South Face C1 5.8

 
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Washington Column


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
The Column all to ourselves!
Saturday November 26, 2011 3:36am
Before you read this trip report, read this: Always follow the rules and ethics of Yosemite climbing, pack out your trash, including you poop, always climb like there is a party below you, be prepared for weather, have fun!

Brief History about myself: I was born and raised in Hawaii, where there is very little rock climbing and I did none there. I moved to Portland, OR to go to school and I started climbing with my wife August 2009. I knew I would enjoy climbing, so before I even tried it, I spent $500 on all the gear to top rope. I had a friend show me the basics of anchor building and my wife and I went 2-3 times a week to top rope. I then started getting into leading and climbing at Smith Rock, OR. I watched a couple of climbing movies and I was always drawn to the trad climbing portions, especially in Yosemite. As I learned about the history and ethic of climbing in Yosemite, I was drawn to wall climbing. I decided I was going to climb a wall and started training. I was able to train in the nasty Portland weather and would aid on the wet rock. I had access to a warehouse and practiced jumaring, lowerouts, hauling, etc. I trained specifically to lead the whole route, and my buddy who was less experience trained specifically to follow the whole route. When we climbed the SF, I have been climbing a total of 1 years 7 months and my partner had been climbing a total of 1 year and 3 months. But we were up for the challenge. Work has led me back to Hawaii and for some reason I wanted to post a trip report. At the time (and currently, sadly) I was a 5.10 sport climber, 5.9 trad climber, and aiding novice. I am confident, but calculated.

Gear:
2 full sets of nuts (one set was all offset)
1 full set of BD cams from the smallest C3 - #4Camalot (I only use a couple C3's)
(between .5-1" I had triples with a mix of metolius and an offbrand of cams)
2 aiders with a cam hook on each biner
1 pully
Regular climbing gear: grigri, atc, runners, biners, etc.
We brought 5 2L bottles of water and we also drank snow.
Supertopo Big Wall beta

Itinerary:
March 29th (Tue) - Leave Portland and sleep in car outside of park
March 30th (Wed)- Arrive mid morning and find a spot in Camp 4 that is surrounded by a couple feet of snow, practice aid climbs on Swan Slab, hike up gear to base of SF, fix 1st pitch (I know it seems silly to fix a 5.8 pitch, but we had extra time, so why not?) Head back to camp 4 to spend the night
March 31st (Thur) - Start approach before sunrise. Got to dinner ledge around noon. Throw off snow on Brunch ledge because dinner ledge has too much snow. Fix up to the top of pitch 5 and as sun is setting get back down to brunch ledge for dinner.
April 1st (Fri) - Start jumarring the fixed line before sunrise, but there is still light. Top out while sun is still up, but getting pretty low at 6:00. We rapped back to dinner ledge and the sun had set at this point. We rap the first three pitches by headlamp. (Better to be rapping by headlamp then climbing by headlamp though.) Arrive to car at 10:00
April 2nd (Sat) - lay in fetal position and moan in exhaustion wishing my wife could. Wishing I could feel like I conquered my first wall, but I am very much the one that got conquered. We cut our trip a day short and left on sunday back to Portland.

I was fortunate to have a job that I could give a short notice to get time off and the weather looked good for several days and my buddy and I left. We arrived in the Valley wednesday March 30th and upon arrival we found out that there was a snow storm that wiped out electricity for two weeks. There was a lot of snow on the floor, but we assumed the south facing Washington Column would be good to go. We were the only party on the Column!
I fount out upon arrival that there is a lot of snow on the valley flo...
I fount out upon arrival that there is a lot of snow on the valley floor in March.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

We arrived in the Valley mid morning and the first thing we did was practice aiding.
Practice aiding on the Swan Slab.
Practice aiding on the Swan Slab.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

I knew I was going to be a slower leader, so we did all the preparation on Wednesday to give us the earliest start on Thursday. We decided to pack up our gear Wednesday afternoon for two reasons: The trail was covered in snow so we wanted to find it while there was light to see and secondly, it was better to start Thursday morning the least exhausted we could possibly be.
The snow made the approach a little harder, but following the ST we we...
The snow made the approach a little harder, but following the ST we were still able to get to the base in an hour.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

There are a lot of different cairns, but it will all get you to the same place. I highly recommend hiking the approach trail prior to the day you start the climb.
Once you traverse the base of the column you will arrive to a place th...
Once you traverse the base of the column you will arrive to a place that looks like this. Find a ledge that will get you to the trees and then scramble up through the tree roots to get to the base of the climb.
Credit: Wannabeclimber
We arrived with a lot of time to spare, so I decided to fix the first pitch. I quickly relearned that a Yosemite 5.8 is very difficult. I actually pulled on a piece about 8 feet up and my rationale was, "I'm gonna aid a majority of this climb, why not start now." ;)
The first pitch is the dihedral to my left.
The first pitch is the dihedral to my left.
Credit: Wannabeclimber
Although we would have preferred to bivy at the base, we decided to follow the park rules and head back to camp 4 for the night. We woke up early enough that when we parked our car, we still needed our headlamps and headed to the base. We jugged our fixed line and I began to haul. I was intimidated by the trip reports I read about hauling this pitch, but honestly, I think if you learn how to haul before trying a wall, it is pretty easy.

2nd Pitch: Once you get to the top of the 1st pitch, walk across a huge sloping ledge to the anchor. Follow ST and this is straight forward. There were so much ants on this pitch! I aided this section. Climb to very visible bolted anchor.
Dan belaying from a snowy ledge during the 2nd pitch. Don't go too far...
Dan belaying from a snowy ledge during the 2nd pitch. Don't go too far left because it is not easier. Look further up and you will see slings from other parties that were off route.
Credit: Wannabeclimber
Leading the 2nd pitch.
Leading the 2nd pitch.
Credit: Wannabeclimber
3rd Pitch: Easy climbing to gain Dinner Ledge. Climb to very visible bolted anchor at top of pitch. You will need to traverse over to be on dinner ledge proper. You can stay tied it or untie there, but if you have brains you will stay tied in.
Fun and easy climbing. My mentality for climbing a big wall is do what...
Fun and easy climbing. My mentality for climbing a big wall is do what is quickest. If it's quicker to free, than do it, if you need to pull on a piece because it is quicker, than do it. I think I pulled on a piece because there was a slick section.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

Dinner Ledge:
As you can see, we weren't able to bivy here so we headed up to the ri...
As you can see, we weren't able to bivy here so we headed up to the right where there is a ledge perfect for two people.
Credit: Wannabeclimber
We had lunch here and took a rest. Our plan was the plan recommended in the ST book; fix to pitch 5 and we have plenty of time to do so.

4th Pitch (Kor Roof): Easy climbing that intuitively switches to aiding. I am a 5-10 guy and the bolts were not to far for me. You had to make some reachy moves, but it was very doable. The hard part is transitioning out of the roof and a cam hook worked perfectly here.
I actually took a 25 foot fall shortly after this picture was taken. I...
I actually took a 25 foot fall shortly after this picture was taken. I decided to do two cam hook moves in a row to get out of the roof into the diagonal crack. Also, because there was snow covering the anchors, we slung the huge rock on dinner ledge as a
Credit: Wannabeclimber
Looking down from the top of pitch 4. Route finding is extremely strai...
Looking down from the top of pitch 4. Route finding is extremely straight forward at this point.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

5th Pitch: Straight forward aiding. I had to do a hook (separate from a cam hook) move. Lesson learned on this pitch: keep the follower in mind when doing the traverse portion. I made my placements as far out as possible and I made it very difficult for my partner to clean. Penji is fun. Always start higher than you think you need to be because it is easier to get lowered after a few tries. Have the follower lower out.
Fun aiding! The bolt anchor is just above the small roof.
Fun aiding! The bolt anchor is just above the small roof.
Credit: Wannabeclimber
Keep the follower in mind when leading! My partner actually had his to...
Keep the follower in mind when leading! My partner actually had his top ascender pop off because of the distance of my placements.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

Fix pitches and have plenty of time for dinner and relaxing:
The best backdrop to enjoy a dinner under.
The best backdrop to enjoy a dinner under.
Credit: Wannabeclimber
Perfectly clear skies for the night. Glacier Point.
Perfectly clear skies for the night. Glacier Point.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

Following morning: we wake up early and are jugging before the sunrises.
Jugging. We decided to top out and rap back down to dinner ledge to gr...
Jugging. We decided to top out and rap back down to dinner ledge to grab our gear and rap down with the haul bag. I have 2.5L of water and a bunch of snacks for the day.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

6th Pitch: Start again with more aid traversing and then head up. The mandatory 5.7 free move at the top of the pitch feels very hard after aiding for the last few hundred feet, but it is a 5.7 move.
This pitch I am much more aware of the follower. Notice where I head s...
This pitch I am much more aware of the follower. Notice where I head straight up.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

7th Pitch: I used almost every piece of gear I had. On this pitch, a cam hook will save you so much time. I used it 8-10 times on this pitch leap frogging a lot of placements.
Very straight forward aiding. You can use nuts and cams.
Very straight forward aiding. You can use nuts and cams.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

8th Pitch (Chimney Pitch): I did a mix of free/aid climbing to gain the chimney. Honestly, this was the most exhausting part of the route. I literally took my rack and pack off because it was so awkward. I would throw it up the chimney and climb some and repeat.
I hated this pitch.
I hated this pitch.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

9th Pitch: Follow bolt out to gain thin crack. I aided this section. I don't remember what the anchor was or if it was hard to find, but I don't remember route finding being difficult at all. I think it was a tree anchor.
Starting to get tired, but we have a lot of day light left.
Starting to get tired, but we have a lot of day light left.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

10th Pitch: We stopped taking pictures because of how tired we were. There was a block dihedral to the right that had a huge offwidth. Go to the right of that block. and climb up. There are some pitons to use. I mixed free/aided this section. There are a couple of ways to climb to 2nd half of this pitch and we opted to do the penji. There will be a huge pine tree to your left and pick your poison of which way you will climb to get up there. Really loose rock here. Use the tree as an anchor.

11th Pitch: We were so tired and the sun was getting lower, but still shining on the valley floor. We almost were content with this being our high point, but decided to go on through the last chossy pitch. Again, pick your poison of what you want to climb here. It's all low angle and all loose. Please be aware that dinner ledge is right were loose rocks will go. Climb until you get to a tree on top and anchor there.
Dan jugging the last pitch!
Dan jugging the last pitch!
Credit: Wannabeclimber

First big wall success!
First big wall success!
Credit: Wannabeclimber
Summit tree. From here, a single rope rap will get you to another set ...
Summit tree. From here, a single rope rap will get you to another set of anchors where you set up your double rope rap to avoid getting the rope stuck. From that anchor a double rope rap will get you to rap anchors on top of pitch 9. From there follow the
Credit: Wannabeclimber
We started rapping just before the sun was setting behind El Cap and w...
We started rapping just before the sun was setting behind El Cap and we got back to the car around 10:00PM.
Credit: Wannabeclimber

We were completely exhausted. I have never worked my body so hard in my life. It actually took me a few days to recover because my fatigue was coupled with sickness. It was quite the achievement, but it was really hard work. A different partner and I were training a bunch to hopefully do half dome, but he broke his ankle two weeks before our trip down. Despite living in Hawaii now, I have ambitions to get a half dome and maybe a Nose ascent.

Key things to our success:
Hiking up our gear the night before and getting familiar with the approach.
Climbing in laced high-top trad shoes that were comfy enough to wear all day. I was able to do the free moves with ease and transitioning from free to aid to free climbing was very easy.
I dedicated a lot of time to practice hauling and aiding months in advance when I really did just want to free climb.
We brought a lot of water to keep us hydrated, although next time I will bring more.
We literally saw no body else while we were on the wall so there were no other people that would have effected our success.
Using cam hooks.


Some helpful beta photos.
The pine tree is where Dinner Ledge is.
The pine tree is where Dinner Ledge is.
Credit: Wannabeclimber
Credit: Wannabeclimber

I hope this helps you as you start getting into big walls! If you have any questions, shoot me an email at mycr8listemail@yahoo.com

  Trip Report Views: 2,029
Wannabeclimber
About the Author
Wannabeclimber is a beginner climber with ambitions to climb the nose someday.

Comments
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zip

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
  Nov 26, 2011 - 08:47am PT
tfpu.

25 footer off the Kor roof?
bet that was fun.
eKat

Trad climber
  Nov 26, 2011 - 08:54am PT
TFPU, indeed!

BEAUTY!
Prod

Trad climber
  Nov 26, 2011 - 10:31am PT
Way to get it done and you've only been climbing for less than 2 years!

Cheers,

Prod.
philo

Trad climber
Is that the light at the end of the tunnel or a tr
  Nov 26, 2011 - 10:33am PT
Thanks for two things.
1: for posting up
and
2: for not being a troll.

Good on ya for gettin' after it.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Nov 26, 2011 - 11:54am PT
Nice work!

couchmaster

climber
  Nov 26, 2011 - 12:22pm PT
Sweet stuff! Way to get on it and get it done!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Nov 26, 2011 - 02:34pm PT
Well I think you're going to have to change your ST name because you're not a "wannabeclimber" anymore!
Very, very good on ya for spending the time to figure it out, practice the techniques and then doing it and still learning along the way The biggest mistake first time wall climbers make is not doing that.

Excellent job! TFPU!
altieboo

Social climber
Das Blase
  Nov 26, 2011 - 12:42pm PT
Sweet Trip Report! Sounds like a great learning experience. I need to take note from the "train more, free climb" less thing.

Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Nov 26, 2011 - 12:44pm PT
TFPUAC!!

Admit, though - it made you have liberal democratic urges, didn't it?

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1675678/Every-climber-a-left-winger
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
  Nov 26, 2011 - 01:08pm PT
Nice job. A 25 footer off the Kor roof? Yikes!
Wannabeclimber

Trad climber
North Shore, HI
Author's Reply  Nov 26, 2011 - 01:44pm PT
Thanks for the kind words.

On the 25 foot fall, when the rope finished stretching my elbow lightly bumped the slab below the roof (which may have been more than 25 feet, but I'd rather error on not being a drama queen). I'm not sure how it happened, but I got flipped and was going head first. While falling I though I was going to slip out of my harness.I was completely unhurt, but I did notice the weeks after that I think it did mess with my head game.

I did not have democratic leanings after this climb, but the morning after we got off the rock, my wife sent me a picture of her and our 4 month old and I realized I shouldn't take 25 foot whippers. I could have gotten pretty hurt.

The reason I spent so much time honing the wall skills (hauling, jumarring, aiding, etc) months in advance was because almost every TR that was not successful seemed to be due to lack of training. So if any climbers hoping to get this first wall, I encourage you to spend lots of time training. 2 days of jumarring and hauling near Camp 4 two days before you attempt the SF will not be enough.
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Nov 26, 2011 - 03:43pm PT
Good job guys!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 27, 2011 - 02:08pm PT
Gneiss!
Nohea

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
  Nov 27, 2011 - 04:44pm PT
Well done, thanks for sharing.

Aloha,
Will
Dos XX

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Nov 27, 2011 - 04:52pm PT
You didn't bail, you didn't let a little snow here and there slow you down, you learned a ton of stuff beforehand and during your climb, and everyone got back safely. You can change the "wannabe" moniker I think. Excellent; TR, way to get it done!
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Nov 28, 2011 - 01:37am PT
Bump!
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
  Nov 28, 2011 - 03:16pm PT
NIce TR. I had to laugh at this line

Looking down from the top of pitch 4. Route finding is extremely straight forward at this point.

Ya think? I mean, from the top of Kor Roof there is A crack that shoots right. Where else COULD you go?
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Nov 28, 2011 - 02:23pm PT
Well done, hell yeah. How sweet it is to have the wall to yourself, no? Not too many get that experience on the SF of WC.

I think that you'll be fine on the Nose - put it in the crosshairs and get it!

Oh, you mention your second's top jumar popping off the line while cleaning a traverse - that's not good, and can be avoided with safe technique. Read up!

JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Nov 28, 2011 - 03:04pm PT
I loved this TR -- and I love this route. When I was first on the route, 40 years ago, there were two other parties, so it was particularly good that you were able to achieve that rare solitude.

Well done -- both as a climb and as a TR.

John
roy

Social climber
NZ -> SB,CA -> Zurich
  Nov 28, 2011 - 03:26pm PT
Nice job! This was my first wall and not nearly as successful as yours. One thing that I didn't practice enough of was cleaning traverses and transitioning between going from ascending to descending.

Cheers, Roy
Zander

climber
  Nov 28, 2011 - 04:13pm PT
Woo hoo!
Wannabeclimber

Trad climber
North Shore, HI
Author's Reply  Nov 30, 2011 - 02:07pm PT
Thanks for the kind word peoples.
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Washington Column - South Face C1 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
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Photo: Chris McNamara
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