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[TR] Yosemite - Northwest Face of Half Dome 6/20/2011

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Trip: Yosemite - Northwest Face of Half Dome


Date: 6/20/2011


Trip Report:


Half Dome. We really wanted to do it so we drove down there. This photo taken from the Lower Pines Campground the day before we went up. 261442_2016600730479_1107670161_32109967_5678682_n.jpg

We really liked our spot so we made the most of it. Lisa even threw on a sundress and here she Vanna Whites our new digs.


Lisa and I wanted to free as much of it as possible so we packed light. Note the cheater stick. We later opted to leave this bad boy behind...since we would be (hopefully) freeing most of it anyway. 261959_2016599810456_1107670161_32109965_4792418_n.jpg So what powered us on this amazing adventure? Orange Pop! 269016_2016618050912_1107670161_32110025_5057443_n.jpg Lisa tapes up a water bottle against puncture wounds en route. Judging from the expression on her face, I think the Yosemite Village Store is stocking the Right Mushrooms.


OK. We are walking towards Half Dome, which involves hiking the trail to Mirror Lake, at the head of the valley. Where do you leave the tourist trail to hike the requisite Death Slabs approach? Why, its here, across from this boulder in the lake.


The Death Slabs. Base of the route in upper left corner. 264698_2016768414671_1107670161_32110219_5343563_n.jpg

Death Slabs approach. Lisa is open-mouth breathing. 263003_2016618490923_1107670161_32110027_4030647_n.jpg

We are at the base of the route, where we meet a spectrum of climbers: some nice climbers and some weird-ass sketch climbers. Some succeeded some failed. We sort out who will blast off when. The climbers who said they were fast ended up being slow. The climbers who said they were average were fast. Here we wait a day for the route to clear so we can zip on up it. Lisa learned me Kings in a Corner and a neuvau version of Spades. We lummed around and listened to music. Here a pretty gurrl tries to meditate. She makes it look effortful. In truth, Lisa paced the base of the route like a lioness, even growling intermittently.


The evening before the Big Day. The route begins at the bannana slug on the lower left and ends at"The Visor", the thingy that sticks out from the summit.


We blast off in darkness. Here Lisa jugs up our fixed lines.


By 6am we are on the top of pitch 6.


I strut up the Robbins Traverse (pitch 10) as Lisa belays. The end of this pitch involves a curious pendulum traverse to a tiny ledge. We met some Scottish climbers, Rye and Mike, who followed us much of the first day.


Pitch 12 involved an awkward chimney into an incredible 5.11c layback. Here is my makeshift belay seat, complete with orthotics for my tired feet.


Contemplating the exit moves of pitch 12 270175_2016604810581_1107670161_32109981_4283042_n.jpg

Out of the chimneys and into the sun. I take off on pitch 16 while Lisa gives me her best leer. 268063_2016606650627_1107670161_32109986_3940871_n.jpg

Lisa amid the double crack pitch, which I think is pitch 17.


Well hi there! On Big Sandy Ledges at around 6pm. Do we keep going? Do we stay the night here? I turn around a few minutes after taking this picture and Lisa is sound asleep in a foetal postion on a ledge 2 1/2 feet wide and 1500 feet high. I guess I have my answer. Lets sleep here.


We chill as the evening draws nigh...


Good morning! All our gear is organized and ready to go! Yay! The ZIGZAGS! THE. ZIIIIIG. ZAAAAGS!! YEEEEEEEEEEHA!

Big ole' cams. And NO, thats not a piss bottle. Its regular water with iodine in it. I don't trust these marmots.


*Whew!* Atop the first of the Zigzags. I took a 30-foot whipper whilst climbing it. I bruised my hip while falling but at this point I'm feeling no pain....not yet anyway.

Mark, I AM smiling!


Zigzags pitch 3. In the Business. This arching undercling is 5.12 or 5.13 depending on which guidebook you cling to. TAAAAKE! I did a spot of aid here.


Atop the Zigzags at the beginning of the Thank God Ledge. Helluva view.


You have seen this view on the cover of National Geographic. Alex was not present for comment.




Lisa follows pitch 23


Lisa leads pitch 24


Tourists! Tourists in the midday sun! Horray for tourists. Tourists are great! They gave us a quart of water each and a full measure of admiration.


Summit view. A moonscape for Moomintrolls.


Cable route descent. Now this was effing scary.


Redistribution of gear. Lisa cheerfully volunteered to carry some of my stuff because my hip was hurting so bad from my fall on the Zigzags. She rocks.



Gear Notes:

We were able to free 90% of the route (we didnt free the bolt ladders and I didn't free anything over easy 5.12. It took us 29 hours including 6 hours of sleep time on Big Sandy Ledges. So the gear was 3 each of all cams from tight fingers to #3. One # 5 for the chimney following Thank God Ledge. A set of nuts including micro brassies. Offsets of small nuts and small cams were somewhat useful. 13 draws or sling. 4 liters of water. Valley temps were in the low 80's. Supertopo beta was right on.


Approach Notes:

The slabs were free of snow. There was snow between the summit and the base of the route, but this was managable.

Edited by klondike

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where can i get me one of them hard-core clamber'n gurlz? :)

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nice job!


totally agree on the cables. I was there early summer and climbed snake dike and the cables weren't up yet. Tourists at the top were dismayed we had just climbed a "route" up half dome but after descending the cables without them being up, I think the climbing routes are by far safer and less scary!



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Awesome job Mr. Klondike! Great to see those pictures all in one place.


Lisa is definitely a rare bird. I feel very fortunate to be able to call her a friend. Both of you...T-town climbers rock!

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