The Prow, Washington Column, Yosemite

Discussion in 'Free Zone' started by mike, Jun 16, 2019.



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  1. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    Snow-covered trails don’t bother me. There’s always something to do. Not much snow on vertical, south-facing rock at 4800’ in central California. As always, follow conditions…

    A sad many of my climbing buds are “unavailable” for rock antics anymore. Then there’s Brant. Pushing 50, he still milks every ounce of his time and physical ability to charge the backcountry from multiple angles. A solid flame keeper if there was one.

    We met with a plan to “push” Washington Column (~1000’ height) via one of the routes we both knew from previous ascents. We try to keep the plan loose in high season so we can work around other parties camping nightly en route. The Prow, ascended by Royal Robbins in the early 60s, is a classic that was on our list. Aside from one party of two halfway up, the route seemed clear, so we chose it.

    ~7am start.

    prow2019_03brant.jpg

    prow2019_01brant.jpg


    After short-fixing the first three pitches with Brant inch-worming up behind me, the full and inescapable sun started to weigh on me. Brant took over the lead for the next block of two tricky pitches interspersed with expansion bolts. The respite from constant activity, being able to “lay” on a sloping rock ledge and watch the shadows appear on the wall was just what I needed. Thanks, pal.

    prow2019_02.jpg

    prow2019_04.jpg

    Brant takes in the view from a low belay station...

    prow2019_07brant.jpg


    By the time I caught the team ahead of us, they were already sprawled out in their double portaledge. Despite the array of comforts they had, I was glad to be traveling lightly. I’ve portered all that sh¡t up to and off cliffs more times than my body will condone, so, avoiding it when I can is my MO. Think climbing a long day is hard? Try a few in a row with twice the gear to hike off the top.

    prow2019_04brant.jpg

    prow2019_05brant.jpg


    I chatted with the two kids while Brant came up. Took a drag off their 50/50 and shared some of my sacrament. I dig the exuberant buzz of new big wall climbers. All too soon I took off on the next lead. Brant watched these guys fall asleep and begin snoring in unison – his evil side wondered if he could stealthily pilfer some of their water, which we had little of at that point.

    prow2019_09brant.jpg

    prow2019_08brant.jpg

    prow2019_10brant.jpg


    I took the next lead and felt, overall, pretty gripped for no reason and pretty worked after the previous block. (Full disclosure, the only pitch I've fallen off on the route.) I was out of gear at the next belay, so just kicked it at the small stance just big enough to sit an ass on. Our nine liters of water was down to a half pint, with (thankfully) the coolest shaded part of the climb to the summit ahead of us. And a two-hour hike back to the base. Conveniently, we would be crossing the running drainage in North Dome Gully.

    Brant once again pulled through with some solid leading, and plowed through the remaining awkward climbing to the summit, now baking in the morning sun. 25:50 on the route – more than expected, but we all peak out, eh? We congratulated each other and slowly packed up for the march down.

    prow2019_06.jpg


    Back at the base, we found some shade, extra water, and most importantly, seven beers we had stashed.

    prow2019_11brant.jpg


    After an extended chill sesh, we shouldered our gear with a plan for eats at the Awahnee bar, where our cars were parked.

    Gear-sorting ritual:

    prow2019_13brant.jpg

    The grub and service was heavenly – by virtue of merely being prepared and served food. Back in the parking lot and facing the eminent, we slapped goodbyes and hopped in our cars. Had a silly notion to push the 5-hr drive, but just outside the Park pulled over for a nap. Back up at midnight, sent the remaining 4 hours’ drive and slid into bed with the weezl.

    Until next time...
     
  2. mountaingirl sara

    mountaingirl sara iMTB Addict

    Location:
    So Cal
    Name:
    Sara Ford
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz 5010
    Awesome CR!! Cool pics!! Thanks for sharing, glad you made it home safely, and goodnight ;)
     
    Faust29, mike, mtbMike and 3 others like this.
  3. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    :eek:Oh my!
    That’s crazy talk!
    Good on you guys! Crazy awesome pics and effort. That is definitely outside my swim lane. :thumbsup:
     
  4. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    2020 SC Megaplower
    RAD!!! :cool:

    And that's the first time I've changed the font size for anything!
     
  5. mtbMike

    mtbMike Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Oceanside
    Name:
    Mike
    Current Bike:
    Ibis HD5 & Intense Primer
    I'm down with all the above ^^ and hardly understood a word @mike said about the actual climbing. As if the climbing isn't crazy enough, all that gear looks pretty intimidating as well. I think I'd BASE jump off a mountain before trying to climb it myself.

    Speaking of all that gear, I was in Moab a few years back and my kids went out on some rappelling lessons so we stopped at the Gearheads store in town. I had NO IDEA how many different options there were for climbing equipment. I figured you went in and said "give me 10 carabiners and a rope" and off you went. There had to be 500 carabiners alone to choose from and 100 ropes, not to mention all the other needed supplies. Definitely an activity where you better know your business.
     
  6. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    Hehe, some people just have to make things difficult. Cuz, you know, your head feels so good when you stop hitting it with a hammer. :cool:

    Sometimes I grapple to write about technical things without 1) being so explanatory that the essence of what happened is diluted, and 2) using too much technical speak. The intended reader of this report is anything from rank non-climber to expert. Hopefully, context keeps it from being unreadable, and the gist of the outing comes through.

    BASE looks easier, agreed. The accidents tend to be more serious, tho. :( A pile of climbing gear make it safer. Lots of those trinkets to leave in the rock below you lessens the fall distance potential.
     
  7. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J M
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS, SC Hightower
    Much respect :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

    Spectacular CR.
     
  8. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    I tried to read a few other reports from guys who had climbed it, but I didn't get very far. They sort of looked like English, but in the same way that Dutch sort of looks like German to me. Then I realized just how much mike dumbed it down for us. :p :thumbsup:

    Pretty fah-king awesome endeavor.
     
  9. Redman

    Redman Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cypress, Ca
    Name:
    Kevin
    Current Bike:
    SC OG Hightower 29'r
    can't say I envy you. but, that is most definitely an epic experience that will NEVER want any piece of. i'll never forget the first time i saw climbers on El Capitan. I was mesmerized by it and had ZERO desire to try it out. Kudos to you and ALL that like that kind of death defying stuff.
     
  10. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    It's not really super dangerous. Like sailing, diving or flying, there is a life support element and variables, but the protocols and gear are pretty refined. It's like anything you work into as you get more comfortable with techniques and gear.

    I also recall my first time gawking at climbers on El Cap. We had just climbed the East Face on Fisherman's Peak (aka Whitney) and felt more like a climber than ever before. Though we had no intention of climbing the Cap that trip, one look at it and I completely snail-eyed and had to re-think what I wanted to do. Four years after that, same guy and I climbed the Nose in 5 days. Other routes followed.

    Climbing and big walls are not for everyone, and that's one reason it's good. Some of the time up there I think it's not for me! But it's an opportunity to be honest with oneself. A lot of resources get burned by people enamored with the idea of doing it, when they never bothered to figure out if they like doing it. Or can do it. Those big cliffs are inspiring from every angle. When I can't/won't climb them anymore, I'll hike. When I can't do that I'll just look from the bottom. And that will still be good. :)
     
  11. Rumpled

    Rumpled Well-Known Member

    Location:
    OC
    Name:
    Jim Martin
    Current Bike:
    2018 Specialized Epic Carbon C
    Did I get that right, almost 26 hours on route?
    Where/how did you bivy? Or push the whole time?

    Big props.
     
  12. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    You did get that right, Jim. Continuous ascent with someone always moving, often both of us. I got about 150 head bobs while belaying, if that counts as sleep. Gri-gri (belay device that locks automatically during a fall) is a must!!!!! We did sleep at the base before blasting, and got some winks again at the base on our way down.

    Brant is a master at sleep deprivation. He's climbed numerous pushes up to 40 hours. I've gutted out a few 24-plus including solo; a 35- and a 43-hour push. How much suffering depends more on conditions and what you have with you than the hours. My longest was in the dead of winter with sub-freezing low, but we had a JetBoil/hot food and decent clothing. Just a bit cold sleeping on top before we built a fire.

    I think a team of three with a light bivy setup for a single designated sleeper could be the key for average schmoes like us to go bigger. Hate to spray vapor, but I think we are looking to do something like that this year.
     
  13. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    2020 SC Megaplower
    I once stayed up all night writing a paper... :eek: I didn't need a Gri-Gri, but I had to use some white-out! :thumbsup:

    Similar badassery, I'd say... :whistling:
     
    mike, Cyclotourist, Rumpled and 3 others like this.
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