Trip Report
Valhalla Diary pt. 1: FA Attempt on the Angel Wings and Saber Ridge
Thursday August 6, 2015 5:28pm
According to Norse mythology, Valhalla is located in Asgard and is a heaven-like hall for warriors slain in combat. Upon death, the chosen are led to Valhalla by the female figures known as Valkyries. There, under the rule of Odin, they will prepare for the future battle known as Ragnarök. In the High Sierra, Valhalla is a cirque of steep alpine walls, famous for the massive formation known as the Angel Wings – one of the tallest and most massive walls in the range. There is no surprise the biggest names in the American, as well as in the local climbing community have tried or did put up routes on the magnificent formation - Galen Rowell, Fred Beckey, Peter Croft, John Long, Peter Mayfield, EC Joe, Dave Nettle, Richard Leversee, Urmas Framosch, Allen Steck, Les Wilson, Jim Wilson and many more are part of the rich history. The High Sierra’s own Asgard.


Visit on blogspot.com

Angel Wings and Cherubim Dome


Visit on blogspot.com

Walker (green shirt), Luke and Mike.


Visit on blogspot.com

Castle Rocks


Visit on blogspot.com

Panther Peak


Visit on blogspot.com

Luke on Saber Ridge

Incredibly scenic, rich with mystery and possibility for adventure, it was the next logical step. Armed with Luke, a good friend and a strong climber, we planned a seven day trip. We had two cruxes: our high drive to climb EVERYTHING and lack of mules for the approach. The second crux was solved when we found out our friends Mike and Walker are hiking out to climb the Valkyrie (V 5.11+/5.12-) over the weekend. "How about you guys hike the rack and the rope in and we hike it out?" We had a deal. The desire to climb EVERYTHING remained.


Visit on blogspot.com

Purdy


Visit on blogspot.com

Stunning views towards Hamilton Dome


Visit on blogspot.com

Luke 'The Energizer"


Visit on blogspot.com

Walker taking care of thirst during the 17 hour approach


Visit on blogspot.com

The classic view of the Angel Wings

Day following the scenic approach Walker and Mike climbed their objective and we scoped out a potential new route on the West Buttress of the Angel Wings, after which we had enough time to continue on to scramble the Saber Ridge.
The weather forecast was not ideal but soloing makes the climbs go by fast and we were back at camp by the time the sh#t hit the fan. It was the 4th of July weekend and we were getting one of the best shows imaginable. Water grooves on Cherubim dome turned into raging waterfalls and hail as large as your typical grape pounded us in camp. While we were enjoying the show from the tent, we knew our friends are climbing the Valkyrie so we were fairly nervous for their safety. Both of them are strong climbers that have freed multiple El Cap routes so turned out they topped out at two pm and climbed only the last pitch in the light rain. When they got back to camp a few hours later we were both excited to see them unharmed and impressed by their speed.


Visit on blogspot.com

Luke marmot-huntin on our 'off day'


Visit on blogspot.com

The Golden Pillar - our attempt went up the left side of the formation. In a few weeks I returned with Adam Ferro to completed the climb to the top - Killing In The Name Of (V 5.11+ A2). It traversed over towards the middle and climbed a prominent chimney/crack system to the left of the middle. We started at the base in the early morning and topped out before 10 pm. An ass kicker of a day, but that's a different story...Beckey Route starts from the Juniper tree on the right side and ascends the left facing corner before traversing out into the chimney system on the right. Upper part of the wall has a lot of overhangs and systems that don't connect.


Visit on blogspot.com

The hike in was quite stunning


Visit on blogspot.com

More flowers


Visit on blogspot.com

Was hard to catch these in focus with the stream in the background blurred out.


Visit on blogspot.com

Luke leading up the steep and slightly overhanging pitch mid way up the new route on Angel Wings. A more massive version of Wheat Thin

A few words about the Saber Ridge: DAMN!!!! That thing is awesome. We were climbing with GIANT smiles ALL DAY. Features on the crest were awesome and the rock climbing was fantastic. It was more fun, more sustained and in a better setting than the Matthes Crest, in my opinion. Not twice as long as some people say but about the same length as the full Matthes traverse. Has a short 5.7-8 crux near the beginning and continues up mostly 4th and easy 5th scrambling up the crest. Exposed at all times...and again, mega fun! Both of us thought it was a 5 star outing.The following morning we hiked to the base of the Golden Pillar - the beautiful West Buttress of the Angel Wings. If you looked at the photo and immediately guessed that Fred Beckey has climbed it, you are partially right. Fred along with several people climbed a route that starts on buttress. The proj took them several trips over a multiple year span to complete. The route starts by a giant Jupiter tree and traverses off the Buttress proper to finish in a giant chimney system to the east of buttress proper. The lack of a route that would ascent the buttress proper was something I was eager to fix.


Visit on blogspot.com

Saber ridge is a blast. Just look at that happy face!


Visit on blogspot.com

In my last life, I was a hat model :)


Visit on blogspot.com




Visit on blogspot.com




Visit on blogspot.com



Visit on blogspot.com

Too much fun!

The day after a fairly large storm we started up the line we looked at the day prior. The beginning turned out to have a scary move off the deck. I placed a few microcams in a thin flake and cranked into a dirty layback. In addition to dirty, it was running with water and the cam I was able to fiddle in pulled out two times before I found the position in which it held a mild yank. I did not know how well it would hold a fall, but that was the price of entering the crack system above. I was not planning to fall on my last piece, so I executed the next moves to the belay without a f*** up. Luke took the next lead and found a BEAUTIFUL corner that went at mid 5.11 and would be a classic at the cookie cliff. Laybacking, short wide section, a beautiful hand crack and a section of techy crank fest to reach a belay stance. The following pitch started out from a fun layback to a giant loose block, which is now gone. :) It continued into a short chimney and 50 feet of splitter hand jamming in a corner. We were getting lucky with the quality, but the real difficulties begun on the next pitch. After a bouldery start Luke had to do a bouldery 5.11 moves off a big ledge. He likes his ankles and I was on top rope, so we both sent.


Visit on blogspot.com

Whoooop!


Visit on blogspot.com

Me following the second pitch - would be a classic at the Cookie or Arch Rock


Visit on blogspot.com

Cranky steep layback to begin the 3rd pitch


Visit on blogspot.com

Luke is excited about the climbing we found on the Angel Wings


Visit on blogspot.com

Me on the "A5 traverse"


Visit on blogspot.com

Luke onsighting a 5.11 crack/flake pitch mid way up the new route on the Angels Wings

The following pitch was the blank crux that we expected. Two crack systems we have scoped from the ground were separated by 100 feet of steep blankness. We dubbed it "the A5 traverse" before it was even climbed. It was my lead - make it or bail type of a pitch. In the beginning I mantled to a ledge that had a crack I could slide the widgets into but it ran into nowhereland which had some features that to my surprise, possibly, seemed free climbable?! I hooked a sloping feature and drilled the first bolt. Hard face climbing got me to another desperate stance but my single hook was not working well for the only hookable feature. I tried to drill at an angle and it seemed to work well till the thing popped. I took a swinging fall back to my last bolt and climbed back to the stance. What I saw was a pleasant surprise, the thin edge of a flake turned into a solid crimp which I was able to hook and use as a solid hand hold when I returned into the free climbing mode. Several thin moves past the bolt got me over to the easier terrain which offered some shitty gear under a rotten flake. Luke followed the pitch free and swong into the next lead – a steep flake system with all sorts of cruxes along the way. Following the pitch in the blazing sun and swinging into an OW crack got me worked enough - to my disappointment the system above did not look much easier.


Visit on blogspot.com

Luke having a blast! Because he sent the crux of the A5 traverse - otherwise it would be an A4 type of fall :)


Visit on blogspot.com

Luke following a burly OW mid way up our attempt at a new route on the West Buttress


Visit on blogspot.com

Cherubim Dome from Hamilton Lake camp


Visit on blogspot.com

Ok...I like flowers, deal with it!


Visit on blogspot.com

Glacier Ridge from the top of Saber Ridge

Luke fought with another difficult flake till it ran out and his own hook popped which caused a good ride. To our surprise the gear in a hollow flake held his fall. However, the terrain above looked blank. After going up against sustained pitches all day, most of which were in the 5.11 range and killing precious time on drilling, both of us were worked and dehydrated. About half way up the wall, we decided to bail. Due to our physical condition, it was an easy decision. Both knew that a ground up in a day first ascent on the Angel Wings would be a rare achievement, which on that particular day we were not gonna get. The following day was supposed to be the day we rest and regroup. We managed to rapell to the base without doing anything TOO crazy, depending who you ask. It was the time to take off the ankle burning climbing shoes and sort the rack. Last task was pulling the rope. It went well, till the end of our tag line created the knot. To our disappointment, the knot jammed on top of the second pitch and our sad faces did nothing to free it. “I guess our rest day will not be as restful as we’d like.” And of course it was not. Following day we made our way back to the buttress, re-climbed the first two pitches to free the rope and I hiked over to the top of a peak that faces the formation. Even though this was supposed to be the day we rest, I was eager to see if there were other features we could follow to take the line to the summit.

For more, check out http://vividrea1ity.blogspot.com/

  Trip Report Views: 2,714
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is an annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

Comments
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 6, 2015 - 05:32pm PT
Really nice TR V, your making us all jealous!,,,
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Aug 6, 2015 - 06:10pm PT
As usual, just excellent
Banks

Trad climber
Santa Monica, CA
  Aug 6, 2015 - 06:12pm PT
Not only jealous, but making us all look bad. Quite a summer you've had so far.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Aug 6, 2015 - 06:28pm PT
Not only jealous, but making us all look bad.

No way! This is just some eye candy to get other people out to places like Hamilton Lakes area. For a climber it is heaven on earth! So many peaks, alpine lakes, streams, granite, granite and more granite! I owe one to all the hype around Valkyrie and The Prism/Saber ridge. Made me want to see it all for myself. And yeah, it is worth a trip! The rock on the prism and Saber is original and super solid.

Get out there people before the summer is over! I heard we may have a real winter in CA this year. :) i went out there twice already. Approach without the mules is fine. Unless you carry the big wall rack and a camping chair!
ecflau

Gym climber
CA
  Aug 6, 2015 - 06:41pm PT
Holy sweet jesus on a popsicle stick... 17 miles is the price of entry to such a amazing place I guess!

Seriously though... HOLY CRAP. I wants to go now. (probably everyone else too)
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Aug 6, 2015 - 07:02pm PT
Eye candy indeed.....now you have to convince people long approaches with heavy loads give them "to die for" sex appeal. Good luck!
Good job!
cragnshag

Social climber
Gilroy
  Aug 6, 2015 - 09:07pm PT
Thx for another FA reality show!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Aug 6, 2015 - 09:12pm PT
you took a night off from the gym?
thanks for the TR!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Aug 6, 2015 - 09:43pm PT
Whaaaaaaaaaaat???


It looks so good! Did I get you right that this pitch pictured above had never been climbed before you guys?
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Aug 6, 2015 - 09:47pm PT

This a beautiful picture. I have about 70 blurry images of this type of flower - the least bit of wind and they jostle like wild. Not in the wheelhouse of the point-and-shoot that I carry, though I'll never stop trying. Great shot, worthy of a frame.

Like you said, "I like flowers, deal with it!"

(Great personal slogan; somebody put that on a t-shirt for Vitaliy!)
cat t.

climber
california
  Aug 6, 2015 - 10:20pm PT
the luke/marmot photo is still my favorite. luke + marmot seem as though they should be best friends. actually, maybe luke is just a marmot himself.

you finished this route the next week?? eager for the rest of the story!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Aug 6, 2015 - 10:53pm PT
Whaaaaaaaaaaat???


It looks so good! Did I get you right that this pitch pictured above had never been climbed before you guys?

Yes. We went out there and tried this new route, did Valkyrie, Saber Ridge, new route on the Prism and I came back with another guy to finish the new route on Angel Wings and did another new route on Cherubim Dome. The route on Angel Wings is long, sustained at 5.10-11 and pretty good. Has about 30 ft of direct aid only. No hammering in pins or anything complicated. Would love it if Luke was available to go back and finish it with us, but he lives in Seattle. In addition, maybe he will free it next year :)
Too many photos for one TR, so I decided to split it up.
Caitlin, that picture is priceless! Aside from getting wrecked by not resting enough, it was a great outing.
cat t.

climber
california
  Aug 6, 2015 - 10:55pm PT
Oh, NBD, just
tried this new route, did Valkyrie, Saber Ridge, new route on the Prism and I came back with another guy to finish the new route on Angel Wings and did another new route on Cherubim Dome
you are not a human vitaliy
ryankelly

climber
Bhumi
  Aug 6, 2015 - 11:19pm PT
Fun Stuff.

If you are interested that very pretty flower is called a "Shooting Star" or sometimes an Alpine Shooting Start or Mountaineers Shooting Star. Sometimes knowing the name is helpful for noticing things more closely, other times its just a way to talk down to people....
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Aug 7, 2015 - 04:01am PT
Excellent excellent excellent!!!

Must get out there.
Flip Flop

climber
Earth Planet, Universe
  Aug 7, 2015 - 06:22am PT
Vitaliy wins the internet....again. way to go.
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Aug 7, 2015 - 06:36am PT
You guys....... The 17 miles in and out only adds to the appeal. There is something about really getting away from the masses that just makes it. NICE!! Really nice. Way to get after it!

Edit

Shooting stars. If you didn't know, you all ought to know that. Great photography in the TR btw.
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
  Aug 7, 2015 - 06:31am PT
The Spirit of climbing is alive and well with you guys.
MisterE

Gym climber
Small Town with a Big Back Yard
  Aug 7, 2015 - 07:14am PT
Great stuff as usual, V!
Urmas

Social climber
Sierra Eastside
  Aug 7, 2015 - 08:56am PT
Way cool! TFPU
CA.Timothy

climber
San Diego to San Rafael to Sandpoint
  Aug 7, 2015 - 09:08am PT
excellent photos and excellent writing.

proud work. thanks for sharing
Friend

climber
  Aug 7, 2015 - 09:28am PT
beauuuuuuty
MikeMc

climber
  Aug 7, 2015 - 10:58am PT
The first time I read the name Vitaliy on this site, I misread it as Vitality.

noun, plural vitalities.
1.exuberant physical strength or mental vigor:
a person of great vitality.

2.capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence:
the vitality of an institution.

3.power to live or grow:
the vitality of a language.

4.vital force or principle.

Seems I wasn't so far off the mark on that one.

Awesome, and inspiring Sir Vitaliy. Look forward to the next tale.
BFK

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
  Aug 7, 2015 - 11:16am PT
Far Out Brotha!
Impaler

Social climber
San Francisco
  Aug 7, 2015 - 01:01pm PT
Awesome stuff! Good job on the new route! It looks really good! How many 5.11 pitches and how hard would you guess the aid section would be? Also why do you call it A2 and not C2 if you didn't hammer anything?

If you are ever out there again and need an active rest day (probably some time this August), there's also this route that was put up around the time I was on Valkyrie 2 years ago:
Val Kilmer 11+
limpingcrab

Gym climber
Minkler, CA
  Aug 7, 2015 - 03:00pm PT
Nice! More, more!

We want part two of far hiking and lots of climbing!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Aug 7, 2015 - 05:31pm PT
Also why do you call it A2 and not C2 if you didn't hammer anything?

I hammered half a bolt hole which I hooked and placed a bolt for a pendulum above it. I thought using bolts counts as A. I don't know honestly, it was micro gear in a sh#t flake a hook and a pendulum from a bolt.
Enough 5.11 pitches for me to feel worked. Will post a report about the time we actually topped out in near future! I thought the section which was aided is about 30 ft but free climbing it would be highly improbable, for me at least. If you feel like fixing a rope on it and swinging around for a while, maybe you will figure it out. In the middle of a sustained climb, however, it seems as an overkill, to me. I am happy with a FA of a ground up FA of an ALMOST a Free Climb. :) Only two tries...don't want to repeat what I had to do on Bubbs haha. But who knows, maybe on a few years I will be stronger and be willing to try figuring if all free passage is possible. Would be cool if that happened...

Pitch breakdown is something like this:

1) 10-
2) mid 11
3) 10+
4) mid 11
5) 11+
6) 11
7) 11-
8) mid to upper 11
9) 5.11- which goes into A2 with low 5.10 climbing after the pendulum
10) 5.7
11) mid 5.11 that goes into a cool chimney with 5.10+ish stemming above
12) pulled on gear for speed off the belay and climbed terrain up to 5.10
13) 5.11
14) 5.10
15) 5.10 boulder problem to get on the summit pinnacle from the west side.

The Golden Pillar (West Buttress of) The Angel Wings - Killing In The Name Of (5.11+ A2 or C2) - FA: Luke Stefurak, Vitaliy Musiyenko and Adam Ferro
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
  Aug 7, 2015 - 03:54pm PT
So far, I've only looked at the pictures. Wow, man, that's a nice little bit of alright.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
  Aug 7, 2015 - 03:56pm PT
Looking at the pictures a second time, I want to chuck my job and life and go there!
Urmas

Social climber
Sierra Eastside
  Aug 7, 2015 - 06:02pm PT
I am happy with a FA of a ground up FA of an ALMOST a Free Climb.

I would say so! On a long proud route on a major back country formation, definitely. Faced with a decision whether to go back and work the route until I could free it, or go somewhere else and do another route, I would choose the latter. Sending something free is great, but life is full of hard choices. I think that if you fully commit yourself and do your very best, you can move on with a clear conscience. If you're not sure about that, you may want to go back.
ec

climber
ca
  Aug 9, 2015 - 02:27pm PT
Well said, Urmas!

Nice stuff guys!

 ec
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Aug 12, 2015 - 11:37am PT
bump
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
  Aug 13, 2015 - 07:49am PT
B
U
M
P
Go