South Face C1 5.8

 
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Washington Column


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
South Face of Washington Column Solo in a Day
Sunday February 28, 2016 9:29am
Credit: Trevor

The last time I was on Washington Column, I bailed from Anchorage Ledge, three pitches up on The Prow, in perfect weather, in the middle of summer, at noon, after five hours of climbing. I could've finished my solo in a day attempt in under twenty four hours, but instead I bailed for no reason other than I was sure I was going to die up there by myself.

Sunrise over Tenaya Canyon
Sunrise over Tenaya Canyon
Credit: Trevor

Now, I was on the Column again. This time, I was bailing from pitch 8 of The South Face. Most of the difficulties were behind me. I had just finished the 5.8 chimney on pitch 8, a scary pitch due to the difficulties of self belaying in a squeeze chimney, and there were only three more real pitches before the scramble to the summit.

But I was tired, hungry, and my feet were killing me. It was 4:15 PM when I rapped down to the pitch 7 anchor to clean the pitch. I had left the car at 5:04 AM and had been climbing since 6:25 AM. It took me about ten hours to climb eight pitches. With three more, I would surely be topping out in the dark, and while it was a balmy February day in the sixties. I was worried that the temperatures would plummet when the sun dropped below the top of El Cap.

It got windy in the afternoon
It got windy in the afternoon
Credit: Trevor

Credit: Trevor

So I drank the rest of my Gatorade, ate a bar and started cleaning pitch eight without my pack, planning to retrieve it while I bailed. Halfway up the pitch, after getting a little sugar to my brain, I guess things began to seem less scary. I figured I shouldn't waste the ten hours of effort I'd made to get this high. So I rapped the hundred feet to retrieve my bag and finished cleaning the pitch.

I linked the next two pitches and started cleaning right after sunset. It was fully dark by the time I finished cleaning. I climbed the last 5.6 pitch in my guide tennies because my feet were in too much pain to put my climbing shoes back on. I made it to the top of the column at about 8:30, I'm not sure what time I finished the last pitch, but I guess I climbed the route in something like 13.5 hours.

Sunset over El Cap
Sunset over El Cap
Credit: Trevor

I'd descended the North Dome Gully about a dozen times before, but it was always in the daytime with just a light rack or nothing but a water bottle after climbing the Royal Arches. In the dark, with a wall rack and two ropes, it was a little more eventful than usual. I was too far right down low in the gully. One time, with my friend Taylor, we got cliffed out in the same area and had to rappel. I somehow managed to pick my way through the cliffs below the East Face of the Column without resorting to the rope. Nonetheless, it took me two and a half hours to get back to the Ahwahnee parking lot.

Somewhere in the North Dome Gully.
Somewhere in the North Dome Gully.
Credit: Trevor

The route was fun, I aid climbed two and a half pitches, starting from the Kor Roof. Even on these pitches, I was busting free and french-free moves out of the aiders. I french-freed most of the route, often free climbing, then placing a piece when I needed to manage the grigri self belay. Organizing the ropes for rope soloing on every pitch took a huge amount of time. I'd guess around 4 to 5 hours total. I brought two ropes, I had the rappel rope tied to the end of the lead rope with an EDK so I didn't have to trail an extra rope. I didn't tie into the end of the rope while leading, I just used the grigri and a backup knot. I need to figure out a more efficient rope system to save me that 4 hours.

Stats: South Face of Washington Column, V 5.8 C1. Solo ~13.5 hrs on route, 18 hours car to car. February 26.

  Trip Report Views: 2,260
Trevor
About the Author
Trevor is a gym climber from Escondido, CA.

Comments
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Tom Patterson

Trad climber
Seattle
  Feb 28, 2016 - 09:30am PT
Good on ya, man!
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
  Feb 28, 2016 - 11:14am PT
Way to rally back into command.

Salute'
rwedgee

Ice climber
CA
  Feb 28, 2016 - 12:09pm PT
Way to go and tough it out to stay in the game. Sometimes it's all a mental battle. Thanks for sharing your story.
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Feb 28, 2016 - 12:11pm PT
Good job!
smith curry

climber
nashville,TN
  Feb 28, 2016 - 12:21pm PT
great job! Also great job not dying in the descent gully!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Feb 28, 2016 - 01:18pm PT
Cool,
Thanks for the climbing content and report.
Tad
crankster

Trad climber
No. Tahoe
  Feb 28, 2016 - 03:11pm PT
Nice job. Winter ascent on your resume.
Trevor

Gym climber
Escondido, CA
Author's Reply  Feb 28, 2016 - 03:57pm PT
^ yeah thanks Hank, I took like two steps on snow near the summit. It was way gnar.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Feb 29, 2016 - 05:04pm PT
Excellent climb, good text and pictures.
Much thanks for the TR
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
  Feb 29, 2016 - 06:10pm PT
Way to push on and get it done.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Feb 29, 2016 - 09:14pm PT
Pretty fricking rad! Check out Fish Snake Charmer for casual rope management.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Feb 29, 2016 - 09:29pm PT
Good man.

But about this...

I was never tied directly into the rope
Trevor

Gym climber
Escondido, CA
Author's Reply  Feb 29, 2016 - 10:46pm PT
I should have said never into the end of the rope. I was attached by a grigri and backup knot clipped to a locking carabiner.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
  Feb 29, 2016 - 10:57pm PT
Trevor sends!!!!


You know this.




all purple ascent circa 2008
all purple ascent circa 2008
Credit: GDavis
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  Mar 1, 2016 - 05:38am PT
Congratulations!

Do it while your young, and have the drive to get it done.

My last solo was in 1970, when I did the Prow, and I will always cherish those memories.
Gunkie

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
  Mar 1, 2016 - 08:12am PT
I bailed for no reason other than I was sure I was going to die up there by myself

Or you envision killing your partner brutally with a wall hammer and guzzling the last of the water 4 pitches off the ground. Wall math. I'm pretty sure this happens to everyone at one time or another.

Well done.
JohnnyG

climber
  Mar 1, 2016 - 08:51am PT
sweet. I like how you started to bail, ate something, then decided to get 'er done
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Mar 2, 2016 - 09:10am PT
impressive
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Mar 2, 2016 - 11:19am PT
Nice work, and nice story. Don't minimize your winter ascent. I remember reading an article in the Sierra Club Bulletin about the first winter ascent of the Direct Route on the Column in the 1940's, noting that it was the first time a route that serious was accomplished in winter (March, if I remember rightly). Imagine what they would have thought about the South Face solo in winter!

John
Trevor

Gym climber
Escondido, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 3, 2016 - 06:13am PT
I think a winter ascent in the valley may have been significant in past years, but after several years of dry winters in the valley and Tommy and Kevin's Dawn Wall ascent (where they chose to climb in the winter for the sending temps), it just doesn't seem significant to climb in the Valley in winter. It's pretty easy to find spring or fall conditions in February as I did, even in an El Niño year. It may even be a little easier to do a quick ascent due to the lack of crowds.
HighDesertDJ

Trad climber
  Mar 3, 2016 - 06:31am PT
Still a solid send, friend. Thanks for sharing it!
Erik Sloan

Big Wall climber
Yosemite Big Wall
  Mar 3, 2016 - 06:47am PT
Congrats Trevor!

Do enough of these adventures and a single, 80m rope starts sounding pretty good. This would significantly reduce rope management time (though Of course you might have to leave a piece or two if you bailed).

Woot Woot!
Erik
Yosemitebigwall.com
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Washington Column - South Face C1 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The South Face of Washington Column.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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