After my quick and painful start to the Yosemite climbing season with a 25 foot fall on the nose, I spent a month half-ass rehabbing my injury. I’ve never been good with injuries due to my stubbornness. My ankle was about 75% when May 25th came around. Doug and I had a plan to do the nose in 3 days 4 nights and Memorial Day weekend was perfect. I knew my ankle couldn’t handle any free climbing but I was sure I could top step and jug at the very least.
I pick Doug up Thursday after work and we pack the car, print out the topos and head down to valley. Arriving in El Portal, it was dark, cold and beginning to rain. We were determined to climb regardless of the weather so we packed (or we so thought) rain gear. Unloading the car and setting up camp for the night in the back of my truck, Doug realized he forgot his clothes. Now you might not think that’s a big deal, but Doug was wearing basket ball shorts and a polo. If we were to get caught in a storm on El Cap, Doug would be screwed. We concluded we would need to go to the mountain shop in the valley and grab a jacket and pants if we were gonna climb a wall this weekend. After some contemplation about the logistics of time, we figured we should just do a shorter route due to the set back. We ended up climbing The Prow on Washington Column.
This was the first time I really aid climbed after I feel on The Nose so I was a little bit hesitant to start up. I walked out the first 6 or 7 feet of the slab to the start of the dripping wet C2+ thin crack. The first piece I plugged in, I tugged on it a few times and it popped. I thought to my self fuck this. I hear Doug behind me telling me its all good and try to place it a little further right where its drier. After a few tugs I was climbing up the ladder. For the next 50-60 feet I aid up though small off set cams and micro brass nuts. With every top step, my ankle was throbbing more and more. Just trying to wiggle my ankle into my aider, torqued it in such ways where it was painful. After I lead the the C2+ thin section, I had to lower off. Doug finished the pitch for me.
We cruise through the third pitch and set up on Anchorage Ledge. This was our first time using the portaledge outside of our kitchen and living room. We pull up and anchor the bags on top of the ledge and set the portaledge below. We messed up and set the portaledge on an uneven part of the wall. If we weight one side a little more the opposing side would shift tremendously. That night Doug and I slept very still. Which is a first because Doug literally can’t go a single night with out sitting up in and finding some reason to dig through a bag or take a piss.
As the sun began to rise over Half Dome we pulled our rainfly up and began boiling coffee. We fueled up for the final push up The Prow with bagels. coffee and beef jerky. We quickly dismantled our bivy and my ankle had not gotten any better. Doug took the rest of the pitches for the climb...
It was a complete shit show. Once the haul line was situated, I lowered back down to re-release the bag. The bag finally starts covering some ground but gets hung up under a roof. I abseil another 30 feet to fix the bag and end up just following it, help lifting the bag over every corner. It was horrible. All said and done a 15’ C1 pitch paired with a 60’ 4th class scramble took us all of 3 hours. We topped out and threw down our sleeping bags, made some dinner and went to sleep