Saturday, November 28, 2015

Washington Column South Face V 5.8 C1

For me Yosemite has always been the place to push my climbing forward. But before committing into a big route, I wanted to do a warm-up route. In 2013 I warmed up with Prow at Washington Column. This turned out to be a good move, so I wanted to do something similar again. A small bigwall gives you some idea about how fast you are moving, which again helps when calculating water and food for a bigger wall.

I decided to climb Washington Column South Face, which is probably the easiest bigwall in Yosemite. I still had some logistical problems. I knew I could do it in a day, but it was not easy to decide whether to start early or very late.

I didn’t have a car, so I would need to rely on the buses. I could take the first bus and start climbing in the morning, probably reaching the top just after the sunset. And this is not very good, because then I would need to either sleep at the top, or hike down in the dark (the descent is tricky enough in the day light). And of course buses are not operating in the night time so I would need to walk back to Camp 4.

Another solution would be to start to climb late in the evening and climb through the night (no crowds, maybe not a bad idea...). But then I would need to climb most of the route in the dark and start to climb when I would already be quite tired. Actually very tired as at the time I was usually waking up at 5 am and went to sleep at 10 pm.

Third solution would be to sleep at the base, but it felt like too much hassle. So I decided to take the first bus in the morning and change my down jacket to a sleeping bag (the weight difference is only 350 grams) to be able to sleep at the top after the climb.

The first pitch was nice 5.8 free climbing

17 minutes later at the first anchor

 The next pitch is either a steep 5.11c dihedral or a nice 5.10b hand crack around the corner. I climbed the hand crack and linked the next pitch.

 Kor roof

 This is considered the crux of the climb, but actually the bolts are so close to each other you can easily skip every other bolt

As soon as I was over the roof, the wind was pretty strong

 Until this point it was nice to climb in a t-shirt

 But on the "headwall" I had to use all my clothes, and it was still pretty cold because of the wind

 Another team at the Kor Roof.

 I'm not sure what happened to them, but they never climbed to the top

 This is how it is in Yosemite: More than enough bolts.

 This was probably the hardest part of the climb for me, a roof traverse on pinscars.

 A very nice 5.12b crack (C1 for me)

 The same crack seen from above

 Seven pitches in nine hours, I'm getting tired

 Super nice 5.10a hand crack.

The guidebook shares a note from the first ascensionists: "Above them lay the crux of the climb, a difficult 5" crack. 'We handled this grim section with the well-known technique of struggling' ”. I’m not sure if this was the crack, but it was a good place to struggle.

 To be honest, I wasn't too excited about the chimney

 Jumaring on the last pitch

 Finally at the top, after climbing the route in 15h 14 min. Not as fast I was hoping to, but it was still "a day" -ascent. Usually the South Face is climbed in two days.

 Bivy at the top

Making of the bivy photo

My gear

-a lot of cams (2x#3 was good, I used #3,5 a few times but it’s not mandatory, I didn’t use #4. Link-cams were super nice to leapfrog while free climbing)
-4 offset nuts (not enough, yellow and blue were in use on every pitch)
-7 micronuts (more than enough)
-10 quickdraws (5x Ange, 5x Nineteen)
-8 extra biners (not enough)
-4 screw biners for anchors
-2x 120 cm sling
-2x 180 cm sling
-5x 60 cm sling
-2x 80 cm sling + screw biners for jumaring
-microtraxion + screw biner (I hauled the roof pitch, otherwise I jumared with the backpack and used microtraxion for backup)
-Edelrid Harrier 10.0 mm / 70 m rope
-Edelrid Rapline 6.0 mm / 60 m (a back-up rope for longer rappels)
-Edelrid Cyrus harness
-petzl aiders + biners
-peztl jumars
-BD Vapor helmet
-atc+ screwbiner
-5 prussics + biner
-TC pros (very comfy, half size oversized)
-Silent Partner + two oval biners (one screw)
-one cam hook? (probably didn’t use)
-40 lit rope bag, good for one rope
-Msr 6 lit water bag
-2 liters camelbak ( a small bacpkack with gear loops)
-30 liters backpack

-5 lit water with some sodium & potassium (I still had 1 liter at the top and I also left some extra water at the base)
-8 bars (I ate 6)
-6 gels (I ate 4)
-a few fructose tablets
-1 bag of dried meat

-thin fleece
-thin primalof jacket
-rain jacket
-sleeping bad
-Emergency bivybag


- One grappling hook might be good to have if you need to climb in the rain
- smallest C3s could have been nice
- fleece or primaloft jacket could have been a bit warmer
- a small sleeping pad would have been nice at the top
- next time maybe more ange-draws instead of nineteens and more extra biners