Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome

Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome

The Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome was the first Grade VI climb in the United States. It was first climbed in 1957 by a team consisting of Royal Robbins, Mike Sherrick, and Jerry Gallwas. Its current rating is VI 5.9 A1 or 5.12 for the free variation.

Although the first ascent took five days, most ascents now are accomplished in two. In October 1999, Jim Herson and Hans Florine set the record for the fastest ascent of the route in one hour, fifty-three minutes, and twenty-five seconds.


All of the major walls and formations in Yosemite Valley had been climbed by the mid 1950s with the exception of the Northwest Face of Half Dome and El Capitan. El Capitan, with its intimidating 3000 foot face, was obviously out of the question for at least a few years, leaving Half Dome, with a much more manageable 2000 foot face, as the logical next goal.

The first attempt to climb it was made in 1954 by Dick Long, Jim Wilson, and George Mandatory. However, they only managed to climb 175 before retreating.

A more serious attempt to find passage up this cliff was made in 1955 by Jerry Gallwas, Don Wilson, Royal Robins and Warren Harding. After climbing a mere 500 feet over five days, this party, too, retreated.

Gallwas and Robbins, armed with new chrome-molybdenum pitons made by Gallwas, recruited Mike Sherrick and set off on June 24 1957, determined this time to finish the route. Over a period of five days, they encountered repeated obstacles and, using ingenuity and tenacity, they surmounted all these difficulties.

Five days after they had left the ground, they stood at the summit. Warren Harding had hiked up the backside of Half Dome via the hikers' trail for the occasion. He had been planning, along with Mark Powell and Bill "Dolt" Feuerer, to give the route another attempt, but had been beat to it by the successful team. Nevertheless, Harding offered the triumphant team a warm congratulations.

External links

* [ Hans Florine's tally of Half Dome speed climbing records]
* [ Supertopo route information page]


*Florine, Hans. halfdome. 20 August 2004. 31 October 2005 .
*McNamara, Chris, and Sloan, Erik. "Yosemite Big Walls". Mill Valley, CA: SuperTopo, 2005. ISBN 0-9672391-9-2
*Roper, Steve. "Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber". Seattle, WA: Mountaineers Books, 1998. ISBN 0-89886-587-5
*Roper, Steve. "Climber's Guide to Yosemite Valley". San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1978. ISBN 0-87156-048-8

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