American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Contiguous United States, California, Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, New Routes

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

Half Dome, New Routes. Eric Coomer, Bryan Law and I developed some new aid lines on the far right side of the northwest face of Half Dome in 1999.I began solo in late May, carrying several loads of wall gear up the Bushido gully while it was still filled with snow. I started climbing on flakes and splitters just right of the Jet Stream and continued into the far right corner in a 300-foot high section of layered dihedrals. The corner got quite thin near the top, requiring many beak tips and #1 copperheads. Above the comers, the route follows various smaller and sometimes fragile features linked with hooks and the occasional rivet. The weather deteriorated as I passed the point of easy retreat, and it began raining as I was finishing the fifth pitch. I woke up the next morning to winter conditions. My rack and ropes became completely encased in ice. The storm continued for two days. At this point the route sort of named itself: Solitary Confinement. After the storm, another long pitch of aid and a short free section took me near a bolt ladder on the Bushido route. I placed a rivet and tried to pendulum into the ladder. After numerous unsuccessful tries at different heights, I jumared back up to the rivet to find my lead line almost cut by an edge I hadn’t noticed. I immediately drilled two more rivets to reach Bushido (23 new holes for the route). I finished the last couple of pitches of Bushido with a knot tied in the lead line.

Eric Coomer and I returned to Half Dome in mid-June. We started at about the same place as Solitary Confinement, sharing belays and a few moves but mostly climbing new features for the first two pitches. We then continued independently, through incipient and fragile features, until running out after pitch 5. Eric Coomer executed a successful pendulum (“the Airstream Penji”) into a rivet ladder on the Jet Stream, saving us a couple of rivets (14 new holes for the route). Inspired by Hunter S. Thompson and Eric Coomer’s recent move to a low-rent apartment complex in Colorado, we called the route White Trash Vacation. We finished the wall via Jet Stream and enjoyed a bivy on the summit under a brilliant full moon.

Eric George, unaffiliated

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.