Diggin’ For Dreams, Half Moon IV-5.11aVS



James and I had a rather intense 19 hour day going after another second ascent in the Washington Pass area.

I must divide the experience into two categories to tell the story.

One category would be the amazing climbing and setting of this astounding climb! 8 of the 9 pitches we did were fantastic! P3, 5, 6 and 9 are particularly interesting. We added the 4 bolts recommended by the FA team too!

The other category would be the sheer terror of the 4th pitch loose rock section that came with a warning in the first ascent report. I felt grateful to survive pulling on the large loose blocks with nothing solid to step on either. Also, unique to our trip, was a horrible descent down to reach our packs at the base. 6 hours down a vast and terrible gully with 10 rappels on tiny trees. Did we take the wrong way down the right hand of the 2 gullies?? No help having contrary descent beta between the AAI FA Report and the Herrington Cascade Climbs descent beta.

Q: Ok, what’s up with the VS in the rating?

A: Very Serious is an additional rating I am using to describe a part of a climb that is or has a very serious section along the way. I rarely, if ever invoke such concepts into an already serious pursuit. The “Kitty Litter”  pitch #4 on this climb is full-on terror for 30 feet! If the 30 feet of this route disappeared, it would be a fantastic addition to the hard core list of routes at WA Pass for sure. Unless it was turned into a safe lead or via ferrata, we, the second ascent team, would not support this rock climb being offered as a “Select” climb in any list or book.

We did do our part in making this climb better by adding 4 bolts to the finish pitches. This made the finish downright fun.

Beta tweeks that vary from other reports: p2 is easier than p3 for sure. P3 is pumpy, and a damn crazy pitch! P6: don’t keep going up the finish dihedral, instead, step right around the prow to the low belay after 20 meters. Easily combine p6,7 and belay at my first bolt? watch for rope drag is all, or P7 is really short traverse right, a little then up to the exposed ledge on the prow, where I placed the first of 4 bolts. I belayed there and backed the single bolt up with the second bolt 20 feet higher (strange tactic, but would make sense to add a second bolt to make a legit belay). I then went to the summit in a 60m lead from there, unrigging the complicated belay en-route! Hilarity for sure.

Lastly, I have no idea where the FA Team came down that awful area just West of the Half Moon, but don’t take it lightly and avoid the horrendous gullies if at all possible(see photo)

click photos to enlarge

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