son of hart


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Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 28, 2010 - 08:25am PT
hi can i have some info about this route?
what route can be compared ?for example mescalito or the shield
is it much harder than those etc
can you post some photos?

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 28, 2010 - 08:41am PT
oh deer.
Cooler chimblys, from what I've gathered.

The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
Jan 28, 2010 - 09:17am PT
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jan 28, 2010 - 09:25am PT
There's some stuff here on McTopo.

I climbed it with Tom in the fall of '04. In spite of its outstanding natural line, it is one of my LEAST favourite El Cap routes.

There are some pretty nasty offwidths and chimneys that are hellaciously awkward. My lack of free climbing ability is well-known, but I am a caver, and usually do OK in chimneys. But these ones were tough and unfriendly, "as much fun to clean as they are to lead."

We brought along some 9" and 12" Valley Giant cams which obviously helped a lot, but even so, these chimneys were HARD and wicked awkward.

I have my Dr. Piton Super-Duper Beta topo scanned, and I could email it to you if you like - send me an email via the website so I can reply. And it might cost you a few beers on the bridge this spring... {wink}

Excalibur is a much better route nearby. Sunkist is brilliant and much much better. Cosmos isn't bad.

I haven't done the Shield, but SOH is a couple notches harder than a trade route like Mescalito, for sure. It sees very few ascents. I think it's only had the one ascent linked above since we did it.

In spite of it being one of my least favourite routes on the Captain, if not my VERY least favourite, on a different post here on McTopo, you will find a number of climbers writing that they have climbed it, and saying they really liked it. So one man's grovel-fest is another man's classic.

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Jan 28, 2010 - 10:32am PT
See the link Wally provides to my earlier Trip Report from 2008 for lots of pictures.

Bring some large cams & be solid on wide cracks, or at least have the ability to aid your way up them. A 9" cam or two would be nice to have.

On pitch 10, where the C-Mac topo shows a pendulum over left, you can hook instead directly over to the upper crack. An old bolt is nearby and 2 or 3 hook moves get you to the crack much more easily than the grassy nailing you would have to do if you pendo.

Great position, cool rock and a high Obscurity factor make this a memorable route.

Have fun!

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2010 - 10:48am PT
thank you so much the kierkegard chimney seems very hard....
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jan 28, 2010 - 11:56am PT
Bill's hooking tip above [the "slick arete" pitch] is important! I used the bolt and penji'd-lowered down, only to find myself climbing a vertical jungle of bushes. Really really horrible.

Kierkegaard didn't seem too bad [the 13th pitch] but the chimney above it [the 14th pitch] was a REAL struggle for both me as leader, and for Tom as cleaner. And that was WITH the big cams!

Blech. Why the appeal of this route?

Bill - you've done a ton of El Cap routes - what was your bottom line take on SOH? Great? Good? OK? Not good? Horrible? I'd be somewhere between "not good" with some "horrible" thrown in. So many better routes to climb, in my opinion.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2010 - 04:54pm PT
pete do you think the shield is better?
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jan 28, 2010 - 05:36pm PT
Amazingly, the Shield is one route I have knott yet done! So I can't tell you.

But I just didn't like Son of Heart, even being a caver I didn't like the chimneys and the claustrophic feeling. So in spite of never having done the Shield, I'm sure I personally would enjoy it a LOT more than Son of Heart. In fact, I would enjoy a visit to the dentist more than Son of Heart.

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Jan 28, 2010 - 07:10pm PT
Hey Pete, I liked it! The route was more strenuous than most but with memorable pitches & position. The wide stuff was burly but who wants to do easy walls?

Lots of killer gold & tangerine colored rock up there to enjoy.

Trad climber
san diego
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:02am PT
Spring of 1975 Dave Stutzman RIP, and Maurice(from Norway)attempted the second. Neither one of them had done a route on the Captain. Dave led Kierkegaard and Nietzsche chimney pitches totally unprotected. From belay to belay with zero/zilch/Nada piece of pro. Dave described it as a double overhanging flared OW/chimney. Did it with no aid or pro. No one has done it in that style since. Although Dale and Gramicci must have come close with just the bongs.

Social climber
Newport, OR
Jan 29, 2010 - 03:41am PT
Bill, loved your post on this one!!

Especially this one of "E" enjoying a refreshment break midlead!!!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 29, 2010 - 03:51am PT
so, if your'e oaky with leading .10 wyde do you really need to drag those boat anchors, with you?

Trad climber
Lausanne, Switzerland
Aug 4, 2011 - 03:00pm PT
It has been written above
"Spring of 1975 Dave Stutzman RIP, and Maurice(from Norway)attempted the second. Neither one of them had done a route on the Captain. Dave led Kierkegaard and Nietzsche chimney ..."
So far OK, except I am Swiss.
What is written after is false, pure legend! Dave did place several protections, in particular we had some 10-15cm aluminium tubes (I may still have some in my basement), and in order to remove them when jumaring up, I had to go so deep inside the chimneys that I had to remove my helmet.
I do not claim that these protections were very good ... but probably not worse than the belays :-(
We have been rescued 3 pitches below the top on the 12th day, by Mark Chapman, Jim Orey, and 3 of their friends who helped carrying water and ropes.
May Ganesh protect them! One week later, Jim even did lend me some hardware to go to the triple direct ... the kind of nice gestures you will never forget!

Big Wall climber
Nor Nev
Aug 4, 2011 - 03:18pm PT
^^^^^^ There you have it^^^^^^^^^

Another urban climbing myth squashed on the Taco.

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 4, 2011 - 09:45pm PT
Wow. You guys got rescued three pitches from the top? That's one easy nailing pitch, and two easy slab pitches.

Maurice - what happened?

[Thanks for your recollections, Butch, although they are of course second-hand]

I never could have gotten up SoH without Tom's big-ass Valley Giant cams. Yeah, I cheated. And we had a solar-powered shower on the summit.

Social climber
Aug 4, 2011 - 10:08pm PT
Butch - Gnarly story of dirtbagdom. Thanks for the post.

The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
Aug 4, 2011 - 11:42pm PT
On our ascent, the Iron Monkey led the Kierkegaard Chimney with two pieces of pro. He clipped a fixed bong and then placed a big bro tube that Yogi so graciously loaned us. When I cleaned the pitch I found out to my delight that Dave had forgotten to clip the tube chock thereby leading the entire gnarly pitch with on piece of pro.
Captain...or Skully

or some such
Aug 4, 2011 - 11:46pm PT

Trad climber
Lausanne, Switzerland
Aug 5, 2011 - 03:42pm PT
Some reactions first, thanks anyway for opening the box ... a lot to be said but I have to be careful, sometimes there are words that cannot be removed. Nice to hear that some people do remember ... Butch ...

"And the 12 days on the wall that Maurice mentions above includes at least 4 days of hanging stationary at their high point, hanging in their hammocks(not climbing) ... "
False, we stopped moving the 11th day early pm. This is what made the decision for the rescuers to move up the next morning.
They had been observing us from the beginning, and latest on the 5th day was it clear to them that our attempt was "kind of hopeless".

I will try in another post to explain how we managed to be so slow (starting hauling the 2 bags along the Salathé, or the leader forgetting to take either the hauling line or the second skyhook ... yes, we did all this :-) ... a lot to be learned for unexperienced big wall climbers ... as we were)

I consider Dave's suspicion regarding Mark & Jims secondary motives just odious! These guys had taken risks, sacrified a nice day and given lot's of efforts, just to avoid us facing an official rescue and a desperate bill! They had carried all the way up not only water, but as well teans of fruits, the only thing we would be able to eat in our condition.
True, from what I could observe jumaring up the rescue ropes, the last pitches did not represent any serious technical problems, but:
we would have needed liquid, food, and most probably additional hardware, for we had lost quite a lot, and were no more in condition to climb with a "ready to be washed" belay. Even if we had received all of this and finished the climb, for me it would not have been the 2nd ascent anyway.
What the 5 rescuers did that day remains a beautiful piece of modern chevalry


ps: I had written a high level account in french
click on the left "Les plaquettes GHML" then 1976
Moreover there is a picture of Dave in his hammock on the

Trad climber
Lausanne, Switzerland
Aug 5, 2011 - 10:33pm PT
"Also i am not sure what you are saying(perhaps insinuating)with "glad some remember....Butch...."

Just take it positively Butch :-)

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 5, 2011 - 11:11pm PT
Wow, nice mountain photos on your link. But where is the SoH story please? Can you provide a direct link?

I am still lost. Where precisely were you guys rescued?

I uploaded my annotated SoH topo, have a look - can you tell me where you guys were?


P.S. Lemme know if the link to my topo above is working ok, eh? All you aspiring ascensionists should have a look. And the Hardmen can make fun of us for using Valley Giants and taking two weeks to climb it! Actually, laughing my ass off here - the two weeks doesn't count the five nights preceeding the route itself! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!! I had busted my ankle pretty badly on the Ranch that spring, and I remember wearing my removable cast on part of the climb. So I wasn't exactly "on form"....

Trad climber
Lausanne, Switzerland
Aug 6, 2011 - 08:56pm PT
"I uploaded my annotated SoH topo, have a look - can you tell me where you guys were? "

We were in the pitch after the Tonsilectomy traverse (about 1/3 of the pitch?). Actually you can go to
The last picture is on the top, the last but one picture is in the pitch after the T traverse. We were slightly below the point were the climber is.


Trad climber
Lausanne, Switzerland
Aug 6, 2011 - 11:11pm PT
"But where is the SoH story please? Can you provide a direct link? "

No direct link sorry,the young guys in my club did scan some old publications.
I will try to be more precise: Open

and stay at the top of the page, untill it becomes blue and a menu opens on the left,then click the last but one item "Les plaquettes GHML", the menu expands, click " 1976",
appears then a new page. Go down 3/5 of it:
the title is "San Fransico le 27 mars 1975".

The actual account of SoH begins with "Fin avril: Un gars nommé David ..."

If instead of "1976" you click on "cinquantenaire", then going down a little bit, after a nice drawing (premonitory of Alex Honnolt on HD :-)
you get a picture: "bivouac au Yosemite". It is Dave in his hammock at belay 14, hanging at a rope fixed at the triangular roof (beginning of the T-traverse).

Although 36 years have passed, I must say that your topo seems at some points for the least strange to me (in particular between belay 9 and 11) maybe I should take the warning seriously :-)

Trad climber
Lausanne, Switzerland
Aug 8, 2011 - 09:27pm PT
First part of the story ... SoH 1975 ....

We had planned to be 8 days on the wall => 8 gallons of water. (one of them got damaged and part of its content lost).

We had fixed some ropes at the bottom of the Salathé.
First bivy above half$.

day2: We reach Mammoth terraces (already tired, hauling the bags on the low angle slabs has been killing). Moreover hauling 2 bags needs lot's of time, with our organisation the second leaves his belay only when the 2nd bag starts moving up. Down to Heart Ledge. We fix two pitches pm and back to the ledge for the night.

day3. . Vey dirty cracks. First incident: while leading I find a bolt from the FA ... actually it is just a dowel, with a nice screw thread ... but no nut, no hanger! ... My vocabulary is too limited for explaining the problem to Dave. I fix a belay a bit higher on regular pitons, not that good, Sylvester had some reason to put a bolt ...

When Dave arrives, good news: he has taken the same kind of bolts (ie we have the appropriate nuts and hangers) ... bad news ... he has only 5 of them!

It will appear later that Rick had removed most of the nuts along the route.

We reach the right corner of the Heart, first (of the 9) bivys in our single point hammocks. My sleeping back has no zipper ... getting into both the sleeping bag and the hammack is kind of expedition on its own.

We had carefully packed every item contained in the haulbags in a plastic bag, because of possible rain. A disaster! How long does it take to explore more then 40 identical white bags in order to find your toothpaste, or something more useful. By the way, think how stupid we have been, each one of us had its own tube of toothpaste ... some energy bars would have been a better investment.

day 4: The next pitch is mostly a bolt ladder, easy, but because of the nut problem, I have to cut a mini string in small pieces for progressing on the dowels. Dave takes the lead for the pitch finishing below heart roof. Taking a picture when he is close to the end, I realise that he has forgotten the hauling line. He has to rappel down and we bivy ... just one easy pitch above the previous bivy :-(

One of the gasoline bottle is licking.

day 5. Dave finishes his pitch and I take the lead for the roof. I find one bolt in the roof, a 2nd one 15 meters higher, (real hard nailing) and get desperate crazy when I get to the belay (heartbreak ledge): There is just one huge rivet, one huge f... completely rosted rivet!!!

I do not have the drill (Dave considered he was the specialist), and no way to place a solid piton ... just down to my right some lose rocks in kind of vertical hole that I can fix with 2 or 3 chuckstones ... yes, I consider the chucks were holding the stones. Desperate, this is just enough to belay someone climbing below ... but what next .... after probably two hours of hopeless thinking I decide to have Dave coming up ... and not me retreating. After all he will bring the drill.

I nevertherless take a pic of this crap belay ... just in case ... never knows, might help who it may concern to understand what happened to us, if ...
When Dave arrives he adds one bolt ... well, he just manages to have the dowel entering half-way ... rather unpleasant, all of our 5 bolts will have the same fate: Half-way in ... maybe Dave had taken the wrong drill ?

I would really love to know if the guys from the SA observed these bolts ...

Looking backwards to it, I am convinced that the guys of the FA had much safer belays than we had.

Our stove is hanging to some wires, huge flames that night, close to one meter high, dangerous ...

We knew we were slow and started svaing food and water.
Dave decided that I was too slow, and that he would lead everything. Why not, I am not ready to waste strength in a dispute, especially when I believe that time is going to clarify everything for free. He did lead for the next two days, I have little memories of these days, remember that once the dihedral did open to the right, making the atmosphere less claustophobic.

I remember as well Dave doing a beautiful layback at the beginning of pitch #12 (according to the pic of

Finally, on the 6th day, I lose my balance while cleaning, hitting a peg from below, receive tha hammer with full strength on the cheekbone, close to my eye, lot's of blood. I wrote about this: "I could not see my face, but I saw Dave's one when reaching the belay".

I had no gloves, and began to have wounds at all my fingers. Higher it turned out to be rather handicaping.

7th Bivy at the bottom of K Chymney: Again half a bolt inside. Looking upwards Dave comments: "looks like death" ...
In the dark a piton escapes ... 3,4,5,6,7 ... double sheaf of sparks above heart ledge, then a thick piece of silence, just the beat of my heart, bad night, full of anxiety.

In the morning everybody stays hidden in his sleeping bag, we are awake, but the nightmare is still above us.

Dave wants me to go for it. Ridiculous! Matter of good will I go up 6 feet. Ridiculous, not because of my mountain boots, just because that's me ... in those days I could perhaps go up to 6b-c (french scala, say 5.10d ), but with better shoes, and on limestone, gneiss or dolomite. In a granit chymney my limit must have been just french 5b-c ... basically no idea, never met an OW, not the same sport.
Sometimes, early pm I guess, and after smoking some grass, Dave eventually went for it.
Lot's of yelling, on both sides ... "we are going to die" Actually it was the first time I used this one. That's me, no problem with this, my friends will recognise my style immediately. Actually they find it safe with me, for I can recognise the smell of death from far away ... and that particular day it was some smell ...

I know it does not help the leader (and made progress since then), but you never know how reasonnable someone under grass might be. I never used grass or mushrooms, NEVER. I am just a human being (smoking regular tabaco then), courageous to some extend, in the sense that even when scared to death, I find sometimes the ressources to keep going, to some extend ...

How many A4/5 pitches have been done so far with a clean mind, without any dope ? You know better than I do ... for me it has been a cultural shock (It must be clear that for me this is not a moral problem!).
Some yelling from above too, kind of "I am coming down", "I am slipping". Dave has been very brave, congrats, could place very little protection. He made a belay directly at the end of the chimney, and I took the lead till the bottom of N Chimney. It was a wide crack, I used all bongs we had, removed some below me to use them again higher, did twinning bongs, and even a bong xrossings.
When I reached the next belay, Dave refused to join for the bivy (???), I hauled my hammock and sleeping bag, received a bit of food and water ... strange ...
In the morning he joined and that time went directly to the chim, no time for breakfast. Yelling, on both sides ... bis repetita.... congrats Dave!

Small comment regarding Dave's account." Finally, in order to "Get Maurice to shut up" Dave takes out one of his two aiders(etrea)and rolls it up into a ball, stuffs it into the back of the chimney, clips a biner and the rope to it and proceeds for another 15-30 ft. before it falls out and down the rope to Maurice."
Actually it's a good one :-) lol :-) but there might be another interpretation ... that day Dave simply learned from me how to avoid having a rope getting stuck too deep in a crack ... less funny, but think about it!

Last point, it would be rather incoherent that someone needing half a day to go for it does not try everything to place protections, no matter how bad. Anyway, congrats Dave! the chims were behind.

Going up to the (double) triangular roof was most interesting aid. Was happy to find a bolt close to the end. I had my first serious signs of dehydratation:When doing a strenuous move, my vision was becoming unclear, my picture of the world overexposed like a picture taken facing the sun, and during some seconds I could not figure out if I was still on balance.

Severe disapointment getting out of the roofs. I believed it would keep going straight up ... and a bolt 15m to my right had a different opinion ... had never seen any topo, did not know about this traverse.

It was already hard to pull the rope because of the double roof. I decided to pull all of it, and to continue as a solo climber would do, with a prussick on the rope. Most tricky nailing, no real crack, just a sample of all kinds of possible holes, and a unique bolt in the traverse.

The one bolt of the next belay was in sight (3 meters) when I had to use a skyhook. Drama, there was consecutively a second skyhook move, and our second skyhook had stayed by Dave. I tried tu use the hook of my ladder (european had this) but it did not work. That time I did not shout ... nowadays one would use the cell phone and tell the partner to put the hook on the hauling line, but shouting then, the risk would have been too high of having Dave believing I had reached the belay ... and happily sending the haulbag. I unroped, fixed the end of the rope to my last piton, went back all the way to the roof secured just by my prussick, and rapelled down to Dave. It had been kind of dancing with the angels.
Dave was in a bad mood, had been waiting too long without understanding what was going on. Much worse, Dave had finished his grass, maybe during his lonely night, maybe earlier ... or had it for breakfast ...

it was the beginning of the 9th evening, the end of what I did not know yet, had been the nice part of the story.


sorry guys, leaving tomorrow for climbing in Italy, more later

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Aug 8, 2011 - 11:56pm PT
Dang! I want to hear the end of that story!

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Nov 4, 2014 - 10:47am PT
Maurice really left us hanging here...

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Nov 4, 2014 - 11:28am PT
El Capitan is a rough neighborhood.

At least it was back before it turned into a sport crag....HA!!
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