The Yellow Wall was the second route up the Diamond, completed by Layton Kor in 1962 at V 5.8 A4. Much of the route later went free, most notably the first pitch dihedral by Roger Briggs in 1976, and then later the "A4 Traverse" by Charlie Fowler and Dan Stone in 1978. This last effort marked the free climbing of the original line in its entirety at 5.11b R, although several variations allow the climb to go free at easier and/or safer grades [Editor's Note: Credit goes out to Patrick Vernon
and Bosier Parsons
for their contributions to the Mountain Project database of the most common variation of the Yellow Wall and the A4 Traverse, respectively].
Find the start by following a narrow catwalk up and left from the Broadway bivy cave to the first, obvious, left-facing dihedral. This corner has a few pins in it and appears quite thin from below.
P1: Hard moves right off the deck, climb the dihedral with imperfect but adequate gear until the corner disappears and turns into an intermittant hand and finger crack splitter. Follow this to an obvious belay at 150' on some flakes. 5.11b. Alternatively, beginning just right of the corner, follow a ramping system of flakes up and right, then back left, eventually rejoining the corner at about 75'. This variation avoids the 5.11 at 5.7, but the climbing up the remainder of the original first pitch still checks in at 5.9.
P2: Continue up the steep crack system via very cool climbing and great rock. The pitch climbs like a face climb but utilizes the crack for pro. Also, much fixed pro on this pitch. Belay on another flake/ledge. 5.9, 150'.
P3: Continue up the same system. The climbing is very similar but a bit steeper. High on the pitch there are several fixed pins and suddenly Crossover Ledge becomes apparent 10' to the left. Clip a high pin and make a difficult move left to the ledge. It may be possible to continue straight up the crack system, but Crossover Ledge makes a sensible belay. 5.10c, 150'.
P4: Above the ledge the crack system continues up and into Black Dagger. Climb up off the right end of the ledge, and forego the Black Dagger by doing a wild, exposed traverse right. Continue up and right to an obvious left-facing, right-leaning corner with a hand crack. Up above this is the Forrest Finish
(5.10c), a popular escape from/variation of the original Yellow Wall (climbing the Yellow Wall this way is known as the "Briggs/Candelaria Variation"). Belay about 15' below the A4 Traverse at a small stance; this stance is about 20' up the corner, and above the level of a few old rusty Leeper bolts that appear on the wall way off to the right. 5.9, 100', and a great pitch.
P5: The A4 Traverse. In order to give credit to Bosier Parsons
, I'm using his excellent description for this pitch, with some minor edits afterwards to serve as an update:
"This is a description of the A4 Traverse pitch on the Yellow Wall. I decided to add it to encourage those who aspire to climbing it. The pitch is excellent in quality and does deserve the rating given, but it is definitely very doable, and not horribly dangerous. If you've been wanting to climb this pitch but have been afraid of the serious rating, get up there and do it! If you want to attempt the pitch with minimal beta and have more of an adventure experience, do not read on.
The belay at the end of the pitch off of Crossover Ledge can be made at the base of the first wide section on Forrest Finish, or, it is better to climb the right leaning, left-facing corner, via 5.9+ hands to a good but small ledge about 30 feet higher. This is in the middle of the left facing dihedral that begins the A4 Traverse pitch.
From the higher belay, continue up the corner about 15-20 more feet via 5.9+ or 5.10- liebacking. At the nest of webbing with a couple pitons, hand traverse right for a couple moves, then mantle up onto the thin ledge. Once on the ledge, you will find a good piton, then a rurp with a very old piece of webbing. Continue traversing the ledge about 15 more feet to a fixed bashie, just below the crux move. This traverse ledge is very small and thin, but pretty easy to walk across. The bashie protects the crux move and is bomber. Believe me, I tested it with about a 20 footer (with rope stretch). The crux move takes you up into a shallow, left-facing corner, that involves strenuous liebacking with small footholds. This section is protected by one 5/8" angle driven about 1/2 way (but seemed decent enough), and then at the top by a fixed wire. I thought this corner seemed like sustained 5.10+ climbing for about 20-25 feet. At the top of this corner, pull up onto another ledge, and traverse right and up past some more fixed pins to a steep left-facing corner. Climb this corner for about 40 more feet of 5.10 with gear from 1/2" to 3". I placed my #3 Camalot for the exit move from this corner onto the large ledge where the route joins the Casual Route
(still 40 feet below Yellow Wall Bivvy Ledge), but I'm sure many climbers would not need this piece of gear on this pitch. Belay here or continue up easily to YWBL (190')."
Updates as of August, 2007: The nest of webbing at the top of the first corner is no longer there. The pin at the start of the traverse can be backed up with a small cam placed a few feet above it. The webbing on the RURP looks really bad, as does the copperhead, but a fall from the crux move would probably be safe, albeit terrifying, even if they both blew. The pin in the second corner (above the bashie), seemed decent and it can be backed up with RPs and a 00 TCU, but the fixed wire at the top of this corner is no longer there.
I thought this pitch had excellent climbing and was well worth doing, although the fixed pro is pretty suspect. If the gear held, as it did for Bosier
, a fall would be no big deal at all.
P6: The Casual Route's
crux pitch. Continue up difficult finger cracks to a squeeze chimney to another difficult finger crack and belay on Table Ledge. 5.10a, 150'.
Evidently, most parties traverse off on Table Ledge at this point, but two more, seldom done and dirty/wet pitches continue upwards.
P7: Hand traverse 15' straight right on Table Ledge and then climb a wet, moss and mud choked crack system for 50' before traversing slightly left to a right-facing corner. Folllow this up to the right end of the huge roof system above. Belay at a stance. 5.10+, 120'.
P8: Follow the right-facing corner above the roof via a wide crack up to the top of the wall. Wet, 5.9, 150'.
Descend via the North Face/Cables
or by reversing upper Kiener's
and doing the D7 raps.
Double set from tiny to thin hands, single #2 & #3 Camalots. Include wires and RPs.