North Face 5.11c

  • Currently 5.0/5

The Rostrum

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
The Rostrummmmmmm
Tuesday December 9, 2014 1:13pm
Been s c a r e ddddd of the Rostrum for many years.

For the last ten years: le_bruce, you ready for the Rostrum?

This summer: le_bruce, you ready for the Rostrum?

Then a few weeks ago: le_bruce, you ready to climb the Rostrum?

Thus bluffing myself into the notion of readiness, and knowing that the ropegun partner was beyond solid, I read the Rostrum TRs. Cultureshock, Vitaliy, RyanD, nopantsben, Elcapinyoazz, Crimpergirl. Iíd read them all before, but never as a person who was going to do the Rostrum. Kind of gut churning to read them in the days before a go on it. ďAm I going to be able to do this?Ē

A few days before the climb, partner and I talked sandwich options, which brought on hurt and anger and strife in the partnership so we scrapped those options, decided on bars.

The night before, we bivied in good cheer - as with every 24-hour run we make to the Valley, singing quietly together with steady eye contact until we were tired enough to sleep. You guys all do that with your partners right? Good way to keep away the pre-climb jitters. Birds woke us up in the morning.

We kicked ideas around about the rack Ė I agreed this time to the partnerís strict and strictly foolish No Aliens policy (makes me want to puke, policy-wise) but clipped the yellow and green to my harness anyway. ďIíll just carry them, youíll never have to touch them.Ē

The partner is a quiet and contemplative man. Here are the main points of our strategy talk on the drive from the Magic Bivy to the pullout above the Rostrum:

Before the tunnel: Iím thinking youíll lead all the hard pitches.
A nod of the head, then silence for the dark length of the tunnel
Emerging from tunnel: And Iíll lead the easy ones.
An exhale, a second nod of the head

As we were about to start the stroll to the raps, we felt a certain tightening in the atmosphere around us. A figure materialized at the opposite end of the pullout, and though he was whispering from 100 yards, we could hear him with perfect clarity:

Surprise, motherf*#kers.

We didnít like the look of that, so hoofed it down the path barefoot and to the raps.

Liking the pardís new bi-weave 70m on the first of two raps. Looks like the rap bolts had been recently placed? Replaced?

I told my mom about the cool fact that you approach the Rostrum from above, and she looked at me like a punk. ďI thought you climbers started at the bottom and went up?Ē Subtle insult, strike against a sonís feeling of worth.

Here begins a mini-TR within a TR on the habits of climbers. All of the following photos taken within forty steps of the first hand jam on the route. Fun! I counted five!

Because digging holes is hard, and those leaves will probably keep it kosher.

Yeah that ought to do it wrt good style.

Mmm hmm, no trace left.

No one is without sin. But this is next level, just embarrassing, and nasty. And only climbers go to this corner of the Valley.

(Climbing down off of high horse)

Finally I remembered to stop looking at the deuces on the ground and to take a look up. MFíing swoon!

Oh ok yes, YES, the psych now setting in! Sweet jesus it looks steep and clean and splitter from toe to head! And hard, oh god, hard. Will the Merced be low enough to bail??

But then that feeling of a force drawing nigh in the spaces around us again, and crystal lattices forming and being atomized out of view above our ears.

Oh wait, no, thatís just Vitaliy. Just a weekender like us. Since it was his birthday, we let he and his strong partner go first. Also, they may have been 100% more competent. Nice way to spend a birthday. On the .11a option of p2:

Here comes the partner in his new helmet up p1:

Really fun chimney and exit sequence on top of p1:

Little downclimb with crimps and balancey moves to start p2. Lighter, lilí brother version of the Vampire crimp traverse:

Thin pulls with good feet and good gear to get through the .11a sequence to a sinker fingerlock. This pic is rotated - it's not this steep

Then itís fun jamming to the belay

Pitch 3 is every bit as classic as everybody says. So long, so clean, jam after jam of 10/10 climbing. The off-balance lieback sequence off of the belay was tricky and weird. I think I did those three moves horribly wrong but survived it.

Pitch 4, steep fingers, really good climbing. Vitaliy lowering for a second lap on something easier over to the right there Ė itís nice that you can bail to the easier line from the ledge and still top out. Think itís a 5.9?

Partner was incredibly solid on the OS attempt but took a fall on this lead, foot slip Ė his only fall of the day. It felt pumpy but solid on second, with a couple of key rest spots, though different ball game when youíre on lead. I had to weight the rope after the business to get a walked small cam out with two hands. Tainted the TRonsite.

A safe lead

Pitch 5 has the what I though was the routeís sleeper hard section on it @ .10d, turning the roof and up to the belay

Comes right after placing this piece under the roof. Once I left the last stem and committed to the burly moves out and around the roof I was in full on desperado liebacking mode, and I fell at the last move to the ledge. What a beautiful pitch. If you like a) stemming, and b) handjams, you will like this pitch. Two things that are impossible to dislike.

Good hardware all the way up adds to the all around American Luxury feeling of the climb

The .10c face to .10a OW pitch 6 was one Iíd mentally filed under Easy while looking at it on paper that morning. Problem was, I was feeling a little toasted after that wasp-sting .10d lieback section.

Staring hard at the myriad chalked up holds between me and the crack on the arete, I took the rack and asked for a hug from the partner. I might have held the hug a little longer than he did, always a little awkward. Belay hugs can be like that. Felt better though and set off.

Face sequence was cool and went fine, though there were some spun holds, then the steep hands section was yep pretty steep. The only loose rock I saw all day was on this bit. Phew, finally the pedestal rest before the OW. At .10a, everything should be ok from here to the belayÖ

Of all the intimidating aspects of the Rostrum day as I had conceptualized it, the OW part was the only one I hadnít worried about. Leaving the security of the initial stemming section, it occurred to me that maybe I should have. Thereís a solid 20 ft section of clean, slick, featureless, blue collar, #5 O-Dub work to be done after the stems vanish and before the angle kicks back, with several bonus spans where if youíre my size you canít get a knee in.

Hnngnngnhh. Push #5. Hnnnngngnng. Push # 5. Hnnngngngnhhhnnngh. Push #5. Voice in back of head: Pull on it! Pull on the cam! Easier! Safer! You have a daughter Ė pull on the cam for her sake for verily you are going to die if you donít! No one can see! No damnit no I wonít pull on the cam! Lots of back and forth like this during a slow OW lead that is systematically draining you of all energy. I didnít pull on the cam but I did take once where the crack does a mini-dogleg to get my sh#t together. Tough!

Meanwhile Vitaliy next door was hucking laps on Blind Faithís .11d and .11a pitches with a very determined look on his mug. I could hear him mumbling things in another language on his OW lead while I was suffering up my side. Guess both OWís climb opposite sides of the same flake? Pretty neat.

Partner motoring through the easier top section of pitch 6

Cool chimney and stem box to end that pitch. Notice the bloodbath that occurred on partnerís right kneecap, like somebody went buck wild on his knee with a bludgeoning weapon

Pitch 7 is maybe the coolest of the day, though itís hard to pick just one

Memorable belay stance

You get to chill in the cave before the last OW. Coordinated footwear and pant-leg roll a key part of any successful climbing partnership

The stinkbug traverse right is good for a laugh!

Looking at the last section to the summit. ďTake the #5 out they say??Ē

°Hasta la cumbre, compaŮero! °Que Dios te acompaŮe!

The Rostrum exceeds the hype I think. One of the best climbs Iíve done, no question. I didnít get it clean, but thatís just a good reason to return, which we did a couple of weeks later.

There comes Vitaliy. Big day slaying hard pitches.

Summit @ dusk, easy walk back to the road, iron chariot waiting in the dark to fire back to Oakland.

Didnít get the climb clean. Didnít make the Valley commutersí goal of sub-24 hour door to door. Did have a f*#king blast. Good!

Credit: le_bruce

  Trip Report Views: 8,856
About the Author
le_bruce is a climber from Oakland: what's not to love?

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Comment on this Trip Report

  Dec 9, 2014 - 01:24pm PT
Awesome! Nice going and great TR!

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Dec 9, 2014 - 01:28pm PT
Yessssss!!!! Funny start and great pictures and writing!

Also nice to see Vitaliy hangdogging everything as usual :)

Congratulations and TFPU!

Grizzlyville, WY
  Dec 9, 2014 - 01:55pm PT
Credit: WyoRockMan
this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:01pm PT
Pretty much all I can say is F*#K YEAH!

Social climber
Joshua Tree
  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:16pm PT
Man, that's a sweet one, ain't it?
Despite having a fair amount of OW experience, I thought that wide pitch was kinda hard too.

Pull the #5 on the last'll probably agree that the crux is getting into the wide, once you are over the lip and in there, it's maybe 5.7 or less to the top and gets easier the higher you climb. So yeah unless you want to lose the cam and have the second playing rope shenanigans trying to untie to pass the out-of-reach cam, pull it.

If that thing was a weekend hit for me, I'd be on it five or six times a season. So good, so convenient, all killer/no filler. Glad you got to savor it.

  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:18pm PT

Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:23pm PT
FANTASTIC TR. The addition of those gifs at the beginning is solid gold. Great work on the climb....whateva if you didn't get it clean, did you have fun? Certainly sounds like answer is "YES" and thus, success indeed. This route is huge on my list, when do they typically close it for falcon nesting in the spring?

Thank you again for taking the time to post this, hugely appreciated and enjoyed!

Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:28pm PT
Great TR!



  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:35pm PT
Amazing TR LeBruce!

And good job going for it!

Really like this one, lots of laughs and nice pics.

And of course the Vitaliy cameo is the icing on the cake!


Trad climber
  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:39pm PT
That was a great read. Of all my reasons to go to the Valley, the Rostrum is number one.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:45pm PT
SICK report! Thank you for posting!

The pitch to the right of the Regular route is 11d. I led it, took a few times and asked my friend to lower me down so I could see how it feels on TR. I took a ton of photos of your friend leading while he lowered me! The blind faith pitch itself was not much easier, but I managed to do it clean. Can't see myself placing gear and not pumping out till I learn how to ring lock properly though. Rostrum is like a Disneyland.
Was freaking great to share the day with you guys! Climbing on the other side of that flake and hearing you breath and talk was cool. Can't wait to go home and post the photos of you guys climbing! Aside from crazy cramping on the last two pitches, great birthday!

PS: If someone recovered a #6 on Blindfaith, I would love to have it back. I guess it got stuck when a friend was taking it out.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:47pm PT
Great pix, great text, great effort. Thank you for that wonderful trip report.

dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  Dec 9, 2014 - 02:56pm PT
Awesome TR thanks, looks like a great time. Nice start to the TR, funny stuff, LOL

Oakland, CA
Author's Reply  Dec 9, 2014 - 03:02pm PT
The pitch to the right of the Regular route is 11d.

Haahaha, hell yeah it is. The 5.9 line was me messing with you. You guys killed it that day.

My pard tried it the next week, and wisely I think backed off. That BF pitch 1 seems to be one pitch that you've got to bring some real dialed technique on.

When we went back to the Rostrum again, on Nov 11th, a mixed party of strong Brits was doing Blind Faith (to the Alien finish, which one of 'em onsited). He reported that your #6 was still there that day. Likely still there now?

They were heading up the Freerider the next day. Wonder how it went - they sure seemed fit.

We did the Uprising variation on our second go, and the partner was leading it while the Brit was OS'ing the Alien. I was at the belay enjoying watching both impressive leads when a brother with a mini appeared on the ledge below, looked up at both leads in progress, and bellowed out "WOO HOOO FULL SPORTS ACTION"

Looked like the mythical Surfer Bob, but couldn't be sure.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Dec 9, 2014 - 03:15pm PT
Any issues about lunch for future trips should now be settled.

Credit: NutAgain!

Congrats on an excellent climb, and one of your funniest reports ever!

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Dec 9, 2014 - 03:54pm PT
Boo on the poo, but loved the report: hilarious GIFs, lots of pics, controversy over sandwiches, solid climbing, all of it.

If "singing quietly together with steady eye contact until we were tired enough to sleep" helped get you up the Rostrum, I may need to suggest that to my partner. Something tells me he ain't gonna go for it.

Trad climber
  Dec 9, 2014 - 03:54pm PT
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
  Dec 9, 2014 - 04:07pm PT
Schweet trip and report thnx for the share

  Dec 9, 2014 - 04:17pm PT
Rostrum ..... one of Americas finest rock climbs.

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Dec 9, 2014 - 04:28pm PT
it is the best congrats

I do not think there is anything fun about the first pitch chimney and exit though!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Dec 9, 2014 - 05:15pm PT
Nice, nice, nice! I wish the peregrines would nest somewhere else.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Dec 9, 2014 - 06:02pm PT
I dislike handjams and stems.

awww, hell, who am I kiddin? I love me some handjams, but the stems have to go!

Ok, fine, the stems can stay too. :)

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Dec 9, 2014 - 06:13pm PT
Love the pics! Thanks for the TR.

El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Dec 9, 2014 - 08:19pm PT
KP Ariza

  Dec 9, 2014 - 08:35pm PT
Great report! Thanks and great job!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Dec 9, 2014 - 08:46pm PT

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Dec 9, 2014 - 08:57pm PT
This report made me want to.....

1. Go climbing right now

2. Argue over food rations with my partner

3. Take a dump

4. Get scared before a great lead

5. Hug a man

6. Hang at a high lofty belay with a pump in my forearms and the success of hard pitches below me while unknown terrain hangs in wait above.

7. Bludgeon my knee so it looks hardcore

8. Hang out with Vitaliy

9. Find out what a "Rostrum" is or what the word means

10. Say kudos for a killer report, a new high water mark for Supertopo trip reports. I'm proud of you Le_Bruise. Proud.

Thanks for a great read full of laughs, stellar photos and introspect. You have fueled the fires of a thousand Rostrum aspirants to come.

Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Dec 9, 2014 - 10:41pm PT

Credit: Vitaliy M.

Credit: Vitaliy M.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Dec 9, 2014 - 11:30pm PT
What a great photo report. TFPU, Vitaliy too.

  Dec 10, 2014 - 03:32am PT
brings back great memories. thanks for that!!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
  Dec 10, 2014 - 05:54am PT
Sweet report.

Sport climber
Lexington, KY
  Dec 10, 2014 - 06:18am PT
Nice report! Remember our day up there all those years ago DK?
David Wilson

  Dec 10, 2014 - 07:16am PT
Way to go Bryce !

One of my all time favorite routes. For some reason I've always opted for the 10d flare on pitch 2 - it's actually easier than that grade and pretty fun. One for next time

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Dec 10, 2014 - 07:33am PT

Breasts for you!!

( * )( * )

  Dec 10, 2014 - 07:37am PT
David W -- "I've always opted for the 10d flare on pitch 2"

Yes definitely easier going that way.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Dec 10, 2014 - 07:49am PT

Trad climber
  Dec 10, 2014 - 09:33am PT
Well done report and nice pics. Really captures the feel of the climb as I remember it.

Oakland, CA
Author's Reply  Dec 10, 2014 - 10:27am PT
Thanks for the comments

If that thing was a weekend hit for me, I'd be on it five or six times a season.

Truth. I squeaked it in twice before the temps dropped too low. Partner did it three times in three weeks. Once the lid is off on the first go and the Seal of Fear for us punters is removed, it's hard not to keep going back.

If "singing quietly together with steady eye contact until we were tired enough to sleep" helped get you up the Rostrum, I may need to suggest that to my partner. Something tells me he ain't gonna go for it.

Classic and accepted practice, laid out in one of the seldom-read footnotes in Freedom of the Hills. If the wind is just right in the late evening, from El Cap meadow you can hear Tommy and Kevin up on the Dawn Wall in soft duet.

This report made me want to.....[Complex list of activities]
If it had inspired nothing more than numbers 3 and 7 in a TR writer of your stature, my work would have been done.

For some reason I've always opted for the 10d flare on pitch 2 - it's actually easier than that grade and pretty fun. One for next time
Yes definitely easier going that way.

You cheeky bastards sandbagging us?

Trad climber
Cardiff By The Sea
  Dec 10, 2014 - 12:03pm PT
Awesome TR, Thank You for posting!!

San Diego to San Rafael to Sandpoint
  Dec 10, 2014 - 01:52pm PT
well written and great photos. thanks for sharing the psyche

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Dec 10, 2014 - 01:55pm PT

two TRs in one? Now that's full value!!

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 10, 2014 - 03:50pm PT
Cool way to go!

Trad climber
New England
  Dec 11, 2014 - 07:21pm PT
Only the best from le_bruce! Glad you had a good time bud
CA Dreamin'

San Jose
  Dec 11, 2014 - 10:00pm PT
Way to go le_bruce - that was awesome!
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
  Dec 14, 2014 - 06:05am PT
Dis be what Supertopo is all about.

Thanks! Wish I had the chops for that route.


Trad climber
the Box
  Dec 14, 2014 - 10:12am PT
Wow! Exceptional.

Thanks for sharing. *^_^*

Trad climber
Boston, MA
  Dec 17, 2014 - 12:02am PT
Awesome TR! Thanks for posting

Big Wall climber
  Dec 17, 2014 - 04:47am PT
megarad, really love the belay hug, that was a nice touch.

Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
  Dec 17, 2014 - 10:29am PT
Worthy of commenting on again! SO good! Really want on this route and really dig the stoke, brother!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Dec 22, 2014 - 11:11am PT
Great report of one of the best climbs ever anywhere. You can see why its a deuce-inducer

(and tons of Poison Oak in the woods back there which makes people tempted to be uncool and squat close to home)

So much poison oak on subsequent visits that I don't know how we approached from the river the first time



  Dec 22, 2014 - 02:45pm PT
Great Job Guys and thanks for a great story as well.

Some of my best memories are on this piece and it is nice to sit here and reflect without having to put out the effort!,


Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Dec 23, 2014 - 06:48pm PT
I have beers for photos of the first Rostrum ascent carrying a shovel! That is NASTY.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Dec 28, 2014 - 03:28am PT
Mmm hmm, no trace left.

I didn't need that

Otherwise, 10+

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Dec 28, 2014 - 09:42am PT
hell yeah man, nice tr and pics. i especially liked the ultra intense one of Vitali. lol.
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Dec 28, 2014 - 09:54am PT
Le bruce- classic as always bro! Thanks for the stoke! This one's on the list!!
Burnin' Oil

Trad climber
  Sep 18, 2015 - 04:47pm PT
Bump for the intro GIFS

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Sep 18, 2015 - 11:38pm PT
i second that- what an intro

  Jun 29, 2016 - 10:19pm PT
humorous writing, nice unique shots. liked the two in one aspect as well.

Mr. M, it is hard to believe you used to be overweight.

I got to get back, been too many years

Social climber
joshua tree
  Jun 30, 2016 - 12:16am PT
Very nice indeed!


Kennewick wa
  Jun 30, 2016 - 06:03am PT
nice report. super awesome place!!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jun 30, 2016 - 08:34am PT
Hilarious and great to read all over again.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Jul 5, 2016 - 04:35am PT
Don't think I've ever seen poop pictures in a TR before

Thank you very much for the visual, now all you need is a Scratch-n-Sniff to complete the experience, like that old Devine movie Polyester in Odoroma

Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Jul 5, 2016 - 05:59pm PT
Bump for another great TR

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jul 24, 2018 - 10:52am PT
Don't think I've ever seen poop pictures in a TR before

le_bruce, this here is proof that I wasn't the one who always instigated the poop and fart jokes.
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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