Poincenot, southwest face, Rise of the Machines. Over the years Jens Holsten, Mikey Schaefer, and I spent hours studying a high-resolution photo, picking out a line on this aesthetic face. It looked like high-quality, straight-in cracks to where it would join established lines. We were wrong.
We took our time on the approach and even laughed our way up the initial seven free pitches. The laughter stopped at the base of the headwall. The headwall had looked as if it would offer perfect hand cracks. However, this expectation was squashed when Jens led the first pitches of a steep, exfoliating, and all but closed crack. His high-stepping from a 000 C3 to a hook move off an ice tool and Mikey’s run-out .75 Camalot crack and subsequent crack switch (read large pendulum), earned them both medals of honor. We repented our optimism often during the three days it took to complete the route.
Mikey led a huge aid block on day two. When the terrain finally broke down, Jens led into the night, arriving at an Ahwahnee Ledge at 1 a.m. The ledge was spacious and the night short.
At 5 a.m. we sat up simultaneously, after dreaming of suffocating and putting in ear plugs because of increasing wind. I led into broken crack systems, with the idea of eventually breaking right to join the established lines. We simul-climbed on moderate terrain and traversed on a red, chossy dike before seeing signs of other routes. I connected lines between tattered anchors and found my way to the base of a right-slanting, hands-to-fists crack. This crack earned me extra credit, as did the steep crack off the following belay. I pulled into the sun on the right side of the summit and finished the spiral staircase to gain the high point. We had reached the halfway point.
We walked the knife-edge ridge individually. Jens led the initial raps and we paused to finish the gas canister before rapping the headwall. The small amount of gas melted a few liters of water and rehydrated a meal. Mikey led the raps down the headwall, rebuilding every anchor and salvaging gear from the routes that crossed. Halfway down, Jens and I looked across the Torre Valley for the source of a loud noise; it was rockfall on El Mocho, and the debris ran over the entire moraine approach, rock dust sweeping over Niponino. We had been there a few days earlier.
We called our route Rise of the Machines (900m, 650 new, VI 5.11 A2+), in keeping with the Terminator theme: Judgement Day is just right of our line. [Rise of the Machines lies between El Sacrificio del Raton (900m, ca 600 new, 5.11 Al, Sharratt-Wilkinson, 2006) and Judgement Day (900m, 650 new, 5.11 Al, Gerberding-Smith, 1992), finishing with the 1968 Fonrouge-Rosasco and the original 1962 Route]. We climbed it from December 13 to 15.
Joel Kauffman, AAC