Prow C2F 5.6

 
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Washington Column


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
The Prow, my first wall 6/2012
Wednesday June 13, 2012 4:20am
July 2011 I was taking my "lead test" at Planet Granite in Sunnyvale. We were real climbers now I thought. We can lead climb. Although looking back this wasn't the major accomplishment I though it was at the time, it got the ball rolling for what would be my obsession for the next year and still is. I still remember my first trip to the Valley, realizing I didn't have any of the gear I needed to climb there. I didn't know how the hell to use a cam or nut, let alone what a good placement looked like. I went and bought a set of nuts and proceeded to climb everything I could with these nuts. I obviously wanted to progress, and ended up selling just about everything I own to buy a rack. Once I had the rack, my life was over.

At this point all I thought about was climbing. Aid climbing had not come on my radar yet, but I was excited to free climb. I spent most weekends through the winter in the Valley and was starting to become a half way decent free climber.

In Yosemite I always find myself looking up. It's hard not to look at the immense granite walls and think, someday.... I now knew I needed to learn this aid climbing stuff, so I redirected my focus. I spent a few months practicing on different c1 routes and spent A LOT of time jugging. After a few months of practice I was finally getting the hang of aiding and was now just kind of slow, instead of horribly slow.

I spent months trying to convince various other noob wall climbing friends that we should go for it and get on a wall. Some of my friends refused to learn how to aid climb, so they were out, and others were willing but did not have the time. Finally, I ran into an old coworker who was up for it. I knew he climbed, but had no idea he was into walls, and had done a few already.

He wanted to do Zodiac....in two days.... Some of you probably saw my other thread "Zodiac noob beta," which I posted partly because I did not feel prepared for Zodiac as my first wall, and mostly because I did not feel ready to do it in two days. I borrowed some pins and heads from my friend Brad Young (mtnyoung) and he gave me some encouragement (although he knew I was gonna die fer sure!)

When we showed up in the Valley on Thursday (6/7) Zodiac was packed. I was pretty happy about this haha. I said let's go check out Washington Column since we only have two and a half days to climb something. We scoped out the Column and saw The South Face was packed, but The Prow was empty. This seemed like a good way to go because the aid is at least c2 so it will be at least a little more exciting for John since he has some experience on walls, and not too difficult for me. Decided, we are doing The Prow.
Racking gear in the parking lot
Racking gear in the parking lot
Credit: briham89
Mr. Squirrel says, YER GONNA DIE!!!
Mr. Squirrel says, YER GONNA DIE!!!
Credit: briham89
Ahwahnee security watching us dirtbags get water
Ahwahnee security watching us dirtbags get water
Credit: briham89
As we were filling up our water at the Ahwahnee, they had a security guard watching us! HAHAHAHAHA. Have to watch them dirtbags I guess?!

That day we hiked up to the base with plans to fix the first three pitches that afternoon. When we got to the base we saw a soloist starting up the route....crap! Luckily he was super cool and said he was going to stop at the top of the first pitch and we could pass! We decided to do the 10b alternate start, which was very fun free climbing.
Looking up the prow from the 1st pitch alternate start (JoJo)
Looking up the prow from the 1st pitch alternate start (JoJo)
Credit: briham89
We stopped at the half way belay on the 1st pitch to let the soloist get down.
John leading up the second half of the first pitch
John leading up the second half of the first pitch
Credit: briham89
The second part of the pitch takes cam hooks really well, as it suggest in the supertopo.
John leading the second pitch
John leading the second pitch
Credit: briham89
John blasted up the first two pitches, and then it was my turn to lead the third. The first half is c1 and pretty basic (make sure to back clean!) The second half of the pitch consisted of clipping fixed pins and copperheads, mixed in with some thin gear. This was the first time I had really done this, and it was a little exciting stepping up onto OLD gear. It all held and when I reached the top of the 3rd pitch, we were done for the day. We rapped down to the ground, and left our ropes waiting for us in the morning.
John cleaning the third pitch
John cleaning the third pitch
Credit: briham89
I usually don't sleep well before a big day of climbing. I normally have a mix of excitement and nerves that don't let me sleep. But after driving into the Valley super late, getting very little sleep the night before, and hiking and climbing that day, I fell asleep right away (I think the beer helped too.)

4:30 is just way too early to wake up. We had went back and forth the night before about just finishing the route the next day or hauling more (including a portaledge) and spending a night on the wall. John is all about going light and fast so we decided to send the route the next day. This being my first wall I was a little worried about going fast, but I was up for it...until we woke up at 4:30. We both looked at each other and without saying anything both knew we wanted to go back to sleep. But a little suffering is part of walls right? We manned up, cleaned up camp, and headed back to the base of The Prow.
First three pitches fixed, and ready to blast today
First three pitches fixed, and ready to blast today
Credit: briham89
Time to jug! Jugging from the top of the first pitch to the top of the third was a little rough since it was overhanging. I had practiced jugging free hanging lines before this, so luckily I wasn't too slow. We decided to skip a hauling device since we were going with a really small bag.
Decided to haul a small bag
Decided to haul a small bag
Credit: briham89
After jugging and then hand-over-hand hauling the bag, my forearms started to cramp...sh#t. I have never had my forearms cramp before, but I think the lack of a warm up and trying to hand-over-hand haul a skinny rope took its toll. Oh well, stretch it out, man up, and lead the fourth pitch. I got up the pitch without my arms hurting, sweet, maybe I just needed to warm up. I start hauling...no bueno, arms hurt. Sh#t, Ok, new plan. Hand-over-hand hauling is stupid even with a relatively light load. I set up a basic body haul setup, this was slower, but saved my arms. Ok this should work better.
5th pitch
5th pitch
Credit: briham89
John starts up the fifth pitch and I chew on some beef jerky and drink some water to hopefully help with the arms. He gets through the pitch no problem, and it's time for me to jug. BTW the blown head on this pitch is still blown as of 6/8. You can use a beak on top of it, but when we did it there was a cord attached to the bolt above it, and you could use that as the lower clip in point instead of the head. I jugged the pitch, and my arms felt just ok.
John leading the 6th pitch. Prow
John leading the 6th pitch. Prow
Credit: briham89
The hanging belay at the 6th pitch sucked!
The hanging belay at the 6th pitch sucked!
Credit: briham89
John cleaning the 7th pitch
John cleaning the 7th pitch
Credit: briham89
Ok arms are working, time to lead. I start up the seventh pitch and arms are fine. Wooohooo! I don't have to be a wuss and let John lead everything. The seventh pitch anchor shows two bolts on the topo, but there is one bolt, one good pin, and a bomber #1 camalot placement. I was able to move pretty quickly aiding this pitch and was proud of this.
8th pitch
8th pitch
Credit: briham89
John made quick work of the eighth pitch. The walk over to the fixed pin during the traverse was exciting! We both agreed that hammering that pin in on the first ascent must have been truly wild. John unclipped the first few fixed pieced and bolt so I didn't have to lower out, to speed things up a bit.
Eating lunch at Tapir Terrace (top of pitch 8)
Eating lunch at Tapir Terrace (top of pitch 8)
Credit: briham89
Happy to be standing on a ledge at Tapir Terrace
Happy to be standing on a ledge at Tapir Terrace
Credit: briham89
Since we were making good time we decided to stop and eat lunch on Tapir Terrace. It was really nice to be able to sit down on a ledge for the first time in awhile.
Leading up the 9th pitch
Leading up the 9th pitch
Credit: briham89
I led the ninth pitch, which Chris Mac said he would call more c2 than c1 and I would have to agree. However, if I was wearing free climbing shoes this pitch would have been easier. I wish I had these as it would have made the second half of the pitch go much faster. The anchor at the top of the ninth pitch used a fixed pin and good cams (can't remember what sizes).
Waterrrrrr!!!!!! Top of 11th pitch
Waterrrrrr!!!!!! Top of 11th pitch
Credit: briham89
The next few pitches went fast. It would have been nice to have free shoes for the eleventh pitch too. The aiding was easy, but free climbing would have been fast and a bit more fun.
Looks messier than it actually is. Mark Hudon inspired lead line ancho...
Looks messier than it actually is. Mark Hudon inspired lead line anchor.
Credit: briham89
Would like to thank Mark Hudon for helping me understand the butterfly knot style anchor. Super fast, easy, and clean (although this picture isn't the best example.) The left bolt has a butterfly knot with a long loop, and then this is equalized with a clove hitch to the second bolt. The picture isn't that clear, but you get the idea. Mark was nice enough to answer some questions I had about anchors, and now this is the setup I will use all the time.
Made it to the top with plenty of sun left
Made it to the top with plenty of sun left
Credit: briham89
First big wall in the bag and super stoked
First big wall in the bag and super stoked
Credit: briham89
To be honest I was kind of surprised when we topped out with a lot of day light left. I knew were moving pretty fast, but I thought when I was leading my aiding was slow, I guess I don't give myself enough credit :) . We did it though. My first big wall summit. It was a mix of emotions that I didn't picture having when I thought about making it up my first wall. I was tired, hurting, and stoked. I expected to be ready to jump on another wall in a few days, but at that moment I just wanted to be down and drinking water and eating...and then beer.
Descent down north dome gully, proudly watching the Column we just sen...
Descent down north dome gully, proudly watching the Column we just sent.
Credit: briham89
When we made it down, we did the mandatory "we didn't die" high five, and walked back to the car and then headed to camp 4. That night I was excited I sent my first wall, but I had this weird feeling that I sort of wasn't ready to jump on another one. It was hard work, scary, and now I'm hurting. But I was still stoked. The next day I woke up and my mindset was more in the place of where I thought it would have been. I was stoked. I was excited for the next wall, and now, every day that passes I am wanting more and more to get back up on a wall. There it is, I'm hooked.

Thanks for reading

  Trip Report Views: 3,215
briham89
About the Author
briham89 is a (newly) big wall climber from los gatos, ca.

Comments
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climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Jun 13, 2012 - 06:05am PT
Really excellent first wall! Less than a year since buying you first set of nuts? Seriously? Excellent TR. Solid! I remember your Zodiac post. Hope your partner was stoked about this trip even if Zodiac was his focus. The prow looks like a beautiful route, Some really nice pics. Thanks!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Jun 13, 2012 - 07:38am PT
Goodonya, mate
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Aurora Colorado
  Jun 13, 2012 - 07:47am PT
Great work! Yeah, it takes time to recover mentally and physically but you'll have a great experience on El Cap, don't miss it!
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
  Jun 13, 2012 - 09:06am PT
Nice work!! One down... many to go! :-)

p.s. The "butterfly knots" you have in the pic above seem to be clove hitches.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
  Jun 13, 2012 - 09:11am PT
Nice! My first wall too....in 1979.
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
  Jun 13, 2012 - 10:49am PT
That was mine, too, in '93.
TFPU, Briham.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 13, 2012 - 11:03am PT
Nice Job Bro, way to go!!
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jun 13, 2012 - 11:04am PT
Thanks everyone! And steelmnkey, the first knot which is hard to see is a butterfly with a long loop and then the second knot is a clove hitch. This creates a really fast and easy equalized fixed rope. The first knot is just kind of hard to see under the haul line and other stuff.
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  Jun 13, 2012 - 11:11am PT
Good job--My first wall as well; solo in 1970.
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
  Jun 13, 2012 - 11:26am PT
I see it now... kind of buried. No worries, just checking.

Again, great job getting 'er done!
j-tree

Big Wall climber
Typewriters and Ledges
  Jun 13, 2012 - 11:46am PT
If you have ladders at a hanging belay, you can make things more comfortable by looping the ladders around your butt and clipping it back to the anchor, then you have a makeshift seat to sit in instead of having to hang from the harness.
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  Jun 13, 2012 - 12:31pm PT
right on! nice climbing guys!
ImplicitD

Trad climber
Boise
  Jun 13, 2012 - 12:59pm PT
Amazing that you did that in a year. What is this world coming to? Have fun and be safe out there. The sky's the limit for you guys.
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jun 13, 2012 - 02:23pm PT
Thanks for the tip j-tree! That is a good idea. And thanks everyone for the kind words. I'm excited for what the future holds ImplicitD!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jun 13, 2012 - 02:35pm PT
Nice! Thanks for the TR and excellent story and pictures.

John
Morgan

Trad climber
East Coast
  Jun 13, 2012 - 02:56pm PT
PROWd Send!
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jun 14, 2012 - 01:42am PT
Haha thanks Morgan
mtnyoung

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Jun 14, 2012 - 10:09am PT
Well done on a great Grade V,

So, now that you're rested: what's next?
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Jun 14, 2012 - 10:27am PT
Proud prow
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jun 14, 2012 - 10:40am PT
Real nice!
ddriver

Trad climber
SLC, UT
  Jun 14, 2012 - 10:58am PT
That was mine, too, in '93.

Same year I did it.
iep

climber
  Jun 14, 2012 - 11:11am PT
I then proceeded to climb everything I could with these nuts.


you just earned yourself a new hat!

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Jun 14, 2012 - 11:15am PT
Excellent work figuring it out and getting up it!
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jun 14, 2012 - 01:36pm PT
Thanks everyone, and iep that hat is awesome haha!

So, now that you're rested: what's next?

A friend wants to do The South Face of Washington Column for her first wall, so we will be jumping on that soon. After that I would like to do The West Face of Leaning Tower. After that, either The Nose, Lurking Fear, or Triple Direct. Want to come Brad??? ;) haha I already know the answer to that.

Also, my buddy still wants to do Zodiac
mtnyoung

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Jun 14, 2012 - 01:46pm PT
"Want to come Brad??? ;) haha I already know the answer to that."

Actually there are two answers:

1. Have you ever met the Chance Brothers? And;

2. Why in hell would I do any of those walls again?. I've done every one you named and I'd NEVER go through all the work of a wall without it being one that's new to me.

Keep it up, you're off to a great start.
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jun 14, 2012 - 01:50pm PT
I knew answer one was coming....but I forgot that you had done all of those. And thanks, can't wait for the next one.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jun 14, 2012 - 01:51pm PT
Finally finished reading your TR! I am also from Planet Granite (I roam through all of them kind of since I work in Palo Alto and live in SF). If you want to do any walls or climbs together in the fall let me know. It is usually hard for me to find partners that have much time off. Till than I will be busy chasing marmots in the alpine etc : )

PS: I am not sure if I am super super slow or just super slow when it comes to aid LOL

Good luck on w/e you get on next!
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jun 14, 2012 - 01:56pm PT
If you want to do any walls or climbs together in the fall let me know. It is usually hard for me to find partners that have much time off.

Sounds good to me. I too have this problem
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Jun 14, 2012 - 05:23pm PT
The Prow was my second wall and looking at those photos I sort of climbed it again. Loved that first crack pitch (JoJo) and the rock on that middle section was and is spectacular diamond hard stuff. Nice effort.

JL
Fat & Tired

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
  Jun 26, 2012 - 04:32pm PT
Great article! brought back some fantastic memories. Like many others the prow was my first wall too, I think somewhere around 1992-93. My memories for that period of time are really hazy for a number of reasons :) Come to think of it, not only was it my 1st (sort of) but also my 2nd and 3rd...

1st attempt my partner bailed the day before so I figured since I was all dressed and nowhere to go I might as well try soloing the route. What an absolute disaster that was! Though I must say I learned more from that disaster then any well executed route I'd ever done.

2nd attempt I figured I just need a warm body to belay me so found a guy that fulfilled all the requirements...knows how to belay, had the time off work and had a pulse. Turns out that was an absolute disaster too (shocking right?). Tough enough to keep an eye on my own greenhorn self but then throw in a guy who had never aid climbed, oh yeah then a storm started coming in so we bailed. By this time I was really getting good at retreating from that route.

3rd time was a charm but almost didn't happen still...started up with a good partner of equal experience, firing off pitches left and right...then a good buddy of ours who was on a route around the corner fell and broke his femur. So we started setting up to retreat to help evac him but it was going to take way too long to get down and he had to get help fast. Don't get me wrong, I would always choose helping anyone in that situation and especially a friend, but I couldn't believe what was happening! I was like seriously? Is there some force in nature that doesn't want me to ever complete a wall? Anyway, since they couldn't wait for us to get down we continued on and finished the route. Nothing like seeing your buddy take a winger and break a leg while you are in the middle of your 1st (well maybe 3rd sort of) big wall to heighten the pucker factor! If watching something like that doesn't have you second guessing your choice of leisure activities nothing will...

But perhaps the most memorable part of that whole trip was another party of guys who were on the prow just ahead of us. They were really cool and we ended up hanging out with them in Camp 4 quite a bit. Don't remember the 1st guys name but I definitely remember the other guy named "Bullet". Super nice guy, maybe a little rough around the edges though. Eventually we got enough courage to ask him why his name was "Bullet". He said " well, I was kinda a rambunctious kid. I told the the gas station clerk to put the damn phone down a couple times but she didn't...so I shot it out of her hands" My buddy and I laughed so hard I peed my pants a little bit!

Anyway, sorry for the long verbal masturbation trip down memory lane, but thanks for sharing your trip report, totally put a smile on my face thinking about what it's like to complete the 1st wall. Good luck, I suggest getting on El Cap as soon as possible, as Largo once wrote "before it gets any bigger"
Cheers!
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jun 26, 2012 - 04:48pm PT
Nice job! I love to see the psych overflowing.
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Jun 27, 2012 - 01:46pm PT
I'm glad everyone is reminiscing about their Prow trips. It's all about keeping the psych / stoke alive and well!
Brian B

Trad climber
Oakland
  Sep 20, 2012 - 01:16pm PT
Headed up The Prow this weekend for MY first big wall. Can't wait to file my trip report. Great climb!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 20, 2012 - 01:37pm PT
what's yer next wall plan briham?

briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Sep 20, 2012 - 03:38pm PT
Thanks Brian, have a blast!!! Just keep going up, that's ALL you have to do!

Munge....I am in my never ending state of trying to find a wall partner.... I want to do the regular route on Half Dome soon, but I'm really up for whatever. I've been wanting to do the West Face of Leaning Tower too. Lurking Fear, Zodiac, and the Nose are also on the tick list, but those are probably more likely for next spring.

BTW i have fridays and saturdays off (sometimes sundays), and can leave thursday nights for the valley for anyone dumb enough to come climb with me :)
LuckyJack

Trad climber
Novato, CA
  Dec 16, 2012 - 12:53am PT
Awesome TR Briham. I'll be headed up the South Face of the column for my first big wall in the next few weeks, as soon as the weather and schedules align. I wanted to do the Prow, as it seems more classic and not too much harder, but my partner is sure the South Face is the better starter wall. He's done a bunch of big walls 20 or so years ago, so I defer to his expertise. You headed up to the valley through the winter?
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
Author's Reply  Dec 16, 2012 - 10:27pm PT
Thanks LuckyJack!

Either way you will have fun. The south face stays in the sun in the afternoon, whereas the prow goes into the shade in the afternoon, so in the winter the SF might be a bit warmer. The south face has some easier free pitches so I think it's a bit faster (or shorter). The prow has a couple pitches with a little bit harder aid, but it's really not much harder.

I'll be in jtree after xmas, so I won't be back to the valley until the new year, but then I'll be there a lot as long as it's not snowing. Have fun! Maybe I'll meet you out there.
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Washington Column - Prow C2F 5.6 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The line follows a series of small features.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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The South Face of Washington Column.
Washington Column - Astroman 5.11c - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
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Astroman takes a brilliant steep and clean line.
Washington Column - Skull Queen C2 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
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Skull Queen.
Washington Column - Re-animator A3 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Re-animator, A3 5.8
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The steepest route on the Column.
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Ten Day's After, A3 5.8
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A series of steep corners lead to an exposed face.
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