Father’s Day is the hardest established route in Donner Summit and one of the hardest traditional routes in the country. The route was established by Tom Herbert in the late nineties using trad gear for the bottom half and bolts for the upper half. This style of climbing the route is the most popular and the first few repeats were in this style. Five Ten athlete Nico Favresse became the first person to climb the route solely on trad gear and since then very few people have been able to complete the route only using natural protection.
Donner Summit's King Line - Urs Moosmuller
Father’s Day is a link up between two previously established routes: Star Walls Crack and A Steep Climb Named Desire. The first part is a power endurance 5.13a hand finger crack to the horizontal break about half way up the wall. The first part has pretty good gear, but there are some spicy run outs especially through the crux reaching the horizontal. From there you place two pieces and embark on the crux sequence of A Steep Climb. The boulder problem is about V9 and there are 9 moves in the sequence before you reach an ok rest below the roof and your next pieces of protection. After the quick shake, a 5.12a roof crack leads to a victory jug and a hard 5.12a face on small edges leads to the finish.
After completing A Steep Climb Named Desire over a year ago and Star Walls Crack around six months ago, it was logical for me to start trying Father’s day. In the beginning I was skeptical and intimidated by the route and I approached the route with caution. The crux run out is very committing on bad gear and if the two pieces blow you will crater to the ground from 60ft.
My first burn on the route was focused on figuring out the gear placements and refreshing my beta on both routes. Coming out of my bouldering training I had no endurance and I had to fight really hard to build up my route endurance while projecting my goal. The first several burns were frustrating with my lack of endurance and I put all my energy in pushing myself to link sections. On my fourth burn I was able to one hang the route and it seemed very close. The upper eighty degree temperatures where no were near ideal, but just like Boyz in the Hood I adapted to the weather and tufted it out. On my seventh burn I came very close to sending, but blew the final two moves of the crux and took the famous whip. Instead of catching me, the upper piece ripped out of the wall and I plummeted toward the ground. The next piece caught me and I ended up 6 feet above the ground. Pulling myself back up, I realized the nut that caught me was half way out of the wall and only one corner had held. This was a grim realization that this route was still very dangerous and I had to be very careful. The weather finally cooled off, but with the cold weather comes the rain.
The next burn I pulled through the crux due to the fear of falling, but was forced to stop due to the heavy rain soaking the upper part of the route. This was a really incredible realization that I was very close to sending and I knew I could do it next try. Two days later we planned to try and avoid the heat by attempting the route in the early morning. After an 8hr shift at work, my girlfriend and I drove up to Donner Summit and open bivied under the stars. It was incredible falling asleep under a cloudless night and the excitement for the morning was very strong. We woke up at 5:30 AM the next morning with 5 1/2 hrs of sleep. As we were shaking off the sleepiness, the sun rose in a beautiful sunrise illuminating all of Donner. The morning was very magical and I could feel the energy was good for attempting the route. Within the next hour I warmed up quickly on Cookie Mix and felt horrible. My body was shaky, tired, and ache. The wall was in direct sunlight and was already in the upper 70’s. The anxiety kicked in and right before trying the route, I threw up my breakfast. Not the best thing to do before climbing, but it helped stop my digestive track so all my energy was on climbing. I started up the route feeling bad, but as I climbed higher and higher up the wall I started feeling better and better. I reached the horizontal fully warm and rested with no sign of fatigue. The boulder problem went effortless and it was a powerful feeling completing the crux and feeling safe with a two pieces in the wall. The roof felt very hard and my endurance started to rain, but I reached the huge jug rest and forced my body and mind to relax. The next section I hadn’t climb for over a year and I was now regretting not climbing to the top before the send burn. I botched the upper face and had to give it everything to send. The final moves to the chains were very challenging and I had to fight hard to finish the line.
Overall my experience with Father’s Day was a huge learning experience for me and it forced me out of my comfort zone. The route has renewed my psyched once again for trad climbing and I am very excited to try and find another project as rewarding as Father’s Day.