Astroman, or is it Astroboy?

This has got to be the best route I have ever climbed. Or possibly the worst route I ever climbed. It was a tough one for me. I climbed it with Snort. He did it about 10 years ago. Astroman is the fancy name of a route that goes up the North Face of Washington Column, located opposite Half Dome.

The route is 12 pitches, and according to Chris McNamara of Supertopo, "it is one of the best long free routes in the United States". I would say it is THE best long free route that I have ever climbed. The technical crux is pitch 3, called the Boulder Problem, but the hardest part for me was the Harding Slot. You enter it via a move that Chris calls "chickenwing dyno into slot". I did it differently. It's graded 5.10, but the claustrophic squeeze chimney is just desperate. I tried every technique in the book and it took me the better part of an hour, squeezing myself up literally 1 cm at a time. You have to exhale at times to get through and up. I ended up sliding back down a number of times.

From Drop Box

Astroman is graded 5.11c, which is SA grade 23/24. But that climb was hard for me. Maybe it was pitch after pitch of sustained 5.10 and 5.11 climbing (only 3 of the 12 are 5.7-5.9). Or the Harding Slot. But I got a good workout that day.

There's a marvellous article called Astroboy that I just read about Astroman and the Harding Slot.

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