The Direct follows easy, mostly splitter cracks to a steep smooth headwall.
The Direct is similar to the West Face of the Leaning Tower in that it offers a 2 day outing on a wall that is otherwise climbed over 5-10 days. This is possible because these routes are much less natural than the routes they are around. The Direct finishes on the Porcelain Wall, which climbs several pitches of steep bolt ladders up a blank face, originally climbed in 1976 by a team led by Warren Harding(also called the Harding Route). The cruxes are a few loose pin placements, and the 2 hr approach.
*Approach: Plan on a full day for the approach, which climbs 1000 ft from Mirror Lake on mostly easy but sometimes sandy/scrambly talus terrain. You will follow the Death Slabs approach trail for Half Dome, jogging right shortly after the top of the first fixed rope. Most parties will make at least two trips up the approach, whose steepness punishes you if you try to carry too much at once. Riding bikes from the overnight parking lot to Mirror Lake is highly recommended, and saves about 1/2 hr. If the water is high and crossing Mirror Lake on the plentiful rocks is not an option, then you will have to take the Mirror Lake loop trail earlier on the Mirror Lake road which adds some hilly trail terrain and 20 min. to the approach(still worth it to take the bikes to here). There is only water at the base in the Spring, when large snow cones provide water. You can filter
water at Mirror Lake.
The Cemetary has a ledge for one, and widely space bolts for a hammock right where you belay. There is a good sloping ledge to hang out with the bags/cook at. This area is super terraced and mostly 4th class scrambling so there is also the option to scramble up and left to another sleeping spot where Sky Is Falling goes. Paradise ledge is spacious though not nearly as nice as the bivy on the summit, 60m above.
*Descent: This descent essentially reverses the Snake Dike approach, whose start is just an 1/8 mile from the Diving Board. So there is the option to just walk down past Lost Lake till you hit the John Muir Trail and continue down to Curry Village. Not as obvious but shorter and much more beautiful hiking is to hike to the end of Lost Lake and then cut between Libery Cap and Mt. Broderick where you join the Nevada Falls trail. Either way allow half a day for the descent, which is not too bad with a heavy bag.
*The Elements: This route is in the shade nearly all day. The top four pitches receive a couple hours of sun, while the bottom pitches stay in the shade nearly all day.
Oct 07, 2012
-- Tommy Bairstow (solo)
Awesome route, magical location for a solo. Papa Pine and the Cemetary and some of the most memorable pitches I've done. Highly recommended!
- May 22, 2012 1.5 days -- Erik Sloan, Ryan Baker, Parker Kempf
Feb 11, 2012
-- Erik Sloan, Richie Copeland
What an amazingly dry winter to start 2012. We took four months to climb this route, but Richie lives 3.5 hrs from the Valley and the approach always took some time. The full shade made for perfect moving temperatures, and the puffy kept us warm at the belays. In winter this baby gets about one hour of Sun just on the top few pitches of the climb. Outrageous steepness!...and blankness. We joined the (chopped) Harding route for the upper blankness.Porcelain!