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South Face 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c C1

Type:  Trad, Aid, 11 pitches, 1200', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c C1 [details]
FA: FA: Layton Kor, Chris Fredericks, 6/1964 FCA: Bruce Carson, 6/1973 FFA: Matthew Wilder, 10/2002
Season: Sprintg and Fall best
Page Views: 38,408
Submitted By: Orphaned on Aug 5, 2006

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Alpine starts are absolutely imperative on walls.

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


The South Face of the Column is the first wall experience for a lot of aspiring big wall climbers in the Valley. A few pitches of free climbing and easy aid make it a straight-forward, two-day climb for most teams. Bear in mind that this also makes this route the BUSIEST wall route in the entire Valley.

The general approach is to climb to Dinner Ledge the first day, fix a couple of pitches from there, then head for the top on day two.

P1) Climb up 5.8 corner, traverse out across the slab left of the corner and belay on a ledge at the top.

P2) Go left across to the first nice corner and aid that to the anchor. There is a free-climbable (10b) corner left of that, but don't go too far or the climbing will get way hard and you'll have to penji back right to the anchors at the top.

P3) Free climb up cracks and corners to the right end of Dinner Ledge. The good bivy spots are all out to the left below the Kor Roof.

P4) Kor Roof pitch. Easy free climbing up a ramp takes you to bolts. Aid bolt-to-bolt up the roof to a crack that leads up and right. Aid this crack to belay anchors. MAKE SURE NOT TO BACK CLEAN TOO MUCH IN THIS CRACK OR YOUR SECOND WILL KILL YOU UPON ARRIVAL AT THE BELAY!

P5) Crux pitch. Head up and over the small roof above the belay. A tricky move into the crack above, then continue aiding up the left along the arch. A short penji will get you to the anchor.

P6) Continue aiding up and left, then up crack to anchor.

P7) All time stopper pitch! Nuts are bomber here. Go straight up cracks to the anchor.

P8) This pitch is free-climbable at 5.9. Climb up and cut right to chimney. Continue up to a belay in the chimney above.

P9) Tricky pitch of mixed free climbing and aid goes out right and up from the chimney, then up some more to belay in a big tree. Nice!

P10) Hardest free climbing pitch here, or aidable up and over roof back left to belay.

P11) Go up loose gully taking care not to dump tons of death on the parties below. Belay off tree above. Carry the haul bag!!!

Yer done! Scramble to the top of the Column from there, pack up and descend the North Dome Gully. Do a little research on this to suss the line of the descent.


The Column us located east and a bit north of the Ahwahnee Hotel. Take a dirt road east for about half a mile, then join the bike path for about a half mile. Keep your eyes open for a trail off the left side of the path that takes you to the Column.


Standard big wall rack. Kitchen sink.

Photos of South Face Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Fixed to 6 then enjoyed the sunset against half do...
Fixed to 6 then enjoyed the sunset against half do...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ptim ascending a fixed line on the Kor Roof.
Ptim ascending a fixed line on the Kor Roof.
Rock Climbing Photo: Room with a view.  View from Dinner Ledge.
Room with a view. View from Dinner Ledge.
Rock Climbing Photo: Al Torissi on Lake Dinner Ledge, Spring 1996.
Al Torissi on Lake Dinner Ledge, Spring 1996.
Rock Climbing Photo: On the S. Face
On the S. Face
Rock Climbing Photo: Tim turning the Kor Roof in a stout wind.
Tim turning the Kor Roof in a stout wind.
Rock Climbing Photo: Washington Column, high up on the South Face.  Thi...
Washington Column, high up on the South Face. Thi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Settin off into P5
Settin off into P5
Rock Climbing Photo: Dinner Ledge Bivy.  Photo by Russ Walling
BETA PHOTO: Dinner Ledge Bivy. Photo by Russ Walling
Rock Climbing Photo: Jugging before sunrise on the South Face.
Jugging before sunrise on the South Face.
Rock Climbing Photo: Adam Sinner racking up at the base of P7 on 5/19/1...
Adam Sinner racking up at the base of P7 on 5/19/1...
Rock Climbing Photo: Washington Column, South Face.  High up, exiting t...
Washington Column, South Face. High up, exiting t...
Rock Climbing Photo: just about to start up The Kor Roof.
just about to start up The Kor Roof.
Rock Climbing Photo: My partner Katie lowering out on P5.
My partner Katie lowering out on P5.
Rock Climbing Photo: Resting on Dinner Ledge
Resting on Dinner Ledge
Rock Climbing Photo: NOPE lol
NOPE lol
Rock Climbing Photo: Lis Cordner leading her first aid pitch, Pitch 7 o...
Lis Cordner leading her first aid pitch, Pitch 7 o...
Rock Climbing Photo: Waiting in line...
Waiting in line...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rappelling off the Kor Roof. Had to bail due to pe...
Rappelling off the Kor Roof. Had to bail due to pe...
Rock Climbing Photo: Evening View from the Bivy
Evening View from the Bivy
Rock Climbing Photo: Negotiating the Kor Roof
Negotiating the Kor Roof
Rock Climbing Photo: Pendulum after The Kor Roof.
Pendulum after The Kor Roof.
Rock Climbing Photo: climber on the South Face (center)
climber on the South Face (center)
Rock Climbing Photo: The chimney belay at te top of P8. By far the most...
The chimney belay at te top of P8. By far the most...

Show All 34 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on South Face Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 28, 2017
By Zach Allen
Sep 15, 2006

Stunningly beautiful and a perfect first wall. Goes faster than West Face of Leaning Tower due to the large amount of free climbing on the SF. If you have ever climbed a wall before and free up to low 5.10, this goes easily in a day, and you won't have to deal with a bag.

Take lots of small/medium stoppers for the nut pitch, or cam hooks would really speed things up.

Don't back-clean the crack above the Kor roof, but do back-clean the bolts going out the roof. If you just leave the last bolt clipped on the roof your second can just jug straight up to the lip. There will usually be a fixed climber under the roof.
By Nick Storm
From: Lander, WY
Jan 13, 2007

Super fun route. Not much to add except that you can pass slow parties that are stuck on the roof. If you traverse left at Dinner Ledge and get onto Southern Man, then you can be to the top of P5/6 (hard to remember) directly above you real quick. The first pitch is a quick bolt ladder and the second one follows an ever narrowing seem with some grass toward the top (cam hooks are nice) and ends up linking with S. Face near the top of P5/6. I remember some creative climbing at one point, but nothing too difficult.

Lastly, if you are dehydrated and find a huge bottle of Red Gatorade hidden between some boulders at the top of the Prow, don't drink it. The next morning in the cafeteria sucks if you do.
By Sirius
From: Oakland, CA
Jul 10, 2007

I'd say doing the SF in a day is really hard to pull off, not for the climbing but for the inevitable cluster of humanity that you will find there.

Great route nonetheless.
By caughtinside
From: Oakland CA
Oct 24, 2007

Great intro wall climb.

To make it faster and more enjoyable, leave your haulbag on dinner ledge. Climb to the top, then rap back down to dinner. Saves you the work of hauling and the walk off, and you won't be threatening parties below you with loose stuff in the funnel at the top as you haul.

There is a lot of loose stuff up there, the guys above us who rapped down sent lots of little rocks at us. Lots.

Also, you get the bonus of a 2nd night on dinner ledge, which is a bitchin' spot!
By Jordan Ramey
From: Calgary, Alberta
Mar 27, 2008

Beware of the "biting" ants around the tree atop the pitch 1 ledge. There is a very stinky smell right before the biting starts. Oh, and they REALLY come out at night. Just don't rustle the tree and you'll be fine though.

By Dwook
Mar 2, 2010

You are so right about the ants...:< I almost got eaten partner had to basically use me as a punching bag for over 10 minutes just to get all the ants off me...I think the ants got out some rage on me...Its funny that some actually made it up to dinner ledge with me in my draws and they seem to know when your making a hard move...
By Joe Forrester
From: Palo Alto
Jun 12, 2011

This climb is easily climbed in a day. Do the Southern Man bolt-ladder start if you want to by-pass slower teams going over the Kor Roof. The SM start has a gear anchor seperate from the pitch 5 anchor of SF, which is advantageous when passing. The most gripping part of the day is the descent.
By mschlocker
From: San Diego, CA
Jun 15, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c C1

A couple of notes:

1) If you cannot find a parking spot use valet parking at the Ahwahnee, which is free (until all of you read this and take advantage). Tip the guys.

2) If rapelling, rap off the bush in the sandy gully with the rap slings about 120' out if I remember. There is a pine tree higher up but that adds a rap to a long day of double rope raps. Supertopo is wrong about how far you get off the pine tree.

3) There are two rap stations to climbers' right of the chimney to avoid stuck ropes. While supertopo says it is 140' between them it is much less than that and the lower one is not too far down and right from the nut pitch starting anchor.

4) Pulling your ropes from the ledge down to the killer ant ledge (top of 1) your rope has a high change of getting stuck in a pinch in the 11c section so you may try pulling it out over the 10b section instead.
By Osprey Overhang
From: ...
Mar 7, 2012

FA: Layton Kor, Chris Fredericks, 6/1964
FCA: Bruce Carson, 6/1973
FFA: Matthew Wilder, 10/2002
By Brian Hestetune
From: Logan, UT
Jun 8, 2012

A few things...

Try not to stick around the rap tree in the middle of p3 for too long, you will regret it... If you have it in for your second, put the haul line to the right of the tree.

The 10a? Variation on p2 is excellent. If you can free the grade and not the 11c, it is a great alternative to aiding the original corner. Step out onto the face to gain a finger crack. Take this up low angle terrain to a glorius steeper hand crack splitter. Pull an offwidth move or two ( or not if you have the length) and you'll rejoin the original 10b lieback corner to the finish. There is amazing protection through out this pitch.

You can rap from dinner ledge using a single 70 m. Just make sure you knot your ends! The first rap from dinner just barely gets you down to the top of pitch 2. You can rap the route from there.
By patrick donahue
From: Gunnison, Colorado
Jun 11, 2012

how big is the dinner ledge? im planning on doing this route in early may with my climbing partner. will it be to crowded?
By Lars Hedin
Mar 12, 2013

Can anyone give me some good gear/pro beta for this route? Im planning this for my first wall and my budget is tight. I dont want to have to hurt myself or bail because I didnt have the right tools for the job, but can't afford to buy a whole rack of offset cams if I only need to place one or two.

Ive currently got a double rack of cams from Metolius #1/ BD #.3 to BD#4, one set of standard nuts, and all the gear for jugging.

Basically what nuts cams and aid gear will i need? Smaller cams? which size(s) offsets are necessary if any? cam hooks?

By BighornAdams Adams
Mar 12, 2013

I would definitely suggest some smaller cams, particularly for working your way up the awesome 7th pitch. I did the route yesterday and found the green and red c3s to be perfect. A 0 Metolius would also fit the bill. Offsets would definitely be nice, but I don't have any either and made it up just fine. Have an awesome time!
By Rooke
Jan 22, 2015

A video of pitch 3, unedited:
By Chad Lawver
From: Yosemite Village, California
Feb 7, 2015

Trip report!
By Nathan W.
From: Sequoia NP, CA
Apr 23, 2015

Considered giving the V10 variation on the Kor roof a try, but we forgot the crash pad.

I recommend triples or more of cams around the finger sizes. I would leapfrog the cams I needed and leave nuts and Tricams. Offset micro nuts were a bit helpful and a narrow cam hook helped in a couple spots.
By Russ Walling
Oct 16, 2015

i'm curious to why there are still dozens of button-heads on this route. i would think that one of the most popular walls in the valley would be up to date by now. No matter how large the head is, button-heads only go 1" - 1 1/2" deep. and the one on the Kor is hanging half way out.

Because it is C1, not C0. Keep the radness alive!
By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Dec 3, 2015

Superb Introductory route to Big wall Climbing in the valley! Easy enough approach, logistically simple, and an overall beautiful line up Washington Column. The bivy ledge is HUGE, so with proper planning you should have no worries in regards to a place to lay your weary head after crushing those first couple pitches. Either start early and fix as high as possible above the ledge, or nurse that hangover and start late making your way up to the bivy for a casual next day. Hauling was pretty straight forward most of the way, but can get a little sticky on the upper pitches with the chimney and low angle climbing. Don't bring a ton of stuff, not necessary! Enjoy the walk off, it can be steep and route finding can be a bit of struggle, would not recommend trying it for the first time at night. Overall a stellar route and an fun first in the valley big wall haberdashery!!!!
By Max McKee
From: Monterey, CA
Apr 27, 2016

Partied on Dinner Ledge for my birthday a couple weekends back (weekend of 4/15). 12 fucking people up there! We drank tequila and beers, smoked some herb, watched Ryan lead the Kor Roof at night. It was fucking awesome!
By Tommy L-D
May 3, 2016

Fun trip report of the first time I tried to solo a wall
By Rude Boy
From: San Francisco, CA
Jul 7, 2016

Do yourself a favor and leave the haul bag at home. If this is your first wall just practice up so that you can move efficiently through C1 (be comfortable leap frogging pieces and you will should be OK). C1 comprises about half the route and the rest you can free.
By Alex Wyvill
Jul 23, 2016

This was my first Grade V! Total blast. Here's a detailed TR with photos from our ascent: goodlooksandcamhooks.wordpress...
By Michael Dom
From: Seattle
May 16, 2017

You can almost rap this line with a 70 meter line. You will be just short on the pitch 7 to 6 rappel by about 4-7 meters. You can down aid it as it eats up #1 camalots. Once you get to thepitch 5 anchors left of the Kor roof you can fix the rope down to the dinner ledge and then you can tie in a 60 meter rope for your partner.

Leave the pig at the dinner ledge.
By Alex Zucca
From: University Heights
Aug 28, 2017

Pitches 4-7 are the technical challenges of the route. Some 150 foot aid pitches where efficiency can save you a lot of time.

That being said, my partner and I were able to complete this route with very few issues and essentially no prior aid experience.

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