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Afroman in Winter

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In August 1994(I think), Jeff Hornibrook ran into an old climbing friend Mark Carpenter who was visiting Yosemite with his wife and kids. Jeff mentioned that he had a new route scoped on the Column and was looking for a partner. Mark turned to his wife who amazed Hornibrook by agreeing that it would be 'good for him' if Mark did the climb. Jeff started up the first pitch of Electric Ladyland. Mark led the next pitch, dubbed Welcome to the Jungle, that involved thin nailing up to a short section of jungle lovin. The duo spent the next five days on virgin terrain, rejoining Electric Ladyland right before the summit. Word spread about this proud new route and the next to last pitch, labeled the Tsunami, that climbs a thin crack on the edge of a radically overhanging arete.


In '95 Jimmy Haden soloed the second ascent of it, and a couple other ascents were made. Amazingly, after that the route faded into obscurity. I was around when Afroman enjoyed it’s heyday if you can call it that. So I should have climbed it sooner. But by the time I was good enough to look forward to such a route I had caught the El Cap bug bad.


This winter the good weather just wouldn’t quit(till we topped out!) so Micah showed up for a wall climb. I convinced him to do Afroman instead of a casual trip up the Nose as I was sure it was going to be a worthy. Imagine our shock when some headlamps appeared from below our ledge bivy and up walk Keith(lived/worked in the valley for many years, both now live in nearby Shaver Lake) and Kenny who are also planning on climbing the route(Keith had tried it before and they were out of shape so they did the Prow to Ten Days After start). The last ascent I can find documented is Captain Kirk and Rambo’s voyage of ’99, and here we are 10 years later in the middle of winter and there is a line on the route. We laughed and howled at the dancing Moon and stars of Zodiac. The party was on. I had went up a couple days before to solo the first pitch and missed this splitter right off the ground and instead climbed the Astroman start. This is the first pitch of Electric Ladyland that is really clean but inobvious from the ground. (I still think it makes more sense to climb the first pitch of Ten Days After if you’re climbing E. L. because at the top of this pitch is a large slab, which you are able to avoid hauling across on Afroman because the next pitch cuts back right, but for E. L. you would have to do a very difficult haul on the slab or try to haul to the top of 2 which has some tricky rooflets that form the slab and look like excellent haulbag hooker-uppers. You’ll climb this pitch when you climb Afroman, so no loss really:).

This Oaktree stump at the base of the 2nd pitch is massive. Even in death this baby radiates strength.

Micah getting after the A3 steepness Sitting at the belay totally sucked(wink)

Micah enjoyin some Jungle lovin the next morning. The Hornyzontal looms above.

I took my free shoes for the ‘zontal but just aided the C1 crack through the slot.

If you can free climb 5.11 you could probably free the whole pitch. The 80’ tight hand crack after the ‘zontal is outrageous. When we were talking about the climb Hornibrook talked about the second half of that pitch, saying “Man, I just remember being so blow away by the handcrack, and feeling what Harding must have felt finding those incredible cracks on the Nose.”

Bright winter colors

I had to work so we fixed down from the top of the Hornyzontal on an intermediate anchor that is a B.Law A3 practice aid pitch. The FAist himself was waiting for us on the deck. I had to jam but it was fun to hear his stories about the route after just being up there. He also pointed out the elusive Endangered Species line, established in 2000 by John Blair and Mark Garborini, the modern-day Re-animator(super desperado looking in parts).

Micah went home while I worked for the week so I got to go back up and replace some bolts and check on our homies progress.

Keith is just comin around the corner from the Prow, onto the second belay of T.D.A.

Carpenter and Hornibrook used 5/16” buttonheads for belay bolts. They still looked pretty good but several came out with just a few easy taps of a Lost Arrow under the hanger, underscoring the unreliability of compression bolts in handdrilled holes. New 3/8” belay

So much fun hanging out on the wall, Ravens soaring by, and getting to take cool pics of your bros.

The boys are about to start the 3rd of T.D.A. You can see our rope more directly above fixed above the Hornyzontal.

Third pitch of Ten Days After—really fun, mostly C1.

A couple days later I went up and soloed the 4th pitch. Fun, mostly bomber pitch but a little scary for me cause I forgot my helmet and would be looking down bounce-testing each piece going, ‘please, no birdbeak gash on top of head’. My solo anchor—I don’t solo too often so thought I’d take a picture so the solo-masters could tell me if I did it wrong.

‘course I forgot many things at the belay and had to rap back down twice to re-supply.

Got to test out Theron’s mega-bitchin new big beaks. Tomahawks?? Fuhgehtaboutit. (If you’ve been noticing that all of the modern topos are calling for 5 or so of the these bigger size beaks and you’re thinking of buying some, hold out for the Tomahawks. The angled protrusion at the bottom of the beak makes cleaning them about million percent easier than the BD version which are now fixed all over every trade route in the valley. We even fixed on this route)

Psyched!(before the crux, hahahaha)

Fun little beak, blade, and hook traverse.

Then a nice C2 to crack to the belay. Really amazing how much awesome C1-C2 climbing this route has.

So I wasn’t worried about Keith and Kenny being in front of us because we were taking the week off for me to work. Turns out their portaledge ripped, and a host of other epics which made them rap and jug several times, and we all ended up chasing the last of the good weather to the summit together. Lonely haulbags, top of pitch 4 of T.D.A.

You really meet awesome folks up on the big stones. Keith and Kenny were fun to kick it with. Kenny was like a lucky cherup up there, always chuckling at us youngersters and keeping the psyche high. Keneeeeeeee! (old guys don’t know nutin about wearin bright colors, haha)

So we all showed back up on the route about the same time. We still had the 5th pitch to do to link up with where they climbed in from T.D.A. Keith and Kenny were hangin tough up in those overhanging corners and Micah and I miserable on the ground.

The good thing about fixing high on an overhanging route is you get in really good shape from all that jugging. The bad thing about fixing…..

Pitons make cam placements

Check out the splitter corner, the 3rd pitch of Endangered Species, belay for the pitch is 10’ left and level with the top of 4 on Afroman.

While Micah was climbing pitch 5 to link into the big Electric Ladyland corner, keith was sailing the steepest seas of pitch 6, dubbed 'Walk the Line'.

Kenny managing the ropes—man those guys had more rope than a Mexican cartel.

Micah crushed pitch 5 and thankfully Kenny had stopped at the T.D.A. anchor, 30’ below ours, so we pulled up to asses the scene. Keith was soarin

Things were going a little slow for the boys and we didn’t have all week so we agreed to team up for a pitch—I jugged their haul line on pitch 6(doh!) and led pitch 7(Piece of Pie) which they later jugged. Keith and Micah staggered in the steep

looking down the incredible 'Walk the Line' 6th pitch Cool shots looking down while leading 7

It got dark at 5pm, so while Keith jugged in space and Kenny hauled Micah and I rapped to the ground and bivied on the wall just off the deck, leaving ropes fixed all the way.

A major storm was fixing to come in and sure enough I awoke before dawn to the first sprinkle. We rapped and moved over to a nearby cave.

Keith and Kenny looked pretty solid with an expedition fly but seeing all that dark rock above them I knew that if it really started coming down they’d get wet.

It started really coming down so we bailed to the valley floor. Later Spewer, Hornibrook and I walked over to the Muir Lake loop and checked on the boys, who must have been feeling the seriousness of the current and approaching storms cause Kenny was up on lead.

Micah and I were bummed. I had to go back to work, he had school in a few days, and the forecasted storms looked impossible. A couple days later there was a break in the weather so we decided to jug our ropes and go for the top. We couldn’t jug with water, food and bivy gear so we were going to have to just go early and git er done in a day. Jugging 800’ of mostly free-hanging rope is best done in the dark. My hands are sweating and my hips hurt just writing about it. Micah taking a breather before the final jug

Oh baby, it’s steep up there

Our sunrise reward

Micah sailed up pitch 8

Then I got to ride the Tsunami

Very similar to the ‘Avatar’ pitch(5) on Tangerine Trip, a little spicy early and then just glory crusin

Next pitch started steep too

And then the angle kicked back to cruiser

We were so euphorically beat on the summit we didn’t take many pictures. Still had to walk down.

Afroman is such an amazing route. Definitely one of the most classic smaller bigwalls in Yosemite. Thank you Washington Column, Micah, Keith and Kenny. Many cheers e