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Shirley belaying me from the Guano Ledge.
Yosemite Valley over the 4th of July weekend. Four years ago we had warm but tolerable conditions on Lurking Fear
…made much more pleasant by the total absence of any other parties. Did not get quite so lucky this time around. The Valley floor highs were tickling 100F and so our plans got scaled back quickly. After a failure day, we headed for the shady West Face
route on the Leaning Tower – a Warren Harding classic.
On day one, we hiked up to the base and were on Guano Ledge before 11. Steep terrain, easy aid, tougher jugging (but that was fortunately Shirley’s problem). We were both a bit rusty since we haven’t aid climbed or hauled since 2009. We topped out on pitch 6 as the early afternoon sun started baking the face. Things quickly became a bit toasty and though it was only 2pm-ish, we fixed the rope and came back down to Guano where we cowered in the artificial shade provided by our portaledge till the sun went down. We were entertained by the random tourist chatter on the walkie talkies (I hate the Valley…if it weren’t for the long routes…). We killed off the food and a hipflask of bourbon and faded out on our comfy portaledge.
Shirley atop pitch 8 of West Face.
On day two, we were under way after 6 hoping to get off the wall well before the sun came around. Once again the climbing was straightforward and the pitches flowed by quickly. The only ones we did not combine were 9 and 10 as it looked like a rope drag nightmare waiting to happen. We took in the great views of El Cap from the summit and followed the series of obvious (if a pain in the ass) raps back to the base. Back in the car in the afternoon (somehow the pig got heavier on the way down…magic) and chowing down on some mediocre Mex food in Groveland an hour later.
Great line, OK climbing, hot weather, wear rock shoes, bring a hook, leave cam hooks at home.
Leaning Tower (formation just right of center with the obvious diagonal ledge near its base) as seen from a pullout on the Valley bottom (July 2013).
West Face route (11P C2) on (the west face…or was that the south face) of Leaning Tower. Click photo for full res. version (July 2013).
Morning approach to the base of the west face of Leaning Tower (July 2013).
Pitch 1 of West Face of Leaning Tower – a bolt ladder but over some steep terrain (haul rope gives the plumb line approximation; July 2013).
Looking back at Shirley from the lead of pitch 1 (bolt ladder) of West Face of Leaning Tower. The routes starts off a 4th class ledge that runs the width of the tower (July 2013).
Pretty company on pitch 2 of West Face (July 2013).
Shirley jugging pitch 1 (and 2…which we combined) of West Face on Leaning Tower (July 2013).
What kind of a frog is this? Pitch 2 belay on West Face (July 2013).
Shirley enjoying the free air jug at the start of West Face (July 2013).
Looking back at Shirley from the lead of pitch 3 (July 2013).
Pigs in space. The obligatory shot from the route (July 2013).
Shirley topping out on pitch 4 – The Guano Ledge (July 2013).
Shirley belaying me on pitch 5 from the Guano Ledge. The great Ahwahnee Ledge (our campsite) is in the background (July 2013).
Leading the pitch 5 traverse. Somebody turned up the thermostat at about this here noon thirty in the pm (July 2013).
The Guano Ledge (hosting Shirley) and Ahwahnee Ledge (in background) as seen from the lead of pitch 6 (July 2013).
Shirley arriving atop pitch 6 (which we combined with 5) of West Face. Though it’s only 2ish, we are baking. So we fixed and ran for cover (under our portaledge) on Guano Ledge (July 2013).
Shirley on the Guano Ledge atop pitch 4 of West Face route…a very appropriate name given that somebody (OK it was me) got shitted on by a falcon (July 2013).
Taking shelter from the burning sun behind the portaledge on Guano Ledge (July 2013).
Ahwahnee Ledge bivy after enduring some hours of baking by the hot California sun. This is pretty much the highlight of wall climbing for me – chilling out on the portaledge at the end of an uncomfortable day (and about to enjoy some Blanton’s bourbon).
Good morning day 2. The only thing I hate more than hauling is [fucking] jugging (July 2013).
Jugging pitches 7 and 8 (July 2013).
Shirley enjoying the jug up pitch 8 of West Face route (July 2013).
Leading the pitch 9 roof (July 2013).
Shirley atop pitch 8 – taken from the spectacularly exposed pitch 9 (July 2013).
Shirley topping out on pitch 9 of West Face. 9 and 10 were the only pitches we did not combine (seemed like it would’ve been a shitload of rope drag to do so).
Leading the exit pitch (#10) on the West Face of Leaning Tower (July 2013).
Shirley on a nice ledge atop pitch 9 (July 2013).
Shirley following pitch 10 (July 2013).
Shirley topping out on pitch 10 of West Face, “the great ledge” (July 2013).
The views from the summit of the Leaning Tower did not suck too much…like this here piece of cliff. What is this? Incredible Hulk?
Packing up back at the car after our day and a half of baking (July 2013).
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