Justin and I pulled into the last open parking spot in the Ahwahnee Hotel parking lot ready to start the day in search for a climb called SuperSlide on the Royal Arches wall in Yosemite National Park. A true search it was! Not totally sure where the beginning of the climb started, we stared at the Royal Arch Cascade and began hiking east along the base of the rockface. We found lines of bolts and climbs that looked similar, but it wasn’t until about ½ mile of route inspection and almost 30 mins later that realized we went the wrong way at the cascades, and had to turn around.
Arriving back at the cascades, nice and warm from the search hike, we headed west soon taking a climbers trail to the base of the wall and coming face to face with “Trail By Fire” a 5.8 Offwidth crack. The low angle line looked good, but offwidth being what it is, we were sure in for a struggle! Justin racked up and started off the ground making the first few moves rather quickly. The crack was wide, fist stacks, hand fist stacks, and chickenwings were welcome in this flared beast. Justin kept pushing on up the line making some good grunts along the way.
Offwidth (if you are unfamiliar) is that special kind of climbing where the crack is too big for fingers or single hand jams and usually takes awkward body manipulation movements to ascend the crack, resulting in blood, sweat, grunts, and typically a full body pump afterward. Justin bumped his #5 cam higher as he climbed and kept moving. After the middle section he through the upper relatively quickly, popped on top of a large chalkstone clipped chains, set up an anchor and soon was ready for me to climb on.
At first glance the crack look pretty simple and straightforward. I started in, hand jams just at the limit of my hands were found but I could still manage. About 10 feet or so off the ground the crack began to swallow me whole. The hand jams turned to chicken wings and the features on the face turned from edges to smears. The middle section proved most challenging for me. I started to sweat and give off a lot of heat with the amount of energy I was putting off just to inch my way up the flared crack. Both feet in, I inched on. Even with the cool air, the rock just radiated the heat I was producing right back onto me. I left like I was in a sauna! After a lot of grunts, groans, and a few rally yells I reached the chains covered in sweat.
Justin jokingly asked if I wanted the next lead, I was so worked I had to rest! Justin led on the next “pitch” connecting Trail by Fire with the start of P2 of SuperSlide (5.9). Justin climbed on into the unknown as the two climbs were not traditionally linked. The next connector pitch was a chossfest. The rock quality was not great and it seemed like everything was covered in moss, plants, or crumbing rock. After some questionable climbing I met Justin at a smile and a hi-5 for the effort leading such a crap pitch! We swapped over leads, I headed up P2. The start was a nice high foot and being weighed down by a doublerack it seemed cumbersome at first. Once I placed my first cam and shook out it got a lot better. The face climbing was chill and soon I was into a beautiful crack and it was time to work! I lead on placing piece after piece, but was soon forced out of the crack just under a small roof. I placed a protection piece, and soon pulled the nice roof onto a ledge that walked left to a tree at the base of P3.
I set up my anchor and belayed Justin up as the rope drag would have become too much to climb further. We swapped leads once again and Justin headed up the clean line with some nice mixed face/crack to link both P3 and P4. Oh the climbing was nice! If there was a questionable hold, there would be a bomber one just next to it or a great handjam to make up for it. I followed on and cleaned the gear as I went. P3 and P4 were really fun, handjam after handjam to bomber facehold and back I ascended the 2 pitches. There was a nice traverse about half way up P3, that seemed sketch at first, then you grabbed a bomb hold and realized the worry was for nothing. The pitches were really fun!
At the base of P5 we meet up again and looked up at the line. Research stated that this supposed to be the crux of the climb. The nice Yosemite 5.9 crack ran out and you were faced with some thin face holds to make the final move to the chains. We debated for a bit, and in the end I decided to let Justin take the lead. Looking back I really wish I would have led out, but such is life, the climb was beautiful! Justin led on and was soon at the anchors, putting me on belay. I soon followed switching between a fun 2 crack system, collecting gear as I went. The second crack finally petered out and the hand jams turned to a thinner finger crack. The climbing was awesome! Full toe engagement and nice solid finger placement all the way to the knuckle were found all the way up the crack to a face, forcing the route left. I swapped to a right foot in the crack and with a solid right hand, moved for a large sloper and a thin left foothold. I stood on the foot, manteling on the sloper and once again was standing side by side with Justin. What an awesome climb!
We rapped pitch after pitch as quickly as we could as we watched a storm start moving in from the West. We wrapped P4 and went to pull the rope. Of course, as whenever you are in a hurry, it got stuck on a small flake. James scoffed at the rope and flipped it vigorously to get the fella out. We are about to gear up and re-ascend, when I gave it one last fleeting try. Boop!!!! The rope come free and falling towards us. We hi-5ed and wooped in excitement! With the rap crux behind us we quickly descended to the ground and got back to the car. What an awesome day, one of the best climbs I’ve done to date!
- Trial By Fire – Offwidth (5.8): https://www.mountainproject.com/v/trial-by-fire/106348791
- SuperSlide – Hand Crack (5.9): https://www.mountainproject.com/v/super-slide/105915124
- Weather: Hi 80s, Low 60s, Sunny
- Water: 1.5 liters
- Food: 2 Cliff bar, 1 Nature Valley Granola bars
- Time: 4 hours
- Distance: 1 mile RT (by accidental rout finding)
- Accumulated Gain: 500 feet
- Climbing Rating: 5.9 Trad
- Number of Pitches: 5
- Don Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
- Black Diamond Helmet
- Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
- 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
- 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
- 6mm Accessory Chord – Anchor
- Black Diamond Camelot X4+C4 Cams – Double Rack – (2x), 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 3, 4
- Black Diamond Standard Nut Set
- 14 Alpha Trad DMM quickdraws – Alpine draws
- Black Diaimond ATC Guide
- 70 meter 9.8mm Rope
- Webbing/7mmCord for personal anchor
- Arc’teryx Chalk Bag
- SPOT Tracker
- Cotton T Shirt
- Arc’teryx Hoody
- Cotton Handkerchief
- Nike shorts
- Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
- Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
- La Sortiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes