Yosemite Valley, Liberty Cap, southwest face, Bad Moon Rising.
By Josh Mucci
Liberty Cap, southwest face, Bad Moon Rising. In early October, Steve Bosque, Ezra Allee, and I established an eight-pitch variation to the Harding route on Liberty Cap. Our route, Bad Moon Rising (V 5.8 A2, 14 pitches), begins 50′ to the right of the massive corner system that makes up the Southwest Face route, in a parallel system—equally impressive yet overlooked.
After an initial bolt ladder, the route follows a classic right-facing corner system for half of the wall. Around halfway, we tamed an intimidating roof via a friendly crack that cuts through the ceiling, followed by an airy belay over the lip. The following pitch was short but very steep, following a featureless corner. Unfortunately, what we’d hoped would continue to be usable features above this point turned out to be an illusion. Often, the corners on Liberty Cap look blank but actually take beaks and heads. However, these next pitches were different; we were at a crossroad.
We opted not to continue straight up, as it would have needed heavy manufacturing, which we were not into. Thankfully, while scoping, we’d noticed a horizontal crack that we could use to exit onto the Harding route. We placed our seventh belay at the start of the “Crack of God,” a splitter 100′, half-inch crack that shoots dead left into the middle of the sixth pitch corner of the Harding route. This pitch was classic, ending with a natural belay on a perch.
The finishing pitches of the Harding route were adventurous, especially while hauling a massive kit. Six days were needed to complete the route, after fixing four pitches. We drilled and filled 35 holes (including one 3/8” bolt at each belay); we did not drill any bathooks, but rather used rivets and bolts for progression when necessary, as we care about the longevity of the route.
Did we free climb up there? Some, but this was 90 percent aid for us, due to the difficulty of the pitches. We have, however, had free climbing in mind while new routing on Liberty Cap, as the lines are damn near built for classic free climbing. A 5.12 climber would absolutely eat up the huge corner: 800′ of 0.5”-1” cracks, mostly all clean on cams. Somebody needs to free this route; unfortunately, I am not that good. It’s all there, though, for the right suitor.