North Face 5.11c

  • Currently 5.0/5

The Rostrum

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
The Kaukulator and the Uprising on the Rostrum
Wednesday December 17, 2014 10:09pm
This is a quick and dirty postscript to the other Rostrum TR from our first go on the route.

The day pictured in that TR was Oct 24, perfect conditions, killer fall day. When we went back for the second go (partner's third), it was Nov 11, and it was perfect conditions, killer late-fall day.

This day we thought we'd skip the first three and cut in on the ledge, giving us time to do some variants. Short days in late Nov, but we knew the storm and wx change that would end the north-facing multi-pitch season was right around the corner, so we hustled and got in this good stuff.

First up was the Kaukulator. That is a ridiculously beautiful line on a clean, overhung wall. Rattly fingers to hands to OW to juggy roofs. Hardest five moves are off the ledge. Stone cold mf'er of a warmup.

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Not only is the opening the hands-down crux of the pitch, it’s right off of a slanting + exposed ledge so you have to protect yourself closely off of squirrelly .5-sized locks and bad feet. Definitely one of those pitches that are much harder to lead than to follow.

On my first go I was shocked to find myself through the fingers section and sinking the first solid hand jam, so shocked that I slipped right out of a truckstop, sinker jam! Drrrr. Couldn’t feel too bad since it wouldn’t have been even close on lead.

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Here’s Nick about to engage the OW section, rated .10c and maybe two or so bodylengths long.

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We both went different sides in. He suffered a bit, fell, thought it was much harder than the Rostrum’s .10a OW lead, which he’s never fallen or even really struggled on. On second (again, a different undertaking), it felt a good deal easier than the Rostrum’s .10a OW to me. I thought this one was kind of cruiser, but I've fallen both times on the Rostrum's .10a OW pitch.

The section off the ledge is like a steeper, meaner 15 ft of Butterballs – it’s that same really hard size that you find at the Butterballs crux

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On the lower you get to appreciate how steep it all is

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From below the ledge

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Next we walked over to the Rostrum midpoint ledge and Nick handed me the rack for the finger crack. I kept the lid on tight and held it together to a point five feet below the ledge at the intermediate anchor.

Okay, okay, both cruxes below me, the business is out of the way, don’t fall now. Do not fall now?! Really, you’re going to fall now??? Two more pulls and I would have had it, but you can’t plead with a pump. Either you’re fit enough or you’re not. Whiiiiiiiipped onto the green Alien.

After the partner came up, he passed me the rack again and I went up the .10d stem/jam/roof/lieback pitch. Felt easier this time, nice, no idea why.

Partner motored up on second, cleaning gear, then we rapped back to the belay before the stems and pulled the rope so that he could give the Uprising a go.

First thing about the Uprising is that the face traverse to the crack, rated .10c, is way harder than the .10c face traverse that leads to the OW above on the Rostrum N Face route. Much harder, but with worse pro. Did holds break somewhere in there? ¿Quién sabe?

He’s got a .5 in here before the tough part but it’s garbage.

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Next frame down in that position. Good stance before the cruxy face-to-seam sequence, good air below the heels

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But pulling hard and keeping the head together gets you to gear and then eventually…

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…the crack. What can you say? The thing is flawless, has got it all. Comparatively makes Outer Limits look like a B- in quality. And Outer Limits isn't B-, it's A+. So what does that make the Uprising

We only had two blue cams, would be better to have three. The long wide hands section is so money it hurts. Pumpy, physical, steep.

On top of that you encounter another distinct crux.

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From there you can link into the .10a OW pitch and up to the anchor above on the standard route. Having done this, the partner made the unqualified statement that it was the best single pitch he’d done in his life. Pretty rad. In the pic above, you can see a Brit mid-onsite on the Roof finish. They said they were headed to the Freerider the next day.

Kind of crazy that you can pull this sort of thing off in mid November.

Bonus: this fern at the belay, who like us was just another lucky bastard taking in a nice late-fall day in the mountains

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Credit: le_bruce

  Trip Report Views: 8,934
About the Author
le_bruce is a climber from Oakland: what's not to love?


Trad climber
Mental Physics........
  Dec 17, 2014 - 10:36pm PT
such a beautiful crack

Trad climber
  Dec 17, 2014 - 10:34pm PT
Nice work! Cool photos!

Trad climber
  Dec 17, 2014 - 10:43pm PT
Lovin it man

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
  Dec 17, 2014 - 11:07pm PT
Thanks. I hadn't seen photos of these before. Very impressive.

  Dec 17, 2014 - 11:26pm PT
Nice TR. Kaukulator must get climbed a lot, all the ascents have rounded off the edges.

  Dec 18, 2014 - 12:13am PT
Wow dude, wow. Thank you again for bringing the stoke. I must do these pitches you have just reported on!
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
  Dec 18, 2014 - 01:15am PT
Both trip reports and the accompanying pics were the full schwizzel
All the variations that were so enticing when focus has t be on the one objective.
This tr is also joined by a punter on the top of the first page of the site. In the thread he implies that he needs to find another YOS valley...I hope he checks out both of your excellent covers of just one slice of heaven!
thank you, it is a good 3:30 am o'clock that starts with seeing again,the variations waiting on the Rostrum!

Trad climber
No. Tahoe
  Dec 18, 2014 - 06:07am PT

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Dec 18, 2014 - 07:02am PT
Classic routes and such great rock!

  Dec 18, 2014 - 07:44am PT
woah these things look nice :)
thanks for the report!!

  Dec 18, 2014 - 09:07am PT
5.10c traverse rating to get to the Uprising crack?

Are you sure you went the right way?
this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
  Dec 18, 2014 - 09:19am PT
Le Bruce! Thank you

Trad climber
  Dec 18, 2014 - 10:34am PT
le_bruce, you have taken your climbing to a whole 'nother level this year. I was holding you back with all that bush-whacking 5.9-to-nowhere crap ;)

Lots of very very good looking lines are within your sights now!

Edit: Just looking again, and this stuff is making me drool and get sweaty palmed.
wayne burleson

Amherst, MA
  Dec 18, 2014 - 09:27am PT
Thanks! Great memories of these.

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Dec 18, 2014 - 09:49am PT
Fuggin' A. Thanks for another killer batch of pics (even though they're making me feel SOFT). Those lowering shots sure do change the perspective!! STEEP.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Dec 18, 2014 - 09:52am PT
Those cracks looks so good.

  Dec 18, 2014 - 10:13am PT
When we first went to the Kaukulator Bachar backed off the lead and Kauk lead it.

It was kind off scary to lead with nuts and hexes.

With the advent of cams this changed considerably ......
G Murphy

Trad climber
Oakland CA
  Dec 18, 2014 - 10:46am PT
Really great pitches for sure, nice job. I found that face traverse over to Uprising kind of hard, too.

Oakland, CA
Author's Reply  Dec 18, 2014 - 11:01am PT
Werner, hell yes, we were thinking about that, what it'd be like to lead it on passive pro. It's got four distinct sections - off-fingers, glory hands, OW, then the run to the anchor - and all four of them seemed like piss-poor contenders for hexes. Man oh man.

...Bachar backed off and Kauk led it

Hard to imagine either one of those guys backing off of anything. Titans. Did you do it that day? How did it go?

We were talking about whether that opening crux section of the Kaukulator is harder or easier than Butterballs? Butterballs seems tougher to me.

The .10c traverse to Uprising - no idea if went the right way. We both did it differently. I stayed left of the seem, partner went right. Both were a good deal harder than the Rostrum's .10c face traverse. Maybe we blew it!

Kaukulator must get climbed a lot, all the ascents have rounded off the edges.

That flared lip of the crack kind of saves things down low, because you can get more shoe rubber in the mix. I think it'd be a harder section without that flare.

Nut Again, what are you smoking. Best adventures of my life - when are we doing that stuff again? Due for a repeat on Hawkman's. Really it's the crack-slaying partner who's opened up this world to this poser.

Thanks all for the nice comments. I like reading TR's, I like making TR's - good way to keep the connection to the rock and to the mountains alive during long unbroken periods in the city, good way to relive memories like Wayne is saying.

Oakland, CA
Author's Reply  Dec 18, 2014 - 11:03am PT
G Murphy -

Man I still keep your route over on the buttress below the W shoulder of Half Dome near the top of my Want To Do list. Something about the line... Have stared at it for years. Maybe in the spring if I can convince one of the partners.

The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
  Dec 18, 2014 - 11:04pm PT
Back in the 90's Doug McDonald belayed me on the lead of a full 40 meter second pitch to the Kaukulator, passing some old webbing and putting in a bolt anchor belay.
Not a classic splitter like the first pitch and more like aerial MMA and 10+ as I recall.
We explored the terrain above, put in a few bolts and were quick to see we were fighting way above our weight class.
I'd venture there's an incredible two pitch continuation to the top above the second pitch for someone with the guns and gumption.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Dec 18, 2014 - 11:53am PT
Very well done! I never noticed where Kaukulator was, but it looks freaking good! I need to learn how to ringlog man!

So the climb could have been called Bacharlator!? :)
David Wilson

  Dec 18, 2014 - 02:15pm PT
That looks sooo good - never been on either of those routes. Nice to see a few pics and hear a few tales

  Dec 18, 2014 - 02:58pm PT
Back in the 90's Doug McDonald belayed me on the lead of a full 40 meter second pitch to the Kaukulator, passing some old webbing and putting in a bolt anchor belay.

The old webbing probably was mine.

I first tried the second pitch with Merry, afterwards told Doug about it.

There were several scary sized frazzle flakes in there, the smaller ones I launched while on the lead.

But I bailed because I was scared if one those larger ones came off and would hit Merry and kill her .....

Oakland, CA
Author's Reply  Dec 18, 2014 - 10:17pm PT
David and Vitaliy - I know you've both done Blind Faith. Nick reports that p1 there is a good deal harder than the Kaukulator, fwiw.

From the Kaukulator anchor, the terrain above looks amazing, even steeper than what you've just done. We both had a "god damn" moment looking up at it. It goes a long ways. Thought I had a pic of it but not finding it.

Edit: you can see some of it here on this cropped pic


Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Dec 18, 2014 - 06:26pm PT
Thanks for the superb report and for all the contributed stories!

Social climber
  Dec 20, 2014 - 08:58am PT
Beautiful report and climbing content. Not sure I will ever be strong enough to do that line, but it is on my Christmas wish list now.

Sport climber
Lexington, KY
  Dec 20, 2014 - 11:34am PT
When Fosberg and I did the FA of Uprising it blew our minds that the thing hadn't been climbed before! The whole thing was my idea but Fos made the thing come alive. No cleaning required!!

Trad climber
New England
  Dec 20, 2014 - 01:03pm PT
Nice day out, looks like terrific climbing.

Mountain climber
Fresno, CA
  Dec 20, 2014 - 06:14pm PT
I absolutely loved that first picture! Thanks for sharing your story with us!


  Dec 22, 2014 - 04:11pm PT
Beautiful! Thanks for the memories!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Sep 18, 2015 - 09:25am PT
Bump for a cool report!

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Sep 18, 2015 - 09:40am PT
Cool. Man, that route looks incredible.


Trad climber
Menlo Park, CA
  Sep 18, 2015 - 09:56am PT
Thanks for the great photos and report
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
  Sep 18, 2015 - 10:05am PT

Trad climber
  Sep 18, 2015 - 10:29am PT
Great post.

San Jose, CA
  Sep 18, 2015 - 12:24pm PT
great TR Bryce, I missed it year ago.
I have question to Werner, - how come in the book FA of Kauk-kulator assigned to : [Ron Kauk, John Yablonsky, 1975] and there is no mentioning of Yabo in Werner's post when Bachar backed off and Ron went for FA. If Yabo was not there this time do you remember did you or Bachar follow Ron on top rope? Or Yabo was there and followed first?


  Sep 18, 2015 - 03:38pm PT
Yabo was 1st ascent with Kauk. John was not there that day.

Bachar was after the first ascent, on another day, that we all went months later ....

  Jun 29, 2016 - 10:31pm PT
goes with the one I just bumped. Love the 'extras' from other posters

Oakland, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 23, 2018 - 08:53pm PT
Snyd! You got the FA of the Uprising? And no cleaning... Can't say that for many north-facing Yosemite cracks...

Did it go on-site for you guys? Or if not how much work to free it? I still haven't freed the crux .5 finger crack at the top above the stem box. So pumpy and it comes on top of the deep pump from all the steep cups below... what a classic pitch.

Trad climber
space-man from outer space
  Jul 24, 2018 - 09:37am PT

Trad climber
  Jul 24, 2018 - 10:30am PT
le_bruce, I think this fall I finally need to take you up on your offer to haul me up some of this stuff. Get ready for the sharp end!

Wifey and I are doing an hour long core body workout class every morning these days. Now I just need to do more time on the thinnest cracks at my local gym :)

  Jul 24, 2018 - 03:46pm PT
Great report, thanks! Chris Snyder and I climbed Uprising together. The third member of our team, Rob Reynolds didn't get a chance to get on it because it had started to rain. I got it first try and I don't think Chris came off either. I'm not sure if it had been done before but we took the liberty of naming it.
The Rostrum - North Face 5.11c - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
One of the finest multi-pitch 5.11 climbs anywhere.
Photo: Mark Kroese