Type: Trad, Aid, 1000 ft, 11 pitches, Grade V
FA: Warren Harding, Al MacDonald, Glen Denny (with help from Les Wilson, Chris Westphal, George Whitmore) - 1961
Page Views: 31,375 total · 240/month
Shared By: Jordan Ramey on Jun 20, 2008
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


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 actual gear. The route goes completely clean unless any fixed heads blow.

P1: C1F 120' - STEEP! Follow the bolt ladder straight up to a short C1F bulge that requires some small gear (cams, nuts, cam hooks, to 1"). Continue up the bolt ladder to a hanging belay.

P2: C1 80' - STEEP! Continue up the bolt ladder with a few 0.4-1" placements to an OK/poor stance belay.

P3: C2F 5.7 80' - Follow the crack past a few random bolts to a great small ledge belay. Mandatory free move to get onto the ledge itself or a hook move or two. Not to bad, just awkward.

P4: C1 5.6 80' - Continue following the crack up off the right side of the ledge and finish up on a bolt ladder that curves left to a mandatory 5.6 free finish onto Guano Ledge. If bivying on Ahwahnee Ledge, move over there and haul from those anchors. If continuing straight up, haul from Guano Ledge. Ahwahnee is a great ledge that slopes into the wall slightly with several good bolts along it for fixing a line. PLUSH

P5: C2 100' - From the Guano Ledge anchor make a free move up to clip a high pendulum bolt. Swing right around a corner to aid up a C2 crack. Follow that up to a right leaning small ramp that joins a vertical C1 crack. Follow that straight up to the belay. Don't haul here!

P6: 5.7 C1 - Mandatory 5.7 moves off the belay for 20-30' no pro. Not hard, but can be scary in aid boots. Can't bypass with cheat stick unless you've got an extended "Lovetron" (ha!). Follow the bolts as they curve left to a hanging belay. No cams needed on this pitch. Do a single haul from Ahwahnee or Guano Ledge.

P7: 5.10 or C1 140' - Longest pitch on the route. Straight up the crack off the belay. Gotta back clean a lot or you'll never make it. Only 1 bolt on the pitch and it's sorta shady. Finish on the slab at a poor stance belay.

P8: C1 50' - Follow the crack up to the slab to the roof and follow up to the nice anchor. Easy and short

P9: C1+F 90' - STEEP and strenuous. IMHO the best / most fun pitch of the wall. Follow the fixed gear straight up a crack and up the roof. Finish on some mandatory 5.6 after clipping some semi hidden pins to get into easy terrain. Finishes on long sloping poor bivy ledge.

P10: C2 80' - Break out the 4.5" (#4 and/or 5 camalot) and be ready to backclean it. This pitch takes all size gear from micro to huge. Finish on a horizontal roof traverse and keep your rope extended so it doesn't wedge in the roof for your second. Finishes on an awesome bivy ledge for 3+. Fix the rope well for your second. The good anchor is 30' from the roof, but there are some intermediate bolts and pins to clip so no one takes the big pendulum ride.

P11: 4th class 40' - Easy scramble up and right to the top. Wonder around and find the rap slings off the back after any Hero Shots have been snapped.

Other info:
  • The bolt ladders are NOT reachy (Harding was a short dude)
  • It is 430' from the start of the route at the dead tree to the ground (the Supertopo is incorrect and undershoots it by 30'). You'll need a minimum of a 60m + 70m rope and that will just barely make it (so I'm told)
  • Many cracks are filled with birds and nests (swifts?), hence the guano on Guano ledge.
  • If you hang out on Guano Ledge, you WILL be pooped on.
  • The birds are in their cracks at night, dawn, & dusk, which adds a degree of excitement while climbing past them. They mostly just squawk at you though. Don't smack them around!
  • The route is mostly sheltered from storms, except Ahwahnee Ledge.
  • Rapping the route is not that hard, but requires some down aiding and swinging (mostly the first 2 pitches)
  • This is a VERY popular wall, so expect other people.
  • The route goes mostly free at 5.13b (gotta aid the first 2 pitches) - Freed by Leo Houlding and Jason Pickles in 2001
  • Most "mandatory free" sections can be skipped with hook moves, but those would be substantially harder than freeing 5.7
  • portaledges are generally unnecessary

Here is an old Fish Products topo and info (by Russ Walling):


The West Face starts right at the dead tree and the super obvious bolt ladder just after the 4th class on the catwalk. Just follow the bolts, heads, fixed mank, and such all the way to the summit, heading right off of Guano Ledge.


This route has TONS of fixed gear on it, so free biners really speed things up.

Standard big wall rack:
Cams: 2-3 each 0.5"-1"
2 each 1.25"-2.5"
1 each 3-4.5"
nuts: 2 each (offsets helpful)
Micro Nuts: 1 each of the 3 biggest sizes (not mandatory, but helpful)
Hooks: 1 cliffhanger or grappling (talon works, but not ideal)
Cam Hooks
3 Heads: 1 each #2-4 in case fixed ones blow (or a cheat stick)

Lots of free biners for linking pitches and clipping fixed gear


Oakland, CA
Sirius   Oakland, CA
Thank you, Jordan, for taking the time to give such a thorough description.

I'd only add that pitches 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6 link without much effort. Jun 24, 2008
Be Careful on the Approach!

In the Talus about 1/2 the way to the bivy I had a loose rock fall and dislocate my ankle. Absolutely devastated any chance at the ascent so be very careful with the bags. Aug 15, 2008
Generally there are fixed lines between guano and Awanhee ledges, and at the base through the 4th class which if you fall, you ain't gonna stop for a few hundred feet.

I would suggest linking 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9. Fast and an easier way to link in my opinion.
good ledges for belays this way too. Feb 18, 2009
Steven Lucarelli
Moab, UT
  5.7 C2
Steven Lucarelli   Moab, UT
  5.7 C2
This route is only a grade IV for a competent party. You can link 9 and 10 also and do it in 5 pitches. May 31, 2009
Ryan Kosh
Los Angeles, CA
Ryan Kosh   Los Angeles, CA
Was able to lower from the dead tree anchors to the ground on two 60m ropes. Jul 7, 2011
The 20-30' of 5.7 looked more like 30+' of unprotected climbing to me. As I was fully in aid mode at that point, I hooked up to the bolt ladder. With about 4 aid moves on hooks or bad/small gear it felt like C3. It was very easy and secure, though one hook placement was less than incredible (hooking on a dead horizontal ledge instead of over a nice lip). I also feel that no #4 camalot is needed. We brought two but only placed one on pitch ten at the top and that could have been skipped. Great route. Sep 24, 2011
Jeff Edge  
Linked every two pitches, including 9 and 10 (Holy rope drag! Words can't express the emotional journey it was slogging through the last roof traverse onto the slabby ledge and then to the belay). Backcleaned perhaps less than safely, but man that drag was still terrible. Great memories though. Mar 13, 2013
What a wall! Linked 1+2, 3+4, 5+6, 8+9 with a 60m. Lots of fixed gear, especially on the upper pitches. Used the cliffhanger hook a few times, sometimes just for fun, but never used the cam hooks. I would recommend bringing doubles in the really small cam range....green/purple C3, black aliens and smaller. Zeros, the tiny grey metolius TCU, and offset brassies were very helpful. Don't forget to give the 2nd enough slack for the lower out on 6 before you fix the line. We also found it expedient for the 2nd to re-aid the roof on 9 and the final traverse on 10 (a few moves each at most). Otherwise you can muscle it. And yes, you can rap straight to the ground with two 60m's from the chains at the end of the chimney system. Oct 31, 2013
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
This route is great training for El Cap, especially if exposure wigs you out. This way you can get most of your wigs out before you jump on the Big Stone. Oct 31, 2013
Zachary W
San Francisco, California
Zachary W   San Francisco, California
Great topo and beta on the Yosemitewall.com site: yosemitebigwall.com/west-fa… Mar 13, 2014
Climber Ryan
Auburn, CA
Climber Ryan   Auburn, CA
I'm not much of an Aid climbing, but I though this route was cool because it's steep and it never really lets up. We did this climb in a day with an early start during the last week of Feb. It took us about 12 hour from car to bar. We short fixed every pitch except when we switch leaders. With a dark star the fix lines at the base were great. Feb 23, 2015
Larry Shaw
Boulder, CO
Larry Shaw   Boulder, CO
My first grade V, went to do it solo and the lines were so long ended up climbing it with another person waiting to do it solo. Went up in two days, crux was the 4th class getting to P1. Great fun climb, but linked it to 5 pitches with a 60, not sure why anyone would want to do it in 10 or whatever the guide says. Later did Lurking Fear on the captain and I thought this was a better climb. Feb 17, 2016
Alex Wyvill  
Easy climbing and huge exposure. Detailed TR with photos from my ascent here: goodlooksandcamhooks.wordpr… Jul 23, 2016
Nick AW Brown
St. John's
Nick AW Brown   St. John's
We climbed the route two days ago. Check out our trip report and photos to get an idea of what the climb looks like!
chossboys.weebly.com/home/o… Oct 2, 2016
Golden, Co
WadeM   Golden, Co
Second time up this fun route.

3 smallest offset cams
3 smallest C3s
2 Peckers
(2) Black - Green Totem
(1) 1
(2) 2
(1) 3
(2) 4

no nuts or hooks

Mandatory free to get to the anchors of many pitches without hooks Oct 31, 2016
Matt Desenberg
Limerick, ME
Matt Desenberg   Limerick, ME
What's the status of the fixed gear on this route? I've heard it's been getting more free climbing traffic in recent years and heads, etc might be missing. Dec 25, 2016
Nicole Golden
Melbourne, FL
Nicole Golden   Melbourne, FL
First attempt at the west face- made it through P1 with first ever hook move which is mandatory. After the hook, placed a green alien, blue alien, then offset metolius orange/yellow. You can tell that fixed gear is missing. There were several parties ahead of us all trying to free the route above the first 2 pitches and this seemed like it was going to make for a crowded ledge. There were lines fixed all the way to the top... Jun 2, 2017
2 Leg Greg !
San Diego, CA
2 Leg Greg !   San Diego, CA
Fixed heads on pitch one were missing as of 8/21/2017. Aug 23, 2017
Josh Ruchty
Salt Lake City
Josh Ruchty   Salt Lake City
Did this on September 28-30. Left a tiny blue and gray x4 offset cam somewhere up there. It's my buddy's who lent us his entire rack for our first aid route. If you found this please get in touch: rooshio at g-male daught calm Oct 6, 2017
Max Rausch
Portland, OR
Max Rausch   Portland, OR
Many fixed heads missing as of this post. Had to hand place a pecker in some grass on p3... spicy but awesome!! The approach ramp has a fixed line in good condition currently.There are also 2 fixed lines running all the way up to Ahwahnee Ledge. Apr 26, 2018
Kevin Heinrich
Kinda All Over
Kevin Heinrich   Kinda All Over
Pitch 1 is C2 without fix heads. Cam hook to hook move. Oct 19, 2018
Isaiah Foulks
Isaiah Foulks   Monterey
Anyone done this route lately? Fixed lines, fixed heads? Jan 20, 2019 · Temporary Report