Trip Report
Split Pinnacle (warning: climbing thread)
Tuesday June 6, 2006 12:03am
Trip Report: June 4, 2006
Ed Hartouni & Gary Carpenter

Split Pinnacle, East Arete, 5.8, A1

Well I'm slightly bumming since my camera was apparently not working during this climb... oh, well, y'all will have to do without my snap shots this time (although I seem to be having a lot of trouble actually getting shots these days...).

Split Pinnacle is a 1958 climb FA'd by Chuck Pratt and Krehe Ritter. It is located relatively close to the road by Yosemite Valley approach standards, yet it seems to be obscure, I'd say O1 or O2, it's in the guide book, and there is even a topo, but I don't think it get's done very often. However, the slings we found on the climb were not completely faded.

The approach is up Eagle Creek, and this year it really is up the creek, boulder hopping and trying to stay dry. Split Pinnacle is visible almost immediately on the hike up, it is a cool looking fluke of tan colored rock. As you get closer and the top of the pinnacle rises above the valley rim, you notice a proud pine tree which appears to be like a flag pole, the branches swept as if blown by the wind.

You walk up the creek bed until you can see the toe of the pinnacle, then you walk up, carefully on a lot of loose stuff, but not far, until you are face-to-face with the start of the climb, an obvious crack to chimney feature.

There are trip reports out there, most notably two on rec.climbing one from 1999 by Dingus and another from 1994 by William Wright. There doesn't seem to be much of anything else out there... Dingus' report is rather dramatic, and Wright's seems hard to understand... at least based on Gary's and my trip yesterday.

OK, the first pitch looks like it could be trouble, 5.8 squeeze chimney, but in fact it was rather tame and quite manageable. The first three moves are using a hand crack to get up into a good stance in the beginning of the chimney. You have to be careful because of the slick feet, but it protects well. The major problem we had had to do with the angry ants hanging out in the duff right underneath the start...

Gary had the first pitch as he is the "pro from dover" these days and his hand is recovering from an injury, he wasn't sure what he could lead higher up. It was an nice pitch, Gary radios down from the belay ledge "don't blame me if I got the best lead." Up I went, the crux comes first, the squeeze part, but is short and protects with some big gear. It is easier if you stay close to the edge, right side in, your left hand on grabbing features including a killer crack just beyond the edge of the chimney. A little Pratt heel-toe, and you are above the squeeze and into classic chimney, mostly using your knees and back, but also your feet, and lots of features and even places to get in good psychological pro (some of the flakes are pretty rotten, don't know if the rock would stick together to hold a big whipper). You are heading for a chock stone, which you turn on the inside, now definitely foot-back chimney, but lots of help for the hands. Suddenly you're out on a big ledge with an oak tree. Nice lead by Gary, and a really nice chimney pitch.

My lead is the second pitch, which starts off on some decomposing crystal rock, to another ledge. Steep but protectable with nuts and tying off the vegetation. To a tree, then around right to a weird looking left trending seam that is definitely beat out, people used to put pitons in here, and lots had. This leads to a great looking 2" crack, and has a few awkward moments, but you get about 4 moves in the 2" crack before exiting left, and then another 10' of steep rock with very loose blocks and you are at yet another great ledge. I sat in the middle of an oak tree and belayed Gary up. No ants here... and fantastic views of the Valley across to Pohono Pinnacle and Sentinel Rock.

Gary leads a short traversing pitch to yet another tree, this one with a lot of slings around it. I have the fourth pitch, which is obvious at its start, where does it end? You ascend a set of cracks up an expansive slab, heading for the notch between the "split" in the pinnacle. Getting up the first 10' was delicate, after that it is 5.8 climbing, but the pro possibilities are pretty thin. Once again, people with pitons have been here, so that offers at least some pro placements. And the climbing becomes gradually easier, albeit on rock which is getting dicey. Finally up nearing the notch the rock is rotten granite, big blocks tumbled about one locking the other in place. I couldn't quite decide where to go and suffered rope drag because of it. I added a sling at another rap station and headed up into the notch. Here I sat on a perfect block, the sun was warm, a breeze blowing a cooling wind, a most comfortable stance. Up came Gary.

Well, after consulting the topo it seems I short pitched this and should have been about 15' higher, just under the aid section. Whatever. Gary climbed the last few moves up onto the next ledge, then lead the A1 pitch. Wright's description complained about a long reach to the first piton, but we didn't find anything that fit that description. It is a long reach, but not anything heroic, and certainly not anything requiring additional gear. Gary was on top and I followed quickly.

Nice summit! beautiful views of El Cap east ledges, the Three Brothers the views up and down Eagle Creek canyon were also quite nice. Looking up the creek you could see a lot of boulders high on the slope ready to come down with additional erosion of the lower slopes. It looked like a big accident waiting to happen, but then we couldn't see the true inclination of the slope, so maybe it's all stable. Sure didn't look like it.

Off we go, add a sling to the ones around the tree, through the two aluminum rap rings down to the rap station below, probably 80' as the topo indicates.

Then another rap, maybe 90' to the belay at the base of the fourth pitch. From there, we used two ropes to reach the ground, probably like 150'. Delicate walking on steep duff covered loose unstable dirt got us back to the packs. At this point there were hundreds of mosquitos dreaming of a fine dinner, us. Pack up, and then carefully down the dirt slopes to Eagle Creek, then boulder hopping down to the car, each of us with about 6 pounds of insects buzzing about us. To the car, and then off as quickly as we could be with the windows rolled down and Bernoulli doing the work to rid us our tormenters.

A beer at the "Valley Portal" turnout, and we were off.

This is a really great climb. Roper states: "This route contains much excellent climbing and probably will become popular." He was right on the quality of the climbing, but wrong on predicting the direction of climbing style... for which this climb is decidedly "unpopular." I do not believe that there is a climb in Reid's guide that has both "wide" sections and quality stars, for some reason the current fashion is to avoid anything requiring off-width or chimney technique. Both kinds of climbing are approached with horror by a majority of climbers.

So much the better for us. An obscure climb 30 minutes from the car in a beautiful setting with great pitches at a moderate rating is a wonderful thing. And oddly "Yosemite" in nature, where there is so much other great climbing that much of it can be ignored.

I know most of you won't believe me... I don't care... Split Pinnacle is a great outing.

We carried a set of nuts, and doubles through a #4.5 old Camelots (though the 4 and 4.5 were only used on the first pitch)... and contributed 3 slings to the rap stations along with a couple of rings. Take some light aiders for the A1 (if you do that) a fifi hook is also nice to have as the aid section overhangs. We took a second light rope to rap with, but it looks like you could do the raps with a single long (60m) rope with one more rap then we did added below.

  Trip Report Views: 776
Ed Hartouni
About the Author
Ed Hartouni is a trad climber from Livermore, CA.

Comments
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Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Jun 6, 2006 - 09:37am PT
I believe you buddy. Nice TR. I need to go climb that thing again. First sport route in the Valley, supposedly, Reed's rap placed bolt protecting the 10c flake. Didjya look at that thing?

DMT
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Jun 6, 2006 - 10:00am PT
Nice TR Ed. I remember doing this route back in the early 1970's with Darwin Alonso I think.... It really is a fun quality route. The top alternate pitch of overhanging liebacking is kind of hideous though and not the best rock. I remember a bad belay situation there too with the initial traverse etc and how you could hit the ledge....easily. That lieback (Mort Hempel) was one of the earliest 5.10s, and even today pretty disturbing. The few points of aid over to the left as the alternate as you say, and are welcoming to most. Again, it is a satisfying climb.

BTW there are a lot of rattlesnakes in the area.

Best PH
Mimi

climber
  Jun 6, 2006 - 10:09am PT
From what I remember, Mike Corbett and I did this route in the mid 80s. It was really fun and Mike commented on its undeserved obscurity back then.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Jun 6, 2006 - 10:36am PT
Shaggy recommended this one to me and Dan Shuteroff, a good steer. Neither of us wanted any part of the ugly deck potential offered up by the layback pitch.

Undeservedly obscure, in my book. Good clean old=school fun, and a summit to boot!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 6, 2006 - 11:03am PT
We didn't run into any buzz-worms on this trip, they usually make themselves scarce when big old climbers are tromping about.... but the area looks like the right habitat.

As for the 5.10c layback... it is sort of interesting that a climb gets a feel to it, and the feel of this climb suggested the aid line rather than the layback, don't know why. There is the old hanger still attached to the bolt pasted out under the crack edge. And the exposure isn't the thing you'd be worried about, the ledge would be. I had half a mind to lower back to the ledge and try it on top rope, but for that very satisfied feeling of sitting on top of the pinnacle, enjoying the sun and wind, drinking in the panorama. Anyway, the rock is grainy and decomposing and I'm sure the layback would be exciting. But the route is a 5.8 route which would have been at the top of the scale of 1958 climbs, and so the A1 dodge to get around 15 feet of much harder climbing to sit on a summit seemed like an appropriate end.
crotch

climber
  Jun 6, 2006 - 11:26am PT
Ed,

Thanks for taking the time to write about your obscurity-bagging trips. A TR of yours inspired a great day of rockaneering on Pohono Pinnacle this weekend.

scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Jun 6, 2006 - 11:35am PT
A little over a year ago I ran into a pair of guys who had
just done the climb.
I wouldn't be surprised if it got done once a year on average.
Memory is sometimes dodgy, but isn't the rap-bolted (Not Sport)
variation the famous Rearick Lieback?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Jun 6, 2006 - 11:41am PT
Rearick, thanks. There's a blurb about that bolt in Ament's free climbing bible. Twas Rearick that joked it may have been the first sport route in the valley.

DMT
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Jun 6, 2006 - 11:43am PT
Nice trip report Ed.

Around '91, I did this with several folks, including George Bracksiek (who once owned Rock & Ice Mag) and enjoyed the meandering approach to the final pinnacle.

Bruce Brossman, who had been my boss at YMS had suggested I do the 5.10 Flake, so I did. As Peter noted it was kind of grainy, a little pumpy, slightly off-balance, and sported a tatty bolt.

I liked doing some of these things for historical edification, if nothing else. It was a nice day out.
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
  Jun 6, 2006 - 12:45pm PT
Great TR, Ed. You're becoming an obscurities guide for the rest of us.

MikeL
spyork

Trad climber
Tunneling out of prison
  Jun 6, 2006 - 12:52pm PT
Thanks, Ed! Nice TR.

Steve
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Author's Reply  Jun 7, 2006 - 02:33am PT
here is a picture of Split Pinnacle taken from Pohono Pinnacle... gives an idea of the approach. The climb wanders up from the lower right of the pinnacle into the promenent notch and then up the right summit.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 28, 2006 - 12:41am PT
sorry for resurrecting this thread...

a picture of Split Pinnacle showing the last two pitches. Ignoring the foreground rock formation... the climb comes up just left of the very light corner in the middle of the picture. You can make out the light color trail on the darker slabs to the left of the corner. The route goes up this slab, and around into the shadow of the promenent block and up ontop of it. Then either aid just right of the left upper skyline, or layback the deep shadow. If you look closely, the white stick ontop of the pinnacle is the pine tree you rap off of to get down

Chicken Skinner

Trad climber
Yosemite
  Aug 28, 2006 - 12:49am PT
I like that climb. I have only done it three times and it has always been different. The first time was Christmas Day 1976. There used to be a register. Anyone know where it went?

Ken
locker

climber
STFU n00b!!!
  Aug 28, 2006 - 12:54am PT
I just wanted to say that I liked the...


"(warning: climbing related thread)"


nice touch!!!...

Mimi

climber
  Aug 28, 2006 - 12:55am PT
Yeah, really. Please don't apologize for bumping this thread.
telemama

Trad climber
  Aug 28, 2006 - 01:50am PT
Yes. This is an excellent climb.
Roy, it was May 1993. I remember because it was in the early days of my courtship with Tim. Needless to say, I may have liked the climb for reasons other than the climb it's self...(:
No, really, I do remember it being really cool: the variety of features, the dirty cracks that reminded you of its obscurity, that hard last pitch, I remember a long reach in there somewhere (but then again, I'm barely 5inch. tall), the views, and most of all I remember the way the pillar moved!-- Ed, when I first glanced at the title of your post "...warning: climbing thread" I thought you were going to say the thing had toppled over, but then I saw it was tongue-in-cheek and was glad it is still standing.
Marci
Mateo Pee Pee

Trad climber
Ivory Tower PDX
  Aug 28, 2006 - 02:26am PT
Thanks Ed! My buddy Floyd and I climbed it in 1971 and really enjoyed it. Your description brought back clear memories of a great climb. It is one of those routes that people seeking a first chimney/offsize experience should consider.
Blitzo

Social climber
Earth
  Aug 28, 2006 - 09:23am PT
I did it in 1975 with Jack Doodaloo. It was fun! That first pitch chimney was cool.
davidji

Social climber
CA
  Mar 4, 2008 - 11:14pm PT
Hi Ed,

since you linked this report, I'll resurrect the thread for a comment.

Easy to end the penultimate pitch short. I went to the ledge below the lieback, but it didn't seem obvious to go that high 'till I got there.

I understand your desire to do the A1 variation. The lieback (the free variation) is really difficult to lead or follow. But it's a blast to climb. If you go back, you might throw a toprope on it from the summit--which I'm sure is how it was originally freeclimbed.

Lou of rec.climbing puked-on-ahab fame was my ropegun on that pitch.
Shack

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
  Mar 4, 2008 - 11:26pm PT
with the windows rolled down and Bernoulli doing the work to rid us our tormenters.

Only a physicist.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Mar 4, 2008 - 11:50pm PT
I've also enjoyed the 5.8, A1 version of the Arete. I know that Rearick placed the bolt on rappel, but I'm pretty sure he led it without toproping.
Brunosafari

Boulder climber
OR
  Mar 5, 2008 - 01:31am PT
Thanks Ed! I really enjoyed feeling just like I was there with you guys on such a "meat and potatoes" yosemite adventure. Good job keepin' it alive! Bruce
davidji

Social climber
CA
  Mar 5, 2008 - 01:54am PT
JEleazarian,

The regular route with the pin ladder is so much older than the FFA of the lieback, it's hard for me to imagine there weren't climbers who toproped the lieback before the FFA was done. But I don't know. It seems like it would be a shame not to...
ring tailed cat

Trad climber
seattle
  Mar 6, 2008 - 10:50pm PT
great tr, did split pinnacle a couple of times in the early 80's combined with some sun bathing on the rocks in eagle creek. like the line on old classics. i'll add one. i mentioned it on a chimmny tr, the reg. route on pharohs beard. starts with a 5.8 offwidth to some lybacking and finishes with a 5.7 chimmny for 3 pitches.
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
  Mar 7, 2008 - 12:14am PT
this the lieback?

link
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 7, 2008 - 02:18am PT
that's it
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
  Apr 27, 2008 - 01:17pm PT
This is a fun climb. The aid section at top is short, but steep/awkward enough that I was glad that I brought a pair of pocket/alpine aiders. Clipping the aiders end-to-end and leaving them hanging from the last aid piece, provides a long enough ladder that the second doesn't need to fool around with ascenders. For large gear, we only took 1 blue camalot, a purple friend, and 2 yellow camalots and that seemed plenty in the big size. The chimney was fairly friendly and I don't think big gear would have added much more protection.

From the tree at the fourth belay, you can just get down to the ground (with rope stretch) with a single 70m rope.

On the approach, we crossed the stream several times. Coming back down, we stayed on the west side the whole time (didn't cross back until almost at the road) and that worked out fine (might be the easier way if the stream was really high).
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Apr 27, 2008 - 01:54pm PT
Wasn't Split Pinnacle first climbed by some spurious sapling maneauver before the roped 1938 FA?
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Apr 27, 2008 - 07:46pm PT
Just to clarify on the history, the difficult lieback was led by Dave Rearick. Mort Hempel was in his best shape at the time and managed to follow. One can read Dave's more detailed account in my history of free climbing. Dave was right at the cutting edge of free climbing...

Pat
drc

Trad climber
Durham, NC
  Apr 28, 2008 - 01:03pm PT
Climbed this on Saturday. There was a party behind us. I guess if we keep this thread around long enough people will line up for Split Pinnacle like it's Nutcracker.

Anyway, fun route, and an awesome summit. Thanks Ed.

The ants at the base are vicious. Standing a little to the left of the start seemed to help a bit.

As I prussiked past the A1 section the first pin split right in half and came out. Held Ian well enough on lead, but he was wise to back it up.

Three raps on 60 gets you into the gully on the North side (the original route?) to walk down.
kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
  Apr 27, 2009 - 01:13pm PT
Super fun. Did it Saturday. You can get off with one rope if you find the right anchors. The ants were mellow for us fortunately.

kev
TradIsGood

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
  Apr 27, 2009 - 07:30pm PT
Maybe we need the Ed Hartouni Obscure Select Guide...
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Apr 27, 2009 - 07:48pm PT
The Split Piton route?
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Apr 27, 2009 - 08:34pm PT
If memory serves, the bolt was not placed on rappel, but from
an aid piton, which was cleaned on lowering prior to the
free lead. No toprope rehearsal.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Apr 27, 2009 - 08:39pm PT
Scuffy, Angus led that thing for the first time on the original bolt, before it was replaced. We didn't know the bolt was OLDER than I was at the time (and I am, officially and geologically speaking, older than rocks)

DMT

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 27, 2009 - 08:55pm PT
it's not that obscure, and if you have a copy of the spread sheet, you can create an O3 level "select" list yourself...

O4 and higher (I'm referring to the original coiler system of O0 to O7) probably cannot be generated from the literature, unless its fiction.

Most people wouldn't go out beyond O4 unless you have real S&M issues. I've been on some O4's and I've even participated on the FA of some climbs O4 (or higher) which are known to few people. I have a hand drawn topo of a new climb that I'm sure is the only copy of the topo in existence, from the FA team.

A select guide would be counter productive, but already exists, to a greater extent, by comparing my TR's in SuperTopoForum against guides you could get your hands on.

YMMV, and don't forget, its your ass, not mine, you choose to do those things... not me...
don't do the crime if you can't do the time....

and finally, my favorite: just because you can doesn't mean you should
think about it
MisterE

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  Apr 27, 2009 - 09:00pm PT
Great descriptions in the reporting Ed! Thanks!
TradIsGood

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
  Apr 27, 2009 - 09:45pm PT
Ed - I fear you missed the oxymoron - Obscure Select ...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 27, 2009 - 09:51pm PT
TiG, I got it, but actually there is an obscurista's select list out there...

but like the Fight Club...

...so I'm not a liberty to reveal it. On the other hand, even if I did, no one would go and do those routes, but obscuristas do have a fantasy that if anyone ever found out how good those climbs were, there would be parties lining up to do them.

Let me assure you that this thought is very much a fantasy.
10b4me

climber
  Mar 12, 2014 - 04:24pm PT
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