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


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 101 - 120 of total 197 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

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.

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

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.


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

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.


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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

Trad climber
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

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

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
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.

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?

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?

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.
Messages 101 - 120 of total 197 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews