Loading up for Half Dome. (by Nic Risser)
Mark enjoys his bday lunch amidst Yosemite's beautiful wildlife. (by Nic Risser)
Nic giving one of his famous guided tours on the Green Dragon.
Mt Watkins seen on the Slabs approach to Half Dome.
Looking up the slabs approach on Half Dome from the start of the first class 3 section.
Panorama looking up the slabs approach on Half Dome from the start of the first class 3 section.
Mark, unsure how to use the fixed line for class 1 terrain. (by Nic Risser)
Climbing class 3 around the fixed line. (by Nic Risser)
Nic struggling on the first fixed line.
Nic struggling up the fixed lines on the fisrt serious cl. 2-3 section of the slabs approach.
The second fixed line. This one was actually nice to use!
Half Dome looming above the lower section of the slabs approach.
The NWRR of Half Dome seen on the approach.
Slowly trundling my way up the slabs approach. Mark getting smaller... Half Dome getting bigger.
What SuperTopo calls the 'exposed' slab section. Not really.
Looking up to Half Dome at the 'exposed' slab part.
One of the more interesting fixed lines to ascend with a heavy pack and no attachment to the line.
An easier fixed line above, before heading right towards the central gully again.
Another one of the steeper fixed lines.
Final set of fixed lines.
Ascending fixed lines, with Half Dome ahead! (by Nic Risser)
Wide panorama of the massive north face of Half Dome, seen from the base.
The golden overhanging north face of Half Dome.
Looking east along the base of the north face of Half Dome. Make sure to bivy in the trees, as objects often fall from the wall and tend to land in the clearing.
Cool OW right start to the Direct North Face of Half Dome.
Cool OW left start to the Direct North Face of Half Dome.
Looking east along the base of the north face of Half Dome. The NWRR starts at the base of the corner with the elongated bush. Make sure to bivy in the trees, as objects often fall from the wall and tend to land in the clearing.
Little promontory to the north.
Looking up P1 of the NWRR of Half Dome (5.10c or C1).
Fiery evening light on the upper face of Half Dome, with the Visor sticking out prominently.
One of the springs was dry, but this one was still running. Free water!
Looking across the N Face at sunset.
Looking across the N Face at sunset. A cl. 4 route ascends that gully as a more interesting way to start Snake Dike.
Approaching Final Exam (5.10d)
The great chimney systems of the NWRR of Half Dome.
Climber ascending the Twin Cracks pitch just below Big Sandy Ledge.
The Visor, with climbers on the aid pitches beneath.
Panorama of the north face at sunset from the east side.
The sweet crack and corner of Final Exam (5.10d)
Beautiful sun-kissed salt and pepper granite lit by the setting sun. (by Nic Risser)
Ongoing innovation in climbing hardware, over-communication of route beta and the ever-growing wave of amateurs wanting to call themselves ‘big wall climbers’ brings with it a long list of repercussions. In many ways, Half Dome and El Cap have become the Mt Everests of the rock climbing world. At times, I felt sad returning to Half Dome and seeing the human footprint… like visiting a powerful and majestic animal confined by chains in a petting zoo. There is no glory here. I’ve found many of the five-star/classic routes so sought after to be completely lacking of passion. Still, there are times when the sun hits just right and your eyes connect… and you feel the mystery and adventure that once was. (by Nic Risser)
Looking up from our bivy spot at the looming north face of Half Dome under alpenglow.
P1 of the NWRR of Half Dome. (5.10c or C1)
Nic leading P1 under headlamp as it got dark. I followed in the dark on this fun 5.10c pitch, which we fixed for jugging the next morning. (5.10c or C1)
Nic forgot his utensils, so he had to get creative on how to eat his canned tuna.
Nic and the nighttime horror of canned tuna without a fork or spoon!
Nic jugging P1 in the morning.
Nic atop P1. Jenny Abegg, Steph Abegg's sister, is leading P2.
Nic atop P1.
Nic leading the 5.9 crux on P2. The crux is pulling the roof to get into the stem box.
We ran into Steph Abegg's sister, Jenni, on the climb! They were doing the route in a day. (by Nic Risser)
Following Nic up P2-3, which we linked. (5.9 and 5.8)
The 5.11 roof on P4 (5.9+ C1). Nic wanted to lead this rather than aid it. Technically he got it clean, but he fell out/pumped out when trying to place gear, which was very difficult in that awkward corner.
Following P4-5 (5.9+ C1, and 5.9)
Following P4-5, at the bolt ladder. (5.9+ C1, and 5.9)
Looking at P6 (5.9). Kind of mungy and uninspiring.
Nic leading P6 (5.9).
Looking up P7 (5.8). Even more mungy and uninspiring. Rock gets rotten and grassy as well.
Looking over to the huge chimneys that we will climb later today, with the Visor above.
Following up P7 (5.8).
Looking out over the Valley, with North Dome close, and El Capitan in the distance. Washington Column looks so small from here!
Washington Column and the gully descent area seen from the NWRR of Half Dome.
Basket Dome. There is a 5.11 route on here called Basket Case.
Wall Nut ejoying the views as we gain elevation.
Wall Nut enjoying the views as we gain elevation.
Following the lower angle terrain of P8-9, which we easily linked (5.8, & cl. 4). (by Nic Risser)
Following up P8-9, which we easily linked. It is mostly 4th class, with one short easy 5.8 bit. (5.8, & cl. 4)
Mark switching back on the cl. 4 P8-9 which we linked. (5.8, & cl. 4) (by Nic Risser)
Looking up the P10 bolt ladder. The bolts were a bit far apart, but doable. (C1)
Nic enjoying the increased exposure at the P10 belay. It is finally starting to feel like we are getting somewhere!
Looking down P10 from near the top of the bolt ladder and beginning of the tension traverse. (C1)
The view one sees from the tension traverse. It was quite tough to get over there statically and you'd face a big swing while face climbing on sloping holds, so unfortunately I backed off and let Nic get through this section.
Following the bolt ladder. I couldn't get the tension traverse to work, so gave the finish up to Nic to work out. (by Nic Risser)
Mark gets ready to lower out as we near the Robbins Traverse. (by Nic Risser)
Nic leading out on P11 toward the Robbins Traverse (5.9-5.10). This is very exposed! The crux is higher up and is in no way 5.8. I'd agree with the 5.10b opinion and would call it the free crux of the route for me.
Following the Robbins Traverse (P11, 5.9-5.10). (by Nic Risser)
Reaching the tough crux of the Robbins Traverse (P11, 5.9-5.10). You go to the right and make a very thin and physical step left on very slick rock. This part felt like 5.10b face, and goes at C2. Fortunately there is a fixed nut on that little roof.
The final ledge traverse on P11. Good spot for some warm sun and a lunch break! The chimney pitches are beyond.
Leading into the P12 5.6 chimney. This part is VERY easy.
Nic enjoying the afternoon sun while I lead the P12 chimneys and aid corner.
The easy 5.6 chimney on P12.
The step over into the 5.11-C1 corner was not trivial! It was not too secure and a fall would land one hard on the chimney chockstones, so I explored the 5.9 squeeze to 5.10 crack tunnel through option first.
Looking deep into the 5.9 squeeze.
Looking up into the 5.9 squeeze. Unfortunately the tunnel-through would not work with the follower's pack, so I had to back off and figure out how to get safely into the aid corner.
After placing gear high in an expanding flake, and doing some big stemming, I found it all right to get here. Now to free climb, then french free, then aid! Unfortunately I used up the sizes I needed earlier as ST called for larger cams on this section. Doh!
P12 aid corner (5.11 or C1). Unfortunately I used up the sizes I needed earlier as ST called for larger cams on this section. Doh!
Looking down P12 after the tension traverse and final bit of unprotected 5.7 wide. Looks like I took way too long.
P13, P14, and P15 (5.7, 5.7-5.9, 5.9) chimney pitches that I would link in one 230' pitch with our 70m rope. Good thing chimneys are easy to climb in the dark!
Birthday festivities at Big Sandy Ledge.
Nic resting his eyes before the birthday party celebrations.
Rootbeer and smashed cupcakes! In this state we decided to forgo lighting candles . . .
30th Birthday party atop Big Sandy Ledge! (by Nic Risser)
2013-08-12 - Basket Dome seen in morning light. Last night was late enough that we slept in . . .
What remains of Mirror Lake, and looking at where we SHOULD have turned off for the approach. Oops . . .
Signs of life from the ledge below.
Nic was just too comfortable to wake up!
Almost there . . .
Nic leading P18 (C1). I should have led this pitch, but the exposure of the wall was getting to me.
Nic leading P18 (C1) nearly to the tension traverse tat.
Nic leading P18 (C1) at the belay ledge.
Looking down to Mark on Big Sandy Ledge. (by Nic Risser)
Mark jugging P18, nostrils flared in determination to ignore the exposure. (by Nic Risser)
Jugging P19 (5.10b or C1) and P20 (C1), which Nic linked, freeing P19. Rope drag made P20 slow enough that this was probably slower than breaking up pitches.
Jugging up the final corner of P20 (C1).
Mark jugging P20, nostrils flared in determination to ignore the exposure. (by Nic Risser)
Thank God Ledge awaits (P21, 5.9). I should have also led this pitch, but exposure and serious food poisoning left me feeling less up to the task. Quite thrilling to follow!
Nic at the start of the bolt ladder on P23 (C1+, two tension traverses requiring lower-outs to follow). He found the cam hook to be invaluable on this pitch.
Following P23 (C1+), just before the second lower-out.
Nic leading P24 (5.7), on easy terrain. The 5.7 slab crux is right off the belay for a couple of moves and not too bad.
Wall Nut atop Half Dome after ascending the Northwest Regular Route! Ascenders and alpine aiders came in handy.
Mark on the summit of Half Dome, after climbing the Northwest Regular Route for his 30th birthday. (by Nic Risser)
Me and Nic atop Half Dome after climbing the Northwest Regular Route. (by Nic Risser)
Me and Nic atop Half Dome after climbing the Northwest Regular Route.
Nic descending the Cables at sunset. Similar to my experience of climbing Snake Dike, this was one of the more unsettling parts of the climb.
Nic demonstrating a via ferrata technique for friends. Make sure to not do this with static attachments!
The proper way to end a tiring few days, which had a few late nights!
Yosemite Point Buttress and Arrowhead Arete & Spire.
Yosemite Point Buttress.
Arrowhead Arete and Spire.
Mark's raw hands from another cycle of summer climbing. (by Nic Risser)