Up the Shield- Bocarde & Porter Climbing Nov/Dec 1973


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 19, 2009 - 04:27pm PT
A great account of an ultra classic El Cap FA.

The sweetest line on the headwall to be sure and my second El Cap route back in 1978. The cracks start and end in utter blankness.


Apr 19, 2009 - 08:16pm PT
steve, your shakin' on my tree. i so revere this route, it's "position" in particular, that i'm hustling to be the first to say hear! hear! i am motivated now to scan a few and gather a few thoughts to shore up your call. though it has been tread by many by now she was still my first ec(among few) and i was thrilled in the absolute back in '78. for now i'll hit the send button and get some education on how to post slides.

ps. i've travelled lite in my day so know that i, among many i'm sure, appreciate reading, after all these years have passed, the literature apropos that you make accessible by posting here.

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Apr 19, 2009 - 10:15pm PT
I've always thought that The Shield's location was second to none on El Capitan, and that being on that headwall is one of the most bizarre and unique experiences available to man, unlike (in the 1970s) anything else in history when you think about it.


dangling off a wind turbine in a town near you
Apr 19, 2009 - 10:22pm PT
Just the idea of this route got me into big walls, and I still haven't done it.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Apr 19, 2009 - 10:23pm PT
I agree John. And that this route was unknown to the rest of us, swept right up, done in great style. A really world-class eternal achievement. Really creative, really strong. As if in a dream!!

Charlie was the most creative, productive big wall climber of his time.

Apr 19, 2009 - 10:37pm PT
My second EC wall as well, but in the mid-90's- a much, much different experience from those early ascents- the Triple Cracks were so beat out that it was inconceivable that they ever took dozens of RURP's. I remember being surrounded by my new-generation gear being in awe of the early ascents on the gear of the time.

The Headwall is one of the top three climbing experiences of my life- truly mind-blowing to have the sweep of EC below your feet. Hats off to Bocarde & Porter for one of the most impressive, visionary ascents ever.

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
Apr 19, 2009 - 11:06pm PT
Thanks again, Steve!!! Another stellar post!!!


Trad climber
Long Beach, CA
Apr 20, 2009 - 12:13pm PT
I did the shield as my second wall in 1979 (Dihedral was first), and absolutely loved it! Looking up at the route from the triple direct it looks like an old bronze age shield, and the orange/golden staining really adds to the impression. Many fixed rurps were present in the groove and triple cracks pitches, but we had to place at least 1/2 of the gear ourselves. Crack damage was not too bad at that point, I actually placed two rurps on the triple cracks pitch and about 5 tied off knifeblades. At the end of the pitch it was a two bolt (button head contraction type) belay, and I thought about how I would really prefer three bolts at that point.

We bivy'd on the triple cracks, and due to a major error (I thought my partners pile pants were my hammock-hey the stuff bags were identical), I spent the night in three butt-bags. I passed the night fitfully, listening to Pink Floyd's The Wall (mommas gonna keep baby comfy and warm), and watching the celestial clock tick off the minutes until the first rays of light. What a fantastic wall! the exposure and the crack system are the stuff of dreams.


Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 20, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
Bump it for Mr. Grossman the historian again.
Whoo hoo!

Steve, you know how to pick 'em!!!!1111
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 22, 2009 - 09:30am PT
Chickenhead Ledge is covered with......bumps!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 25, 2009 - 05:34pm PT
Lots of bumps....

Social climber
Apr 26, 2009 - 01:52am PT
Thanks Steve. Such a wild position, like being on the outside of a huge balloon.

When Matt Dancy and I climbed the Shield in 1983, I led the Groove pitch, placing a few tiny RPs in the gaps between rurps (we climbed clean up to here). The webbing on the rurps had had a decade of sun, and was white, brittle and frayed. The rurpsí webbing seemed worse towards the top of the pitch. The very last rurp was the worst of all; just a few pathetic strands were left, and as I weighted it, I could see the dust flying off the straining threads. I held my breath, and reached up and up and up and yes! grabbed the bolt.

I heard that just a couple months later, someone took an eighty-footer there.

Apr 26, 2009 - 02:28am PT
"Looking down the Canadian Route."

Guess "Magic Mushroom" was too heady for the mags BITD.

AAJ first called Mescalito the "End All Route."

To say nothing of "Untitled" rather than "Walls without Balls."


Somewhere over the rainbow
Apr 26, 2009 - 09:23am PT
Brilliant, simply brilliant!

Apr 26, 2009 - 09:40pm PT
Chance meeting with CP, mid-90s. He told me about scoping out the line, planning to give it a go; a Valley kingpin appealed that he leave it for a free attempt because he (the VKP) knew the decisive climbing was a perfect one-inch crack. On site, the "one-inch crack" materialized as predominantly thin nailing. When he finished the FA and got back to his car, his windshield wipers had been broken off. *laughs*
don't have one

Apr 26, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
I didn't get to climb The Shield until '94(I was only 21). At that time it was well beaten out; it seemed like the key pieces were sawed off 3/4 and 5/8, and of course the leepers helped a lot. Still, this is one of the more memorable routes on the Captain. Great climbing and exposure....an incredible vision for its time.

Apr 26, 2009 - 10:40pm PT
We flew right by Charlie and Gary in the chopper (Angel 1) when they were up there. They were using my red haul bag I made on my moms sewing machine.

Awesome looking, to bad we didn't have a camera.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 3, 2009 - 10:29am PT
A shot of Steve Sutton on the triple cracks taken by Pratt on the third ascent from Yosemite Climber. Absolutely joyous climbing!!!

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
May 3, 2009 - 11:08am PT
There's quite a good related thread, about Charlie Porter, at http://supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=538088

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
May 3, 2009 - 12:53pm PT
What would the Triple Cracks go at free? Are they lead protectable without a hammer?

(I do expect to catch sh#t for even asking such a stupid question)
Messages 1 - 20 of total 58 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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