PSA: There is a huge difference between leaving water jugs for people to stumble upon in emergencies and leaving them just to shed six pounds of weight off your load. 2-3 gallons in my opinion is enough, not seven or eight fucking gallons of water because at a certain point, your just trashing the route for future climbers. I emptied and carried out most of the water leaving 2 gallons. Please, if your going to leave water at least pack out the oldest looking water in exchange for your new water. Leave one, take one….
This time around, it was not us that chose to bust. Instead our haul line was the weak link. We used a 9.6mm haul line and tied it off to our haul bag mid line. I had forgotten ol' the plastic bottle over the knot trick and by the first haul was completed, we had a nice view of the rope's core….
Lloyd and I awoke from our vehicles at 6am just outside of the park in El Portal. We gathered our gear while making breakfast then drove into the valley right around 7. We arrived at the base of Washington Column in great time compared to our first attempt.
I free climbed with a bit of cam-pulling here and there on the first pitch. As Lloyd arrived atop the ledge with the haul bag, thats when I quickly discovered our haul lines condition. With a party of two ahead of us we got a second or two of rest. We re-tied the knot to by-pass the broken core determined to get up to Dinner Ledge. As soon as the part ahead of us cleared the second pitch, Lloyd started aiding up it.
I arrived shortly after with the haul bag and we quickly changed leads. Starting up pitch 3 with a mix of aid/free again I was feeling good. I free climbed the first part but little did I know, I should of went right instead of left about half way up the pitch. The left looked easier in the moment (even though there was a gnarly little roof). I started aiding the roof, and my second placement (Yellow TCU) popped and I soon found my self hanging on my daisy chain. I quickly pulled up, threw in another piece and continued on. I finished the pitch off with some heinous rope drag and shitty hauling.
When Lloyd and I finally sat down atop dinner ledge, Pete (from the other group) started up pitch 4. Lloyd and I discussed our damaged rope and decided it would be safe to not climb any further. As far as I know, we needed two ropes to rappel down from the top and a haul line that isn't shot to haul our bag up if we were to top out and descend down the North Dome Gully. We decided if it would be best to just spend the night on the ledge and rappel down with our climbing line. I cut the line in the middle and fixed a new rope along the dinner ledge. We also cleared out all the excesses water (5 gallons in total).
After a good night of sleep, we awoke to Ryan and Pete (the other group) already jugging up their fixed line. Lloyd and I made a quick breakfast and started our rappel down. We ended up having to tie off the already cut haul line to the climbing line to make it down the route. The haul line barely reached the bolts below. When we got down, Lloyd was itching to get on Jo-Jo a 5.10b/c splitter crack.
Lloyd went up Jo-Jo jamming through the finger crack. As Lloyd went further up, the crack became wider and wider. Lloyd started throwing fist in and eventually it became to much. He took a few times working out the sequence but finally prevailed. I followed and cleaned the route. I had a rough time on the finger section, taking multiple falls. Once the crack opened it self up to use, I used a combination of lay-backs and hand jams to finish off my clean.
After we came down Jo-Jo, we headed back to our cars and Lloyd left the valley and I made my way into El Portal for my rest day. Overall, we accomplished what we wanted. We got our systems down and figured out how to communicate with each other without verbal signals. Even though we had to bail because of our haul rope, I still check this trip off as a successes.