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

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matty

Trad climber
under the sea
Nov 7, 2012 - 10:41am 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 - 10:44am 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 - 10:52am 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?
Riley Wyna

Trad climber
A crack near you
Nov 7, 2012 - 10:58am PT
Third try - maybe even forth

I think the failure rate these days is around 90 percent. Having spent a month at and around the base I would see and meet a few smiling and happy teams come up through the trees everyday, with big eyes, and then be gone the next day. Very strong looking teams - but many people are fooling themselves.

My mistake, but also what I wanted, as I wanted to have a pure ascent was trying to climb it with noob partners. Ironically when I did get a very experienced partner El Cap tried to kill us both and came about as close as she could to accomplishing that goal.

When I finally succeeded it was like i wished - with another noob partner -just a very good and technically proficient one.

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

Certianly there are many people absolutely fooling themselves concerning climbing EL Cap- I know as i had about 10 of them as partners.
But Nanook will state the biggest problem is folks not giving themselves enough time - and that is 100 percent what I believe. Give yourself a month - there are so many things to consider.

Climbing El Cap for the first time as your first wall is hard.

I tried to do the solo thing as the first El Cap wall - that took more balls than i had - no way..
Props to the people who do that - you gotta be able to work through feelings where you feel you have about a 50 percent chance of dying.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Nov 7, 2012 - 11:04am 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 - 11:10am 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 - 11:19am 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 - 11:33am 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 - 11:47am 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 - 12:27pm PT
Here's my marker. 20 internet bucks on Briham making it to the top.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Nov 7, 2012 - 01:07pm 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 - 01:16pm 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 - 02:46pm 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 - 02:55pm 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 - 03:02pm 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 - 04:16pm 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 - 04:21pm 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 - 04:25pm 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 - 04:47pm 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 - 04:53pm 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.

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