North American Classic Climbs

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Washington Column

East Face, Astroman One of the top 25 routes in this collection!

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This was a significant accomplishment of its day when Warren Harding completed it as an aid climb in 1959 after months of effort and several attempts. As such, though, it might have languished in relative obscurity alongside the other big wall routes in Yosemite Valley. It took some of the outstanding free climbers of another generation to put this climb in its proper context as one of the finest free climbing testpieces on the continent. In an emerging tradition of renaming climbs after they are climbed free (a dubious practice, but now well-established), they called it "Astroman." It is now known around the world as a benchmark for a long, difficult granite climb. This route offers some of the cleanest and most classic crack, dihedral, and chimney climbing to be found in the Valley, which is known for such things. If and when you are up to this one, reflect on leading it with hex nuts as did the first free ascensionists, or free-soloing it, as did Peter Croft.


Lowland Rock




Yosemite Nat'l Park, California



G5, G28, G35, W9, W22, W32, I3, I10


IV, 5.11C


Route Descriptions & Maps:

Route diagram by permission of Supertopo Click for latest route info at SuperTopo web site USGS topographic map

First Ascent:

First Free Ascent:

W. Harding, C. Pratt, G. Denny, July 1959/
J. Bachar, R. Kauk, J. Long, June 1975


Trip Reports:

Smith, 10/01
Anderson, 5/02