Nina Williams and Katie Lambert recently set off to free the 20-pitch 5.13b on Middle Cathedral in Yosemite called Father Time.
Lambert suffered a minor finger injury but continued to support Williams. This is a big send and one for the books.
Williams wrote about the story on Instagram in a few different parts. We’ve pieced them together below.
Over the last two weeks @sheneenagins and I embarked on a rematch with a route we tried last spring. For me the route is hard enough that I need to put in the time to suss out the beta, give myself time to recover and time to redpoint. The nature of wall climbing is that everything takes work and you’ve got limited time due to limited resources and schedules. Fixing ropes approximately 1,000ft to the ground We set ourselves up pretty well for this go and employed the help of a friend @allen_climbs to haul most of the water and food to our bivy. These lines also helped @joolyhart’s efforts to come up and document the process. On last Monday we set off climbing from the ground to our bivy at pitch 10. Over the course of those days I got a gnarly blood blister that I was fortunate enough to be able to climb on for a few days but then it ripped, leaving me with a raw flapper on a crucial digit for all the nails crimping that was in store for us. It cost me a whole day of climbing on the cruxes due to a tape blunder and I had to just be ok with how it was all going. I tried my best, put in the work but didn’t come away with a send. I focused my energy on being a good partner for @sheneenagins and helped to keep things in order for @joolyhart. We topped out the route on Friday night with Nina having successfully red- pointed the 20 pitch masterpiece. We celebrated the team work and accepted our lot of all the future toiling of retreating off the mountain. Yesterday on day 6 of wall life we packed up and descended, taking all of our 💩, ropes and wall camp with us. There are so many variables in these endeavors and having partners who make the hard times good and the good times great is absolutely invaluable. I’ll be returning in the spring to put in more effort, following Nina’s great example of fight and courage. Until then….best wishes y’all. 😘#rockclimbing #liveyouradventure
After the first ascent in 2012, Mikey Schaefer said, “After nine days on the wall and nearly 60 days of effort spread over two years Father Time is officially finished. No longer the mega project and now the mega route.
“So many people to thank that helped out: James Lucas, Kate Rutherford, John Dickey, Sean Leary, Patagonia, Josh Huckaby, Jeff Johnson and Ben Ditto.” Read Schaefer’s story here.
Father Time by Williams
Father Time is a 20-pitch gem on Middle Cathedral, established ground-up by Mikey Schaefer over the course of two years. There are three 5.13b crux pitches and four 5.12’s, with the remainder being runout 5.10-5.11. Katie Lambert and I tried Father Time earlier this spring but got bouted by the tricky sequences combined with the effort of hauling five days worth of gear during the send attempt. This time called for a different strategy.
Over the past two weeks we fixed ropes to the bivy (pitch 10) and hauled our porta-ledge with sleeping gear and a couple day’s worth of food/water. We recon’d the moves and figured out beta, building confidence for the upcoming 6-day push. We rapped down after one night and rested for two days. In that time we had a friend Allen Higginbotham haul the rest of our food and water for us in order to save energy.
On Nov. 12, Katie and I set off from the ground, alternating leads for the initial 10 pitches. Jooly Hart came along as well, filming for Never Not Collective. We worked through the 5.13 cruxes over the next few days. Unfortunately during this time Katie caught a finger between two carabiners which forced a gnarly blood blister. The blister ripped, exposing a raw hole on the tip of her index. This freak accident cost Katie a day of climbing as she waited for it to heal over, and continued to plague her on the nails-hard crimping.
After giving it her best effort and trying hard to push past the circumstance, Katie put aside her send so that she could support mine. The amount of planning and physical labor, on top of the actual climbing itself, is what makes big walling equal parts satisfying and insanely frustrating, and I know the decision was not an easy one. I can’t thank Katie enough for making this sacrifice so that I could have a chance to push on.
I led the three crux pitches (pinkpointing the middle insecure layback pitch) as well as the two remaining 5.12’s. On the day we topped out, Jooly asked me how I felt. “Well… we still have to get back down,” I said. I was happy but tired, physically and mentally drained. On Nov. 17, our sixth day on the wall, the three of us rapped to the ground with all of our gear, porta-ledges and 1,300 feet of rope.
Now I’m back in Colorado, showered, rested, and able to reflect more clearly on my first big wall send. I learned so much about rope systems, gear placements, style, and ethics. But the most valuable lesson of all? Teamwork. Sharing a goal, a rope, and a million laughs with Katie meant more to me than anything else. Being on the side of a wall with her and Jooly, cracking up about nothing at all half the time, is what I will remember the most.
Katie’s decision to support me to the top is one I hope to return on her next effort. The TEAM will prevail!! I’m looking forward to sharing a rope with her again in the future and planning my own big wall objective as well. But for now, I’m very much enjoying being back in a real bed.