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North America, United States, California, Yosemite Climbing, 1991-1993

Yosemite Climbing, 1991-1993. Some climbs done in past years were not lecorded and so this reflects not only climbs in 1993 but some earlier ones. Eric Kohl, who has never publicized any of his climbs, recently reported to Mountain Review the best of his six new routes, on El Capitan four of which were done solo. Plastic Surgery Disaster (VI, 5.8, A5), which Kohl feels is of especially high quality, was climbed solo in May, 1991. It starts between “Born under a Bad Sign and “Bad to the Bone,” goes through the center of the Devil’s Tower, crosses “Born” to follow a line between “Born” and “Lunar Eclipse.”

The route eventually joins “Luna Eclipse” for a pitch, then takes three new leads to the summit going through the Devil’s Brow. Kohl reports 11 new leads out of 13, besides superior quality. In July, 1991 Steve Bosque and Chuck Clance climbed a major new line on El Capitan, Virginia (VI, 5.8, A3), which takes seven new pitches to join Tangerine Trip. This season, also on El Capitan, Brad Jarrett, Cade Lloyd and Jeff Hornbrook climbed a new route left of the Pacific Ocean Wall. (See also Middendorf and Oxx’s climbs below.) Several remarkable firsts were done on Half Dome in 1992 and 1993. In 1992, Kohl climbed a new solo route on the south face. His Lost Again (VI, 5.10, A3+) takes the small arch left of Harding-Rowell regular south face route and then a circuitous 16 pitches to the top. After Kohl had fixed the first five pitches, the route required five days. The biggest news of 1993 was Todd Skinner’s remarkable free climb of the Direct Northwest Face of Half Dome (see article). In September, 1992, Kohl also climbed a high-quality route on the Leaning Tower. Jesus Built My Hot Rod (VI, 5.8, A4) has nine pitches and, unlike most of Kohl’s routes, was climbed with a partner, Eric Rasmussen. Steve Bosque and Rick Albuschkat’s 1991 Flashback (V, 5.8, A3) on the north face of Sentinel Rock is reputed to be one of the highest quality climbs on the face. Other routes on the face are notoriously loose. It lies between “Psychedelic Wall” and “Direct North Face.” Bosque, Albuschkat and Murray Barnett also climbed a new 18-pitch route up the center of the Panorama Wall, Bananarama (V, 5.19, A3). Ken Yager and Cade Lloyd in 1992 on Elephant rock climbed Poached Elephant, a ten-pitch route left of “Worst Error.” Kohl also reported as one of his best solos World of Pain (VI, 5.10, A5) in May, 1991 in the Yosemite Falls walls area, where he established seven new routes. This 13-pitch route starts in a cave at the base of Upper Yosemite Falls, follows overhanging rock for the first three pitches, the third being the crux. Also, behind Curry Village, right of the Glacier Point Apron and left of “Time Machine,“ Kohl soloed Ice Age (VI, 5.8, A5, 14 pitches). In the summer of 1993, Walt Shipley and Keith Reynolds climbed several noteworthy routes. In the lower Yosemite amphitheater, they did Heaven’s Door (III, 5.1lb/c), climbing three new pitches after following the first two leads of “Guiding Light.“On Lower Cathedral Spire, this pair climbed an entirely new, all-free route called South By Southwest (III, 5.11c).

Cameron Burns