You’ve seen Ox’s video documentary on his trip up the Prow.
Part A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk5pGob0V5E
Part B: Ox Gets Dirty http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_4NcL2g3-8
But as with all adventures there are different sides to the story. Here is my narrative account. On that note, the separation between where Ox starts and I end blurs at times, especially alone together on a big wall …
Yosemite road construction projects funded by the Obama economic stimulous package added 2 hours to get into Yosemite Valley. This included closure of the road to the Awahnee which tacked onto the approach hike. The last 400 yards of the approach Ox pooped out so I grovelled both loads the last bit in two trips. Arrived at the Prow base at 3pm, three hours behind schedule. Another party on the prow was off route 25 feet to right of p2 anchors, misled I think onto 10 Days After. Looked like they had a big white cooler slung under the haul bag? Another party was on p4. Sh#t, I started climbing. Lot’s of great tunes on the MP3 and perfect 70’s temps. At some point I saw a party rapping off, not sure which one. Reached b2 at 7:30p and after some argument I convinced Ox we better finish p3 that night. Ox the cotton-head wimped out so sharp end was mine. Low on gear, I rapped, cleaned back up to b2, and bust into p3 with the headlamp. Leading in the dark went fine except I kept doing things like threading gear and fifi through the middle of my aiders and the giant bite of lead rope clipped into a locker to backup my gri-gri. Did this three times in a row on initial moves out from under the roof, then again on the exit 5.6 move at the end of the pitch making it feel much harder. Ox just laughed and said things like “XYZ, that looks like mank, you forgot to clip last piece.” Adolescent cotton-head as#@&%e.
Found one guy on the sloping ledge and a mixed couple hung above in a portaledge. Under the ruse of clipping in my anchor I repeatedly groped their asses through the portaledge hoping to get a party going. Ox started in with its sexy voice, “ya want some deep purple monster baby?” When they asked what was with the purple talking doll, I told them it was a horny hermaphrodite. None of this was getting the right reaction. Lame bunch. We split, swinging far right on way down to clean the b2 anchor so could jumar and haul p2&3 in one shot next morning. Set up the ledge at b1 and were in bed by 1am. Bummed at the rejection by the 3-some, Ox tried getting frisky with me, but I pulled the tired excuse, “not tonight honey I have a headache.” Ox shifted its moves onto Henrietta our pig, while I put in my ear-buds and passed out to Clair de Lune.
Slept in until sun got too hot at 8:30. Ox was already up trying to hump a reluctant ground squirrel. It was a slow morning and I debated calling the charade off. Ox didn’t seem to be pulling its half the load or taking things seriously at all for that matter. But I couldn’t face a 4th failure on Washington Column so slammed a Monster Energy drink and roused my lazy bones. Fajita’s leftovers from last night easily covered breakfast. I assessed the food/water situation and decided if tonight’s Lamb Vindaloo could also be Sunday’s breakfast and could limit water to 1L/day, we would be fine through Monday. Ox wanted to continue wooing the squirrel so I took the 1st lead of the day. Don’t remember much of p4 or 5 so they must have not been too bad, or maybe just the heat of mid-day sun. Or I was just in the groove now, focused, yeah that must have been it. Pitch 6 was perhaps technical crux of climb with lots of thin gear on a dead vertical wall. Several insecure mashies at top on lower angle terrain entering the Strange Dihedral. One had only a few strands wire left. Quickly switched onto a hook move above, scared that if I blew the mashies I wouldn’t be able to finish the lead without retreating down for the hammer. Ox had forgotten to set up the tag line of course.
Slights of the day forgiven, I set up bivy and portaledge in fading light, while Ox layed out our Indian dinner and lit some candles to set the mood. Kama sutra time.
Woke up 5:30am energized, ready to bust ass and top out. Ox announced p6 had spooked him and the Strange Dihedral was my lead. You’d think an ugly monster would have more courage. Looking at his cute visage you couldn’t be mad though. His ruff was rumpled with cotton tufts eaking out the seams from last night’s activities. The Strange Dihedral actually turned out to be the easiest pitch. I had plenty of gear left so continued directly to link p8 which involved a highly exposed tension traverse right, then aid up mediocre fixed gear. Back-cleaning 1st few pieces increased the pucker factor but made cleaning later easier. 10am. Rapping back to p7, I found Ox covered in crumbs and gook. Clearly on a munchy binge it had near wiped out our lunch nibbles including three 4x-caffein GU packets. At least it was finally jazzed to take a lead. Good thing - many cam placements in the flaring crack that formed the middle of the next pitch only got good contact on 2 lobes, but this was plenty secure for Ox given his low weight factor. Ox was burning up the cliff like a raging bull until he hit a section of crack glistening with a healthy growth of well watered green slime, which adhesed to his purple fur like hug-tight sticky glue. Whipping Ox repeatedly with flicks of the haul line knocked him off, and after recovering from the leader fall it found a face alternative and soon reached b9.
P10 was a total pain in the ass because of the pig eating groove (backwards this is groovy eating pig). Using many techniques (split pitch in half, directional, hauled mid-pitch from gri-gri) we successfully avoided stuck pig, but the extra complexities probably took as long. Topping out today not looking likely anymore. Feet getting really sore now. Whine whine. Ox would owe me a good foot message in the ledge. The 2nd half of supertopo p10 went free at mostly easy 5th and Henrietta cleared a few mini-roofs with group body English. We soon had the portaledge all set up. The Yosemite weather report announced participation possible in morning, 100% by afternoon. Sounded like participation wound start out rain then turn to slow as temperatures dropped. My lips already getting cold and hard to talk. We took extra care arranging the bivy for possibility of an early storm.
Tonight is beer night! Ox and I put on our cowboy hats and laid out a spread of chili, beans, guacamole and 20oz Steel Reserve malt liquor – our last fluid aside of one Gatorade bottle. Umm Ummm & Party Time!! A cold downdraft blew down the chimney system. Ox yanked the sleeping bag over its exposed feet and spilled the full beer can all over it. Furious, I cinched him up in a stuff sack and tossed it 20’ down the route strung on a cordellete. Maybe that would teach the beast some care on the wall. I’d say he drives me crazy but that would be hypocritical coming from someone doin’ a wall with a stuffed purple ugly monster doll for a partner. Wrapped up in the beer soaked bag, I set the alarm for 5am and shivered my sober self to sleep, rasping my tongue over dry gums and dreaming of fruit juices.
After a night in confinement Ox was in no shape for leading so I was on the sharp end again. The supertopo indicated a 4.5” piece on p11 and my biggest was a #4 camalot. I worried I was in for a few stiff 5.9 wide crack moves to by-pass this section, but I rocked quickly through with a few big reaches and 3.5” biggest piece. The narrow dihedral in the middle was constricting and awkward. Blew two poorly placed pieces but each time caught myself with a hand jammed in the crack for balance. P12 went fast. Thick clouds had been rolling in over the south valley rim, and the drops I had been feeling all morning turned to steady frigid rain. Felt too sketchy to solo up the haul bag on the thirty foot 4th class section above the p12 belay tree so fixed a jumar line and split into three loads. By this time ropes were soaked and heavy. Ox and I shared our last food, a tin of sardines served on a piton. Victory?
All glory of the up was sapped by the misery of the down. Numerous sections of 4th class rock were far too slippery to do carrying Henrietta. Not sure I could carry her down them even if they were dry. Penalty of a fall was too severe. I went through all the techniques. Pig lower, pig rappel, pig drag, kick, and toss. Anything to avoid pig carry. In one moment of brilliance I lowered Henrietta over a 40’ slick slide to avoid the tiers of jagged steps the “trail” took. She snagged half way at a point I could not climb to. This added half an hour of rock tossing, rocking, rapel cinch/lower. Ox was whining and smelled like wet sock. Meanwhile great views of Washington Column’s profile briefly showed through the wandering cloud and fog. Six hours later I picked face out of the dirt after my 50th stumble and found myself on the horse trail, just as the sun went down. A large brown bear gave me the once over and went back to ransacking the stash a young vagabond couple had holed up in their Indian Caves hideaway. I saw them later on the trail bringing a beer picnic back. They said they were trying South Face themselves in a few days and offered a Big Bear Stout to us as congrads. Ox perked, snatched the beer, goosed the girl, and handed me the car keys.
P1: easy C1, 25’ 5.4 moves at half way point, C1F, long seam protected mostly with micronut tapered brassies and a few small aliens. Easy 5.6 rock over onto ledge protected by #7 metolius. Unclipping my aiders from it a bitch in the dark.
P2: Initial 10’ 5.6 traverse was slimy from dripping water. Did not feel comfortable making the balancy high reach to 1st pin standing on slime so started on a small alien. The dihedral did not seem near as awkward as on attempt in Oct. 2009. Protected with a few small/med nuts but mostly aliens. Lots of fixed gear sped things along. Two mashies protecting traverse left into final 15’ crack were decent quality.
P3: Whole pitch protects great. Initial 5’ roof, huge fun, protects great. Long dead vertical crack, many .5 – 1”. Back cleaned a lot. #4 Camalot in weird downward pointing niche. At 80% point, traverse left using fixed gear, 2 poor mashies, old bolt. Sling mini-pinnacle to avoid free movies. Move of 3-4 more fixed pieces achieves good cam placement. A high red alien can be placed up left on ledge to protect final free exit move. Felt 5.8 in dark.
P4: Dead vertical wall. First set of 10+ new bolts goes fast. Then C1 with placements in crack in back of shallow groove. Several good edges help making high placements. Just before belay a solid cam on right protects traverse on 2 scary mashies, medium reach off big solid hook placement in divot to another insecure looking mashy clipped with aging cord, cam (red alien?) placement with only partial contact for outer lobe, then finally a solid cam placement and anchors.
P5: Almost dead vertical pitch. Straightforward C2 and maybe fixed pin lead to long bolt line diagonalling right. Described as reachy but I my 6 foot frame easily reached most of them from 2nd aider step. Maybe a few more C1 placements before b5, can’t remember.
P6: May be hardest technical pitch. First ¾ of the pitch followed what could be described as an infant flake, basically a 1 foot deep left facing dihedral with a rightward crack in the corner. Lots of 3/8” – ¾” placements, a few leaper cams, small nuts. Not much fixed gear. Happy for the 1 or 2 good bolts. Hook move about 2/3 up, should have put farther left in shallow carved divot but ended up hanging off downward sloping right edge. Several insecure mashies at top on lower angle terrain entering the Strange Dihedral.
Difficulties rapping & cleaning p5&6 taught me few things. Leave 5’ slack in rap line, otherwise tension can make rapping hard. Had to pull myself down the line at a few points. Add enough slack, preferably 15-20’ in lead line before tying off that can be used to lower the pig. Lowering can be done with a cordelette with a rapel device, but much easier to use gri-gri with lead line at a steep hanging belay. Rope bags a must for rope management. One can be used immediately at the belay to start stacking the available slack in the haul line. Also handy storage spot for jackets.
P7: Low angled allows much high stepping and high placements. About ½ placements are fixed mashies, bolts, pins. Big easy step right near end to reach thin crack that goes 20’ to anchor. Anchor is two old pins but can be backed up with free gear.
P8: Starts with a 8-10’ 5.5 traverse with 5.20 exposure to reach a clip into some old mank. Praying it held I eased up to a old pin, maybe a cam, then a good pin. I back-cleaned this and put long sling on the good pin to avoid a big swing later when cleaning. A few more skeptical pieces achieved a bomber orange1” cam placement, fixed pounded nut, mashy, then at last solid bolt. The free section at the end was easy and could be well protected. Watch rope-drag if not solo-aiding.
P9: Annoying. If freeing use the good bolt, otherwise go far left. Move left after short head-wall to low angle flaring grove. Protection here hard and poor, many placements only had good contact for 1st two cam lobes. Rightward lean of last narrow dihedral was awkward. Or maybe my feet were just getting tired and sore at this point. No fixed gear.
P10: No fixed gear. Right facing steep dihedral gradually switches into lower and lower angle (5.8 then 5.5). Hauling direction is likely to draw pig into a pig clutching groove to right. To avoid, place a direction at the top of the dihedral. If soloing, set belay at nice ledge 20’ up and right. Haul pig until it buts up against a small roof. Rap down end of lead line with gri gri, holding haul line. Free pig, haul 10’ from this spot hanging on gri-gri, jumar up, remove directional, haul remainder. Fifteen feet of 5.7 crack leads to 50’ of 5.0 up a deep grove then 5.3 moves up short ledge system to big sloping belay ledge with 3 bolts. Great bivy with portaledge.
P11: 5.5 free climbing up groove then up left onto awkward shelve from which good bolt can be reached. Start aid climbinb or 5.9. 4.5” piece indicated on supertopo not needed. Big big reach gained deep placement for #2 camalot, then another big reach placed #9 Metolius. Then 40 feet of narrow dihedral with wide range of sizes. 25’ 5.1, then last 15’ over a buldge onto blank slope and anchors can be protected with a big cam on left then big nut where the slope and left wall pinch together (just a pinch, not a real crack). Backed up old bolts with #4 Camalot on crack above left, #9 Metolius probably big enough too.
P12: Easy step right to 2 pins, good bolt, then 10’ 5.4 up to 4th class. Keep ropes following climbing route. Belay at big red pine tree slightly to right. 25’ above belay pine is insecure, loose, and covered with fine gravel. Consider setting anchor with long cordelette around large block at top and then haul from there or the tree. If hauling from tree this would provide a jumar line to bring loads to top more safely (this is what I did in rain).
FOOD for Prow
houmous & carrots
Fajita (steak, green peppers, onions, guacamole)
(repackaged in Ziplock bag)
left over fajita
Monster energy drink
lamb vindaloo & rice
houmous & carrots
Monster energy drink
2 cans chili
1 bag gaucamole
small can green chilis
1 cans beer (wrapped in duct tape to avoid puncture)
1 bag dried fruit & nuts (repackaged in Ziplock bag)
2 power bars
2 dumb-dumb lollipops
1 cans sardines for reserve (TO BE EATEN WITH PITONS OF COURSE)
swiss army pocketknife with can opener (only if cans need it)
double plastic bag for trash
2 Two-liter bottles + 2*1L gatoraid
SHARED CLIMBING GEAR
60m lead rope
wall hauler + locker
60m static line for hauling
haul bag + 2 lockers
haul bag top protector (bottle top)
swivel for haul bag
30 free biners
6 full slings (2 biners)
8 short slings (4 w/ 2 biners, 4 w/ 1 biner)
assortment of Talon, cliffhanger, and leeper-cam hooks
double set cams & nuts
1 free locker
2 route topo copies
3 cordalette's, each wth locker
PERSONAL CLIMBING GEAR (each)
climbing shoes + caribiner for carrying
2 Etriers (Chris Mac system)
2 ascenders + 2 lockers
2 adjustable daisy chains
Gri-Gri + locker caribiner
2nd locker on rapel loop to backup gri-gri while rope soloing
rapel device + locker
leather gloves (fingers cut off just above middle knuckle)
gear racking chest harnesses
camera and protective carrying case
PERSONAL BIVY GEAR
warm bivy fleece
lightweight waterproof windbreaker
medium sleeping bag
zero-weight pillow (pillow's airlines give out work great)
lightweight sleeping pad
watch with alarm for waking up
knife with can-opener
Waste-tube + plastic grocery bags + TP
tablets of Tylenol & Ibuprofin
many stuff sacks to organize gear in
MP3 player + small speaker + spare-set-batteries & headphones