The decision has been made. We whittled the list down very quickly by immediately looking at the easier walls first to see if we could find one that met our expectations. We agreed that there were four climbs that were near the top of both of our lists.
These became our final four. Two from Yosemite and Two from Zion. On team Yosemite both finalists came from the Washington Column. On the East Face we have The Prow (VI 5.6 A2); and on the South Face we have South Face (V 5.8 C1). On team Zion we have Moonlight Buttress (IV 5.9 C2) and Spaceshot (IV 5.6 C2).
Spaceshot had become Billy’s new preference, while I couldn’t stop dreaming about Yosemite. We quickly got down to two routes.
Washington Column South Face vs. Spaceshot.
Spaceshot looks like an incredible route to climb. It follows an obvious line and looks like some brilliant climbing. As a big wall experience it definitely provides more exposure than South Face.
The pitches near the top provide exactly the experience I am looking for in a big wall. I don’t just want to climb over 1000 feet up, I want to feel like I’m climbing 1000 feet up. Spaceshot also gets bonus points for the approach, as it is minutes from the roadside.
South Face also has many great qualities. I like that South Face has many pitches that go free at 5.10 or easier, and/or they can all be aided. I feel like that gives us a bit more freedom to play around between free and aid climbing. I want to try and free as much of the wall as possible, Billy wants to aid any chance he gets. This route looks like a great option for both.
Aesthetically, I love how the wall looks. It’s like it has jumped out from the rest of the cliff as if to say:
“Hey, I’m right here. Do you want to climb me?”
It looks amazing, surrounded by the other walls. The view from high on the wall looks like it will be incredible and even kind of iconic.
I’ll also admit I much prefer the idea of granite to sandstone for my first big wall. I don’t mind humping up a wall in a bit (or a lot) of rain, or waiting out a short storm if necessary, that is all part of the fun. On sandstone I feel like the options are much more limited. If it starts to rain I would feel like I would want to bail immediately because I know the rock gets weaker when wet, and that would get in my head and prevent me from enjoying the experience. On granite, while I don’t want it to rain, I wouldn’t start worrying so much about gear popping out or the rock getting soft.
And so, after considering all of the factors and devouring all the videos and articles available, we have finally selected our first big wall route.
Next year Billy and I will be climbing:
While it is exciting to have selected our route, it is a little bitter-sweet. Now that the route has been selected there are no more excuses to avoid beginning the next phase of prep.
Getting back in shape.
So, I need to set some fitness targets, measure my baseline performance and set a schedule. I wonder how many pull-ups it takes to climb a big wall?
I can’t wait to find out.