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Epic Clips: First Ascent of High Times
Posted on November 29, 2015

Four weeks ago we broke the climbing news of Ben Ditto’s first ascent of High Times (5.13b), a steep, northeast-facing line on Drug Dome in Tuolumne Meadows.  Ditto’s first-hand, write-up was exceptional with images that underscored the pioneering nature of putting up a new line in one of climbing’s holiest grounds. Today we dive deeper into the story with Owen Bissell’s stunning edit of the entire undertaking, profiling the struggle—pitch by pitch—until the route was officially ticked.

“My first climb in Yosemite was over 20 years ago, and in the months and years I’ve since spent, I’ve mostly repeated existing routes.” Ditto recountes. “Meanwhile, I’ve spent many months of my life in faraway places, exploring for new route possibilities, but I had not yet tapped into that pioneering spirit here in Yosemite. This year would be different. This year I needed a goal to focus on to help me keep the plot.”

The hard and committing line, which started up a left-leaning crack/weakness in close proximity to established routes Red Banner Week and Spinner featured unprotectable traverses and a steepness that made it very unique for Tuolumne. The location, in a Wilderness Area, required hand drilling protection and nine days of work until Ditto climbed it all free through all four pitches and the final roof on day ten. When he finally reached the top, project complete, Ditto reflected on ticking a new line as he gazed out at the Sierra Crest.

“Leading the final pitch took a little bit more energy than the top-roped rehearsal I’d done,” Ditto summarizes.”I found myself at the rest below the roof, shaking out for way longer than I’d anticipated…feeling the pressure to send and simultaneously present my little gift to the world to enjoy. A few lock-offs, edges, heel-hooks, and knobs later and I was on the top, the journey was complete, but the destination had been reached weeks before.”

The High Times edit captures the essence of the climb and on a long, holiday weekend when we celebrate the act of getting outside, this one is mandatory viewing. —LYA Editor

The line of High Times is unique in Tuolumne Meadows repertoire of high-quality slab climbing. Rest well at the transition between the crack and the roof. Ditto starts into the crux of High Times.

The route beta for High Times. C: Ben Ditto.

Learn more about what makes Ditto tick at


Author: - Sunday, November 29th, 2015

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