West Face Leaning Tower vs the Prow


Original Post
Jonathan Croom · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 95

Hello all,

I am headed to Yosemite and plan to mostly climb solo. I'm pretty weak from not training all year while I've been in school, so my attention is mostly on aid climbing. I have no desire to haul, and I like the comforts of returning to the ground daily, so I want to climb in a push. I generally climb C1/C2 solo lead/rap/jug at better than a pitch an hour.

Two routes I'm thinking of are WFLT and the Prow. How do the two compare? Especially in terms of doing the route in a day, including the approach/descent? I've done the north dome descent, and I think I'd be ok on it in the dark. I would only take one rope, but might bring a tagline to help with rapping the Leaning Tower descent. Either one I'd probably scope out the approach and descent a bit the day before.

If I was going to do both routes this trip, which would you suggest I do first?

Thanks for any suggestions/advice/other route ideas.

Jonathan

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128

The approach to The Prow is easier than to WFLT. WFLT has a ton of uphill at the end of the approach and you have to carry all your crap across 400' of roped 4th class which eats up a ton of time for most parties, although this is much less of an ordeal if you're not hauling. WFLT is technically easier than The Prow, but I would recommend The Prow over WFLT for a first timer because WFLT is not easy to bail on. WFLT is extremely overhanging which means if you have to bail you're going to have to do some combination of downaiding and/ or leaving leaver biners on fixed gear to keep you into the wall.

David Coley · · UK · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 0

If you can maintain better than a pitch an hour all day, you will not have a problem with either! I thought the Prow the better route. To give yourself more flexibility, and as you plan to check things out beforehand, I suggest you fix two full rope lengths the day before, using a 8mm static as one rope to keep the weight down.

dindolino32 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 10

Find a belay partner to jug up after you, short fix and climb the WFLT in a day, or else suck it up and haul.  There's a comfy bivy ledge on p3 and near the top of WFLT (not really anything on the prow) and the descent is better.  But don't mess with fixing lines, and don't bail from the WFLT as that would suck big time.  If you really want comforts of returning to the ground, you should really stick to some moderate free climbs.

Scott O · · California · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 50

If you're only taking one rope, rapping and cleaning the pitches on WFLT will be a giant pain in the butt. 

Mydans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

If you can actually lead/rap/clean an aid pitch in a hour you're extremely fast and should have no problem doing either route in a day.  Hell if you're that fast you could do the zodiac in a day.  The leaning tower is fun but has lots of fixed gear so you'll probably lead those pitches even faster.  you'll definitely need a second rope for the descent on the tower.  The prow is a sweet route and probably better quality than the tower.  You should also plan on encountering other parties on both routes as they are popular routes for many new wall climbers.  I would base your decision on temps.  The column bakes in the summer where as the tower gets shade until around 2.  You're probably fast enough to get the tower done completely in the shade. If you link pitches you can do the tower in 5 or 6 pitches with a 60m rope.  Most of the leaning tower descent is rappelling so there won't be much to scout.  It follows a gully that you probably can't see from the ground.

Jonathan Croom · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 95

Thanks for all the replies. I will post up in a few weeks what I end up doing.

One more question: 

For Leaning Tower, I'm considering sleeping at the start of the route. This will mean taking at least a little bit more gear than going in a push. Also from what I've read, having two ropes for the descent would be nice, although a second rope when solo is a significant amount of weight to carry all day. Also I hate jugging with a pack, and I want every advantage I can get for 11 pitches of free hanging frog jugging. All of this had made me consider taking a 50 L haul bag and second rope to counterweight haul. I'm not asking how to do this, I completely understand the system I might use. The alternative is a light pack with food/water and one rope. Theoretically, it seems that counterweight hauling every pitch would be easier than leading or jugging with a pack. Can anyone give advice on how much of a cluster counterweight hauling would be? I would be hauling maybe 25 lbs max. Between the light load and the extreme overhang of Leaning Tower, I would hope that it would be relatively cluster free. My motivation is that I would be able to take a comfortable amount of bivy gear, and lots of food and water, essentially taking all the weight for no extra work. I would also have a more comfortable approach/descent, because all my gear would fit in the pack rather than having to wear the rope and rack on my body. My concern is that things like rope tangles, haul bag getting stuck, etc. would eat up any time and effort saved.

Scott O · · California · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 50
Jonathan Croom wrote:

Thanks for all the replies. I will post up in a few weeks what I end up doing.

One more question: 

For Leaning Tower, I'm considering sleeping at the start of the route. This will mean taking at least a little bit more gear than going in a push. Also from what I've read, having two ropes for the descent would be nice, although a second rope when solo is a significant amount of weight to carry all day. Also I hate jugging with a pack, and I want every advantage I can get for 11 pitches of free hanging frog jugging. All of this had made me consider taking a 50 L haul bag and second rope to counterweight haul. I'm not asking how to do this, I completely understand the system I might use. The alternative is a light pack with food/water and one rope. Theoretically, it seems that counterweight hauling every pitch would be easier than leading or jugging with a pack. Can anyone give advice on how much of a cluster counterweight hauling would be? I would be hauling maybe 25 lbs max. Between the light load and the extreme overhang of Leaning Tower, I would hope that it would be relatively cluster free. My motivation is that I would be able to take a comfortable amount of bivy gear, and lots of food and water, essentially taking all the weight for no extra work. I would also have a more comfortable approach/descent, because all my gear would fit in the pack rather than having to wear the rope and rack on my body. My concern is that things like rope tangles, haul bag getting stuck, etc. would eat up any time and effort saved.

Hauling a free hanging bag on WFLT is stupid easy. 

There is a great bivy spot at the base of WFLT, and the descent route takes you right by it. You could leave your stuff there. 

Mydans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Counterweight hauling a small bag would probably work fine on the tower.  The route is super steep and your bag will be hanging free the whole time.  Just to reiterate I'm almost positive you need that second rope to descend the tower.  Linking pitches is easy on the tower and since you don't have rope drag soloing you should be able to do the route in 5 or 6 pitches.  The last poster is spot on about the bivy at the base.  Nice spot and the descent goes right by so leave your bevy gear at the base.  

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 0

You can descend the tower with one 70m rope. Been like that for a few years now. 

How'd it go on these routes? 

Woot Woot!

Erik

RockclimbYosemite.com - Yosemitebigwall.com

Highlander · · Ouray, CO · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 175

I have done both routes, soloed the Leaning Tower in a Day, which was pretty casual, lots of fixed gear compared to the Prow and easier/quicker descent, crux was passing a team bivying on the ledge. The Prow has some trickier aid climbing but also climbs fast, you can clean pitches on rappel.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 200
Scott O wrote:

If you're only taking one rope, rapping and cleaning the pitches on WFLT will be a giant pain in the butt. 

THIS. Good luck cleaning the lower pitches with your only rope still sucked into the quickdraws. Are you really planning on clipping into each bolts to unweight the rope, unclipping the quickdraws and then, what, flying out into space further and further each time? Oh man, please do WFLT, I'd make a day of just watching from the parking lot at the tunnel. 

Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 325

I would let the weather dictate the decision for you. The Prow bakes in the morning sun, the West face is shaded until mid-afternoon. The West face is a free climb, the Prow has some tricky pitches with small fiddly gear that will slow things down.   If it's hot in the Valley then I would go with the West face. With cooler temps I would go for the Prow as there is a bit less CF potential and it's probably easier to pass slower parties. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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