Trip Report
Valhalla Diary pt. 2: Angel Wings - Valkyrie (V 5.11+/5.12-)
Friday August 7, 2015 3:58pm
During the not-at-all restful rest day, Luke and I discussed our options for the remainder of our stay. My preference was to attempt a direct new route on The Prism. His was the Valkyrie - a recently established V 5.12a which goes up the Angel Wings proper. Both options seemed tough and preferably followed by a rest day. Since we had three days left, one of which is reserved for a 17 mile hike out, rest day was not an option. We had to compromise, AKA suffer - climb the Valkyrie first, wake up as early as possible on the following day, move camp to the Lone Pine Creek cut off and climb a new route on the Prism. Fortunately sussing out plans at camp is not as hard as executing them...

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Valkyrie takes the right prominent buttress in the middle of the formation. A really aesthetic line.

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Hamilton Dome and other granite domes as seen from the last pitches of Valkyrie

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Luke in an exposed chimney high on the route

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Slot canyon on the approach to Hamilton Lakes

Valkyrie seemed like a great way to top out Angel Wings. It follows a beautiful buttress on the SE face for 2,000 feet - an intimidating line you stare at from the pit toilet at Hamilton Lakes. The climbing stays sustained in 5.10 range for majority of the climb, with tough 5.11 pitches and a single 5.12a. We split the route into blocks of three with Luke getting the first. For a route that has likely seen less than 6 ascents, the quality was good and most of the pitches were clean. The exposure reminded both of us of something that belongs on El Cap - BIG AND STEEP.

The rack in the topo was spot on and the route finding was straight forward for the most part. After onsighting a few other 5.11s Luke got one of the mental cruxes of the route - a 5.11 pitch with difficult face climbing ways above the last bolt. Following the pitch, I was not sure I could have led that one if it was a lead of mine. But with his beta spraydown and a top rope I was able to climb it without a fall.

What I liked about the climb is the variety: well protected face, some runouts, hand cracks, offwidths and laybacks. What I did not like is the garbage bolts in a few spots. It was mostly well bolted with stainless 3/8ths, but there were more than a few that will not last, or are already not safe.

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The day was partially cloudy but not rainy. The Angels were on our side...

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Lower Hamilton Lake

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Start of the route - Luke is on top of the 1st pitch

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Me on an awesome splitter. Pitch 4, or somewhere around there...

About half way up the route something fell out of the bag we were hauling through difficult sections. "Yo, seems like I dropped your shoe!" said Luke. I could not help myself, but laugh. The descent will not be as comfortable. But if I had to scramble, I would feel more comfortable right? Glass half full! After the news, it was also time for me to lead the 5.12- crux. By lead, I mean you go off the belay ledge, clip a high bolt, down-climb and do the crux traverse on a semi-top rope. Usually, I do not try the crux over and over if I can't get it the first time, but feeling close to getting the move and being close to the belay I went back multiple times before sticking the move. If I was climbing with someone other than Luke, I might have not tried as hard, but his positive energy and encouragement pushed me to do my best. He followed the pitch clean first try (not a surprise) and I got owned like a mule on the next pitch - a physical OW. The route finding past the wide part was not obvious and I was not able to get in the desired pro to continue up a flaring groove. In addition I had incredible amount of rope drag, so I asked to be lowered and back cleaned several pieces of gear before climbing back up and making several thought provoking moves to the belay ledge.

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Me following fun face climbing

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Hanging out on a cool ledge most of the way up the wall. Hamilton Lake in the background.

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Trying to figure out how to get into that corner with a small left crimp and shitty foot jam level with my crotch. After many many failed attempts I got it right. Leading 5.12 on a top rope is semi possible muhuhaha :)

Next pitch was mine, but the little coward within was begging I offer the lead to my stronger partner. "SHUT THE F*** UP," said I, "It is only 5.10 and you can deal with another 140 ft." According to the topo there was an "incredible splitter" on this pitch, how can I say no to that?....but also there is a chimney. When Luke got to the ledge he knew I was worked and offered to lead. I said I can continue as planned. Even though the "incredible splitter hands" turned out to be a short section you mostly stem in the back of a vibrating flake, the 5.10 section was not hard and the chimney above it was also mellow. Luke swong straight into the next pitch and found own mental crux of the route. He followed the chalk patch that Mike took on the day when it was raining. While he was dealing with complicated route finding and linking the two pitches to get us to the top of this beast, I was dreaming of Ramen and tuna. Even though I brought what seemed to be a NIAD snack bag, I managed to run out.

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Luke starting the last pitch on Valkyrie - Cherubim Dome in the background

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Hamilton Lake

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Hamilton Lake from high up on Angel Wings

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Insert joke of your choice. Also, this is our summit photo, far below the summit. We looked a lot worse on top! :)
The patch Luke followed was not for those with lack of mental strength. VERY R, and likely pretty X. When we topped out I congratulated Luke with his ability to keep it together. Both of us were amazed with Mike's ability to do this section in a full on rain, but Mike freed multiple El Cap routes and has mental strength of a rock ninja, so no biggie. Rest of the night was spent hiking back to camp and dreading the next morning...


  Trip Report Views: 3,780
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is an annoying gym climber from San Francisco.


Social climber
Sierra Eastside
  Aug 7, 2015 - 05:35pm PT
I'm really enjoying these TR's from Angel Wings! All I can do right now is live vicariously. Keep it coming!

Social climber
San Francisco
  Aug 7, 2015 - 05:44pm PT
That OW after the "crux" pitch you described was definitely pretty hard and insecure. So flared... The "crux" pitch, on the other hand, was most definitely neither 5.12 nor a real crux of the route. You must have been tired if that's even possible... Nice TR!

Social climber
Southern Arizona
  Aug 7, 2015 - 05:48pm PT
Beautiful. TFPU.

(I don't even see how you clipped the bolt for the semi-top rope!)

Mountain climber
San Francisco, California
  Aug 7, 2015 - 08:25pm PT
wow - that's some serious love - really gorgeous and intimidating route and feature - nice work as always! superb photos too - really appreciate how you go out of your way to find the sweetest angles for the camera
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Aug 7, 2015 - 11:17pm PT
Excellent. And the photography is superb
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
  Aug 12, 2015 - 02:29pm PT
Excellent Adventures
Thank you for taking us up there with you! That is an inspiring chunk of rock! Wow !

I 'lost' the first draft of this post. And this second try is not so good. Stupid shablet, this thing. This computer Tablet, a Mac product, bought used, that must have been dropped, can drive one to the edge!

I loved this write up & the pictures and mean no disrespect

I post these pictures from small rock hell to remind people of how lucky they are.
Wait, that's not not Raven Crest, jamming guitar though.

That looks like an awesome Power Slide! Thanks Willoughby! I'm leaving that fine lukin' Axe, up there!

[Click to View YouTube Video]

I added the videos . . . .B^D

[Click to View YouTube Video]

I almost never post Choss, unless I say it's bad, it's really good.
(I guess that might be in the eye of the beholder though) Sometimes it is hard to tell.

This was of course a great write up and it made me remember that as the first summer passes with out a Delaney handshake, I remember Brian & Richie Copland as well .
Here's to the memory of climbers - to two guys who would have loved this route I like to think that both ride with the Valkyrie in Valhalla.
thats better,(?) but the sweet 'PowerSlide' stays!(!)
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Aug 8, 2015 - 02:11am PT
Fun report and beautiful photos - thanks for sharing.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 8, 2015 - 04:25am PT
Your on a roll vitality,

Gym climber
Minkler, CA
  Aug 10, 2015 - 09:44pm PT
How many parts are there!?!? I wanna see the pics of cherubim dome!!!!

Great pics and write up as usual dude man
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Aug 10, 2015 - 09:50pm PT
Well...I am hoping for at least 10+. If I am not too lazy, we should have 5 by the end of the month...Cherubim will be the 5th. That one is awesome! Only reason I didn't bail on Tehipete trip is because I climbed Cherubim. :))

Gnome...I got a few gems for you...with a little hike of course you will have it all to yourself ;)


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

Out Of Bed
  Aug 13, 2015 - 07:45am PT