September 11th to September 12th 2012
"The lower part of the tower averages 110 degrees; the upper section about 95 degrees. Without question, the tower is Americas most overhanging wall" -Steve Roper
Tara had been wanting to climb leaning tower since the spring. She wanted to grind her teeth on some C2. Our schedules finally lined up (we each have “climbing plans” booked until December) and we set a date. Tara and I are like brother and sister and we can’t spend more than two days together without arguing – so we planned a two day ascent.
The west face of the Leaning Tower goes at 5.7 C2. We decided to link all of the pitches on the route with a 70 meter rope to speed things up.
Getting Back into it: It had been a while since I had climbed in the valley, so we decided to spend two days free climbing before the wall.On our first day, we “warmed up” on lunatice fringe (5.10c). and by warmup, I mean hang dogging on lead. After a rough lead, I was able to top rope it clean. The next day we climbed Central Pillar of Frnezie. It was a quick route (5 pitches) and a fun day. We came back to camp and packed up for our wall.
We took the Supertopo recommended gear rack, 16 liters of water, some snacks, pizza for dinner and the rest of our normal wall gear.
We woke up at 5:30am and drove out to the climb. You cannot overnight park at the falls, so we found parking on the shoulder very close. The boulder field was surprisingly easy to negotiate in the dark thanks to being heavily carined. We got to the base with nobody in site and climbed up to the start of the route (a line was fixed).
I linked pitch 1 and 2: A fixed head was missing, so a reachy cliffhanger hook move was necessary to gain the roof.
I linked pitch 3 and 4: There was some really cool gear on these pitches
Tara linked pitch 5 and 6 and fixed the rope: It was he first time leading C2 and she did an awesome job. Although one things: She backcleaned the entire C2 section – so I ended up taking a monster pendulum while cleaning.
I climbed pitch 7: I was going to link to pitch 8 but I couldn’t see the anchors, so I waited for Tara to come up. We forgot to anchor the rap rope to the pitch 6 anchor, so I rapped down to fix it - then jugged back up to belay Tara for pitch 8.
Tara climbed pitch 8 and fixed the rope: This pitch was just 50 feet and takes you to the base of the roof. Tara used her free shoes but said that although they were helpful, they weren’t mandatory.
We were back down by nightfall for a comfortable plush bivy with sleep pad and sleep bag. We were joined by one other party who was behind us on the wall. I slept like a baby.
We woke up at 5:30 in the morning from our bivy site and jugged the 400 feet of rope that we fixed the night before. We hauled the bag up to pitch 8.
I linked Pitch 9-10: The roof was super steep, but I had adjustable daisies that made life much easier. There was a lot of fixed gear and I did a lot of backcleaning. I made it to the ledge bivy on pitch 10 and waited for Tara to jug, It took a while and I was wondering what went on. Turned out that she had trouble cleaning the double runner that I left under the roof since it was so overhanging – so she left it for the next party – a single runner would have allowed her to suck in closer to the wall to clean.
Tara lead Pitch 11: some easy but exposed class 4 takes you to the summit.
It took us about three hours to descend. There were something like 8 rappels. The ropes would get tangled (70 meter ropes tend to do that) and I would “ride the pig” down the majority of the rappels. We made it back to the parking lot pretty happy by 3:45pm– and jetted to Oakhurst for some celebration burritos.
Poop and Pee:
We packed out our poo (courtesy of a wag bag stuffed in a gatorade bottle) and pee (1.5 liters or 3.5 pounds). We kept the wall clean and left no trace except for a double runner that was difficult to clean on an overhanging section.
We climbed the route in a day and a half. The pitches went quickly as we were able to link them. We reached the parking lot at 3pm and were off to Los Angeles shortly after. It was a great time with a great friend. As we wee hiking out, we were already talking of our next wall.