New Free Route
Camp Four Wall, New Free Route. The obscure and surprisingly overlooked Camp Four Wall rises proudly over Yosemite’s legendary Camp Four. Bob Kamps and Dave Rearick first climbed the wall in 1960 at the cutting-edge grade of 5.8 A4. A couple of years ago, I ran into Jim Bridwell in the C4 parking lot, and as we stared up at the wall, Jim kindly pointed out to me that there wasn’t a single free route on the huge face, and that if I didn’t go up there and change that situation, I was light (or was that “lite?”). Either way, Bridwell’s challenge captured my imagination, and the Camp Four Wall became a prize I could not ignore.
My good friend Lucho Rivera is always eager for first-ascent adventures, but it was like pulling teeth to get him up to the Camp Four Wall. Perhaps an unprecedented dry spell had Lucho focused on other… ahem... priorities. On our first reconnaissance, Lucho poked his hands into the initial cracks, and a giant scorpion came crawling out, giving us both a good shock. That crack became a new one-pitch Yosemite classic: The Scorpion, very sporty 5.12+ (don’t get stung). We found a more natural path to the left, and after fixing six pitches (about a third of the way), we decided the traverse made fixing too difficult. In the early fall, we freed the entire wall, ground up, in nine hours, onsighting several new 5.11 pitches on the upper unexplored section. The free route, Camp Four Terror Free (5.12a, sixteen pitches) is essentially a free variation to the Camp Four Terror (5.12a). The crux pitch is enduro, with fingers out a small roof to pumpy thin hands in a flare. Other memorable pitches included one that traversed a blank slab with flimsy oak branches for hand holds, to a 5.11 boulder problem with branches for pro, and high on the route, a solid and beautiful runout 5.11 face pitch with original 1960s quarter-inchers and drilled Lost Arrow hangers for pro. Because the climb involves much traversing, you cover a whopping 2,000 feet of territory in about 1,600 feet of elevation gain.
Also this fall, I finished a free continuation to Hotline , on Elephant Rock, called Elephant Man (5.12a). Renan Ozturk accompanied me for the complete ascent of the route, which makes for another classic Astroman-length free route in the Valley. The final pitch is 45-degree, overhanging 5.9 nobs—definitely pumpy for the grade.
In addition, Sean Leary and I achieved the second ascent of Gates of Delirium, a 12c, 2000-foot free route first ascended by Sean Jones. This itinerary climbs to the top of Ribbon Falls in about fifteen pitches. We onsighted all pitches except for the crux, which we redpointed on the second try. I highly recommend this route for climbers looking for a step up from the Crucifix.
To the right of the famous Arrow Head Arête was a 900-foot wall without routes. Lucho and I had the extreme pleasure of freeing the Arrow Head Wall onsight at 11d. In Yosemite, one-day, onsight first ascents are to be cherished, as new ground becomes an increasingly rare commodity.
- Cedar Wright, Tolhouse, California