Trip Report
Not the Midget Chimney (Photo TR)
Friday April 18, 2008 12:06am
Alternative title:
Help us figure out what the hell we climbed on Lower Cathedral.

A month or so ago we gave Bridalveil East a run, but got pushed back in a hissing douse of wind-blown waterfall midway through the third pitch. Very cool start and we'll be back for that one.

Never were sure we were on route but the climbing was excellent, and somewhere up there is the Midget Chimney: lurking unseen and menacing, in my mind at least. Damn did we want to climb this pitch. Alas, not today.

Here’s what that part of this story looked like:

8 a.m: “Waterfall looks thin, viejo – let’s charge the Midget Chimney!”




Still looking dry, spirits high, no idea what the next 16 hours will entail:



There may have been subtle indicators that we were going to get wet.





But subtlety won't get you to the Midget Chimney. Let's climb up there, viejo!




Getting wet now. Shivering:


Jumping ship:


Hiding from the hissing menace behind the Return to Stone Age buttress:



Wandering back into the sun to dry off, we passed under the Return to Stone Age buttress and after +/-150 ft. saw the start to what looked like a cool line. A clean, short splitter led up to a ramp, which angled up and (climber's) left out of view. Let's try it!

The start of climb X (the chimney left was another obvious start to the same line):

Step left here to start second pitch:

More second pitch:




The third pitch involved bushwhacking through a hanging forest before being spit out onto a steep face. Climb this face via a three-tiered pyramid of scary-ass detached blocks, and presto, you’re 200 feet from the Overhang Bypass.

The two blocks that I’m using as handholds make the top tier of the Tiered Pyramid of Scary-Ass Loose Blocks, and have to be used to traverse over the exposed face onto the ledge. Both are perched on a larger loose block that you must traverse with your feet, and both wobble in your hands. Pull down, not out! Nice lead, Nutjob.



Overall, the climbing in these three mystery pitches was really good - some wide climbing up to 5.8(?), great views of El Cap and the Ribbon Falls amp, and some scary ass loose blocks as the route’s signature forget-me-nots.

After emerging into the ramp system where the 5th class climbing starts on Overhang Bypass, we gunned for the top.

After the Pig Trough:

Nice views:

Belay after the bad-bolt traverse:

Said bad bolt:


From there, it was an easy jaunt* back to the car:


*We grunted and cussed our way down the descent, negotiating the snow-choked gunsight in the dark with one headlamp. Steep snowfields had us sliding on our asses with size 3 and 4 camalots in each hand, trying not to slip to our deaths. All rap stations were under streams of melt-water. For all three raps, the first guy to rap took the headlamp while the second whimpered in the dark under a faucet of freezing hypothermia sauce as the small globe of comfort that the LED offered dimmed further from view, leaving that poor bastard to shiver in the demoralizing and wet darkness before blind-rapping himself through intermittent sharp boulders and drop-offs and bloodying up his limbs all the while fretting over knocking his teeth out with one slip into a face-mangling edge. But hell, 4 hours ain’t so bad to slide on your ass in the snow and bloody yourself up in the dark sharing a headlamp while thrusting wide cams into the snow with frozen and lacerated fingers!

All we wanted out of the day was a run at the Midget Chimney.


The line we climbed is drawn in on this pic, not sure it will be big enough to discern. Anybody know what it is? Doesn’t appear in any of the old guides that we have.


In retrospect, a great day!

  Trip Report Views: 2,041
le_bruce
About the Author
le_bruce is a climber from Oakland: what's not to love?.

Comments
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WBraun

climber
  Apr 18, 2008 - 12:15am PT
Yes this route is a super climb.

Did you see my 5.11 finger crack variation to the last pitch?

Nice photos of the climb.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 18, 2008 - 12:35am PT
Somewhere there was a 5.11 type crack as a right variation when we exited left in a much easier spot (that was right above the easy 5th class part where we simul'd).

Hypothermia sauce -- loved it!

It was good to practice breaking down belay setups, retying knots and threading ropes, etc. in the cold, dark, and wet.

It doesn't sound like much, but using the #3.5 and #4 cam lobes for ice axes was really the part that will stick with me most vividly. It's a good thing we were racked for Midget Chimney!

The traversing steep face pitch was way out there. Think light, weight nothing. Even the steep face before the blocks was kinda weird, not knowing if we were heading into disaster or going toward something that would top out. But that's what made it so cool. Especially considering the rain drops that speckled the rocks as we considered whether or not to bail.

And Bryce, you left off the part where you were stemming between the main wall and the VW Bug sized rock near the top, and the thing rocked out 3 feet in a slow horrifying sway. That had you freaked! By that point I was not touching anything I didn't have to.
mojede

Trad climber
Butte, America
  Apr 18, 2008 - 01:48am PT
Thanks for sharing that--a text book example of a successful, adventurous trad climb.

With a little (lot) of H2O thrown in for a test of will and determination.

Good omen having the wide gear, even though it was unintentionally necessary for that purpose, its functionality proved useful.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Apr 18, 2008 - 02:24am PT
I got lost fiddling around by Bridelveil Falls once and had a minor epic.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=40071

PEace

Baba
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Apr 18, 2008 - 04:15am PT
Cool adventure. I can't help you with naming the mystery route (I haven't climbed in that area, unless you count rapping down Overhang Bypass after doing Beggar's Buttress once).

About getting wet - I'm reminded of how my partner once explained it - the wind shifts to blow from the West at around 11am or so, so be ready. That is what happens on the East Buttress of El Cap as well. Dry in the morning, soaked at noon....

If it wasn't wet on those raps, one trick when you only have one headlamp is to use the display on the camera as a second light - it's enough to check your rappel setup, etc.

Thanks for sharing!
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
  Apr 18, 2008 - 07:07am PT
Cheers for adventure TR with plenty photos.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Apr 18, 2008 - 09:31am PT
Thanks for the TR fellas!
... now get back up there and find that Midget Chimney for us.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 18, 2008 - 05:23pm PT

Clint, that's the exact wind scenario we ran into. Must be like clockwork.

Prod

Trad climber
  Apr 18, 2008 - 05:48pm PT
Hahaha.. Good one.

Prod.
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
  Apr 18, 2008 - 07:03pm PT
fun tr.

a cell-phone display works for a little light, too (as i discovered in a very similar situation)
Gene

climber
  Apr 18, 2008 - 07:06pm PT
Wow...

Did you see that shirt?

I want one.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 19, 2008 - 01:47pm PT
Yo dudes, you have to patrol grocery and drug stores to pick up gems like that shirt. I'm always on the look-out.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Apr 19, 2008 - 02:28pm PT
Just a brief reminder from earlier posts about Bridalveil East. There is a very fun 5.8 (5.9 nowadays) variation to the normal 5.10 route with the Midget Chimney at its top. This easier variation is called Bridalveil East Aqua variation in the Red Roper guide or the green one. Its an old Royal route. Did it back in the 60's. Its last pitch finishes by ascending from the large tree about 40 ft left of the actual falls, near its lip, above a huge grass covered, secret ledge there. Kind of spectacular. Rather steep climb, but fun and safe. I used to have the description on disk, can't find it presently. But a recommended route. You leave the East route after the first two pitches (which by the way are amazing, stuffed with secret holds and things 5.8), traversing right in several zags, following bay tree choked books, but rather novel and fun. Have to do it after August usually because of the spray.

best PH
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Apr 19, 2008 - 03:19pm PT
Get your Haan ass up here in August and guide me up that puppy Peter. I'm scared of not finding it again! Somebody draw me a topo! I'm too new school to manage it!

Peace

karl
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Apr 19, 2008 - 11:35pm PT
Thank tons Karl,

How do you do it? Year after year, this amazing, level, warm-fringed voice. We are so fortunate to know you... Even if many of us have never met you. What a cool guy.

It is true, KB, that it is also a Karl route. Certainly a guide-able one. Since I flashed it as a teenager back 43 years ago, it can’t be too stout. I remember a kind of miraculousness to this steep route: holds appearing just when they were needed, but not obviously, route just trickling onwards, improbably, and never hard, mist sometimes traveling towards us in a thrilling sort of way, but never disabling. Clawing up these weird long tongues of bay bushes, pungent wonderful odors springing out of them, covering oneself and the rope.

Magical especially in the first couple of leads, and that one keeps working right in ways that are really not obvious from below but while you are in front of it, exactly what to do. From the ground the route is intimidating and frankly not obvious. Very much all about climbing, or at least as we knew it back in time. RR hardly remembered this climb, and kind of minimized it when we talked about, when I worked for him. It is not Grand but really fun.

I’ll get a better description up soon, contact you and this is what we will do. But meanwhile, I want to do some stuff with you sooner. Will get back with you!! I need to resume the art; I’ve been wanting to return to it all for some time; it has been hard.


best PH.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Apr 20, 2008 - 01:21pm PT
"How do you do it? Year after year, this amazing, level, warm-fringed voice. We are so fortunate to know you... Even if many of us have never met you. What a cool guy."

You might not be reading all the threads. I lose some of my cool once inwhile for sure.

Looking forward to seeing you and doing something classic (in a chossy sort of way)

Peace

Karl
climbrunride

Sport climber
Golf Wall, CO
  Apr 21, 2008 - 02:07am PT
Hooray for adventure climbing! Nice trip report.

It's also fun to read Karl and Peter's old stories. You guys have good memories.
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Apr 21, 2008 - 11:09am PT
TR bump! Good job!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  May 6, 2008 - 09:54am PT
Here is the Roper Green Guide 1971 description of the Aqua Variation (named that in the Red Guide I think) and of course of the regular route that involves the Midget Chimney:

Bridalveil Fall-- East Side III 5.8 A1 or 5.10B

Mark Powell and Warren Harding 8/1957

This route lies in a very steep chimney system just left of Bridalveil Fall. Ascend a polished crack system 20 ft to the right of the main chimney for about 140 feet to a small belay ledge. Pitch 2: climb a slot for 30 feet, then traverse left into the main chimney and ascend it 50 feet to a belay ledge. Next two chockstones must be passed (5.7)) to reach a belay ledge 130 feet above the belayer. Pitch 4: move left and climb a very steep 40-foot wall to a tree. Step right around a corner and climb a wide slot, then exit left from it and belay 40 feet higher. A bit of easy climbing leads to the base of an overhanging jamcrack. Several aid pins up and left lead to a short friction slab; above this, 200 ft of class 4 climbing leads to the top. Iron: 12 pitons up to a 1-1/2” angle.

In 1964 Frank Sacherer and John Morton climbed the overhanging jamcrack to avoid the short aid section. This is 5.10 and makes it possible to complete the route without aid. ((This is the Midget Chimney pitch)).

In 1961 Royal Robbins and Rich Calderwood made a significant variation, which is also totally free. From the belay ledge above the chockstones, traverse right (5.8) for 15 feet to a prominent lieback crack. Climb this , then traverse right into a gully. Ascend this until 40 feet above a tree ((filling the gulley)), then traverse right and climb onto an obvious ledge. From its far end, descend a few feet to a spectacular hand-traverse which leads to a ((large)) tree only 40 feet from the waterfall. A steep corner containing an easy chimney leads to brush slopes. A few bongs (up to 2-1/2”) should be included in the hardware selection.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Oct 31, 2008 - 06:24am PT
Aqua variation trip report w/ overlay photos:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=712080
CAMNOTCLIMB

Trad climber
novato ca
  Oct 31, 2008 - 10:36am PT
love the bolt
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
  Oct 31, 2008 - 10:41am PT
That shirt...

It's so hypnotic.





Nice report. Thanks..
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Sep 20, 2011 - 05:53pm PT
Before the wind picked up:


I liked this evening light (it was better than the pictures seem). I think the huge loose stuff that rocked out away from the wall was somewhere near here:

PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
  Sep 21, 2011 - 02:37pm PT
TFPU!

If it wasn't wet on those raps, one trick when you only have one headlamp is to use the display on the camera as a second light - it's enough to check your rappel setup, etc

A cell phone works well for this too.
Josh Nash

Social climber
riverbank ca
  Sep 21, 2011 - 04:34pm PT
Mr_T

Trad climber
Northern California
  Sep 21, 2011 - 04:42pm PT
Bridal Veil East is probably good to go right now. The falls are probably down enough that you can start out of the pool at the base. Doing this in April??? That's just crazy.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Apr 16, 2013 - 08:22pm PT
Bridal Veil East via Midget chimney another exiting unfinished project Bryce and Scott started...
early September 2013 to re-try ?
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 16, 2013 - 08:18pm PT
Awesome, thanks!!!!!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 19, 2013 - 01:14pm PT
What a trip, had forgotten about this one. This was one of our first climbs together, eh Nutjob? Right after we tried Braille Book in December. We did everything wrong that season, but set a tone for the partnership that has lasted and lasted, ha ha ha.

I do think it could work in spring - a quick party could get up and over the four or five pitches that get wet before the winds Clint describes push the fall into your lap. Not sure what it's like up top and whether you'd encounter that spray again. But climbing just to the side of the waterfall was really neat.

Alexey count me in, brother. Scott? Ed?
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Apr 19, 2013 - 01:44pm PT
Bridalveil East via the hand-traverse variation has been on my list for a long time. I heard about it very early in my climbing career, since Rich Calderwood was one of my early teachers.

When Powell wrote up the first ascent of the regular route in the SCB, he mentioned a steep 40-foot wall being led bereft of pitons due to the necessity of hanging on with both hands. This engendered a worried editorial comment from David Brower.

Climbs like Bridalveil East and Arrowhead Arete make me appreciate the boldness of Powell and his group in the mid-1950's. Considering the equipment available, and the lack of precedent climbing at that level on such big routes, they were remarkable, indeed.

John
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Apr 19, 2013 - 06:53pm PT
Oldie TR. first time read. Awesome adventure. Midget Chimney just sounds scary. Thanks for this fun and obscure TR!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Apr 19, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
Micronut,

We need to put this on our locals' radar. Rich Calderwood (who teamed with Robbins on the waterfall variation) is a Fresnan.

John
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Apr 19, 2013 - 08:34pm PT
I was looking for first -hand story about how was Midget Chimney climbing.
I've heard different descriptions of how this 10c - hard, ... fukking hard,... scary, etc, but never from the the person who really climbed it
bob

climber
  Apr 19, 2013 - 08:42pm PT
Alexey, its not hard or scary or any of that sh#t. Its a beautiful corner that is hands for big folks and tight fists for me. Either way a knee heel thing keeps it all in order. The thing is so hyped its ridiculous. Have fun up there and send me a pm if you need a partner.

Bob J.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 20, 2013 - 01:22am PT
I'm thinking an autumnal outing would strip out some of the adventure. I think the key is to just bring an umbrella as insurance and stick with the beauty of spring.

That said, I won't be able make it this spring. And damn I hung leading the 5.8 easy fun stuff before the main attraction on Hourglass Right. Maybe a bad biorhythms day, but it seems that I'm becoming soft in the land of socal sport climbs. Sure, it's geography's fault...

Maybe I'll change my tune by the fall. Hey, "climb near the fall in the fall and hope not to fall." That has a nice ring to it. I'm saving my main fall aclimbing window for a week at Indian Creek! Never been.

If we do enough advance planning, I can do a Monday adventure in Yosemite in the fall. It was wonderful to be back, just like coming home again. So many things left undone, so many urges, but so it goes.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 20, 2013 - 01:31am PT
One more bonus anecdote from the original "Not the Midget Chimney" adventure. Such an eventful day this little tidbit was lost in the mix for a while, but I was just mentioning it to le_bruce last weekend.

On our approach, we had no idea where we were going. We should have sauntered farther up the creek toward the base of the falls. But we started up a random spot of the cliff far to the left. It was scrambling at first, and we each picked our own way up toward a bushy ledge. Before I realized what I had gotten myself into, I was about a hundred feet off the deck, in thick hiking boots, stemmed out under a bulging rock that I had to bear hug and do an insecure move to surmount. My foot was pawing at one side sliding in dirt and the whole situation got real serious real quick, probably dirty 5.6 in hiking boots looking at a few seconds of air before pancake if I choked it. I obviously made it, but that was probably of my closer brushes with grave misfortune. By the end of the day it barely registered as a footnote!

After that we met up in the bushes and swam through overhead bushy stuff on a sloping ledge to traverse into the route from somewhere in the middle or end of P1. In any case, that's one I want to go back and finish. It was a fun route.
Ryan Tetz

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Apr 20, 2013 - 01:34pm PT
Here is a photo from our trip in 2010 looking up from the start of the midget chimney.

Midget Chimney- the shot is actually a slightly overhanging bulge.
Midget Chimney- the shot is actually a slightly overhanging bulge.
Credit: Ryan Tetz

Good luck finding the route. Be sure to read the roper green text when looking for the route. The line drawn on the photo overlay in the newer reid guide will put you in the wrong crack system.

The correct rack would be about three #3s and two # 4's. If you had more you'd use em if this route was at indian creek etc. We had to use one big piece fairly soon to make the anchor legit by our standards. Lot of oldschool chimney groveling.

I sand bagged Jeremy out of the Camp 4 line to get on this promising to lead the climb. Here he is after cleaning the pitch below the chimney:
Credit: Ryan Tetz
Ryan you sand bagger face!
Mr_T

Trad climber
Northern California
  Apr 22, 2013 - 07:01pm PT
This whole wall should be really good by late August, given how little rain we've got this year. There's a ton of new route potential up there.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
  Apr 22, 2013 - 08:07pm PT
Bob and Ryan , thanks for valuable info and +photo .
this thing is really looks good
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 24, 2013 - 01:08pm PT
So that's the pitch... Great pic, Ryan - thanks for putting that in here. Stokes the fire within.
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