Friday, May 18, 2012

The Regular NW Route on Half Dome in a Day with Borden

    I haven't climbed the face of Half Dome in maybe seven years.  When I climbed it I thought it was one of my favorite climbs.  It has some incredible cracks and amazing views.  It had been so long because the summer is generally when I work the most guiding.  It is also the best Half Dome season as the route is north west facing and doesn't receive much sun and the summit sits 4,800 feet above the valley which makes it pretty cold.  The combination of the dry and warm spring made it perfect timing for us to climb the route.
    Scott Borden and I met at a casual 5 am in the morning.  Our journey up the approach slabs seemed to go quickly.  Despite it's reputation as the "death slabs" they didn't seem to bad going up.  Though our opinion of this chossy wet chasm will change that night in the dark.  We reach the base and rest and fill up our water.
  Scott my randomly assigned roommate from college eleven years ago has been a great friend ever since assigned to live with me.  Scott will be leading the first pitches, which is great as I am not a morning person and I am psyched to relax and belay.  Soon I the rope runs out and we are both climbing in unison simul-climbing.  The bottom half of the route is more like an alpine route then a big wall as it is a lot of broken ground with big loose holds.  I remember this section going quickly last time I climbed the route, but we were simul-climbing with the whole 70 meters of rope which created to much drag and wasted a large amount of energy and time.
   A goal of mine is to free climb the whole route.  I didn't check out the free climbing variations after our slightly slow climbing of the bottom half of  the route.  We still caught up to and passed one team who camped at the base and were climbing the route in a push also.  The goes free at around 5.12b which is about my trad limit so the reality is I would need to spend a large amount of time figuring out the moves. 
  Hopefully this climb lights a spark for me and I can get back up to Half Dome with more then a day to check out all of the free climbing.  The Zig Zag pitches up high are some most beautiful hard finger cracks in the Valley.  I would be great to get back up to them with time and energy to unlock the free climbing sequences. 

 Our descent down the slabs in the dark was less then ideal.  I have to wonder who strung the 400 feet of hardware store rope down the skiers right side of the gully?  They should be tarred and feathered.  We reached the valley and biked back to a warm pizza at the train wreck Norma my fiancee had prepared.      Overall it was a killer day with a great friend.  I hope it is not another seven years before I climb the route again.