Greg Child 1984 AAJ Aurora TR


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 16 of total 16 in this topic
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 23, 2008 - 12:37am PT
[url=""]AAJ 1984 p168[/url]

El Capitan, Aurora. In August 1981 Peter Mayfield and I climbed a new route left of Tangerine Trip. We used the bruised and beaten start of the Trip to reach the huge arch where that route traverses right. At this point we went left 180 feet, getting swallowed into a great bomb-bay chimney that we nailed horizontally on the opposite wall so we were encased by walls with sky below--a very odd position in relation to the valley. We then broke out onto a very overhanging wall, finding thin seams that connected readily. A pitch of sustained copperheading behind little scallops gave an A5 pitch. (The attempted second ascent leader took a long fall here, popping a hook and ripping the aforementioned copperheads back to the belay, so it was with hindsight we rated this lead A5.) Above this we bivouacked on a good ledge we named “The American Zone” after a line from a Stones song that recurred frequently on our tape deck. Surprisingly the next section-a dark streak with few visable features-fell not to a rivet ladder but entirely to hooks and natural placements. A seam like the Shield Headwall cracks led to some flapping, expanding flakes, then at the headwall the drill came out in earnest, getting us over to the end of the Tangerine Trip. The ascent took nine days and the climbing was mostly A4 and A3, with 70 holes, 20 for belays. During our climb we enjoyed red sunsets with silhouetted skydivers hurling themselves from the top to the meadows; we saw the spectacle of a giant rope snaking down the Dawn Wall on a winch for some spelunkers to jumar and rappel on; we watched the same rope get dropped and whip down into a trucksized heap at the base; we witnessed an injured party on the Dawn link up with a team on Mescalito to self-rescue themselves; we marvelled at the acrobatics of the ever curious Peregrine. In short, the belaying was never dull. VI, A5.
GREG CHILD, Unaffiliated

El Capitan, Heart of Darkness. In August 1982 Peter Mayfield, Auggie Klein and I attempted a new route taking the thin seams to the right of the North America Wall, planning to continue up the black diorite right of the Sea of Dreams. Though we gave up after nine-and-a-half pitches, the section leading to Calavaros Ledge, on the North America Wall, stands as a fine, and difficult, seven-pitch alternative to the latter route. In the midst of the usual nailing were two-and-a-half pitches of 5.10, somewhat of a departure from the norm. While the route to Calavaros was on sound rock, we found that the black “heart” of the southeast face of El Cap was not merely loose, but decayed and hollow underneath. Drilled holes were of dubious strength due to the nature of these overlapping sheets of rock, but skyhooks were regrettably most useful. A nervewracking lead, mostly hooks on unsound edges, which we named “The Psycho Killer” pitch, followed by a dihedral of shattered blocks, took the wind out of our sails, so after four days we retreated.
GREG CHILD, Unaffiliated


Truckee, CA
Nov 23, 2008 - 08:19am PT
Thanks Ed! for posting these. I did not see them the first time around. Aurora was a blast, a great adventure. We barely scoped the wall with binos, knew where to start and went for it. Heart of Darkness was of course an attempt on what became Wyoming Sheep Ranch. Many people have enjoyed that one, though after the two worst pitches at the apex of our attempt, we thought that if we survived, we would be establishing a horrible pile in comparison to the better looking diorite on the Sea to the left and the Turnpike to the right.

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Nov 23, 2008 - 06:50pm PT
Wasn't it The Psycho Killer pitch that was renamed Welcome To Wyoming by the first ascensionists? Bad landing start, up to a very scary rope-cutting roof [the sharpest and most dangerous I have ever seen!] followed by hooking up a blank wall. Finishes on white quartz I think.

Too bad you guys backed off - the climbing gets better above. Were those appallingly bad rivets on that pitch - too long and under-drilled, some only in by about three or four threads! - yours?? I love the description of the rock as it holds true to this day. There are several huge flakes you could easily pull off with your hands.

Aurora is without doubt one of the finest routes on El Cap, and I am amazed it doesn't get climbed any more often. It may be the second-best A4 on the SE Face after Sea of Dreams.

Trad climber
Mar 19, 2009 - 08:55pm PT

Trad climber
Mar 19, 2009 - 09:04pm PT

Trad climber
Feb 7, 2011 - 02:52pm PT
Nice find Ed.


A friends backyard with the neighbors wifi
Feb 7, 2011 - 08:07pm PT
This moved Aurora high on the must do list.

You'll see me up there this spring.

Has Aurora been done in the winter yet?

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Aug 22, 2012 - 11:06pm PT

A friends backyard with the neighbors wifi
Jan 21, 2014 - 06:50pm PT
Bump because I read this once before, and am now reading it again.

I did aurora in fall of 2011 and it was great.

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
Aug 11, 2014 - 12:41pm PT
Captivating stories of bold climbing on the captain.

👊bump-worthy as fu<k👊
goatboy smellz

Aug 11, 2014 - 04:40pm PT
I've seen Greg post here a couple times but he seems hesitant to elaborate on any of these threads.
Too bad, he's probably one of the best writers from that era.

Hobart, Australia
Aug 11, 2014 - 06:00pm PT

When Xaver led the High Boots pitch on the third ascent, he accidentally bypassed a bolt (didn't see it). It was rated A5+ then. But he downgraded the pitch (even without clipping the bolt) to A4+. The only pitch we agreed was likely A5 was the pitch through a roof which I led on dicey broken rock above a big ledge (this was before beaks, and the crux was hooks and RURPS in rotten loose flakes). I just looked at the topo and this is indeed called the Welcome to Wyoming (formerly Psycho Killer) pitch [nice thing about the internet, you can find old stuff otherwise lost!]

I recall something that irked me on the Wyoming Sheep Ranch: above where Child had bailed, the eventual FAists used a number of rivets which they slammed in tight onto tie-offs. So when we did the third ascent, we had to clip ratty and frayed tieoffs, often in the midst of tenuous A4 terrain. The alternative was to take ages to cut away the rotten tieoffs so the rivet could accept a #0 rivet hanger (the only thing that would fit, and of dubious marginal benefit), so often we just clipped the rotten webbing and hoped for the best. Thus subsequent ascents were artificially harder and more risky. Is that all cleaned up now?

Oh, another story. Xaver had started out soloing this climb, then lost interest and invited me to join him. We got up to his high point, I led Pitch 5, I believe, and started hauling off the two bolts that were there. They were 1/4" threaded Rawl bolts, as I started hauling, one of them popped, so there I was with 200 pounds of gear hanging, all on one threaded 1/4" bolt, which if it had popped, I would have gone swinging 60' at least with haulbags attached, as the final part of that pitch was a sideways traverse of hooking and free climbing with no pro. I yelled down to Xaver to take the bags back, but that was when his English was still rough, and he didn't understand, and was starting to jumar up the rope. After what seemed like a terrifying while, I finally was able to communicate to pull the haulbags back in and send me up the bolt kit to reinforce the belay. I can still see that ratty 1/4" bolt, slightly bent and not really all the way in and the hanger torqued up against the barely threaded nut. Seemed ready to go!

Social climber
Aug 11, 2014 - 08:05pm PT
John your post just about made me barf.



Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Aug 11, 2014 - 09:55pm PT
dig it and this thread

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Aug 11, 2014 - 10:05pm PT
Holy moly Duecey.

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
Aug 11, 2014 - 11:29pm PT
Thanks JM for adding to the aforementioned boldness..

Got any pictures from up there?
Messages 1 - 16 of total 16 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Trip Report and Articles
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews