West Face of Leaning Tower in-a-day with Mike

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Trip Report
California, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
May 3, 2014
Big Wall
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West Face of Leaning Tower in-a-day with Mike
Created On: May 5, 2014
Last Edited On: May 5, 2014

The West Face of Leaning Tower - In-a-day - With Mike!

Perfect weather, long days and minimal crowds lined up for a perfect day on the West Face! Mike and I had been eyeing Lost Arrow Spire for a while and wanted to get on a wall together to get our system down before tackling that route. 

We decided to leave Sacramento and head towards the valley with a loose agenda of what we had in mind... "Maybe Serentiy-sons, maybe Leaning tower, maybe South Face or The Prow... we will figure it out when we get there."

As we were passing through Stockton we settled on the West Face of Leaning Tower. Due to some work related delays we didn't arrive in the Valley until about 8 pm. 

While racking up in the lot near Bridalveil falls a gentlemen pulled up and asked us if we'd like to make $400 hauling camera gear up Half Dome. We said "Hell yes" and told him we'd call him the next day after we were done. We didn't tell him that the going rate was normally about $50... 

After getting the rack together, eating dinner and packing our bags Mike parked the van down the road while I waited at the trailhead. By now it was about 10 PM and we were ready to head up to the bivy site. I had never made this approach, but Mike had done it twice so I neglected to read any approach beta...

After losing the trail and spending about 2 hours in bushwhacking hell we made it to the bivy. I'll remember to look up the beta next time... this was a nightmare!

Bushwhacking around midnight

As I unpacked my gear I realized that I had accidentally packed my footprint instead of my bivy sack. Crap! We had also neglected to bring sleeping bags due to the forecast for a relatively warm night. I Bundled up in the footprint and tried made the best of it. 

At about 2 am we awoke to some headlamps.
"Hey guys. Gonna climb the leaning tower?"
"What time are you guys starting?"
"Oh, that's pretty soon."
Thanks for waking us up in the middle of the night! Confused, cold and tired I tried to get back to sleep. We saw them down below attempting to freeclimb the route the next day, looked fun! Nice work guys, but please don't shine your headlamps on people sleeping in the middle of the night...

Fun exposed cat-walk to P1
Mike and I traversed out across the 4th class at about 6 AM- super fun! I'm glad the fixed lines were there.

Mike was going to climb to p1-p4 Awhahnee in 1 push short fixing on the way up and I was going to lead the next block of 4. By 615 we were off and Mike was cruising up the bolt ladder. 

P1 Bolt Ladder

The fixed heads seem to be in place so Mike clipped a cable and weighted his aider. *Ping!!* The cable snapped and Mike takes a perfect whip into the open air. He said he saw that cable was suspect a couple months ago when he had climbed this last and wondered when it would blow. Mike quickly jumps back on route and continues up to the Awhahnee. 
I think P3?

We made it to Awhahnee ledge at about 7:45 and found a party on the traverse. They kindly let us pass, thanks!

Myself jugging
Re-racking the gear on Awhahnee Ledge. We took 17 quickdraws, a mini traxion, a few c3s, three small aliens, doubles of .3"-2", one 3", a set of offset mastercams, one set of offset stoppers and one set of stoppers, 1 cam hook, 1 pecker, 2 gri-gris, 1 set of ascenders, two 70 m ropes, 2 liters of water each and a few bars. There is plenty of fixed gear so we had more than enough gear- every once in a while we would have to send some quickdraws up on the tag-line to the leader (This method works great while short fixing).

Myself leading the roof pitch

Jugging up somewhere on leaning tower! So much exposure!

Attentive belay

I took over leading and continued to short fix for Mike. I had a good time leading the roof pitch. It was pretty mild with plenty of fixed gear. There was one dicey blind placement reaching out over the lip of the roof. I blindly placed an offset Mastercam and faithfully stepped into my aider. As I stepped up and saw the placement I saw it was completely tipped out! I quickly clipped the pin above and continued up to the belay ledge. I was way slower than Mike on lead but we were still making great time.

Top of the Leaning Towerundefined
"1 more wall down!"

I stopped on the "poor bivy for 1" below P10. I thought this was a great bivy spot! I tried to keep from falling asleep as I belayed Mike up P10.

I topped out at about 5 pm for a total of 11 hours climbing. I found Mike jamming out to some music on the summit. "Welcome to the dance party bro"

We rapped down the gully and made it back to the base in the daylight and found cold drinks on ice in our bear box. Slightly less bushwhacking on the descent. What an awesome day! We then went to Curry for pizza and tried to find the dude who was going to pay us to haul gear up Half Dome. He ended up finding someone else, damn! That's how we were going to pay for the pizza we had just eaten.

Thanks to the group who let us pass, hope you guys made it back to work in time on Monday!

Mike organizing the gear in the van


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West Face of Leaning Tower in-a-day with Mike

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