Yosemite half dome for the first time


Original Post
joe sakel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 15

I've been climbing for ~5 years around the RRG and Acadia Maine, but I have never been out west for big walls. I was wondering it it is crazy to do the snake dike in Yosemite as a warmup for the NW face half dome the next. Is that too much to fast, and how sandbagged is Yosemite compared to RRG. Also, I would be going out west alone, how hard is it to find partners to do big walls in Yosemite as well as Zion and Moab. In RRG we have Miguel's pizza where climbers can meet and find others, does Yosemite have anything like that?

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500

1) Camp 4 is your friend, as is the El Cap Meadow. Lots of people looking for partners.

2) If you're free climbing the RNWF, you can likely find an ambitious partner to head up to do Snake Dike on the first day and then the big show the next. That's a pretty big pair of days if you include the hiking- but certainly not crazy if you're climbing the grade and have experience moving quickly on big routes.

3) How hard is Yosemite in comparison to the RRG? Well, imho, the trad grades are...not too far off from Yosemite grades, maybe a touch soft. The sport grades? Way soft in comparison, especially if you've never been out west as the glacial polish takes some getting used to.

Zion- I dont know if there's a local hangout other than the campground- I've always done day trips from Vegas.

Moab- I'm sure the locals can chime in on that one- again, I've always rolled up there with partners.

joe sakel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 15

thanks John, i had heard about camp 4 before. the RNWF would probably be two days with camping on big sandy.

csproul · · Davis, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 25

I hope you don't really believe that SD is anywhere near a warm-up for the RNWFHD. Its barely a warm-up for the approach to the RNWF.

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 5

^^^
This. Having done both, while they're great, one should not be considered adequate prep for the other. Just get on some classics: E Butt of Middle, the Cookie, the Cascades, Reed's Direct, etc. Get solid on Valley 5.9, and also practice some aid if you're going to aid the Zigzags. BTW, I climbed with a couple of guys I met in Camp 4 a couple weeks earlier. Lots of,people there with big plans but no partner.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500
joseph sakel wrote:thanks John, i had heard about camp 4 before. the RNWF would probably be two days with camping on big sandy.
Then I'd probably not do snake Dike, as humping the loads up there would be enough exercise. You'd want to go up the death slabs with your haul bags, and then you'd have to hike all the way around the dome to get to snake Dike. Probably not worth it, imho. Better to do them separately and be able to cruise on snake Dike.
Daniel Joder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

Joseph, it seems as though some of the above replies assume you want to go up to do Snake Dike and NWF on the same outing. I hope that is not the case, for reasons as were also pointed out.
1) Snake Dike is a completely different beast from the NWF and not suitable big wall prep. It is a fun route and worth doing, but not as big wall prep.
2) For big wall prep, start by getting used to Valley granite and that type of crack climbing (maybe toss in some friction on the Apron for grins). Build up through the grades to get fast and solid at 5.9 (at a minimum, 5.10 even better) on really long routes. Middle Cathedral has some long free classics to test that.
3) I note your profile says you lead 5.9 trad. Assuming you are solid at that grade in the Valley, you will still need to do a lot of aid work on NWF. Have you practiced that so as to be reasonably efficient?
4) A typical progression might be a couple of long (10+ pitches) free routes in the 5.9-5.10 range, then Washington Column to dial in the aid work, then the NWF of Half Dome.
5) Yes, you should be able to find a partner easily in Camp 4. Do some shorter and easier stuff with the person first to see if you are going to work well together.
Good luck! It's all fun!

joe sakel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 15

thanks for all the great input, having just climbed in acadia, Maine and RRG I have only done around 20 pitches total of multipitch due to the low amout of multipitch in RRG and have only aided small amounts. I have never hauled, and was planning on doing both of them as a standard multi pitch climb, probably leader w. no more than a 30L and follower with a 45L pack. As far as approach, i agree with John about doing them separately, and return to camp 4 in between. As far as aid goes, i understand how it works but i definitely need to work on speed. another question is that i would really only be able to do it in june or july. ive heard that its a furnace in the valley, 4L of water a day too little?

cjdrover · · Watertown, MA · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 240

Hi Joseph,

I started climbing in the RRG, now live in the Northeast, and have climbed the RNWF, so hopefully I can offer you some relevant perspective. I've climbed many of the routes that you've commented or rated (like Rising), and also climbed in Acadia and at Clifton.

In short, I think you will be better served by getting a lot more experience under your belt. When I went to do the RNWF (which I did in a method very similar to what you describe, except only the follower carried a pack), it was on my second trip to Yosemite. At that point in time, I had lead somewhere north of 600 pitches on trad gear, including routes as long as 1300 feet and as hard as 5.11c. Even then, the RNWF was a huge undertaking and thoroughly trashed me for days afterwards.

Have you thought about spending some time in New Hampshire? Cannon Cliff is a decent approximation of the type of climbing and rock you'd encounter on Half Dome. Try routes like Moby Grape, Vertigo, and VMC Direct Direct (link them all in a day if you want to see what HD will feel like) and then head over to Cathedral and do Recom-beast, Intimidation, and the Prow at 5.10 A1. If you can do all of that in a weekend, you have a much better shot at completing, and enjoying, the RNWF.

Chris

Michael Schneider · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 85
cjdrover wrote:Hi Joseph, I started climbing in the RRG, now live in the Northeast, and have climbed the RNWF, so hopefully I can offer you some relevant perspective. I've climbed many of the routes that you've commented or rated (like Rising), and also climbed in Acadia and at Clifton. In short, I think you will be better served by getting a lot more experience under your belt. When I went to do the RNWF (which I did in a method very similar to what you describe, except only the follower carried a pack), it was on my second trip to Yosemite. At that point in time, I had lead somewhere north of 600 pitches on trad gear, including routes as long as 1300 feet and as hard as 5.11c. Even then, the RNWF was a huge undertaking and thoroughly trashed me for days afterwards. Have you thought about spending some time in New Hampshire? Cannon Cliff is a decent approximation of the type of climbing and rock you'd encounter on Half Dome. Try routes like Moby Grape, Vertigo, and VMC Direct Direct (link them all in a day if you want to see what HD will feel like) and then head over to Cathedral and do Recom-beast, Intimidation, and the Prow at 5.10 A1. If you can do all of that in a weekend, you have a much better shot at completing, and enjoying, the RNWF. Chris
That is at least, speaking thruth -ish to a beginner

Joseph's being treated softly!

The Valley will blow your face off !

Joseph 's page !?

https://www.mountainproject.com/u/joseph-sakel//111629887

I saw this topic start,
& thought it was one of the most foolish and uninformed posts I've read since . .m.m.2 nights ago.meh!

No one has said it yet!

(What's up? We have a new 'nicer paradigm' occurring?)

You Are Gonna Die!
Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 5

^^^
Well, I empathise somewhat since my first climbing trip to the Valley was when I was 16. I was already leading .10s at Josh and Idyllwild, but still needed a couple of weeks to feel solid on Valley 5.9 and easy .10s. I climbed with a bunch of different folks, but mostly with a guy visiting from the Gunks, who needed alot of adjustment to granite and cracks. After three weeks, we and another guy did the RNWF. He was 18 and the third guy was 19. We had two cams. It was a lot of work but it was a blast. Show up. Climb as much .9/.10 crack as you can. Do a couple grade III and IVs and see how you feel. If you're feeling good and moving efficiently, go for it.

joe sakel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 15

Thanks cjdrover for the input, I agree that I still need a lot of experience, but you get that from climbing. I was planning on spending more than a week in the valley getting used to the grading and big wall climbing. If you look Adam Ondra had done very little big wall when he first came to the valley to do the nose. I by no means claim to have near the leading experience as him. But I do think that it is absurd to say your going to die, such as Michael Schneider because I have never climbed in the valley.
I have done a 5 pitch 5.9 and while I understand that the RWNF is a beast I feel that with some major learning in aiding, I could safely complete the climb. If I attack it as a multipitch climb.

Jason Kim · · Encinitas, CA · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 60

Thinking that Snake Dike is any sort of warm-up to doing RNWF is the biggest red flag, and an indication that you have nowhere near the amount of experience to safely tackle that wall. When you get to Yosemite and look at Half Dome for the first time, you will see both of these routes and reality will (hopefully) sink in.

Now, if you can find an experienced partner and you are in good shape and a fast learner, I have no doubt you can get up the wall. But waltzing into Camp 4 and partnering up with someone who is also a little green - that seems like a recipe for disaster (or at least a bail).

But what the hell do I know, I haven't done RNWF. I've only been to Yosemite a couple of times and have scared myself on the grade III 9's out there. I might be a pansy, but I want to get a bit more experience before trying it.

"Yer gonna die" is a lot less absurd than your using Adam Ondra's accomplishments as some sort of point of comparison. C'mon now.

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 5
joseph sakel wrote:But I do think that it is absurd to say your going to die, such as Michael Schneider because I have never climbed in the valley.
Dude, just an expression. You've got to roll with these things.

BTW, comparing yourself to Adam Ondra is probably not a good game plan.
grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 0

Dream big man! But get lots of miles under your belt. Granite can be VERY scary when there is hundreds of feet of air under you. You could maybe thrash your way up it, yarding on gear, being scared for your life, and maybe top out. But there is a better way, and it involves lots of experience. Everyone who climbs long enough will at some point bite off more than they can chew - I have broken my ankle, lost a finger, and damaged a shoulder, all while doing climbs that I wasn't ready for. Everyone here can promise that there are better climbs for you to do in Yosemite given your current situation. No one will say you CANT DO IT, DONT DO IT. But you can have two experiences in Yosemite - one of fear, or one of the greatest times of your life.

Just imagine for a moment that you are pulling on some cams, scared for your life, its day two on the wall and you are asking what you are doing, when all of a sudden Alex Honnold comes free soloing up behind you. Or worse, two hard men assholes simo-climbing come up behind you and you are yarding on cams? Take it from some one who has done some yarding before - sending in style means a lot.

In summary of my rant - you arent ready. You just havent put the time and experience in necessary to conquer one of the baddest climbs out there.

Jose Gutierrez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 0

Don't listen to the haters, worst case scenario you can just bail from before the new bolt ladder if your making terrible time. Having done it twice (once post rockfall) and the first time the biggest multipitch I had done at the time was East buttress of middle, I can safely say it can be done without bigwall experience(also I had only ever done one pitch of aid). That being said you will have a much better time if you feel solid in the Yosemite 5.10+ range. Do your research and read the RNWF Bible mountainproject.com/v/regul... Also Serinty-Sons is a much better warm up than snake dike which I do agree is not a good warm up for the RNWF. Also make sure to climb a few chimneys before going for it.

Nathan Large · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 8
joseph sakel wrote:If you look Adam Ondra had done very little big wall when he first came to the valley to do the nose. I by no means claim to have near the leading experience as him. But I do think that it is absurd to say your going to die, such as Michael Schneider because I have never climbed in the valley. I have done a 5 pitch 5.9 and while I understand that the RWNF is a beast I feel that with some major learning in aiding, I could safely complete the climb. If I attack it as a multipitch climb.
I found this statement particularly humorous. If you don't want to compare yourself to Adam then you should probably not use him as a reference point for your situation, because that is what you did.

I think it might be worth it for you to ask yourself; why did I post asking for advice to a situation where I have no/little experience and then rationalize the advice that is not favorable to the answer I want?

It seems to me that there is a good consensus that your predetermined warm up route will not adequately prep you for the main objective.

To me climbing is about testing the limits and pushing the boundaries; I understand your ambition but I also think even the greatest climbers know to check their egos at the door because we are all still students of the craft.

I liked the statement "you'er gonna die" pretty funny and possibly true but probably not ... right? Climbing is risky (yes I an captain obvious) and despite being unable to mitigate all risk we climb, taking on acceptable risk. I like to think that on any given climb that I would have a .05% chance of dying because that is acceptable to me. If the probability was at 1% then I would need to admit to myself that I might actually die or get seriously injured before I proceed. I feel that approximately half of the people who have commented have voiced a high degree of concern for your proposed plan while sighting personal knowledge of the routes in question and your admitted lack of experience in this situation. To me it sounds like the risk of you dying is higher than 1%. Before you proceed with your original goal I think you should ask yourself one question; do I feel lucky, well do ya punk? BTW I'm rooting for your success.

Quick open forum question: I haven't climbed any of the 8 thousanders, but would like to make a trip to k2 to climb without supplemental oxygen. I know other top athletes have done this not to compare myself to them or anything but I know it can be done. Is Mount Rainier a fair warm up?
joe sakel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 15
grog m aka Greg McKee wrote:Dream big man! But get lots of miles under your belt. Granite can be VERY scary when there is hundreds of feet of air under you. You could maybe thrash your way up it, yarding on gear, being scared for your life, and maybe top out. But there is a better way, and it involves lots of experience. Everyone who climbs long enough will at some point bite off more than they can chew - I have broken my ankle, lost a finger, and damaged a shoulder, all while doing climbs that I wasn't ready for. Everyone here can promise that there are better climbs for you to do in Yosemite given your current situation. No one will say you CANT DO IT, DONT DO IT. But you can have two experiences in Yosemite - one of fear, or one of the greatest times of your life. Just imagine for a moment that you are pulling on some cams, scared for your life, its day two on the wall and you are asking what you are doing, when all of a sudden Alex Honnold comes free soloing up behind you. Or worse, two hard men assholes simo-climbing come up behind you and you are yarding on cams? Take it from some one who has done some yarding before - sending in style means a lot. In summary of my rant - you arent ready. You just havent put the time and experience in necessary to conquer one of the baddest climbs out there.
thanks for all the good input. I agree that the Half Dome is more than i can do right now. But i think it is a good goal to shoot for in a few years. i do have to disagree with Nathan Large's statement though about the percentage risk of climbing, if i had a .05% chance of dying, then for every 2000 climbs people did, we should expect a death. i would beg to differ and with taking out free soloing and base jumping and just talking about sport, trad and toprope, the odds are much more like .005-.001% just my 2 cents which isnt worth much
Daniel Joder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

One more point, Joseph, from personal experience...My first time to Yosemite I bailed off of the South Face of Washington Column--it was way too intimidating looking up at that Kor Roof. I came back a few years later and actually enjoyed the SF of WC and went on to enjoy the NWF of Half Dome. Those are some big, big walls and it certainly took me time to get used to the "air below my feet" as someone mentioned earlier. Go to the Valley and start working your way through the classics--see how far you get. It will all be fun. The NWF will always be there waiting for the right time, whether it is your first trip or fifth trip. Good luck!

David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 0
joseph sakel wrote: thanks for all the good input. I agree that the Half Dome is more than i can do right now. But i think it is a good goal to shoot for in a few years. i do have to disagree with Nathan Large's statement though about the percentage risk of climbing, if i had a .05% chance of dying, then for every 2000 climbs people did, we should expect a death. i would beg to differ and with taking out free soloing and base jumping and just talking about sport, trad and toprope, the odds are much more like .005-.001% just my 2 cents which isnt worth much
I would not be suprised if the death or injury rate on el cap was about one in every 2000 successful ascents. Someone on here will have the data.
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0
joseph sakel wrote:But I do think that it is absurd to say your going to die, such as Michael Schneider because I have never climbed in the valley.
Fat Dad wrote: Dude, just an expression. You've got to roll with these things.
Yeah, settle down Beavis.
The whole YGD thing started I believe on Supertopo, although possibly earlier on the old rec.climbing. I think Locker may have been the originator. It's become a net thing to say in climbing forums when someone asks about a planned climb. Due to massive overuse, the impact has become somewhat diluted. It's by no means serious.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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