Half Dome Regular Northwest Face

We climbed the Half Dome Regular Northwest Face and it was nuts. Chris and I hiked up the death slabs approach and fixed the first three pitches on Saturday July 16h, climbed from 5:00 am to 8pm Sunday, spent the night on big sandy ledge, topped out on Monday, and then hiked down a gazillion steps back Yosemite Valley and then drove a few hours back to Silicon Valley, arriving at midnight. Did I mention it was nuts?

For the long climbing day on Sunday, we split the leading in half. I lead the first seven pitches and Chris jumared (except on the traverse) with a backpack filled with 5 liters of water, food, emergency thermal bivvys, and one pair of shoes. Chris did the next seven pitches, which included the knot throw through the rock fall section and the chimney. We reached the double cracks pitch under big sandy right at sundown, which was really beautiful. Followers should be sure to climb that pitch because the cracks are really awesome and fun.

To save weight we brought only emergency thermal bivvys for sleeping with no pads. They kind of sucked. I read online that you need to leave a flap on the bottom open to prevent condensation inside, but I did that and still got the condensation plus a freezing wind blowing over my feet that woke me up at 4 am.

Monday morning Chris lead/aided the zig zags all the way up and across thank god ledge. That meant I got to lead the c1+/c2 section at the end, which I found to be pretty fun. I never did any serious aid climbing before, so it was a new experience for me to figure out how to get from the first bolt ladder to the second. I used a hook, a tiny cam, and then a small offset nut. It was perhaps overkill, but it made the traverse pretty easy. The next challenge was the top of the second bolt ladder, because the last bolt is not reachable without stepping above the second to the last bolt. If you are short that move might be difficult. After that it was a straight shot to the top and we were done, half dome completed.

Intimidating view of Half Dome going up the death slabs approach.

First night at the base after fixing first three pitches.

Looking at our route, the Regular Northwest Face, in the sunset the night before the big day.

The first aid section before the rockfall.


Chris finishing up the double cracks below big sandy ledge as the sun goes down. Possibly the most fun pitch.

Bivy on the big sandy ledge, woke up in the middle of the night freezing, worth the weight savings? Maybe.

Checking the map before starting the last day.

Following the zig zags.

Made it to the top!

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