By Bret H. Sarnquist
I did a hammerless solo of this route over three and a half days in late June, 1999. It's a worthwhile alternative to the overcrowded routes on the Column, but it does share about half its pitches with The Prow, so you have to deal with people on that route. The aid is steep, exposed, and challenging, with some tricky sections and lots of clean-aid tricks. Skip the route's first two pitches (very dirty and ugly) by doing the first two pitches of The Prow and breaking right near the top of The Prow's second pitch on rivets to TDA's second belay. All the belays are hanging, and there are no ledges on TDA. Good climbing though, and amazing views of Half Dome every morning and evening.
Pitch notes: Pitch 1: First pitch of The Prow. A1, 110'
Pitch 2: Second pitch of The Prow, except that about 3/4 of the way up, look for a line of rivets leading out right. Follow these to TDA's second belay. A1, 95' (all pitch lengths are very approximate)
Pitch 3: Follow the obvious golden dihedral up and up. Stay away from the giant hollow flake on the right. Most of this crack is about the same size, so you will be leapfrogging a lot of cams. Near the top, the pitch heads out under a roof to the belay. A few small cams and some undercling cam hooking keeps this clean. C2, 120'
Pitch 4: A good section of undercling cam hooking, interspersed with a fixed pin and an Alien or two leads around the roof into a steep dihedral. The dihedral itself takes endless small nuts and cams, with an occasional fixed piece or rivet for spice. The belay consists of a bunch of old bolts and rivets. C2, 110'
Pitch 5: Another beautiful corner with endless placements around the same size. A thin section near the top took Aliens, Peenuts and cam hooks and ends at a three bolt belay. A1+, 130'
Pitch 6: Do not continue upwards! From the belay, head out left on rivets to a thin horizontal crack with fixed heads and pins. Most of the gear on this short pitch is fixed, but there is still some hooking and Alien placements. C2, 65'
Pitch 7: I thought this was the crux, and it was certainly the hardest clean climbing on the route. Follow some fixed pins and heads up the corner to a rivet below the left facing flake/small corner thing. I climbed this section doing three cam hook moves and using a #0 Offset, and it was scariest aid I'd ever done at that point, even though the fall is pretty clean. The pitch finishes with rivets, a hook on a loose flake, and a bunch more fixed heads and rivets. C2+, 125'
Pitch 8: A fairly straight-forward pitch. A few thin moves at the start, followed by a long stretch of heads and rivets to a tiny roof. Traverse right under the roof, then head up to the belay at the obvious (wider) flared straight up crack. The belay is shared with the Prow (the next pitch is the pitch leading up to Tapir Terraces), and consists of three fixed pins and a bolt. C2, 110'
Pitches 9, 10, 11, 12, (13): Follow the upper sections of the Prow, and then descend as for the Prow.
Rack: 6-8 mixed KBs and LAs 1 ea. angles to 3/4" 10 assorted heads, incl. several med/large circleheads 1 set Offsets 1 set Peenuts 2 sets Stoppers 2 ea. #00 - 0 TCU/Alien 3-4 ea. #1 - 3 TCU/Alien 3-4 ea. #0.5 - 0.75 Camalots 2 ea. #1 - 2 Camalots 1 ea. #3 - 4 Camalots The three basic BD hooks (one of each size) 2 sets cam hooks Lots of rivet hangers 60 meter ropes helpful NO cheat stick needed (maybe helpful)
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