next section, but getting to 5.10a OW required work, and the OW itself was a bit burly. I expected an Indian Creek style splitter but was rewarded with hand stacking and calf jamming through a few bulges. After I thought about it, I agreed with a 5.10a for this section. If Generator Crack is 5.10c and Vendetta is 5.10b, than this has to be a 5.10a.

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Hamik on the last crux of the day - pitch 7 (5.11b)

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Our awesome campfire

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This place always delivers the goodies

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The Rostrum.

Pitch number seven was a bit burly and took us some time. It featured an overhanging hand crack and another mix of crack climbing to the anchors. The final thin crack seemed like the crux to me but I managed to get it clean. Since we started a bit late, took our time climbing the route, and let a party pass, the light left us earlier than we wanted it to. Pitch eight had to be climbed by headlamp. Even though this pitch is considered to be one of the easiest sections of the route, it sure did not feel trivial in the dark. Getting over the roof and into the OW was not easy! After both of us joined my friend Gleb on the summit we walked back up to our cars with moonlight illuminating the path. All of us were impressed by how good the climbing was. Even though I had two hangs, I felt happy about correcting some of my usual mistakes. One step at a time and climbs that I have on my bucket list will end up on the list of goals for next season! The weekend basically kicked ass and I had a lot of fun that night with old and new friends alike. On the other hand, in a semi-comical fashion, the birthday boy suffered a shiver bivy at a camp ground!

For more TRs visit:

Since this trip report was posted I went back to Yosemite and DID SEND the Rostrum! With my friend Gleb, who also SEND :)

  Trip Report Views: 4,510
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.


Social climber
Lida Junction
  Nov 21, 2013 - 11:12am PT
Good job guys. That definitely looks steep.
Great pic of the river.

Trad climber
Sad the forum is gone =(
  Nov 21, 2013 - 12:06pm PT
RAD! Now you gotta go do it clean...I just gotta go do it still for the first time. Maybe I'll see you at the talk =)

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Nov 21, 2013 - 12:09pm PT
Great TR as per usual Vitaliy!

  Nov 21, 2013 - 12:44pm PT
Nice dude! Can't wait to go back. I was surprised how good the locks were on the crux too!

Edit- Happy Bday Hamik!

Oakland, CA
  Nov 21, 2013 - 03:12pm PT
Great job, great TR.

Mentally committing to climbing above gear in crux sections can be one of the toughest challenges in on-site climbing. It's something I would like to be better at. Typically for me when I'm climbing near my limit - which is when I most need to keep moving - the monologue goes "Oh God grim grim grim the piece is now at my waist, and another at my knee, better place again as high over my head as possible!"

That video is ridiculously intimidating.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
  Nov 21, 2013 - 03:24pm PT
Really great shots of the pitches.

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Nov 21, 2013 - 06:08pm PT
Yehaah! BBST

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Nov 21, 2013 - 06:37pm PT
This place always delivers the goodies

Ain't that the truth. Your reports and adventures are always a class act!

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 21, 2013 - 08:01pm PT
Nice V, you are on a roll!!!

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Nov 21, 2013 - 09:19pm PT
" My personal battle was to avoid overprotecting tough sections and to commit to hard sequences once I managed to place adequate gear."

I think we share at least one personal battle.

Congrats on gettin' after it and thanks for the tour!
Johnny K.

  Nov 21, 2013 - 11:58pm PT
Awesome pictures and climbing guys.

It was a little frustrating because after I fell and took a few minutes to rest the moves seemed trivial. usual case


Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Nov 22, 2013 - 12:19am PT
So stoked!

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
  Nov 22, 2013 - 02:20am PT
On my first trip up the Rosturm I got all the way up to the 5.11b overhanging pitch having onsight lead the crux pitch and the .10c flare. I got into the fingers section of the 5.11b overhanging pitch just before it gets into cupped hands, lost all power and fell out. I couldn't even finish the pitch and had my partner finish for me. I the next exit offwidth pitch, climbed up, back down, up again and finally gave up in fading light. The Rostrum kicked my ass.

Nice TR, thanks for posting it.

We should climb soon.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Nov 22, 2013 - 02:31am PT
Salamanizer, would be awesome. I heard you want to do Basket Case again? >:)


Trad climber
  Nov 22, 2013 - 05:01am PT
Vitaliy...always an inspiration. Keep it up.

Social climber
Wisteria Ln.
  Nov 22, 2013 - 06:29am PT
The best photos I´ve seen of the Rostrum.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
  Nov 22, 2013 - 09:23am PT
Beautiful, Vitaly! Way to sack up and get it done. I've enjoyed watching you improve over these last couple of years. You'll be on-sighting 12's in no time.

Joshua Johnson

Boulder climber
  Nov 22, 2013 - 10:43am PT
More spray for a Friday.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Nov 22, 2013 - 10:56am PT
Beautiful, Vitaly! Way to sack up and get it done. I've enjoyed watching you improve over these last couple of years. You'll be on-sighting 12's in no time.

Thanks BAd! But for 2014 my goal is to be able to do Rostrum without falls. No 5.12s even close to the horizon. I think 5.11c section on the rostrum is soft. It is certainly not Butterballs or Espresso crack in Bishop. But who cares, it was an awesome climb. And if I am able to do Astroman in the next few years without falls, I'd be stoked.

Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  Nov 22, 2013 - 03:37pm PT
Another great trip report with great pics. You amaze me with your passion for climbing. Also considering English is your second or maybe third language you certainly have command of the written word. Hail to Vitaliy!

Sport climber
  Nov 22, 2013 - 04:29pm PT
Thanks for carrying the spirit of climbing... and sharing it...

Random Nobody
  Nov 22, 2013 - 04:53pm PT
Vitaliy M. - Great TR.

Thanks for the photos. Nice shots really brought me there
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Nov 22, 2013 - 05:02pm PT

Oakland, CA
  Nov 22, 2013 - 07:09pm PT
Vitaliy, or anyone else who's climbed it, forgetting about grades given on the topo, what is your ranking of hardest three or four pitches? That is, hardest pitches ranked for someone's first time on the climb?
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Nov 22, 2013 - 07:47pm PT
2nd pitch has a cruxy thin spot, 4th pitch has the steep fingercrack with a LB, 5th has a powerful lie back in the end, with a potential for a long ride if you blow the last moves, 6th is not trivial and might be a problem for those who don't do OW, 7th has a pretty difficult spot before the anchor, and on the last pitch you gotta do a pretty big runout (climbing is not too hard though) if your largest cam is a BD#5. None of the pitches are trivial, but they protect well usually, are aidable, and it is very easy to bail from the climb.

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Feb 4, 2014 - 05:46pm PT
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Feb 4, 2014 - 06:00pm PT
I returned to the Rostrum a few weeks ago and did SEND! RP pitches 4 and 6 and led (2 and 8)/followed the others clean! My partner also send the route! Another fun outing :)

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Feb 4, 2014 - 08:14pm PT
Way to go back and crush it

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Feb 4, 2014 - 09:44pm PT
Most excellent Vittles! When does the Rostrom normally close in the spring? Marchish?

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Feb 4, 2014 - 09:56pm PT

One little fall, Vitaly? Sheesh, I think you flashed it!

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Feb 4, 2014 - 10:04pm PT
So the North Face was a Grade V bitd. When did it change?

Social climber
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  Feb 4, 2014 - 11:53pm PT
Awesome TR Vitality. I agree in your a*#essment of the 10D lieback. Feels about as hard as the 11c fingers and the 11b hands to me.

Half Dome Village
  Feb 5, 2014 - 01:08am PT
So the North Face was a Grade V bitd. When did it change?
Probably about the time people stopped climbing it with a rack of pins and aiders. It's only 800ft tall, which is 200ft taller than Nutcracker (III).
The Rostrum - North Face 5.11c - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
One of the finest multi-pitch 5.11 climbs anywhere.
Photo: Mark Kroese