A few weeks ago, Eric Wehrly and I headed up to Half-Moon to attempt some sort of squeeze job between routes that already exist on the NW aspect. One of them, Digging for Dreams, made it into Cascades Rock and we were curious what else might still be lingering (see: http://blog.alpineinstitute.com/2012/04/first-ascent-diggin-for-dreams.html).
Of course, Eric and I didn’t make it to Half-moon because of our short attention span. We cut off early to Wallaby and climbed what may be new terrain (or really old terrain – we were not sure based on what I remember being Fred’s non-descript descriptions, or maybe Stecks?). Regardless, it was an adventure for the soul. We left no trace of our passage, so the line’s next ‘first ascensionists’ should have just as much fun as we did. One photo I captured makes the climb look worthwhile:
During our adventure we spotted some interesting terrain on Half-Moon that I do believe is was climbed. I went back this weekend with Jimmy to check it out. We probably should have been concerned that the gaping Bombay flare would block passage to the stellar looking pitches above, but alas, we are young and stupid.
With big cams in tow, Jimmy and I wandered up to the base of the West ridge of Half Moon beneath this feature. We climbed an approach pitch that turned out to be both harder and most interesting than expected. From here, Jimmy then embarked on his quest for glory up into the gaping flare, henceforth known as “The Maw.”
The Maw: Disintegrating footholds and a suspect nut placement that nearly pulled off the block when tested led to some decent small cams that allowed Jimmy to reach the roof. He then stemmed, crawled, and tunneled his way towards the light. After plugging the #5, Jimmy then “rode the sail” so to speak – exiting the chimney required placing full trust (both hands and feet) on a refrigerator door sized flake. Miracles worked themselves and around the corner he went to bring me up. Following this with a pack was not easy.
In the end, our route ended up shorter than the neighbor next door to the left (‘Digging…’), but we still found adventure to say the least. Beyond the Maw we found 3 more pitches of fun finger and hand cracks.
P1: 5.8 (20m) Belay beneath the Maw in extremely suspect rock. It quickly turns to higher quality stone offering fun a fun thin hand crack. Belay on 1-2” cracks between glued flakes and blocks in the back of the flare.
P2: 5.10- (25m)
Enter the Maw. Climb right from the belay up past a few delicate horn features to find a few small cams in the broken face. Continue up into the upper reaches of the flare, then climb towards the light. Exit past the flake and belay on the second ledge beyond.
P3: 5.10- (30m)
Climb up a seamy crack to the right of the rotten chimney via delicate lay-backing of the arete. Continue up to wide cracks and a belay on the slab on large cams.
P4: 5.10- (40m) Aim for the middle of the three cracks (finger-size), climb this, and continue up amazing finger and hand pods to a belay under a roof.
P5: 5.9 (40m) Traverse right around the corner, and then up small hands leading to a #3 crack to the top. At the hand-traverse that finishes with a mantle on a rotten block, continue traversing right to reach the top of Hon Oi Tower.
Though Eric didn’t join us on this adventure, he was there in spirit. Because of the nature of the climbing and because we are skeptical of his boyish blond hair at 50, we’ve decided to name the route: “Uncle Wehrly’s Toupee.” It may share part of one pitch with Digging for Dreams, specifically the start of our pitch 3.