"The lower part of the Tower overhangs an average of 110 degrees, while the upper section averages about 95 degrees - making it one of America's most continuously overhanging cliffs". (Al MacDonald)
"The steepest wall in North America". (Royal Robbins)
The Leaning Tower rises ominously forming the right Bridalveil Falls. A stupendous overhanging tower of flawless granite. This was the site of yet another Harding bolt fest and a Robbins winter solo in storm conditions. The first wall for many to conquer via the West Face route. The wall faces away from El Capitan and looks down upon it's own meadow and the snaking Merced river. The falls are invisible and inaudible while on route. Hanging out on the plush Ahwahnee Ledge watching headlights as the appear from the tunnel entrance while sipping whiskey is sure better than any television show I've seen.
Start at the Bridalveil Falls pullout. Sort gear and pack up in the parking area and if you drove leave someone with the gear while the other parks outside the lot. There are bear boxes semi-hidden behind the bathroom so tourists won't fill them up. For some reason there is no overnight parking in the lot, possibly due to the current construction. Park down the road about a couple hundred yards at a pull out.
The Approach: From the parking area head left (east) of the bathrooms towards a huge house sized boulder about 100 feet from the parking area. Follow a distinct climbers trail uphill from the left (north) side of the boulder. After a few minutes you'll walk along a large fallen tree. Begin heading up the boulder field from the tree, angling right. Cairns often mark the best path through the boulder field. At the top of the field, pick up a distinct climber trail and follow it up to the base of the wall. Follow the wall uphill until you reach a nice, flat, shaded area (good bivy for 4) and you'll see the start of the 3rd / 4th class catwalks. Follow the catwalks left (north) from the bivy spot and traverse to the start of the route.
If there are no ropes fixed and especially if you've got a heavy bag, you'll definately want to fix a rope. The 4th class is easy, but some parts are REALLY exposed and are true fourth class, which would be terrifying with a haulbag and no fixed line. Now find the route of your choice and head on up!
The Descent: Once you've topped out, find the rap slings under a boulder and do two 50m long raps down the slab (or circuitous 5.5 downclimbing). Once in the gully system you can hike over to Bridalveil creek to get some water if you've run out, but remember you're just above the falls. In the gully head ~100 feet southeast (away from the Captain) to the start of the chimney rappels. ~ 8 raps total. Rap the steep first and final ones with the pig under you and the middle ones with it on your back. Lots of loose rock. All anchor stations are good. Favor short rappels and don't skip stations in the chimney or the ropes will likely get stuck or dislodge rocks. Last two raps go down a large steep slab and can be linked with 2 60m ropes to avoid a hanging rap station (reaches with a few feet left over). You should be about 100' uphill from the nice bivy spot for 4 that marks the start of the catwalks. I believe most raps require 2 ropes.
11 Pitches of overhanging exposure! A continuously steep and strenuous route with some of the best exposure around. The route is technically easy, but can be mentally wearing due to the nature of the climbing. From the very start there is instant exposure. An awesome wall to cut your teeth on.Every pitch can be linked with a 60m rope and the hauling is really easy since the bag is almost always free hanging. Link pitches 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 for sure and it's much quicker. These take very little a...[more]Browse More Classics in CA