American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Contiguous United States, California, Yosemite Valley, Porcelain Wall, Strange World

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

Porcelain Wall, Strange World. In August, Bryan Law and I climbed a new route, Strange World, on the Porcelain Wall. We began with a few moves of When Hell Was In Session, then headed right, across Sargantana. The first four pitches wander on and off of Sargantana on low-angle mixed free and aid. After leaving Sargantana on the fourth pitch, the route is independent to the top. We kept a laid back one-pitch-a-day pace after the initial fixing effort. The weather was perfect and there was plenty of food, beverages, music, etc. We had the amenities to travel in comfort and style, and even with an extra haulbag we barely had room for it all.

Bryan led “the Lawnmower Pitch,” which took us through dense vegetation to the base of the headwall. After a couple of tree moves on the next pitch, the route is mostly steep and clean from there on, and we were surrounded by some of the most colorful rock I have seen. The headwall gets progressively steeper toward the top, and in places the moves are quite physically demanding. We found many sections of hard aid but overall, most of the climbing is moderate. The line is surprisingly natural for a modem Yosemite nailing route (about 30 holes in 1,700 feet of new climbing) and we both felt it was one of the nicest routes we have done. I am still amazed it was unclimbed until last year.

In spite of an initial scare and the ample evidence of fresh rockfall everywhere near the base, we saw no significant rockfall while we were on the wall.

On all of our ascents last year, we decided not to rate the routes. I personally have found the A1-A5 system to be useless. It has been redefined so many times that no one really even knows what the ratings are supposed to mean. And even if everyone did, exaggeration and sandbagging would persist. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but for me, not rating at all is a simple and liberating solution.

Eric George, unaffiliated

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