Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 18, 2007 - 12:21am PT
No, I'll leave that to Pete. But, I wanted to report back to Russ and others who gave us the great pictures and info before the climb. So, should I say the good things first or the not so good? Since I am "the world's most bitter wall climber" I'll start with the bad!
I'll say that the Horse Chute was not even close to a contender for my favorite route on El Cap. Normally, I prefer to scoop through hundreds of feet of one inch deep frog eggs on my vacations instead of during my regular "work". This was like an episode of that show "dirtiest jobs" or whatever its called. Myself and my rack, covered with mud after scraping out frog eggs, mud, and more frog eggs. Ok, actually, I never like scraping through globs and globs of frog eggs. Besides the frog eggs, the whole route was worse than "dirty". I thought Aquarian was "dirty" because I got grass and what I thought was dirt in my eyes and down my shirt every day. But this was mud and DIRT. Clods and clods of dirt. Like enough to repot my houseplants a few times over. It was really dirty. My nut tool was my best leading device.
The "best corner on El Cap" turned out to be one of those stalagtite type barnacle zones. No golden granite visible in this corner, just white, crusty yucky yuck. This corner has NOTHING on the beautiful corners of the Muir Wall. Looks cool when you look at a picture, or look down on it from above on the climb, but when I was actually touching it, it was very disappointing.
On the good side, the wild roofs near the end of the Horse Chute (P17 Reid topo) were cool. Some of the pitches that appeared totally non-descript on the topo turned out to be pretty non-trade A2 (like not "hard" but every placement is a pin), which kept the suprise going. Nailed almost as many pins on pitch 14 as I did on the corner (which was only 15 and I had arrows left when I was done! Pitch 12 (Pete) and Pitch 14 (me) were the spiciest on the route (I thought).
The truck stop would be a VERY cool spot to sit and eat dinner and enjoy the views if you reached it on a day you could enjoy it during the non-sleep hours, since you don't actually sleep on it. We pretty much covered the entire thing with our ledge as soon as we got there and jumped in, and then hovered over it during a night of rain. We got to enjoy the place au natural for a few minutes in the am. Still rate the Bismark the best bivy ledge on El Cap and Kahuna Kahuna ledge the best sleeping ledge on the West Side (yes, it kicks butt on Timbuktu and it is a real ledge, not a "troll" just because you don't know about it doesn't mean it is not real).
Also, while you have to climb 7 pitches of the Dihedral Wall as part of the adventure, its a significant and visible "line", so I liked that. And it was fun to look at new sections of the wall and "Winds of" this and that. I was glad that no one was climbing the Dihedral Wall or other nearby routes when we were up there, so it was nice to have the west side mostly to ourself (except for the loud and very annoying F this and that being yelled from the general area of the Salathe on the last day, although I liked watching them struggle above me from Thanksgiving once our bags were hauled and our climb was basically over).
All in all, if you must go to the West Side, I liked everything else over there a lot better, including the Dihedral Wall itself. And if you are looking for the best corner on El Cap, the Muir awaits your non mud, non frog egg, fun to nail adventure.
HUGE THANKS to Erik Sloan, Jamie Mundo, and Little Nat for replacing all the anchor bolts and some lead bolts on the route. Without you the traveling would have been much scarier, and believe it or not, slower!
The best part was getting to say "Aw Chute, the Horse Chute" ala Nanook style, every day. :)
Sorry Coiler, I did take Cam Hooks, but I only used them once, and definitely hammered it in! (Sorry Chris, I like arrows better than cam hooks, a lot better). On every pitch I tried for a "c-star" (a Chris Mac clean climbing star) but in the end, I am afraid that we both earned very few. :)
Holly! Been way, way too long. Glad to know that you are still having good times on the Captin. When we did the Chute there was NO mud at all on that thing. Maybe a tiny bit of gardening on the 5.9 arching pitch and a few weeds on the left arching/ white crusty pitch. Too bad that arrow corner was muck- for us it was increible! Take Care! Oh yeah- some of those original belay bolts were scary... a few hand removed if i remeber right.
I totally agree with your assessment. Mud in the big arch, and on the pitch below. And the big corner looks nice from afar, but the calcifications make it unpleasant. Spicy up high, too - my partner was doing a lot of free moves up there, while I was a belay slave with my broken finger.