How many people get up El Cap on their first attempt?


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dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 7, 2012 - 12:07pm PT
It took me 3 tries before the weather, partner, psych and the stars aligned for a successful ascent. By then I had a good number of grade fives under my belt.
I wonder what percentage of climbers just walk up to the Big Stone and send?
Did you send on first try?
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:15pm PT
He'll, aren't there a number of people who've soloed their first El Cap route? I know I read a TR. about someone doing that on the South Seas.

I got it on my second try. Weather. But my second ascent took two more attempts.

I'm on my best streak ever right now, eight ascents with no failures.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:17pm PT
Alan Bard and I walked up to the base of the Salathe Wall and climbed to the top in 3 days and a few hours in the about 1972/3. Beginner's luck. The remaining tries--the West Face solo (lack of will), and the Nose with a client (too hot)--both failed.


Ice climber
the ghost
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:18pm PT
First try, Nose, 1986, with a fellow Calgarian.
We practiced our systems a lot that winter, in the rock gym.

Big Wall climber
Grass Valley, CA
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:26pm PT
I soloed three pitches of the nose and bailed on my first attempt. took a nice inverted whipper and after regaining composure and setting up my ledge to chill for the eveningI unloaded my haulbag all over the thing, didn't clip anything in, climbed onto the poorly set up ledge and promptly had it slide up the wall dropping all my stuff cell phone included. Bailed that aft/eve. Had a pity party all night then sacked up and soloed the prow in 2days starting the very next day. Sent the Nose on my next try with a partner, then sent Salathe with two partners in three fun packed days. Shooting for zodiac in a couple weeks.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:33pm PT
Not me lol.. I only had eyes for the captain, no mentor, only knew crevasse rescue ascending techniques and aiding with one daisy. I never did a smaller wall.. and just kept banging my head on the Captain until I figured it out and got up the Salathe for my first success after 3 to 5 tries depending how you count.

Does getting a pitch up Lost in America as a belay slave for a party that quickly decided they did not want a guy who cleaned every head while ascending crevasse rescue style count as an attempt? .. My first try on getting up the Captain..

Great trips each and every one.

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:52pm PT
I believe Gerry Bloch did at 68. Then again at 81. Sadly, he passed away in 2008.


Gym climber
sawatch choss
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:53pm PT
I remember the Captain had never looked so big as the day we walked up to actually climb it.

Nonetheless, we sent on the 1st go. Tangerine Trip, 1994.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:53pm PT
Did the usual SFWC first then bagged the Nose with Georges Bettembourge and Dave Cheesmond.

Slam dunk despite bad weather.

But shouldn't this thread address past wall experience as well?

Big Wall climber
Classroom to crag to summer camp
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:56pm PT
Def haven't made it up yet, def have tried more than a few times (~8 tries I think)

Reasons for not making it up include:
-Partner wigging out
-Me wigging out
-Equipment failure
-Time constraints

past wall experience:
tried without ever trying anything else first
tried after successively getting up baby walls
tried after soloing baby walls

Have never tired it with anyone of equal or greater wall experience than myself.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:57pm PT
I've had good stats on El Cap because I go there with my betters and don't have the delusions about how fast I'll be moving that I seem to suffer on smaller formations. I think the short approach helps too. You end up climbing before it gets to be too big of a pain in the ass.

My bail rate elsewhere is a truly pathetic.

Trad climber
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:59pm PT
First try, Mescalito. No prior or post wall experience.

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Nov 7, 2012 - 01:01pm PT
I'll let you know in the spring...

Big Wall climber
El Portal/Chapel Hill
Nov 7, 2012 - 01:07pm PT
First try was the Nose with no wall experience. It took 3 days to get to El Cap Tower, after which we bailed! WOOHOO!

Funny to look back at how ill-prepared we were...aiding the stovelegs and such. I guess everyone has to get their feet wet before they can dive in!
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 7, 2012 - 01:09pm PT
I got up the nose my first try but had a good partner. Then bailed off two routes with people I met in Camp 4 both of whom freaked out, one dropped half the gear, the other just had a breakdown. Then I did Zodiac which seemed like a cruise. jcory you will cruise zodiac, I thought it was actually easier than the nose.

two miles from Eldorado
Nov 7, 2012 - 01:34pm PT
Nose first try.

Trad climber
under the sea
Nov 7, 2012 - 01:41pm PT
Zodiac first try with one bivy one the wall and one on top...but I had just soloed leaning tower as my first wall and teamed up with another soloist so we had our sh#t dialed in....but I have failed several times since due to weather and partners who were still wet behind the ears.
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Nov 7, 2012 - 01:44pm PT
my very brief wall CV goes something like this; the Prow, Electric Ladyland then one failed attempt on the Zodiac in 81 when I first dropped the dope and then my hammer at the top of the Black Tower pitch.
bailing on the Zodiac 1981
bailing on the Zodiac 1981
Credit: can't say

Right after bailing I met a guy from WA who wanted to do the Zodiac on the C4 bullentin board. We managed it with few issues.
Roger Brown

Oceano, California
Nov 7, 2012 - 01:52pm PT
Made it a week or so ago with Doug. My first attempt and his first major commitment since the stroke/heart attack last year. 2 days fixing then 4 days on the route. The West Face Route. We were really slow, but then again we are a little older than a lot of you. Oldest West Face Team at 127 years?

Social climber
Nov 7, 2012 - 02:04pm PT
Dave Houchin talked me into doing the Salathe Wall. I had no real interest in big walls at the time. We did a quick saunter up the Prow first (first ever aid, first ever wall), then El Cap. After years of trad climbing in UK, with small RPs and other tricky gear, aiding seemed easy. So, no drama, lot of fun. Opened my eyes to the crazy places aid climbing could take you!

Nose, Shield, PO Wall, Tangerine Trip, plus runs up West Butt and East Butt. Came close to bailing from PO Wall but we elected to keep going despite terrible weather. Climbed Salathe a second time with girlfriend. That was also first time success for her.

Big thanks to Dave Houchin for getting me started!

One hundred percent record back in the 80s.

A more recent attempt on Lunar Eclipse ended 6 pitches up. Not sure why, I was not so hungry, maybe, less in tune with the rock. It was kinda wet and dripping, but still.... I should have understood that before starting, that was careless.

I hate bailing.

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