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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
You are so right about the ants...:< I almost got eaten alive...my 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...
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: 5.85b16VI-15HVS 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.
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.
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?
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!