Yesterday, Clinton Marteningo, aka “Ningo”, and I made an ascent of the NW face of the Half Dome. Ningo was on form as usual and very nearly onsighted the whole route free, falling at just one point (on the first zig zag, for those that know the route). All things considered, it was a great first big day out in good free style (well mostly!) It was also great to feel firsthand the euphoria of topping out one of these mammoth routes and to finally feel safe again!
Night exposure of the half dome via Ben Tappe, an aspiring photographer we met in the valley. Our route follows the left edge of the black streak
The day before our climb, we hiked our gear up the death slabs and enjoyed a lazy afternoon on the bivy terrace in our sleeping bags. We both forgot to bring something to do, so we were really bored by the end of the day. The only entertainment was watching a pair of climbers inch their way up pitch one (of 25!), their climbing commands growing more and more annoyed as they went. Unfortunately, that one pitch was all they would see of the mountain as they quickly sounded the retreat, thankfully for us, as they lent Ningo a headlamp which he’d forgotten (along with cooking gas and an alarm!)
Scoping out the route over dinner at our luxurious bivy
Ningo leading us back onto the route after our two-hour detour
Getting my layback on around pitch 19
The next morning, we started out early, getting underway 30 minutes before dawn. Annoyingly we had to battle past two new Americans who snaked us in the line after promising to let us go first the night before (while politely inquiring our planned start time!) These whippersnappers got about five pitches up before sounding their retreat.
Ningo “leading” down the sketchy 10b downclimb pitch
We made good time, apart from a 2-hour route finding detour due to an erroneously drawn tree on the topo! We alternated leads, simul-climbing the easier sections (climbing simultaneously to save time) and jumaring the odd section where it was more efficient. The highlight of the day was Ningo firing the 12a slab at the end as the sun set. A great finish!
Getting some great exposure on the finish pitches
The “Thank God Ledge” forms a perfect mini-walkway to the last hard pitch
On the summit at last! (apparently serious climbers bring national flags with them)
BTW, Alex Honnold is my hero for his ropeless ascent of this route. A few times on the route, we just shook our heads at the craziness of it. Wow.
You can see more of our Yosemite pics here