North American Classic Climbs

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Leaning Tower

West Face (Harding Route)

Beta Images Slide Show

The uniqueness of this climb is expressed in the title of the article that helped make it famous: Al Macdonald's "Realm of the Overhang" in Galen Rowell's book "Vertical Yosemite." The driving force behind this climb was Warren Harding, who figured prominently in the development of big wall climbing during the golden years of Yosemite exploration, and the man for whom the term "Hardman" was coined due to his ability to drill long bolt ladders while standing in etriers. The route took 18 days to complete over 10 months of effort, with 110 bolts placed. Royal Robbins had a part in the route's history by soloing it in 1963; the first solo climb of a big wall in Yosemite. Today's climber will find an exhilarating day and a half (typical) experience. If you don't like aid climbing, stay away from this one - the free climbing is limited to about 30 feet on the entire route. All the bolts on this route were upgraded to modern standards in 1999.


Lowland rock (big wall)




Yosemite Nat'l Park, California, USA



G5, G28, I3, W9, W32


V, 5.7, A3


Route Descriptions & Maps:

USGS topographic map

First Ascent:

W. Harding, G. Denny, A. Macdonald, 10/61


Trip Reports:

Clark 5/75
Esparza 6/98
Jennings 6/99
Huckle 7/00