We woke up in our usual bivy spot in El Portal and cruised into the valley right around 5:30am. I entered the Valley Loop eventually turning off to Wawona Road and another quick turn into Bridalveil Fall parking area. I dropped Doug off along with all of our gear at the bathrooms and crossed the road to park my truck on the side of it. So far we were pretty on track to start the approach by 6am, get to Ahwahnee ledge, drop the bag and fix the next couple of pitches for the following day. Our plan soon went to shit.
I cruised through the bolts and get to the roof on the first pitch. Clipped the fixed head at the corner of the roof and quickly realized I am in need of a cam. The next section consist of a perfect offset crack, a blown out head and 10 feet to the next clip able head. With the gear on me, I threw a cam hook in the only spot I figured it would work. I weight the cam hook and step on to it on the roof. I go to top step and the hook adjust and pops. I blow the fixed head and fall to the next bolt about 12 feet below. I yell down to Doug to tie the offset cams to the haul line and he does. I pull the cams up and get situated at the bolt directly below the roof. I had just blown the first fixed head making the distance to the next one about 15 feet. I use the beaks and get up onto the head wall of the roof. Throw the offset cam in where I had previously placed a shitty cam hook and made another beak move up into the next fixed head.
Fortunately I had the haul bag containing the water and snacks. As the sun grew lower, the wall finally got sunshine making it more shitty hanging out at this belay. Again, I had the water and snacks so I couldn’t complain. Finally Doug made it to the anchors and hauled up from Ahwahnee. I jugged up and met up with him at the ledge.
While all of this was going on, a crazy foreign Husband/Wife duo was crushing their way up to Ahwahnee. The husband had previously solo’d this route in a day and was looking to top out of Wet Denim Daydream 5.7 C3. (Check out his video of soloing a few walls in Yosemite https://vimeo.com/78812123) The get to Ahwahnee and quickly realized the ledge is full of noobs and they decide to set up their portaledge a little bit under Ahwahnee.
Before we went to sleep, Doug and I decided that we were too slow and after everything said and done, get back to the Bay Area at like 12-1am Monday. That wouldn’t be an issue but Doug had to be in San Francisco at 6am. We decided to play it safe and called it. We would bail in the morning.
He got to the (free-climbing) crux of the fourth pitch, a gnarly lock off on a shitty (aka non-existent) “sloper” to a “bomber" side pull. To sum it up, it was a fucked up move. His first attempt on it ended with him falling and sliding down the slab. He pulled back up to it, clipped the bolt directly under it and brushed the hell out of this “sloper”. He soon the easily passed this crux and clipped the anchors.
Doug began the rappel to the second anchors. Even with the wall overhung, the raps weren’t nearly as bad as anticipated. I eventually met up with him at the anchors and we pulled the rope through and Doug began the last rappel to the base. There was a pre-fixed line from the second anchors to the base in which we attached ourselves to to help orient out selves to the base instead of going off into space. if you were to rap directly down without the line, you would fid your self about twenty feet away from the wall with a hell of a hard time getting back. I raped with the haul bag and it was not an issue at all. This wall, I decided to switch things up with the hauling system, for one I did a 2:1 pulley system. With the haul bag, I did a Black Diamond Swivel with a micro-traxion that set up worked really well. The swivel was great for rapping with due to the bag getting twisted, the swivel made this a non issue.
I eventually got down as well and Doug shuttled across the cat walk to drop the gear at the stash bag. He came back and helped with the ropes and help direct me across the cat walk. We traversed our way back on the cat walk and made it to the stash bag. We divided up gear and made the hike back to the car, this time only taking 30 minutes.
Even though we bailed off the wall and our climb was unsuccessful, we still had a fun time. Were gonna dedicate the off season of Yosemite climbing to get better at trad/aid and be fully prepared for the next go. West Face is a pretty do able route for a beginner climber who has their aiding system down and wants to try a big wall. For us, Doug didn’t have it down and we were just taking way too long. I highly recommended giving this route a go and fixing the line on the catwalk is a must. It offers great views and some interesting aid moves.