American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Liberty Cap, Scarface

United States, California, Yosemite National Park

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Josh Mucci
  • Climb Year: 2010
  • Publication Year: 2011

In late June, Steve Bosque and I completed a 13-pitch independent line on the west face of Liberty Cap. The route follows a long crack system that shoots straight through a huge, white scar, the wall’s most prominent feature. Steve and his wife, Paula, started the climb in 2004. Soon after, Chuck Clance joined them before an injury forced them to fix and descend from the top of pitch three.

Steve mentioned the line in early spring and we headed straight for it, replacing the fixed lines and establishing a fourth pitch, which brought us to the base of the scar. We returned in late June for the final push.

We were greeted by impeccable cracks cutting through the bulletproof rockscar. Late on the third day, with a heat wave moving in, Steve made a great effort on pitch seven by drilling eight rivets and then nailing straight up into an A2 corner crack that ended at the base of the “Cubano Corner.” After adding a belay bolt, we hauled the bags and I racked up for the most impressive corner I have climbed. Laser cut and vertical, the corner leads to very thin A3 beaking and a bit of loose free to a belay on a decent ledge. By then we were cooked. White rock, nuclear sun, and long days had zapped us. Steve made his way up an A3 ramp, reaching a small tree after 75' and a belay that escaped the sun’s rays.

Very low on water, we were desperate. We were hundreds of feet from the summit, with mixed climbing the entire way. I set off at dusk. After a difficult pendulum, I free climbed and placed beaks in a tiny seam that split a watercourse ramp. I came down in the dark, and we agreed to stash the bags and gun it in the morning.

Morning came and Steve handed me the last fruit cup for energy to climb the 600'+ to the summit. The next four pitches were a blur for weeks afterward; we moved fast and tried to beat the sun to the summit. Parched, we collapsed under the first shade in five days, not looking forward to the slabs and descent. It took us hours to reach the river. A fine gentleman saw us coming out of the woods and immediately offered his water pump.

We returned soon after and retrieved the bags and got a sober look at the upper four pitches. Not so bad! Scarface (13 pitches, V 5.8 A3).

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