Trip Report
Winter Ascent of The Watchtower via Moonage Daydream
Tuesday February 26, 2013 1:37pm
Leading the first pitch of Moonage
Leading the first pitch of Moonage
Credit: Mike Mellin

For pictures of better quality check my blog:
http://vividrea1ity.blogspot.com/2013/02/winter-ascent-of-watchtower-via-moonage.html
One more entry I did not post here:
http://vividrea1ity.blogspot.com/2013/01/back-to-roots.html

Moonage Daydream on The Watchtower is one of the routes I obsessed about for a while. It is located in Sequoia National Park, which is known for it's giant sequoia trees and striking granite spires. General Grant giant sequoia is the largest tree in the state, and third largest in the world. By a coincidence Moonage Daydream is the longest (about 800 ft or so) water ice climb in CA, that actually forms almost yearly (there are a few other climbs that are longer, but they usually form once in several years, and stay in shape for short weather windows). Aside from being one of the longest, it is rarely done. After climbing it on 2/16/2013 I am 99% sure we were the first ones to climb it this year.
Enjoying the good ice on pitch two
Enjoying the good ice on pitch two
Credit: Mike
Moonage Daydream the way we climbed it on 2/16/2013
Moonage Daydream the way we climbed it on 2/16/2013
Credit: Vitaliy M.
LOL
LOL
Credit: Vitaliy M.
After convincing my partners that an alpine start is better than a cold bivy at the base, we started hiking out from Lodgepole at a very early hour- around 7am! Somehow we managed not to fall into the river while crossing it, and break trail to the base of the climb. 'Good from far, far from good' was the first thing that got on my mind when I saw the climb up close. It looked really well formed from the approach, but now it was obvious that first pitch was not yet formed into a continuous ice flow. This would mean we would need to do some desperate scratching on granite with our crampons! Yay!
The Watchtower
The Watchtower
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Mike and Adam following first pitch
Mike and Adam following first pitch
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Mike on the last bit of thin ice to the belay
Mike on the last bit of thin ice to the belay
Credit: Vitaliy M.
LULZ patrol
LULZ patrol
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Me on pitch two! Easy sticks and super fun climbing.
Me on pitch two! Easy sticks and super fun climbing.
Credit: Vitaliy M.
I took the first pitch and found it a bit spicy. After the first section which was formed in a weird way I transferred right, into a left facing corner. At the bottom of it were two pitons with a bail sling. Ignoring the hint, I continued up the unprotected dihedral- on 02/16/2013 the ice here was too thin for any type of a screw. I got to a fixed nut with a bail biner and tried to swing over to the ice flow without any success. Ignoring the second point from which other people have bailed from, I went up and encountered the crux of this pitch (it was so awesome I even used a few stein pulls!), which was the climb in the upper dihedral and traverse left to the ice flow. Climbing granite with crampons while placing cams in cracks full of ice keeps you alert. It also keeps you from going fast. This pitch took me forever!
The original internet wonder-boy Burchy leading 3rd pitch
The original internet wonder-boy Burchy leading 3rd pitch
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Cool views all around
Cool views all around
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Mike on 4th pitch
Mike on 4th pitch
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Since I was a bit cold I asked for the next pitch too, which seemed like a nice wi3+ flow. It went fast and Adam took pitch number three in good style- another wi3+ish quality pitch. All three of us were happy with how quick we moved after reaching solid ice.
Mike leading the last pitch!
Mike leading the last pitch!
Credit: Vitaliy M.
The Hawk and I were making out on the summit a few minutes ago, thank ...
The Hawk and I were making out on the summit a few minutes ago, thank god his wife doesn't know
Credit: Vitaliy M.
West Side sunset
West Side sunset
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Mike took over for pitches 4 and 5. Both of which were long and low angle. By the time we were done with these, our calves were on fire! No wonder- this was the longest ice route for all three of us. We were not done yet though, we still had to break trail for another 400 feet or so through a knee deep Sierra cement. Summit of the Watchtower had a stunning view, and reaching it in winter via Moonage Daydream was an icing on the cake.
Glorious views from The Watchtower's true summit
Glorious views from The Watchtower's true summit
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Reflection from some lakes or something?
Reflection from some lakes or something?
Credit: Vitaliy M.
View of Alta Peak
View of Alta Peak
Credit: Vitaliy M.
I DID NOT add any color to this photo! It was really this beautiful!
I DID NOT add any color to this photo! It was really this beautiful!
Credit: Vitaliy M.

  Trip Report Views: 2,835
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
ec

climber
ca
  Feb 26, 2013 - 01:41pm PT
cool!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Feb 26, 2013 - 01:42pm PT
EC you must have some kind of an alarm! You respond to posts about Sequoia within seconds! Love it.
Levy

Big Wall climber
So Cal
  Feb 26, 2013 - 01:49pm PT
Killer job guys! You seldom hear about that route, or much of anything in Sequoia NP. Looks like a nice route.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Feb 26, 2013 - 01:59pm PT
Nice one Vitaliy, you're really getting down on the ice this year. Cool report & some nice photos too, as an ice virgin i've learned a fair bit from your reports this year, not quite enough to get me out there but it is intriguing. Way to go man & say what's up to Dingus Burchnamara for us too!
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Feb 26, 2013 - 02:11pm PT
West side is the best side!

Sorry I didn't head over from the cabin to get pictures of you guys like I was hoping to, the Mrs and friends wanted to go to Hume Lake. No worries 'cause it looks like you got really awesome pictures anyway!

Thanks for the post, and great job on the climb even though ice climbing is God's way of weeding out the tards :-)
Reeotch

climber
4 Corners Area
  Feb 26, 2013 - 02:17pm PT
Awesome! Multi pitch ice in Southern California!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Feb 26, 2013 - 02:45pm PT
I like to think of it as Central California, Reeotch. Either way, I really appreciate this wonderful TR.

Thanks much.

John
mhay

climber
Bishop, CA
  Feb 26, 2013 - 02:58pm PT
Reeotch used to live in Arcata, so everything south of Ukiah is Southern California to him.

Great TR. That first pitch is impressive!
10b4me

climber
  Feb 26, 2013 - 03:27pm PT
good job
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Feb 26, 2013 - 03:29pm PT
hey there say, vitaliy... wow, the pics are even showing, for me!

very nice stuff here...

neat share, ... enjoyed seeing your joy, i all this, too...
god bless...
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Feb 26, 2013 - 03:30pm PT
+1 for Central Cal, not so cal.


V, another nice trip report. Again, way to get after it!

That blue ice on the last pitch looks stunning.
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Feb 26, 2013 - 03:41pm PT
Very Cool! Nice Pics too. Good to see some action in Seki.
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Feb 26, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
Epic sun behind the tree!
malabarista

Trad climber
Portland, OR
  Feb 26, 2013 - 05:40pm PT
That's awesome guys. I actually fell on that route and had to bail when I tried it. Haven't tried it since. Congratulations!
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Feb 26, 2013 - 06:12pm PT
Supersick send fellas! Cen Cal reprezentin!!! Watchtizzower in the Hizzouse!!
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Feb 26, 2013 - 06:20pm PT
Wow Vitaliy, nice. And to think, only a couple of years ago, you were posting on Summitpost about how to get started ice climbing. You've come a long way dude.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Feb 26, 2013 - 06:28pm PT
Very Nice.
Peter Amend

climber
Visalia, CA
  Feb 26, 2013 - 07:00pm PT
Great TR, dude.

I skied up to the base a few weeks back and wondered if anyone had summited this year yet.

Still haven't made it onto ice yet, but man this makes me want to grab some gear. If you ever want to climb with an ice newb, I'm here in Visalia and can make it up to Seki quite often.
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Feb 27, 2013 - 12:17am PT
Bravo V!!

Diggin your affinity for obscure southern rock.

er..Seki ice
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
  Feb 26, 2013 - 10:19pm PT
Looks like a magical day. Thanks for the great TR.
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Feb 27, 2013 - 12:16am PT
thanks for that.
Gal

Trad climber
going big air to fakie
  Feb 27, 2013 - 12:31am PT
wow, really nice... that sunset tree pic is one of the most amazing pics.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Feb 27, 2013 - 12:46am PT
Vita, you really are annoying in the amount that you get out and the inordinate amount of fun you have!

And the reason there wasn't a queue for this climb was what? Oh, yeah, it is outside and the holds aren't numbered?
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Feb 27, 2013 - 12:47am PT
Reilly stole my post.

You are definitely having too much fun.
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
  Feb 27, 2013 - 12:51am PT
Sweet, Vitaliy!!!!
lucho

Trad climber
California
  Feb 27, 2013 - 01:12am PT
Nice send! Thanks for sharing!
SeanH

Trad climber
SLC
  Feb 27, 2013 - 04:11am PT
Props Vitaliy!
Brian Biega

climber
Truckee, CA
  Feb 27, 2013 - 09:05am PT
Hi Vitaliy-

Way to go! Looks like a great climb.

Thanks for sharing.

Cheers, Brian
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
  Feb 27, 2013 - 09:33am PT
nice work! how about a new harness? youve earned it!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Feb 27, 2013 - 10:46am PT
Thanks for great responses everyone!

RyanD, Dingus Burchnamara is doing good. I don't think we stopped laughing that day.

Fat Dad, remember when I asked (on summitpost forum) about how to set up a top rope on Bard Harrington/Main Walls? Good times!

that sunset tree pic is one of the most amazing pics.

One of my best sunset pics I think. Sunsets on the west side are a lot better for sure!

how about a new harness? youve earned it!
Very true. Sucks being in that on hanging belays...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Feb 27, 2013 - 11:06am PT
Way to get after it Vitaliy M. & team...
...my friend Will used to opine that showing up is 90% of life... and you've been showing up excellently!

thanks for posting the TR
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Feb 27, 2013 - 03:24pm PT
Nice work guys. Love the alpenglow shots.

lars
bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
  Feb 27, 2013 - 03:27pm PT
Way to keep the momentum up ! Spring is just around the corner ....
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Feb 27, 2013 - 09:01pm PT
Great job, Vitaliy! Thanks for sharing it!
Phyl
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Mar 2, 2013 - 02:28pm PT
Nice V, thanks!!!!
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Mar 2, 2013 - 02:37pm PT
Nice pics and looks like you got good conditions!
Tork

climber
Yosemite
  Mar 3, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
ice bump

nice job guys!
climblight

Mountain climber
Northern NV
  Mar 3, 2013 - 09:45pm PT
Way to get after it! There is a BIG climb just west of moonage in the right conditions.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 5, 2013 - 02:15pm PT
BMcC, when I was on first pitch I wished the ice touched all the way. Now that I think about it, the challenge we got was worth it. Not much feels better than getting some good mixed climbing in CA :)

climblight, that flow would be awesome to climb if it ever forms up again. Looked thin, wet, and wasn't even half way down the face when we went.

Anyone else climbed Moonage after us? Would love to hear how it is doing now...
SLOClimber

climber
Central Coast, Ca
  Mar 5, 2013 - 02:56pm PT
Nice job up there! Here's a pic from 2/9/13. Looks a little fatter and likely reaches all the way down.
Credit: SLOClimber
westhegimp

Social climber
granada hills
  Mar 8, 2013 - 08:39am PT
WhooHoo

Nice send. Great adventure guys. Thanks for the TR.

Wes
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 8, 2013 - 12:05pm PT
SLO climber, if your picture is from 2/9/13 like you say, it did not reach down all the way. We climbed it on the 16th. There was a section one must climb on the rock to get to the ice.
Since weather been crap, we will get out there this weekend and maybe climb the route again. It was damn fun the first time we went...and we saw other ice in the canyon.
SLOClimber

climber
Central Coast, Ca
  Mar 11, 2013 - 12:52pm PT
Yep, the photo was taken on 2/9. Hopefully, you found it still in shape over the weekend. I've seen those climbs in Tokopah radically change from weekend to weekend. Here's a picture of Hoppy's Favorite also taken on 2/9 with a decent connection between the first and second pitch.
Credit: SLOClimber
noriko nakagawa

Trad climber
the bubble, co
  Mar 11, 2013 - 06:10pm PT
Congrats on another nice send, Vitaliy!
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Go