Saturday, December 22, 2012

Washington Column- Prow (V 5.10 C2F or 5.6 C2F) In A Day

Hamik leading out on pitch 8. NW Face of Half Dome looming behind

What makes a great climb? Is it the exposure? Jaw-dropping views? Awesome partner? Surprising yourself with how well you do? To me it is the combination of these. The Prow on Washington Column was climbed and recommended to me by pretty much everyone I knew who climbed walls. From what I understood it is one of the most classic walls in the Yosemite Valley period. There was one little problem- neither me or my partner had a porta-ledge! "Well let's try to do it in a day," I suggested. 

First scorpion I encountered in the Valley

Hamik starts up JoJo 5.10b/c

Our new friend checking out Hamik's technique

Hamik on pitch 2
I knew Hamik would say 'yes'- he is one of the few people I climb with who loves to get on climbs that would challenge him in more than one way. Before our attempt both of us had doubts since we had a combined whopping resume of two completed walls (Lost Arrow Spire Direct for me and West Face of Leaning Tower for Hamik)! It took me 4 days to complete the LASD and 2 for Hamik to do the WFoLT. Personally, I had no idea how in the world we would climb 12 pitches in a day after it took me 4 days to climb 15 just a few month prior- ignorance is bliss.
Hamik starting pitch 3

Perfect rock

Hamik jumaring P4

Looking down p5

Someone been hitting the gym huh?!

Another look down

We drove to the valley after work on Friday. I managed to get a few hours of sleep before Hamik showed up. It was hot and both of us were to nervous to sleep (well at least I was haha), So we prepared our rack and started hiking from Ahwanee parking lot at 4am. Our cat guide did not do the best job navigating us through the night, and we got a bit lost on the approach. I managed to see a scorpion (did not know they were around). When we finally got to the base of the route we were surprised to see the cat running up to join us. On the approach Hamik told me a story about alpinists who caught a marmot and took him up a climb. During the freezing bivouac the marmot died- we decided to leave the cat at the base. 

Hamik started up his block of pitches (he took first three). I cuddled with the cat who climbed up to the tree, than on to my shoulder, and fell asleep. I would be happy to do the same at the moment- work, rush hour drive to Yosemite, and only 1-2 hours of sleep was catching up. Hamik send JoJo (5.10 b/c) and took his pitch to the top of P1. Jugging past JoJo was lame, so I came back later to lead it (one of the best splitter pitches in Yosemite for sure!). Hamik did a great job with the rest of his pitches and we met Andrew (who wrote his own fabulous report about his adventure. at the top of pitch 3. Unfortunately, I met him only for a few seconds since it was my turn to rise and shine- get on the sharp end. I took the next 4 pitches after which we switched again. Hamik led another 2.5, I did the next 1.5 and he brought us to the top via the last short pitch just as it got dark. Both of us were happy to drink the old water we found on top of the climb. The full moon was rising over Half Dome and multiple little lamps were seen on the North West face route. 

Looking up pitch 7

Great views- check (Half Dome North West Face as seen from the Prow)

Unhappy face before the traverse (pitch 8), which turned out to be fine. 

Looking down from the top of pitch 7

Hamik on pitch 9

Half Dome
 Neither of us had done the descent via North Dome Gulley. Supertopo description suggests to avoid doing it in the dark. Since we did not have bivy heat we ignored this suggestion and headed down. Aside from the VERY exposed slab traverse (doing this with a haul bag would suck!) the down climbing was not hard, and would be easier during day-light. We managed to get off trail and had to back track a few times, but that was not a surprise. We got back to the car 17 hours after we started our journey. Not bad at all, both of us expected a bigger challenge. Instead of laying around hallucinating in El Cap meadow we had all you can eat for breakfast, and talked about our next climb. 
Half Dome-view from 9th pitch

Half Dome-view from top of P11

I must admit, the Prow does make a good climb- moderate, scenic, good rock, exposed. In addition, I got to climb it with a great partner in a style that seemed a little too out of our league. I guess it is time to train harder and dream bigger for the things to come in 2013.

Yosemite Valley

List of things for our IAD ascent:
Rack- per ST with a little less (no cam hooks, no big nuts etc). Metolious offsets worked well. We brough smallest to orange/red. 

60 M Rope
Both brought jumars. Maybe bringing one set is a better idea to save weight?
5.5 liters of water (and we drank a bunch at the base- it was a warm autumn day).


  1. Cool report man. You guys went for it. Much props. -Jared

    1. Thank you. Would be nice to spent a night up there but we didn't have a ledge! Was our only option haha.

  2. Great job V. Nice to see you getting after it.