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North America, United States, California, Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Arcturus, First Free Ascent

Half Dome, Arcturus, first free ascent. In June Rob Pizem and I free-climbed (5.13) the 22-pitch Arcturus on the northwest face of Half Dome. Originally climbed by Dick Dorworth and Royal Robbins way back in 1970, the route had been forgotten by Yosemite climbers, who apparently suffer from long-hike-aphobia. The route had some loose rock here and there, but not more than I would expect from a grade VI wall. To quote Robbins’ AAJ 1971 report, “We placed some bolts, but I cannot remember how many.” And so it goes. The route is mostly excellent and would make a nice alternative to the polished cracks of the regular route, but I reckon it will slide back into obscurity for another 40 years.

Michael Anderson, AAC