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

climber
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.

Malemute

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.
jcory86

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.
climbski2

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.
zBrown

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.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/El-Capitan-and-the-King-At-81-Gerry-Bloch-2923744.php

Rhodo-Router

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?
Jeremy

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:53pm PT
ZM on first try with no wall experience at all.

Anybody can do that sh#t. Just don't bail.

JA
j-tree

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
-Weather
-Time constraints

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

edit2:
Have never tired it with anyone of equal or greater wall experience than myself.
Melissa

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.
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Trad climber
SLO, Ca
Nov 7, 2012 - 12:59pm PT
First try, Mescalito. No prior or post wall experience.
briham89

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Nov 7, 2012 - 01:01pm PT
I'll let you know in the spring...
RP3

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.
SicMic

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

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

climber
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?
crunch

Social climber
CO
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.

John M

climber
Nov 7, 2012 - 02:10pm 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.

This is a classic tale. Way to go.
Impaler

Social climber
Berkeley
Nov 7, 2012 - 02:19pm PT
Lurking Fear in 2008. First try in a day.

I did 1/2 Dome the year before. Then just a month before we did SFWC with the LF partner who had similar experience level as I. All in a day. The weekend we did LF we were thinking of doing the Salathe, but didn't have any desire to sleep on the wall or haul under any circumstances. So, we settled on doing 2 walls in a 3 day weekend. On Friday we climbed Leaning Tower. My partner forgot his headlamp and I got a vicious stomach bug that made me nearly puke every time I tried to eat anything. Jugging the first two pitches on WFLT and spinning around was a nightmare.

We got to rest a bit on Saturday and since we couldn't conceive of falling asleep at night went over to Lurking Fear and started climbing in the evening. Topped out after 24 hrs in delirium having eaten nothing at all during the climb. I was trying to convince my partner that it's imperative for me to take a shower before going to sleep since we were sweaty and exhausted, but he called b.s. on that. Long story short, I was trying to swallow down some canned soup when back at the car and all of the sudden I wake up 15 min later and I still have a mostly full can in my hand and soup in my mouth.

It helps to be young, psyched, prepared, and have a partner of similar abilities. I'm proud to say that I've climbed Captain twice now and never slept on any wall.
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
Nov 7, 2012 - 02:33pm PT
I failed 4 times before I summited

twice on lurking fear (1 time got psyched out and once in the oct 2004 storm)

failed on the muir twice (once a partner got hit by a rock and the other we got snowed on)

Now I'm 3 for 3 in the last couple of years.

Mark: how can you claim 8 successful ascents in a row when I distinctly remember you getting rescued off Iron hawk in June. I hate to knit pick but if it were me I would say I had failed on that one given the circumstances
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 7, 2012 - 02:47pm PT
"I'll let you knww in the spring."-Briham

Do that.

I'm laying out a line in vegas based on that outcome. We have to figure out the odds. Good thread to help establish the odds on the bets:

"Briham will send his first El Cap attempt."

"Briham will bail his first El Cap attempt."

It's looking like...

...it's just too, too early to say.

Maybe after the holidays, folks got more to bet with, he may have broken a finger, his partner may have taken a powder, yada-yada-yada...

Seriously, Briham, good luck, enjoy the preparation and the pre-climb foreplay. It's your wedding night, after all.
j-tree

Big Wall climber
Classroom to crag to summer camp
Nov 7, 2012 - 03:27pm PT
Here's my marker. 20 internet bucks on Briham making it to the top.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Nov 7, 2012 - 04:07pm PT
I did, but I'd also soloed a few in Zion before (and failed twice in Zion before getting up the first one).

Second day seems to be the worst, the hauling is still hard, the exposure is getting crazy, and the soreness starts. I haven't done an aid route in almost 10 years, but man the Shield looks good. It's been on the list for a long time and I figure once I get older and have "retired" from trying to freeclimb hard things, I'll get back to aid walls. But probably more in a push style...hauling all that sh#t is a PITA. I like the climbing, like being up there, but could do without the vertical freight hauling and cramped camping.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Nov 7, 2012 - 04:16pm PT
I started up my first EC route via the Salathe Wall in '72 at the tender age of 17, with an old canvas duffel bag, a swami belt, a rack of pins, and a 17 year old partner. We didn't stop 'til we topped out 5 days later. No falls, made all our bivi ledges, and summited in spite of Eric's desire to rap from Sous le Toit.

Late September and no one else on the entire wall, not just the route, for the whole time.

The next year, did the second ascent of The Mushroom with Richard Harrison and was batting 1000, 'til the wood block debacle with Chappy on our FA attempt of Excaliber...

If we had had cams that thing would have been in the bag too ;-)


micronut

Trad climber
Nov 7, 2012 - 05:46pm PT
I hope to this May!

Credit: micronut
Already psyched and this thread is just fueling the fire!
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Nov 7, 2012 - 05:55pm PT
Third attempt. First two on the Nose, I think in '81 and '82, but between inexperienced partners and fighting through the usual cluster$%uck we didn't get past Sickle. Third attempt on Zodiac in '83 went like a charm. In fact, I think it was DEE's climb the year before or so that inspired me. I was hanging out with his protege, Bob Cox, and we would go to the Meadow every afternoon to check on his (and the Troll I think?) progress. To a 17 or 18 yr. old, it looked just too rad, so of course I started hatching plans of my own for the following summer.
Gunkie

Trad climber
East Coast US
Nov 7, 2012 - 06:02pm PT
Not me. We did score the RNWFHD then tried El Cap (Muir) the next year and failed. I think we got up on our third attempt (Nose). Failed two times after that distinctly because of weak partners (different partners, both on LF)... and I hate to say that because I was the weak partner on our first attempt (Salathe).
lamadera

Trad climber
New Mexico
Nov 7, 2012 - 07:16pm PT
Triple direct, first try. You have to want it, a good partner doesn't hurt either.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Nov 7, 2012 - 07:21pm PT
Two half-hearted attempts before climbing the big stone on my first real attempt.
Plaidman

Trad climber
South Slope of Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, USA
Nov 7, 2012 - 07:25pm PT
First attempt. The Nose - weather mostly. It was 95 degrees and we were moving too slowly.

Second attempt didn't even get off the ground. Partners bailed. I wasn't really in shape for it. Could have done it, but it would have been ugly. Maybe not. We will never know.

Now I am working on losing 40 pounds and train like a mad mad to be faster and more efficient.

We will have to see how that goes. The goal is to get it done by next Nov. 2013

I am now 50 years old.
mongrel

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Nov 7, 2012 - 07:47pm PT
Yep, I did, but as someone posted upthread, I had a good partner who had done it before. We arrived with about 8 days climbing time available, shooting for Salathe. But there was a crowd, so we did a few SW base crack climbs. Big slow party still gumming things up above, so we went and did the Good Book, it was hard, so rested a day. Then did the E. Buttress of El Cap figuring we were out of time for a full wall. But that went so well we changed our minds and fixed and hauled to Sickle, then launched and still made it up and down and back to work Monday morning. For spuds like us, it was a pretty good week of climbing. It was a big advantage to be firing Yosemite cracks so we could free all the Stovelegs (exc. pendulums), this created a lot of upward momentum.
Spike Flavis

Trad climber
Truckee California
Nov 7, 2012 - 07:53pm PT
Did the Nose w/ Bill Anderson in 1985.

No hauling or fixing. 1 bivy sack. 2.5 days.

Bill was THE MAN and I have to thank him for taking me on EL Cap as my first wall.

Googlymoogly

climber
Nov 7, 2012 - 08:12pm PT
I hope to this May!
I'm with micronut! May is going to be the month! and the excitement just keeps building
inde_rida

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Nov 7, 2012 - 09:44pm PT
Lurking Fear, first time aid, first time big wall, 3rd time in yosemite!
Captain...or Skully

climber
Nov 7, 2012 - 09:51pm PT
Crickets.
hairyapeman

Trad climber
Fres-yes
Nov 7, 2012 - 09:53pm PT
Crickets.

HA!!!!! I was just about to say frogs!
j-tree

Big Wall climber
Classroom to crag to summer camp
Nov 7, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
Crickets.

But what's the hardest part of A4?
hairyapeman

Trad climber
Fres-yes
Nov 7, 2012 - 09:56pm PT
But seriously....I have tried 3 times, 2 on washington column (south face, the prow) and 1 on el cap (the shield) and think I may just keep it to single day multi-pitch climbs from now on!
Captain...or Skully

climber
Nov 7, 2012 - 10:03pm PT
Many folks find that it's NOT their way. Sometimes they discover this when they're with you. Sometimes Fate has other plans for you.
Sometimes. Other times, it all clicks.
salad

climber
Nov 7, 2012 - 10:06pm PT
im 1 for 1. but i had a ringer. it was an interesting experience. i found out the day before that the wife was prego, so that def got in my head. she pulled erik aside and told him not let me puss out.. hahaha. it was july and over 100 degrees and i was miserable and cramping like mad.

erik didnt let met quit, and while i deferred leads on the top half, we did make it. need to get a 'cleaner' ascent.
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
Nov 7, 2012 - 10:08pm PT
Lurking Fear first try.

Anastasia

climber
InLOVEwithAris.
Nov 7, 2012 - 10:15pm PT
Bill did the Nose, first try.

Me, three tries later and still no results beyond being once hauled up like a sack of potatoes. Yeah... I suck.
gonzo chemist

climber
Fort Collins, CO
Nov 7, 2012 - 10:18pm PT
My friend Kia soloed Mescalito for his first El Cap wall.

here's his video TR. Its awesome!





Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 8, 2012 - 12:56am PT
I sent 1st try.

We did the 3D as our 2nd wall, two days after WFLT.

Think I'm going on 11-12 sends since my lat bail.
Jimmy Russells

climber
Nov 8, 2012 - 01:11am PT
Iron Hawk first try. Had a ringer. You all know him.
Fogarty

climber
BITD
Nov 8, 2012 - 01:26am PT
My first try on the captain was an early send of the Majic Mushroom 1984, Wow that was 29 years ago. My last time on the big stone was in 2001 on Lost World a small Epic and slow team and the anus looked pretty wet and dark, this was my only big wall failure. I turn 50
this August and would like to finish on top with maybe one last send.



Andrew Barnes

Ice climber
Albany, NY
Nov 8, 2012 - 02:27am PT
Kristoffer Wickstrom, soloed South Seas to the Pacific Ocean Wall as his first El Cap route a few years ago. Some of these ascents fly under the radar, because the climbers don't do any self promotion.

I climbed a bit with Kris a couple of years before his solo (we did WFLT), and I immediately knew that he was a tough dude. A year or two later we made a trip to Red Rocks to do the Rainbow Wall. It had snowed a lot, and I bailed on the approach itself. Kris stayed on by himself, to do the
Aeolian wall. I looked at the frozen wall, north facing, bitterly cold, infrequently traveled - I thought, this kid is nuts to try this solo, in such terrible conditions. He got up high on the wall, a storm dumped on him like crazy, he had to bail, but he survived. Next I heard from him, he had soloed Lunar Ecstasy at Zion. The next thing was his solo of SS->PO on El Cap. I know I'm embarrassing him by talking here about his exploits (he has posted on this forum before) - but he is not going to blow his own trumpet, so I'm blowing it for him.
QITNL

climber
Nov 8, 2012 - 02:35am PT
1 for 1 here, solo. After I got up Yosemite Falls, the rest was real easy.
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
Nov 8, 2012 - 02:40am PT
1st try, bail on the Nose due to tendinitis of the knee. 2nd try the Nose, 2 months later, success. Plans for Salathé, but scrapped due to serious congestion on the route. Did Free Blast instead, and nearly got killed due to rockfall from an aid party hauling a bag up the Half Dollar. Did the West Face. Made a weak attempt at Zodiac, bailed on the first pitch, due to stupid lawn chair ledge idea. I think Walt S. promoted that idea to us. That wasn't the only silly thing he convinced me to try, hah, hah.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Nov 8, 2012 - 03:13am PT
Hey mcreel- "Plans for Salathé, but scrapped due to serious congestion on the route. Did Free Blast instead, and nearly got killed due to rockfall from an aid party hauling a bag up the Half Dollar. "

Was this recently???
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Nov 8, 2012 - 08:06am PT
I've done most of the harder El Cap routes on sight ...Of course having Paul Ryan as rope gun might have had something to do with it...
the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Nov 8, 2012 - 09:41am PT
Me..
West face, on sight, all free with HB in 1984...
such a good experience..
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
Nov 8, 2012 - 09:45am PT
My first El Cap attempt was also my first wall, Zodiac, in 1990. It was the last El Cap route to date for my partners, Larry Zulim and Sheldon Wilcox.

Did it IAD with Kristoffer Wickstrom (upthread)and Scott Lappin last May for my third time on that route IAD, so far.
The Alpine

climber
Nov 8, 2012 - 10:00am PT
Everybody's sending 'round here!

First try here as well. I never knew the bittersweet taste of bailure 'til I headed into the mountains...
Jane Gallwey

Big Wall climber
Ireland
Nov 8, 2012 - 10:13am PT
1st try 2010 - Triple Direct, bailed from the grey ledges, parner bashed his leg up a bit
2nd try 2011 - LF solo

Even though it was only 2 years it felt like I'd been wanting to climb El Cap forever - sitting on top on my own (even if I'd only done the easiest possible route) was pretty damn neat.
James

climber
My twin brother's laundry room
Nov 8, 2012 - 10:16am PT
first try zodiac in a day.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Nov 8, 2012 - 10:57am PT
I know a kid that got up Muir wall on his first try. Led something like 26 pitches too... Too bad he's not talking about it....
Prod

Trad climber
Nov 8, 2012 - 11:00am PT
First try first wall Zodiac 2004. Swapped pitches.

Prod.
steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Nov 8, 2012 - 11:04am PT
2 for 2; The Nose and Salathe-1971
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
Nov 8, 2012 - 01:24pm PT
shield first go in '78, unless you want to say we bailed repeatedly in the process of fixing six ropes. jugged every morning, golfed and swam every afternoon for a week till finally my freshly dislocated knee seemed ready/steady after plenty of biking to/from the bar
Timmc

climber
BC
Nov 8, 2012 - 01:58pm PT
2 for 2

Salathe in 1991
The Nose in 2008
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
Nov 8, 2012 - 02:16pm PT
"Hey mcreel- "Plans for Salathé, but scrapped due to serious congestion on the route. Did Free Blast instead, and nearly got killed due to rockfall from an aid party hauling a bag up the Half Dollar. "

Was this recently???"


No, that was a long time ago, maybe 1989.
Gunkie

Trad climber
East Coast US
Nov 8, 2012 - 02:23pm PT
steveA -- Steve Arsenault of Mordor Wall fame? If so, it's sad all those chicken bolts were added to the 2nd and 3rd pitches.
Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 8, 2012 - 02:25pm PT
Ammon soloed the NA for his first wall, no portaledge. What a Pirate!
steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Nov 8, 2012 - 02:27pm PT
Gunkie,

Ya, that's me.

Such a lousy day outside. I've been goofing off all day inside.
bergbryce

Mountain climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Nov 8, 2012 - 02:58pm PT
Has anyone mentioned climbing the East Buttress?
I know that's kind of the edge of El Cap but it does allow for a moderate climber to scale the big cliff in a somewhat relaxed day. You get to experience the views across the valley and the east ledges descent.
If it counts, I got up it first time.
Hoping to some day get enough time to try a wall route on El Cap. I plan on choosing my partner for that carefully. We'll see how that goes.
WallMan

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Nov 8, 2012 - 02:58pm PT
May 2013 first-timers - plan for late May. Early and mid-May seems to have a higher probability of being too unstable and or wet.

My first attempt - mid-May - the Captain was wet from a big snow the prior week, and I got scared, we bailed from just below Dolt. Came back the next year in June and hungrier. We got up the Nose, and have continued with success on the Salathe and Mescalito. 3 for 4 - but first time was a failure.

Climb Ohn. Wally
Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 8, 2012 - 03:08pm PT
Has anyone mentioned climbing the East Buttress?

Sorry brah, doesn't count.

Yer gunna die!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 8, 2012 - 03:40pm PT
Up the Tangerine Trip with Mason Frichette on the first try back in 1977. I had two Grade VIs already under my belt and a half dozen Vs so it was pretty routine.
Gunkie

Trad climber
East Coast US
Nov 8, 2012 - 03:40pm PT
steveA - I've done Mordor Wall 3x. Once in the 80's with 2 or 3 bolts on the second pitch (your original single bolt at the end of the traverse... still shaking my head over that impressive feat). Then I did the route again in the mid-90's and the 2nd pitch had four or maybe five bolts on it, but the 3rd pitch still had the bathook holes leading to the crack. Then I did the route again in 2001 and there were probably six or seven 3/8 inch SS bolts on the traverse + a new 3/8 inch SS bolt on the seam. And all of the bathook holes on the 3rd pitch were filled with 3/8 inch SS bolts. And the 1st pitch had a 3/8 inch SS bolt just before the hanging belay.

Mordor Wall was, and still is an outstanding line, such a great climb with real consequences for blowing it. I'll take my son up it one of these days and tell him not to clip any of the bolts on he 2nd pitch until he gets to the seam ;)
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 8, 2012 - 06:23pm PT
I'll never forget the feeling of getting to the top the first time (Nose clean). I didn't want it to end, felt like I could keep going forever!

After my first one I was 100% till now. When you've got the psych there isn't much short of death that will stop you.

I knew a couple of brothers that took many attempts before they were successful. After that they just cranked one after another.

I know another guy that went up many many times and never did make it. He didn't have the psych.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Nov 8, 2012 - 07:27pm PT
hey there say, dee ee.... wow, this is a fantastic thread...
thanks for sharing... :)


will be back to see and read more...
thanks for sharing... :)
Binks

climber
Uranus
Nov 8, 2012 - 07:42pm PT
I made it... I managed it slowly... And haven't done it since (other than the EB free route which does not count).
Paul Brennan

Trad climber
Ireland
Nov 8, 2012 - 08:34pm PT
2 for 2 so far. Mescalito as the first and Zodiac solo as the second. Both last month. Hopefully the first of many. Its nice up there. One other VI, some V's and a few bails off other walls beforehand though. Can't wait for next spring....
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 8, 2012 - 08:52pm PT
For most people, el Cap is the biggest cliff they have ever seen, and it takes a while to get used to it.
radair

Social climber
North Conway, NH
Nov 8, 2012 - 08:56pm PT
Got up the Nose in November 1985 first try with a strong partner. We had an awesome time.

I slammed into the Dolt corner while following the tension traverse pitch off Sickle ledge as I didn't have enough rope to lower all the way. That wasn't so great as I had back problems for years from that slam. Then we had 4 base jumpers scream past us a couple pitches below the great roof, what a shot of adenaline! I had a nut pull out on the great roof and took an upside down fall, oops.

Finally, I linked the last two pitches and had horrendous rope drag, so had to belay off the 5 bolts/hanging stance right at the lip. I remember at first thinking "oh no", but the hauling was so easy and the light so perfect I didn't want to leave. John Long wrote about that belay spot in one of his articles and captured the feeling perfectly.

Best route of my life.
11/1/85
11/1/85
Credit: radair
Cole

Trad climber
los angeles
Nov 8, 2012 - 09:06pm PT
I'm on my best streak ever right now, eight ascents with no failures.

Mark, just wondering why you don't consider this a "failure?" Not an attempt at flaming just wondering. Or have you done 8 El Cap routes since?

Disclaimer: I've never done a big wall and I suck. Just curious as to what defines success and failure on a big wall.

http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Iron-Hawk-Solo/t11586n.html

EDIT: BTW, this is one of my favorite TR's ever and have shared it with many people. Very inspiring.
Mikemcee

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
Nov 8, 2012 - 09:45pm PT
What incredible timing for this thread as I pondered the same question yesterday while I hiked our last load down after bailing from Zodiac. Cap'n 1 - Mike 0.

Cracko

Trad climber
Quartz Hill, California
Nov 8, 2012 - 10:22pm PT
First El Cap attempt: Zodiac 1999. Made it in 4 days at age 46. Not done with El Cap yet !!
OldEric

Trad climber
Westboro, MA
Nov 8, 2012 - 10:34pm PT
2 for 2 - Nose (77) and Salathe (78) - similar to Steve A, Was young and fit (and stubborn). Had good luck with the weather.
east side underground

climber
Hilton crk,ca
Nov 8, 2012 - 10:39pm PT
Dihedral Wall June '85 - Nope - you think it was a little hot ?











le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
Nov 8, 2012 - 11:41pm PT
1st go: Sent with a strong partner who'd been up LF. We did WFLT together. Triple Direct, mid-August '06, full moon, no one else on all of SW face except for Yo and partner, who were completing their Albatross send (later to become one of this site's best TR's). Before fatherhood - big factor for me I think. All kinds of fun, great memories.

2nd go: Failed miserably on the Tangerine Trip, June (?) '07. Strong partner but I let myself get into the wrong head space. Scheduling an int'l flight five days out from your day 1 is a terrible idea, too easy to take hold of that excuse when you get scared (as I did). Shitty feeling to let down a solid partner.

3rd go: Bailed from the Alcove, super strong partner, this summer. Just hit a mental redline. Reversing the Hollow Flake pendulum with the pigs took some doing. Once again, feels bad to let down a good partner.

El Cap can get you when you least expect it. Looks like all systems go on the Salathe here in this pic, staying loose and having fun past the Ear, but waking up 12 hours later I was done.



Hopefully get it this next June.
bigwall shitter

Social climber
the wild west
Nov 9, 2012 - 12:05am PT
Mark, just wondering why you don't consider this a "failure?" Not an attempt at flaming just wondering. Or have you done 8 El Cap routes since?

Disclaimer: I've never done a big wall and I suck. Just curious as to what defines success and failure on a big wall.

http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Iron-Hawk-Solo/t11586n.html

EDIT: BTW, this is one of my favorite TR's ever and have shared it with many people. Very inspiring.

He climbed and hauled everything but the last two pitches by himself, that is a hell of a lot more work than climbing the whole thing to the very tippy top with a partner. I'd count that as an ascent of el cap, not perfect, but a hell of a lot better than I could do.

carry on
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Nov 9, 2012 - 12:27am PT
I got up East Buttress on my first attempt less than a month ago....but that doesn't count as a true El Cap experience. Hope to get on it sometime in the next year. From the look of things, there will be lot's of TRs! Micronut is already running stairs and hauling in the gym!!
Adamame

climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 9, 2012 - 12:33am PT
Climbed New Dawn with Hoipoiloi for my first El Cap Route. We were on Wino by night two. It was pretty mind blowing to go from, can I do this at all to 1800 ft up on the 2nd night. That broadened my horizons a good deal

5 for 5 now.
Andrew Barnes

Ice climber
Albany, NY
Nov 9, 2012 - 12:42am PT
SteveA and Gunkie,
The thing about the second pitch of the Mordor wall is that in its current state it's impossible not to aid on the bolts - because the bolts are filling up the bathook holes. Now one could choose not to clip the bolts for protection after using the bolt for aid, but this is now taking the game of artificial climbing to the extreme of artificiality. Basically, adding the bolts has irrevocably changed the nature of the route.
cmclean

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Nov 9, 2012 - 03:56am PT
Bailed on our first attempt--Salathe in 2007. We had done multiple grade Vs and RNWF, but never hauled before on a route, which ended up being pretty mentally daunting when planning on a multi-day ascent. Bailed due to time and just being psyched out. Went back the next year and climbed the route in 2 bivies, starting a current 5/5 El Cap ascent streak. I think the first send is both the hardest and most rewarding.
Michael Hjorth

Trad climber
Copenhagen, Denmark
Nov 9, 2012 - 04:50am PT
First try: Mescalito 1994; OK!
Second try: Muir 2005; bailed!
Andy2

climber
Nov 9, 2012 - 06:12am PT
Climbed the Nose on my first try in 1992, leading and hauling every pitch. I must have been in good shape then! No previous wall experience, but I'd done several trips to the Valley, including Steck Salathe etc.
Gunkie

Trad climber
East Coast US
Nov 9, 2012 - 06:44am PT
The thing about the second pitch of the Mordor wall is that in its current state it's impossible not to aid on the bolts

Very good point, Andrew.
Matt Thomsen

Big Wall climber
Places
Nov 9, 2012 - 07:14am PT
Climb lurking fear first try in 2004, in a team of three. Both partners had never climbed el cap. Good times! I have bailed a few time sence though...
RP3

Big Wall climber
El Portal/Chapel Hill
Nov 9, 2012 - 07:28am PT
Mark, just wondering why you don't consider this a "failure?" Not an attempt at flaming just wondering. Or have you done 8 El Cap routes since?

Cole,

What if you just cleaned a route? My girlfriend recently followed me up Zodiac, where I led and hauled every pitch. Do you think she climbed El Cap? I certainly think so...

Therefore, it is not flawed logic to say that if you jugged out two pitches from the top after a solo of a damn hard route, you get credit!
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Nov 9, 2012 - 07:44am PT
NA Wall 77 with Bill Denz, first try. Nose with Lars Holbeck 78, first try. Salathe with Stu Polack 78, bailed after free blast. Heat. Never went up again. Decided long free climbs were more fun.
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
Nov 9, 2012 - 08:01am PT
I have very fond memories of the Nose. It was my first and only real wall. Before that my longest route was East Butt Middle, I guess. Started climbing regularly Fall '85. First 10a lead May '86. First 11b lead Taurus at Sugarloaf Mar. '87. Nose July '87. I did it between 2 of my Ph.D. prelim exams, one of which I failed, hah, hah.
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
Nov 9, 2012 - 10:10am PT
It's hilarious to me that a couple of posters on the last page consider Mark's ascent of iron hawk a success. You either top the route out or you don't. it's black and white and from the look of those pitches on the topo they aren't trivial, otherwise he would have sent them. Mark's obviously a great climber but he got rescued and jugged the last two pitches. And if he didn't have the advantage of having buddies to come get him it would have been yosar or a hellish descent on a traversing route.

Roger; to answer your point I don't really think you can claim you climbed the zodiac if you jugged the whole thing, yeah its hard work but in my opinion if you didn't lead anything then there's an asterisk next to the ascent. Just my opinion but when I was learning I was told you aren't really climbing until you're on the sharp end.

2 cents
Captain...or Skully

climber
Nov 9, 2012 - 10:18am PT
A Deli Council would rule in that manner, also.
It is what it is.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 9, 2012 - 10:22am PT
ie, a telephone repairman can climb el cap. I wouldn't mind jugging a route, maybe if I was the video camera guy or something, just to be up there. A fun thing to do but it's not even comparable to following a normal trad route, where you at least do the moves. Jumaring is more like rapelling than like climbing, even if you do take out gear. Hey if someone wants to hire a guide to get this great experience, go for it. I'm impressed with the guy above who climbed his first wall at age 46, I plan to make my own return as well!
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 9, 2012 - 10:26am PT
Nobody is BSing anyone about what they did or didn't do. If they were, you wouldn't know the details.

It used to hurt me if I had a great experience on some route and I had to listen to someone else's need to reduce it to nothing at all. It seemed like if I even breathed a word of the climb without redisclosing my every style sin, there were some people who would call me a liar...even if they were with me and therefore obviously fully aware of exactly what I climbed (or did not) and how I climbed it.
RP3

Big Wall climber
El Portal/Chapel Hill
Nov 9, 2012 - 10:31am PT
Spanky,

For sure, there is an asterisk next to an ascent of that nature. But someone who juggs all of El Cap still did climb up El Cap...performing a vital role in the act of a team ascending a cliff.

If someone climbs a single pitch on toprope, did they still climb the pitch even though they were not on the sharp end? Sure...but they don't get the same credit as if they had led it.

I guess that is just how I feel...everyone is entitled to believe whatever they want.

Cheers,
Roger
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
Nov 9, 2012 - 11:05am PT
Melissa,

I hear what your saying but lets call a spade a spade. It's no shame to fail on a route and I take as much pride in some of my failures as my successes. In fact I would argue that I have learned more from getting my ass kicked than on routes that we cruised. I fully believe that Mark's trip up Iron Hawk was an amazing experience that included lots of learning and soul searching. He put forth an amazing effort and climbed well but we can't change reality and calling it a success is wrong because that isn't what happened. In fact I probably have more respect for the fact that he pushed himself right to the edge to see what his limits really are. But the fact remains, he didn't climb the last 2 pitches.

Roger,

I do believe that it's an enormous effort to jug el cap, but from my personal ethics I have always tried to hold myself to high standards. If someones asks me if I did a route and I have I will say yes but if I fell or hung I add that to. In addition if I tr a climb and get it clean great, but we all know leading a pitch is much different than toproping. I got a pitch from thanksgiving on lurking fear but I don't claim to have finished the route because we got stormed off. I guess everyone has their own personal ethics but I don't think jugging a route is the same as swinging leads. It'c hard work and cool but it's not the same
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 9, 2012 - 11:10am PT
Spanky,

Why do you need to make calls about whether or not someone else's route should count as a success to them? Are you deciding where limited sponsorship dollars should go?

Mark told you what he did quite specifically and what it meant to him. Those are the facts.

The rest is your judgement.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Nov 9, 2012 - 11:45am PT
Bails can be good experiences for a lot of reasons. Always some disappointment involved. But if done for the right reasons there is some pride in making the right call when sorely tempted to continue into a deadly epic situation.

In wall climbing I think my best accomplishment was a Bail. I know it is the wall climb I'm most proud of. Made one bad decision in not bringing enough water. Had to bail from the triple cracks on the Shield. Made more good important decisions after that than I ever came close to needing to make on any other wall. That climb which was technically a fail still fires up a ton of great memories when I think about it. It was my greatest success on a wall. A successful bail.

This said after several complete and technically "successful" wall ascents.

Still I should go back and finish the Shield. Had just gotten to the really spectacular part when we had to go down. That is one fine sea of stone up there. Everything you could dream of when you think about cool climbing locations.

Getting ready to head down.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 9, 2012 - 11:58am PT
Go back! I wanted to do that route too, climbed freeblast and at the time there were fixed ropes up to mammoth so it was easy to haul up there. Looking up at the shield, my partner was like a mule that wouldn't go. It's an awesome feature maybe second only to the El Cap Spire.

Disappointing but I hadn't invested all that much in getting to mammoth. Actually I've done freeblast a couple of times just on its own, which makes the shield pretty familiar and also knowing the start is a cruise.

Not sure what to think about long sections of piton scars that you're supposed to climb by hand-placing sawed off angle pitons, but that's what makes routes interesting.
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
Nov 9, 2012 - 12:45pm PT
I didn't think it was me making the call as to whether someone was successful or not. I was just under the assumption that to succeed on a route meant you climbed the whole route. If that's not the case than I guess I was successful on astroman even though I took falls and rapped from below the harding slot.
Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 9, 2012 - 12:47pm PT
This is just a thought I have about El Cap and setting yourself up for success vs bailure.

I feel that many ascents fail before even getting started. What I mean by that, is I think a lot of newcomers underestimate the work and prep it takes to get established on the wall. Because El Cap is so decevingly close to the road (I mean it is close relative to a wilderness wall), but still it's takes quite an effort to get your kit, water and food to the wall and get a rope fixed. People sometimes assume it can all be done in a single day which can be ambitious, especially if your first route is Zodiac or Lurking Fear. Even if you are fit enough to hump the loads, you are likely to tucker yourself out in the talus. Once tuckered out, the looming wall feels way more ominous and feelings of bailure creep in.

My buddy Fitz and I have a motto, "We like to ease into our epics."

Just from my experience of doing it both ways, I have found the best results come from taking it slow in the beginning. I plan a minimum of 3 carries to the base. 5 if soloing. And I use a comfortable backpack and keep the loads around 50-60 pounds. Plan a half day to organize your rack and fix a pitch, and another half day to do your final packing. There are always last minute odds and ends to grab at the store.

I take water up first, then rack and ropes to fix, then bivi kit and food last. Careful with your food, hang it. I witnessed many attempts be thwarted by the bear.

Fixing in the rain is a great way to get a jump on other parties if you are arriving at the tail end of a storm.

Take a rest day after all the hiking of your schedule allows. Start the climb as fresh as possible.

When it comes to blast time, don't be a staller, but pick conservative goals and expect that everything on that first day is going to take longer then you planned or expected. If you miss your goal by a pitch or so, don't sweat it, you have several days to make up the time.

Just my two cents, pardon the advice. It's coming from 12 successful ascents in a row over the last 8 years.
Evel

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Nov 9, 2012 - 01:11pm PT
First time a winner. It was said over beers that most Seneca climbers send first time. Couldn't tell ya about the hard numbers on that, but everyone I know from there has sent with pride!
Mikemcee

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
Nov 9, 2012 - 01:35pm PT
Lambone, I think your last post pretty much summed up the entirety of what I learned earlier this week. Hiking a 100lb load, in the dark, looking for a route you had never been on before and expecting to wake up and blast was definitely beginnings of a recipe for bailure. At least it was for me.

Being tired and hungry is not the way you want to start.
Cole

Trad climber
los angeles
Nov 9, 2012 - 02:00pm PT
Cole,

What if you just cleaned a route? My girlfriend recently followed me up Zodiac, where I led and hauled every pitch. Do you think she climbed El Cap? I certainly think so...

Therefore, it is not flawed logic to say that if you jugged out two pitches from the top after a solo of a damn hard route, you get credit!

I get what you're saying totally and I agree she did climb El Cap and gets full "points", but I do think your logic is flawed. Without getting too pedantic, I think calling down to the valley floor for someone to hike up and lower a rope technically counts as a rescue. God I sound like a dick just for saying that, but I think it's true. Either way, it's an amazing feat and I truly am not trying to take anything away from Mark or anyone. I can only hope to have the balls and skill to get up that thing anyway possible someday. I'll just shut up now.
steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Nov 9, 2012 - 02:28pm PT
While were on this subject--I wonder if anyone climbs El Cap without a porta-ledge?
I remember doing the Nose with George Myers, back in 1971, and I didn't make one of the bivy ledges, ( no headlamp BITD), and I just hung on the end of the rope all night long, and it SNOWED on me. ha,ha
WBraun

climber
Nov 9, 2012 - 02:32pm PT
I remember doing the Nose with George Myers, back in 1971, and I didn't make one of the bivy ledges, ( no headlamp BITD), and I just hung on the end of the rope all night long, and it SNOWED on me. ha,ha


Today in this day and age they would have cried for help/rescue ......
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 9, 2012 - 02:48pm PT
Trying to sleep on sickle ledge is part of the route, lol.
Roger Brown

climber
Oceano, California
Nov 9, 2012 - 04:33pm PT
Flanders and I climbed the West Face Route a couple weeks ago without a ledge. 2 days fixing, and 4 days on the route. Doug freed what he could and aided the rest. We had headlamps and knew we would have to just keep climbing till we reached a ledge, and we did. This was the 7th time I followed someone up a wall cleaning, the 4th time with Doug, and this one made all the others seem easy. Some people say it is not a wall, and the cleaner didn't really climb it. Robbins and Herbert rated it 5.9/A4 so I guess it was a wall once. Since everything in the haul bag was soaked when we got back up there after the storm, the hauling was a little hard for Doug and cleaning those traversing pitches in the dark was a bit crazy for me. We only had a free rack so pieces couldn't be left to lower out from. It seemed like a wall to us and if I wasn't climbing, what were those falls and wild, crashing, swings all about? I used the hammer for cleaning those jammed stoppers, but Doug never used it. He may have done it a little slow, but he did it proud. We feel pretty good about our little adventure, though there will always be some fukhead who will have something negative to say:-)
Paul Brennan

Trad climber
Ireland
Nov 9, 2012 - 06:01pm PT
Got some very good advice a while ago from someone who's posted in this thread. Goes something along the lines of "you're not allowed bail because you're scared, you're not allowed bail because you're tired , you're not allowed bail because you're lonely,and you're not allowed bail because the hauling sucks". Following that logic has seen me up 4 out of the last 5 wall routes I've been on.The bail was because I was in over my head and had literally no idea how to get past a section without doing something I wasn't morally prepared to do.
meLoco

climber
Las Vegas,Nevada
Nov 10, 2012 - 02:49pm PT
I had been climbing a year when I partnered up with Richard Harrison and did the Triple Direct. We swung leads, bivied 2 nights on the wall in bad weather and topped out. Yes, a good partner is essential.
Credit: meLoco
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 10, 2012 - 08:56pm PT
Hey meLoco, what year was that?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 10, 2012 - 09:10pm PT
Nearly everyone I would think. It's California, renowned for perfect weather or a good prediction of not perfect weather....what can hold you back aside from incompetence or abysmally bad luck?
m_jones

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
Nov 11, 2012 - 01:38am PT
1974 I was 17 and in High School. My buddy was a couple of years older but we were about the same level climbers. We had not done even a grade IV at that time. We did not quite make dolt tower on the Nose the first day and spent the night in butt bags. So so thirsty that day - learned not to pack all the water away deep in the haul bag!!

Next morning a strap broke on our smaller bag/pack and it went to the ground. Learned a bit about how (not) to tie a bag in. A bit too much water, clothing and food went to the ground. We bailed.

Only other bail was off of the attempted 3rd (or 4th) ascent of the PO with Mark. When a flake he was nailing came off and gloved his ring finger we bailed down easy street and the NA.

Gave us a good reason to climb SS to PO last fall! Finally finishing it off.
Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 12, 2012 - 12:56am PT
...gloved his ring finger...

I'm afraid to even ask wtf that means, but the image is freighting.


re: Donini.
"sigh" :::rolleyes:::
The Larry

climber
Moab, UT
Nov 12, 2012 - 01:11am PT
El Cap is light duty for Donini. Real climbers aren't afraid to spoon.
Andrew Barnes

Ice climber
Albany, NY
Nov 12, 2012 - 01:37am PT
Lambone,
I agree with almost everything you say about the prep and staging effort for a big wall ascent. It takes a lot of effort (for most people, except the ultra hardcore and super talented ones) to carry the kit, fix pitches,
haul up the fixed pitches and get established on the wall. Underestimating this, or underestimating other things (e.g. water needed, time needed, effort for hauling) can easily lead to a bail.

The one thing I prefer to do differently is the following: Instead of carrying the water to the wall first, I prefer to carry a rope and the rack for pitch 1 first, so I can climb pitch 1 before hauling water. If pitch 1 goes badly and I'm going to bail, I haven't wasted all the effort of carrying all that water up.
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Nov 12, 2012 - 01:56am PT
El Cap was my first big wall and made it on my first go. Thanks to Riley Wyna who is strong like bull. Took my first whip in 2 years of climbing.

One of the best moments of my life - both of us summiting El Cap together for the first time.

Wurd. Cheers to that!
meLoco

climber
Las Vegas,Nevada
Nov 12, 2012 - 10:26pm PT
dee ee,
That would be 1994
mr p

Big Wall climber
eastside ca
Nov 14, 2012 - 11:39am PT
zodiac 83
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Nov 14, 2012 - 11:46am PT
Scored on my first attempt. Nose 1978, all clean, no hammer.
2.5 days.
Not bad for 1978.

But then I had served a pretty good apprenticeship on other walls.
People that try El Cap for their first wall are the ones that have a big psychological row to how.....
Cheang Qx

Sport climber
Singapore
Nov 14, 2012 - 12:08pm PT
First attempt on the nose leading all pitches with my wife. Great partner is the key.. Our first big wall trip to Yosemite Valley..

http://vimeo.com/29883710
Dominic

Big Wall climber
Peak District, UK
Nov 14, 2012 - 12:11pm PT
First time success on the Nose (with total "Big Wall" experience amounting to about an hour jugging in my local quarry) followed by success on Zodiac; Lurking Fear & The Shield before bailing off Sunkist (team of 3 without the right system) and doing The Trip as a consolation prize.

Key attributes for success: Learn quickly, don't bail and have a good partner.

Dom
climbera5

Trad climber
Sacramento
Nov 14, 2012 - 12:21pm PT
'84, after the Prow (my first wall), went and lead every pitch on the Nose with an inexperienced partner. Fun times. Over the next few years ticked off Salathe', Leaning Tower, Reg Route Half Dome, Shield, then topped it off with solo of Zodiac in '87; a real life changer for me.

Only bail was on my first attempt of Salathe due to injury half way up.
In my late 40's I tried a speed attempt up the Nose and got hosed; a reality check on my aging body. Now I grab a beer and belay my son.

Nice video QX, wish we had HD back in the day!
Gagner

climber
Boulder
Nov 14, 2012 - 12:25pm PT
1st & 2nd time up the big stone in 1979: w/Rick Harlin on the Nasal passage, Zodiac with Barbella and Karl McConachie. No prior "attempts" - though after Zodiac Barbella and Karl and I tried Mescalito and got absolutely cooked by the heat (June) and bailed after a few pitches.

Also, I've always tried to live by don't "attempt" something, go do it!!

Hi Dave;)
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Nov 14, 2012 - 12:30pm PT
Seems like the key for a lot of first timer summiters (summiteers?) is a more experienced partner. Every time I've climbed the Captain I climbed with someone who had never climbed it before (which I guess would include me on my first route)--all good climber but had never done anything more than your average Grade V. Just knowing I had done it, could do it again, and what to do when the inevitable clusterf$%@ arose got us through those rough patches everyone hits at some point on their climb.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 14, 2012 - 12:35pm PT
I got to Sickle ledge on my first attempt before realizing walls and cocaine don't mix well. My next try was The Trip in winter and had a hell of an epic but still managed to send. There was something about "snow" that held a certain fascination. I'm better now.
shipoopoi

Big Wall climber
oakland
Nov 14, 2012 - 12:41pm PT
i managed to climb el cap 9 times out of 9 attempts, before i hit excalibur on easter week and got stormed off. ss
Teo

Social climber
CA
Nov 14, 2012 - 12:48pm PT
Judging by how much less crowded it is after sickle ledge and especially after the stovelegs, I'd say about 30% max, but that doesn't separate first timers from repeat offenders. So I'd bet < 1/3

My own record, scared off and didn't come back for 10 years. But then it's been about 60% success, and never again went down out of fear.
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Nov 14, 2012 - 01:00pm PT
November 1992. We made it to the top of the Nose in 6 (short) days. Nathan, 18 but trained by C. Fowler and me, 23, 3rd year climbing. Nathan's first wall and he freed Pancake Flake like it was 5.9. My second wall after NW Face in October.
The Wall was incredible. I grew up in California camping in Yosemite. For me El Capitan was as inevitable as skiing the Palisades at Squaw or learning to Surf. We climbed to Sickle Ledge and then rappelled and hauled and slept on Sickle. We woke up to Dave Shultz running past us. For two pitches we could hear him screaming at his partner "You're Too Fat!" Awesome!
Then we ran into Mr. El Cap, Mike Corbett, on his 48 th El Cap ascent. He couldn't have been cooler and more casual. He shared great stories that night on El Cap Tower and was amazed to learn that Nathan's Great Grandfather was none other than Yosemites first Big Wall aid climber and the man who put the cables on Half Dome in 1875, Mr. George G Anderson.
So that's my story. We did false start on some thing left of the rappel until after the haul pins shifted, Nathan had cleaned a ton of shrubs and dirt and some guy yelled up to ask "Are you guys putting up a new route?" We skulked off, went to the store for a #3 Camalot, and got it right in the morning.
The hour or two that I spent on the Glowering Spot, stands out as a perfect moment in time.
VW

Big Wall climber
CA
Nov 14, 2012 - 01:05pm PT
I got up on my first try on El Cap, via the Nose route. It was also my first big wall and we did it during a 4 day weather window in late winter. To be exact, it was late February 2002, and we were up on the wall when the great Warren Harding passed away. My partner and I were the only people on the entire Big Stone (that we could see or hear) - washed clean by the winter rains. I can't say I felt the presence of the man himself (I didn't find out about it until we got down), but lets just say it was epic. Mad props to Mark V. for coaching, cajoling, and cursing me to the summit!
Horsein' Around. Winter ascent of the Nose, Feb 2002.
Horsein' Around. Winter ascent of the Nose, Feb 2002.
Credit: VW
The air up there. Winter ascent of the Nose, Feb. 2002.
The air up there. Winter ascent of the Nose, Feb. 2002.
Credit: VW
Bill Sherman

Mountain climber
Culver City, CA
Nov 14, 2012 - 01:33pm PT
I am 2 for 2 on El Cap. The first route I tried was Zodiac. I thought I was going to have to bail on it after the first pitch. I was linking 1 and 2 and took about a 12' fall back down onto the ledge at the bottom of 2. I had just had my leg crushed by a 2000 lb rock 9 weeks prior while attempting Castle Rock Spire in Sequoia. After 20 minutes of sitting on the ledge I got back into the aiders and worked through the pain until it disappeared. We spent 5 days on the route.

This past summer I went up with the same partner as on Zodiac. We had a 3rd that slowed us down and would have probably kept us from completing the route had he continued. He bailed from Sickle and we kept going. It took us a total of 5 days on the Nose as well. I am glad I got my partner up there as he had failed on 3 prior attempts on The Nose.

Bill
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2012 - 02:52pm PT
I'm surprised by how many get it on first go! Maybe were getting a skewed sample though.
Heliclimb

Big Wall climber
Huntington Beach, CA
Nov 14, 2012 - 03:20pm PT
First time two years ago, but I only led one easy pitch at the bottom below sickle ledge and cleaned the rest. Does that count?
Janet Wilts

Trad climber
Grand Teton National Park
Nov 14, 2012 - 04:09pm PT
2 for 2
The Nose with Tony Puppo
Lurking Fear with Dan McDivittttt

so many years ago I can't remember....

Janet
christhebrit

Big Wall climber
london
Nov 14, 2012 - 04:47pm PT
first try the nose for me..

but more importantly, the most impressive first time on el cap, without a doubt was a guy i climbed with in the valley a few years back andrew 'mcdermott'? soloed the nose in 18 hrs on his very first time on the big stone! what a hero
daveCohen

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 14, 2012 - 05:40pm PT
Climbed it on our first try, Nose Route, at age 19 in 1978 with Tim Leech (a Brit). Took us 3 1/2 days, rained all night at our bivvy below the great roof, with all our ropes fixed above us.
rodrigo MUJICA

Mountain climber
chile
Nov 14, 2012 - 06:19pm PT
The Nose, first try...but many night on the wall...3?
rodrigo MUJICA

Mountain climber
chile
Nov 14, 2012 - 06:20pm PT
the nose first try
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Nov 14, 2012 - 06:34pm PT
Boche and I on the Nose 1st try in 1967 in the rain - 7 very wet days. Hennek and I on 1st try on the Dihedral also in 1967. Hennek and I went up 8 pitches on the NA Wall in April of 1968, but Hennek hurt his back in a fall when a bolt pulled, so we bailed and came back later that year in September to do the 2nd ascent.

I hesitate to mention that Royal and I succeeded on first try in January 1971 on the Dawn Wall.
I hesitate because as Chouinard once told me, "Climbing with Robbins is cheating- you know you're going to make it."
Janet Wilts

Trad climber
Grand Teton National Park
Nov 14, 2012 - 07:06pm PT
Don,
Nawwww, it counts.....after all he was with you.......
Chris Gibson

Trad climber
Frisco, Texas
Nov 14, 2012 - 07:44pm PT
This is a great thread!!
Bad Climber

climber
Nov 14, 2012 - 08:33pm PT
Climbed it only once but got up first try: West Face in 1980 when I was 18. That was after doing Liberty Crack route on Liberty Bell--a Grade V.

BAd
Ammon and Gabe's Mom

climber
Lake Arrowhead, CA
Nov 14, 2012 - 10:00pm PT
Ammon did it. Solo and never climbed a big wall before. He had only climbed very short walls. Probably not more than 300 feet. He climbed the nose. This was several years ago.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 14, 2012 - 10:22pm PT
Nice Don. Hi Dennis: bolts have no personal affiliations; if they pull it is your own damn fault or an act of god. I'd go with the god bit.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Nov 14, 2012 - 10:50pm PT
Hey Ammon's mom,

Ammon soloed NA Wall, not the Nose, as his first ever El Cap route. Chongo taught Ammon everything he knows. ;)

How's Ammon's leg doing? Those X-rays were pretty scary looking!

[Don and Dennis who?] ;)
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Nov 15, 2012 - 11:15pm PT
I think it was 81

The Nose with Mark Grant.
fixed to Sickle, two bivies.
No hauling and used a single 100 Meter 9mm, linking as much as we could.
I lead the Stove legs as one pitch.
Could have been off the second night but we had one of our two headlamps burn out so we stayed at C-6 and topped early on the third morning.

At the end of the first day I was leading (a pitch or two under C-4) and we had at least half a dozen base jumpers go by.

Once we decided not to press on from C-6 on the second day, we fixed the next pitch and top roped it a few times.

The second night was much warmer for us. we only brought sweaters, wind breakers and beanies. However the second night we got to sleep between two plumb, Brits that had packed much acoutremon including big fluffy down bags.
Credit: Mark Grant
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 16, 2012 - 12:48am PT
The town drunk is never good with last names...
Myles Moser

climber
Lone Pine, Ca
Nov 16, 2012 - 12:50am PT
That rock is too big!
Cheche

Big Wall climber
Mexico
Nov 16, 2012 - 02:39am PT
May 1973
Triple direct
First mexican party.
JuanGabriel Nieo
Pedro DiazJimenez ( me)
First attemp.
tornado

climber
lawrence kansas
Nov 16, 2012 - 03:19am PT
Hey Cheche, that's super cool!!! You got any photos or good stories?
butofcourse

Big Wall climber
Solana Beach
Nov 16, 2012 - 02:29pm PT
Freerider, 1st go ...

... after 25 years of climbing, a lot of multi-pitch trad climbing, sport climbing in the 5.13 range, and teaming up with a top partner who had expertly planned the adventure down to the small details.

It took us 4 exhausting days that I will never forget.

(We did not do it free: we ended up pulling on gear on pretty much every single pitch from day 2 onward.)
Texplorer

Trad climber
Sacramento
Nov 16, 2012 - 04:17pm PT
Salathe 2002 - First attempt, first send with 'Check' Mark.

El Cap Stats
11 successful ascents
9 different routes
1 solo
2 bails
Brian Gallant

Sport climber
Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 16, 2012 - 04:35pm PT
Got it on my second go!
Jimmy Russells

climber
Nov 16, 2012 - 05:44pm PT
'Check' Mark

Now there's a name that I've not heard in a long time.

"I get route FIRST SIGHT!"
dgealy

Trad climber
San Luis Obispo
Nov 17, 2012 - 05:09am PT
First try on the Nose when I was 18, my partner 19, 4 years of combined experience.
Rad Styles

Mountain climber
Truckee
Nov 17, 2012 - 10:35am PT
Nose first go 4 days, Salathe first go 3 days with Jcory. Damn it's good to have friends with stoke!!! And wine;)
Nilepoc

Boulder climber
Tx
Nov 17, 2012 - 11:07am PT
First try depends on the definition.

In June of 1992 my partner and I entered the valley with the nose in our sites. We had no idea about the logistics of the endeavor, but went forward anyway and climbed to Sickle ledge and bivied there with the next pitch fixed (it seems everyone going vertical camping these days fixes, sleeps in the valley and hits it hard the next day). Very early the next morning 3 or 4 base jumpers exited off of the dawn wall. My partner thought they were rocks, freaked out lost his composure and decided to bail. So down we went.

Most would consider that a failure, I guess if your feet touch back down without any ropes on the route you have failed. I was not going to be stopped by not having a partner though. So I walked out in to the meadow the next day and survuyed the prospects gearing up for the Captain. Lucky for me a group from Arizona arrived with one of the three guys on crutches. Seeing an opportunity I swooped in to see what their deal was. It turns out that the week before one of the three broke his foot and they came to the valley anyway. I smelled fresh blood and pounced. They accepted me into their plan, who knows why? I had exactly four pitches of experience at this point in my career. So the next day they climbed to sickle and I lounged around watching them. The following day I joined them and we headed up the route only to be rained out three pitches off of sickle. So down we go, leaving ropes fixed up to sickle ledge for another attempt. A day later we were back on the wall and headed to the top. I ended up leading about half of the route, Rob lead the other half and the third guy (forgot his name) tagged along for the ride.

So over five days I started the Nose three times and topped out five days after the last start. Personally I considered myself lucky to get up my first El Cap route first try but upon reflection I guess it took me three tries. Crap I am just not the badass I thought I was.

So put me in the not the first time catagory.

Man I should write a TR for that climb.

Side note, Hans Florine woke us up on el cap tower on a speed ascent or attempt while we were on the wall. Pretty cool, I think they did it in four hours and we took five days, but I took almost ten including all attempts. I had been climbing a total of four years and arrived in the valley with exactly 30 feet of aiding experience prior to climbing the Nose. This August My future brother in law and I completed my second route which was the NA over the course of a week. Notably 20 years after my first climb on El Cap.
thekidcormier

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
Nov 17, 2012 - 11:30am PT
Hoping to succeed on my second go.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 17, 2012 - 11:40am PT
Got up the Nose, leading half the pitches, in 1981, a year after my first lead. Pretty big adventure for me. Did the 4th solo of Zodiac the next year.

but bailed on El Cap a fair amount during the past 15 years as I started taking folks up it more regularly. People get gripped after their first night on the wall and the idea of conquering El Cap seems less important than stopping the fear and loathing

Peace

Karl
Gus

Trad climber
Venice, Cali
Nov 17, 2012 - 12:18pm PT
3 and 3
Double D

climber
Nov 17, 2012 - 01:58pm PT
1975 or 6, with Bill Price and Kurt Rieder, bailed after a Stove Legs bivy. Shortly afterwards Bill and Kurt became the youngest team to do it back then.

Seriously, this thread needs a few more photos...

Butt-bag and hammock bivy on the legs
Butt-bag and hammock bivy on the legs
Credit: Double D
bob

climber
Nov 17, 2012 - 02:00pm PT
April 1st 2001 Nose in 22 hrs. Only a few times have I been more exhausted.

It was my first climb for 3 months since crushing my head skateboarding and earning a flight to Phoenix for a bit of dealing.

I had high expectations and wore Boreal Stingers. Oh they STUNG for sure. I did a fraction of the predicted free climbing and lost 6 toenails with my enthusiastic approach to the route.

Hey, it was still sub 24...........

Bob Jensen
GoMZ

Trad climber
Eastern Sierra
Nov 17, 2012 - 02:15pm PT
Zodiac, first try.
Then got shut down twice, both due to weather.
Been 4 for 4 since then though.
Bailed on a few grade Vs before trying the captain though:)
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Nov 17, 2012 - 02:32pm PT
I'm on my best streak ever right now, eight ascents with no failures.

Mark, just wondering why you don't consider this a "failure?" Not an attempt at flaming just wondering. Or have you done 8 El Cap routes since?

Disclaimer: I've never done a big wall and I suck. Just curious as to what defines success and failure on a big wall.

http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Iron-Hawk-Solo/t11586n.html

EDIT: BTW, this is one of my favorite TR's ever and have shared it with many people. Very inspiring.

I don't know what to call this one, to tell you the truth.

I certainly didn't climb those last two pitches, but I certainly did climb everything below them. I guess I consider it both a failure and a success for reasons that I can't really articulate.

In black and white, sure, I had to get rescued, but in shades of gray, there are tons of successful ascents by people who jugged other people's ropes and didn't climb the first few pitches.

I'm sure as hell not going back and climbing the whole route and those last two just to count it as a route! Ha! I'll get up them one way or another, Cheyne and I are planning on climbing the AO this spring...
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Nov 17, 2012 - 02:45pm PT
You know, now that I'm thinking about it, "Success" on El Cap, including the mystery of why it's so addictive, why it's so spiritual, why my ascents and partners are so important to me, transcends "Success" or "Failure".

Sure, you do your part to contribute to the ascent, you climb all the pitches, you get to the top, black or white, Success. If you don't, Failure.

Sure, so put my Iron Hawk ascent into the public Failure column. But for me, the twelve days up there, everything that happened, everything that happened to me emotionally, Cheyne rapping down that rope to me, me crying, dang, I can't call that a Failure. Something spiritual happened, something changed me, and it happened over twelve days on El Cap.

Black and White, yes, a Failure, but Dang! I moved, I changed, had a significant life experience, I can't call that a Failure.
Cole

Trad climber
los angeles
Nov 17, 2012 - 04:19pm PT
Well said Mark! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and bravo on all your ascents.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Nov 17, 2012 - 04:42pm PT
You know, now that I'm thinking about it, "Success" on El Cap, including the mystery of why it's so addictive, why it's so spiritual, why my ascents and partners are so important to me, transcends "Success" or "Failure".

Sure, you do your part to contribute to the ascent, you climb all the pitches, you get to the top, black or white, Success. If you don't, Failure.

Sure, so put my Iron Hawk ascent into the public Failure column. But for me, the twelve days up there, everything that happened, everything that happened to me emotionally, Cheyne rapping down that rope to me, me crying, dang, I can't call that a Failure. Something spiritual happened, something changed me, and it happened over twelve days on El Cap.

Black and White, yes, a Failure, but Dang! I moved, I changed, had a significant life experience, I can't call that a Failure.

It was a big success from "I kicked my ass to the limit" point. And it is a true success. Only a few get to do that to themselves. When I do a climb that is big and scary from me and end up surprising myself and getting it without a problem I actually get kind of sad. Should have picked something harder.
One of the tough things I have 'failed' on, rank as my favorite trips ever though. Climbing is personal and it is good to know what a personal success vs a failure is.
Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 17, 2012 - 04:48pm PT
I had Cheyne put my rope up on one pitch for me on my Shortest Straw solo. Do I consider the ascent a failure? Nope. I sacrificed half a day so they could pass me without hassle. In return they fixed my rope on one of the easiest pitches of the route. Big deal...

Cheyne should start a business, call it the "Rope Fixin Hotline" or somethin!
jurach

Big Wall climber
sacramento, ca
Nov 17, 2012 - 05:50pm PT
Nose, first try. Zodiac, first try. Shield, first try. Salathe, well, still working on that one.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 17, 2012 - 06:38pm PT
Mark gets credit for the pinkpoint, anyway. Heck, this is just a game and everyone seems to play by different rules. I would have considered it a great acomplishment, and leave it to others to decide if I got the route clean, etc. If you're not climbing at the level where you fail sometimes, then you're not challenging yourself. Nothing to be ashamed of.

In the "Portrait of the American Climber" trailer, they say Jim Erickson slipped one time on his attempt to free the RNWF of half dome, and considered it a failure. I guess it was, then. It's up to him what he was trying to do.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Nov 18, 2012 - 12:20am PT
Hey Mark Hugedong,

Why don't you just tell it like it is? You have climbed 7 and 24/26ths El Cap routes without bailing!

{wink}
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Nov 18, 2012 - 01:36am PT
Ha, yeah, there ya go!
Cheche

Big Wall climber
Mexico
Nov 18, 2012 - 01:55am PT
Triple direct ,1 of june 1973.
First attempt.
Mexican expedition
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 18, 2012 - 03:15am PT
One hundred eighty-five posts.

Warren, Wayne, and George.  Oh happy day!
Warren, Wayne, and George. Oh happy day!
I give you George Whitmore, who, I believe, only took part in the very last "send" (for lack of a better term) of the FA of the Nose.

This would entitle him to the faint praise of the first of you all.

Please, Fossil Climber, Steve, Clint, Ed, any or all, correct me if I err.

Otherwise, would it be "the man," Joe Fitschen?

It's late, and I really don't feel like checking this out for myself.
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