Update: Half Dome's RNWF

Posted on: August 19, 2015

Half Dome's Northwest Face as seen from North Dome. [Photo] Eric Bissell/Yosemite Climbing Management

August 19: In response to rumors about the condition of Half Dome's Regular Northwest Face (5.9 C1, 2,000', Robbins-Sherrick-Gallwas, 1957; FFA: 5.12a, Coyne-Jackson-Lorrimer, 1979), and as an update to the NewsWire we published on July 31, we reached out to Yosemite National Park Lead Climbing Ranger Brandon Latham for more information.

As we reported in the NewsWire: Sometime between the night of July 2 and the early morning hours of July 3, an immense five-million-pound section of granite detached itself from the Regular Northwest Face...during a period of heavy rain. The rockfall erased part of Pitch 11 and all of Pitch 12, leaving a bald spot with hanging flakes roughly 200 feet high and 100 feet wide.


"We know of one group that has gone up there in the past week and they had to turn around because they couldn't get around the pendulum point at the top of the 5.11c corner close to the top of Pitch 12," Latham said. "When they pendulumed/tension traversed over, they were still unable to access the belay stance on the top of Pitch 12."

Latham sent us a Route Conditions Report stating:

Climbers attempting the route should still be climbing with a first ascent mentality. There have been no confirmed reports of a successful ascent of the route in its entirety.

Current information indicates that the anchor at the top of pitch 11 has been moved and the access to the 11c corner is via a new bolt ladder and pendulum. It is unclear whether the route is climbable to the top of pitch 12 after the 11c corner. Retreating from Pitch 12 and the Robbins Traverse is potentially complicated and time consuming.

If you have information on route conditions or this recent rock fall event, call the Climbing Management office at 209-372-0360.

For more information, visit: climbingyosemite.com.

Source: Yosemite National Park Lead Climbing Ranger Brandon Latham, climbingyosemite.com
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There is news regarding the pendulum/TT from the end of the Pitch 12 11c variation to the belay for Pitch 13. In October 3, we failed because the pendulum is no longer possible from the old pendulum point since the chimney below Pitch 13 is missing and the (intact) belay station is higher than the pendulum point. However, there is a new bold (and a piton) about 6m higher up with a blank section in between requiring tiny aid gear which I did not bring (I have uploaded some images on the supertopo page discussing this incident).

Now, I have news of a successful ascent by some Tzech guys. On my recommendation, they brought pitons, ball nuts and other small gear and could pass the ~6m section. They left one piton in place. If I understood them correctly, it is now possibly to climb/aid this section by using this piton, a very small cam/ballnut - and the vegetation below the second piton/bolt.

They also said that a pendulum is not possible from the second bolt since the arete is in the way. However, by doing a classical TT traverse, they could just reach the crack below the belay station and insert a cam on which to pull over. Moreover, above this second bolt, the dihedral looks less blank and a higher cam can probably be placed if need arises. Finally, they reported that the rest of the route (Pitches 13+) was perfectly normal.

In summary, it seems that Half Dome RNWF is possible again using freeclimbing gear if this includes very small cams or ball nuts - and the piton does not get ripped.

2015-10-13 22:49:46
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