Regular Northwest Face 5.12 or 5.9 C1
Trip ReportPsychedelic Gummies with Honnold: The RNWF In a Day
KC and I climbed the RNWF of Half Dome on May 31st last summer. It has always been a dream route of mine, and when that massive flake took the Robbin's traverse with it, I knew I had to climb it before the exfoliating onion shed the rest of the route.
We hiked up the death slabs in the evening after working and found a flat patch of dirt among the talus. There were two other parties camping at the base and the spring was flowing. I fixed the first pitch, quite enjoyable climbing! The sunset lit up the whole face, which is decidedly intimidating when you are going to climb it the next day! The right side of the face is unbelievably sheer and I cannot fathom heading up into its loose flakes for several days of scary aid! (But I probably will, eventually...)
I took the first block of the day and took us all the way to the base of the Robbin's traverse. There were some really incredible pitches and some awkward 5.9. The route finding would have been more time consuming in some places had we not been on the heels of another party that had bailed off the route the year before and knew the first part of the route. We simul-climbed the easier pitches.
KC and I switched blocks just as Hon-Solo himself passed us... with a rope! As he climbed through I offered Alex a gummy fish, to which he inquired if it had any psychedelic properties. After assuring him that he would not be picturing fractals and entities for the remainder of the route and offering his partner one too, they continued past us and KC followed closely behind them through the tricky aid section where the rockfall had been.
The section around the rockfall was really slow from the two parties in front of us now... Honnold was cramping our style! Eventually we got into the chimney system. The chimneying on pitch 14 was actually quite scary and physical, in my mortal opinion.
We swapped leads again and I led us into the sunshine for the first time all day. Pitches 15, 16 and 17 are some of the most fun splitter pitches I have ever climbed, and being in the sun was a significant mood shift. We hooted and hollered our way to Big Sandy with big grins.
We had been sharing belays with the party ahead of us since we started at dawn and were by now all good friends. We decided to stick together until the summit for the belay camaraderie and conversation. At big Sandy we ran into a party of two that were climbing their first big wall and were on day four, having slept in their slings in the chimneys the night before! Way to stick with it boys! The energy was high and the visor felt close.
We decided that we would push the rope faster so we passed the party in the Zig-Zags and I led the long and slow corner. KC and I swapped leads again and he took the last block to the summit. The views from this high on Half Dome are out of this world stunning.
It was reassuring to have two friends sharing the belays, especially when the sun went down and it turned into an exhausted shiver fest between climbing. I would have loved to climb Thank God ledge in the light but at this point none of us cared all that much, and it certainly helped with the exposure not being able to see the sheer drop in the dark. the chimney at the end of TGL was a nasty little shocker and should by no means be underestimated. The last few pitches are a bit hazy in my memory but I do remember the friction traverse under the visor being pretty fun and mantling over the massive blocks was one of the most ecstatic feelings of all time.
We climbed Half Dizzle in a Dazzle! A day I will never forget. The summit felt like a lunar landing, with the chubby moonlight illuminating the rounded top of the onion sloping off in all directions into blackness. It was so surreal and we were so exhausted and cold that I had to wonder if the gummy fish did in fact have some psychedelic properties.
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