West Face Leaning Tower vs the Prow

Original Post
Jonathan Croom · 4 days ago · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 40

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.


20 kN · 3 days ago · 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 · 3 days ago · 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 · 2 days ago · 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 · 2 days ago · 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 · 10 hours ago · 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.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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