Southwest Face 5.10c

 
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Mt. Conness


Tuolumne Meadows, California USA


Trip Report
Southwest Face of Conness (Photo TR)
Friday November 8, 2013 1:39am
Leading P4 on the SW Face of Conness (by Nic Risser)
Leading P4 on the SW Face of Conness (by Nic Risser)
Credit: PellucidWombat

July 14, 2013

Nic and I had been tossing around the idea of doing this climb for a while, and it was a perfect climb to do on short notice. Our Friday night arrival was late enough, and us tired enough when we awoke for the climb, that we cragged in Tuolumne Saturday, climbing Lucky Streaks and a fun obscure slab climb on Fairview Dome. With an earlier night's sleep Sunday we got a fairly early start (4:50am) on the approach. The first pitch was a slip & slide, wet & grassy, as advertised, but the rest of the climb was fantastic. Nic led the 5.10 face cruxes that I didn't dare lead, and I led the 5.10 OW that he didn't dare lead, so we made for a very compatible team on this climb. I did wimp out and bring along a Valley Giant - it turns out that I could have gotten by without, but I wouldn't have been nearly as relaxed! Another party showed up at about the same time as us, but fortunately we were able to work things out well enough sharing belay ledges.


The Southwest Face of Conness as seen from Indian Rock.


Mt Conness and the broad plateau. It is easy to take the wrong descent here to access the West Ridge and SW Face on the backside.


Donald Goodrich memorial plaque near the base of the route. He was killed by rockfall on the FA attempt.


SW Face of Conness seen from the base to nearly the top.


Nic leading P1, definitely in 5.10c conditions. He thought it was much harder than the 5.10c crux higher up, and as a follower I'd agree. It was amazingly wet, slimy, and grassy. A very cold slip & slide too!

This first pitch was pretty bad wet. The guys following behind us watched me follow it, and decided to take a more runout 5.11ish variation to the right that was at least dry. Not only were my feet skating and blowing out on the slick, wet rock a lot (with me catching the slip'n'slides), but they reported seeing that when I jammed my foot in a crack, water would collect above my toe and then dump as I removed my foot. Fortunately the pitches above made up for this first, lousy one. Props to Nic for calmly handling such a heady lead!


Nic at the end of P1. P2 traverses into the crack on the left, with the 5.10c crux pulling through the little roof as the crack angles right.


SW Face of Conness seen from the base to nearly the top.


Looking up P2. The rope cuts over where the 5.10a face traverse is.


The traverse into the 5.8 chimney on P3. Watch out for rope drag!


The strange 5.8 chimney. You mostly half-stemmed, half-chimneyed the thing, climbing around the chockstone above.


Leading P4 (by Nic Risser)


Leading P4 on the 5.9 start (by Nic Risser)


Leading P4, nearing the OW (by Nic Risser)


Leading P4, starting the OW (by Nic Risser)


Leading P4, starting the OW (by Nic Risser)


Leading the P4 5.10 OW (by Nic Risser)


Leading the P4 5.10 OW, pushing the #6 Camalot along.


Looking down the P4 5.10 OW. Now I'm in 5.8 OW territory and using my Valley Giant.


#9 Valley Giant happily trucking along on the long 5.8 OW-squeeze on P4. This section was secure enough and easy enough to rest in. However, my butt was a little to fat to get all the way in to avoid possibly falling out, so I appreciated the presence of mind of the VG here, as you could still fall out and face a very big whipper.


One of the many tiny star bolts on the pitch. Best used as backup, it seemed to me!


5.8 OW-squeeze continues . . .


Looking down from the top of P4. As you can see, the Valley Giant was good for pushing right until the end.


Nic recovering atop P4. P5 & 6, to be linked, are behind.


Nic leading P5 & 6 (linked). He is about to start the 5.10b traverse into the crack and chimney system on the right.


Nic leading P6 (Our P5, linked with P5), above the 5.9 fingers and nearing the 5.8 squeeze.


Looking up P5 & 6, which we linked as P5.


The 5.10b traverse on P5. Traverse low.


P7 (our P6), ascending 5.8 grooves and 5.9 cracks higher up.


Nic atop P7 (our P6), after taking an unusual but fun finishing variation.


Following P8 (our P7) up a final 5.9 corner. The team behind us passed us here and tried a finishing variation on the right.


The SW Face of Conness seen at sunset.




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PellucidWombat
About the Author
PellucidWombat is a mountain climber from Berkeley, CA.

Comments
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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Nov 8, 2013 - 02:45am PT
thanks for the TR Mark, great as usual!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Nov 8, 2013 - 04:54pm PT
Terrific contribution!! Yowza!

Didn't Chris Vandiver and Galen Rowell do the FFA?
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Nov 8, 2013 - 04:01am PT
Man oh man, this makes me want to get back there and finish it.

Thanks for sharing more pics of a great route.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Nov 8, 2013 - 04:22am PT
Thank goodness! None of the pussy-class-3-ridge climbing sh#t. REAL CLIMBING! Ya mon!
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Nov 8, 2013 - 05:05am PT
Very nice. Thanks for sharing
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Author's Reply  Nov 8, 2013 - 10:51am PT
Din't Chris Vandiver and Galen Rowell do the FFA?

Whoops. Minor wording mistake. FA attempt ended due to the accident. Caption has been corrected. Harding made the successful FA, and Galen Rowell made the FFA & FWA!

The Larry

climber
Moab, UT
  Nov 8, 2013 - 11:05am PT
Sick. Looks like a classic route.
crunch

Social climber
CO
  Nov 8, 2013 - 11:23am PT
Great photos! Thanks!

It'd be nice to say this brought back fond memories but after 28 years I recall nothing of the route itself. I do remember the delights of camping on the summit, not a breath of wind, and watching one of the best sunsets, ever.

Sunset, Mt Conness (or was this sunrise?)
Sunset, Mt Conness (or was this sunrise?)
Credit: crunch

Harding Route, 1985.
Harding Route, 1985.
Credit: crunch

Harding Route
Harding Route
Credit: crunch

Looking down. Partner just visible
Looking down. Partner just visible
Credit: crunch

One other thing I do recall is that the wall is BIG, a haunting presence visible from all over Toulumne Meadows and yet pleasingly remote. The proudest cliff in Toulumne.

An adventure!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Nov 8, 2013 - 02:15pm PT
Another fine TR from the Marcus Aurelius of the Sierra.

This is frame worthy, Mark:

msiddens

Trad climber
  Nov 8, 2013 - 02:17pm PT
Wow the pitch 7 grooves look very fun. Other parts, less so:-)
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Nov 8, 2013 - 03:55pm PT
Wow, Mark -- you are on a TR roll! This one and the one on the winter ascent of Mt. Humphreys are both superb. Thanks much.

John
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 8, 2013 - 06:41pm PT
LOVE that last pics Mark, just amazing.
Thanks!
okie

Trad climber
  Nov 9, 2013 - 01:06am PT
Man, you guys have been getting it done! Inspiring. The wide pitch looks cool. Beautiful, Mark!
I ran into Nic a few weeks ago at the store in Oakdale. I climbed with him on his very first trip to the Valley years ago. Got him on the Reeds circuit and Five and Dime. Man, time flies!
-Bob
Edit/add: not many folks, I think, take pics while leading long OW pitches at alpine altitudes...
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Author's Reply  Nov 9, 2013 - 02:17pm PT
Edit/add: not many folks, I think, take pics while leading long OW pitches at alpine altitudes...

It's something to do while I catch my breath after I've plugged myself in for a rest :-)

BTW, the two lower tiers before the OW are really fun and physical, getting you tired before the OW. The first one for me was hands (#1 & #2 Camalots) and the second one was fists (#3 Camalot), both vertical to slightly overhanging. They kind of reminded me of the 5.10c section on P1 of the Right Chimney on The Three Penguins.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Nov 9, 2013 - 06:17pm PT
Nice TR.....thanks! One of the best alpine rock climbs in the Sierras IMHO.
Randisi

climber
  Nov 11, 2013 - 08:23am PT
That star bolt still looks bomber to me!
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Author's Reply  Nov 15, 2013 - 07:39pm PT
lugging the boat anchor (VG) up there musta been a gasser!

That, plus the #5 & #6 were quite the ballast! Naturally, the leader only carried these large pieces on P4 (although I think Nic also used the #5 and/or #6 on the P6 squeeze).

That star bolt still looks bomber to me!
One of the guys behind us reported yarding/hanging on it and it seemed fine. It's just they're so tiny, and knowing how those thing are less secure than newer bolts, that leaves me less confident to risk real falls on them!
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
  Nov 15, 2013 - 07:50pm PT
Your pictues, fantastic. Great TR. Peter yes and we are trying to get Vandiver to write the story.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Nov 15, 2013 - 08:16pm PT
Great report and very fine photography
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Mt. Conness - Southwest Face 5.10c - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Tuolumne's proudest face.
Photo: Craig Adkins
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