Nose death flake


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Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jun 18, 2013 - 08:16pm PT
But the fact that this woman died a day after we did the route has always haunted me. I knew it was a serious hazard and did nothing.

That's rough man, and a heavy burden you carry. Good that you told your story, imo.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 18, 2013 - 10:33pm PT

I almost had the same thing happen to me.
There was a loose block/flake at the base of South by Southwest
(Lower Cathedral Spire), which was a natural spot to place the belay.
I saw it move when I tested the cams I had placed behind it,
so I moved my anchor further left.
We thought about trundling it, but were concerned that even in the late
afternoon, there might possibly be someone starting the route below.
We should have sent one person down on rappel to check that out,
then climb back up and trundle.
Instead we left it.

Some months later, 2 good climbers (James Selvidge and partner)
made their anchor there and the block came off.
They slid down a slab towards the edge, but somehow managed to stop.
If they hadn't saved themselves, I'd feel exactly like you did.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 19, 2013 - 08:53am PT
I am pretty sure that Boot Flake is completely detached, at least at the top. I assume that it is sitting on a hidden ledge or is attached near the base.

Hasn't anyone read the stories about how spooky it was to piton that thing before the age of clean climbing? The whole thing used to vibrate.

There is a chopped chicken bolt about halfway up it that is hard to see..I think.

I have heard who put it there, but Werner should state it. A very surprising name from long ago.

It will fall off when it is ready. The mass of the thing is enourmous, and the force a climber puts on it is small. How small, who knows.

Trad climber
Davis, CA
Jun 19, 2013 - 10:18am PT
Hey Guys,

Also went up the Nose this last weekend and saw some movement on this flake. My partner and I were at the belay above Eagle Ledge and were being passed by Chris Belvins' and his NIAD solo (great job Chris!!) when he stepped on the flake above us and we heard a loud crunch and saw the flake sink into the wall about half an inch.

If the flake could be removed safely I truly believe a serious injury could be avoided.


Jun 19, 2013 - 10:26am PT
Who knows if cleaning the OP flake will set off a larger event? It's not really like a solo stone on a ledge that you could know for sure that it's the only thing headed to the deck.


Jun 19, 2013 - 10:31am PT
Is the huge flake still there high up on the WEML? Harding said he had to keep a 'TA' (Tight Asshole) and hope for the best and hooked across it. I did this in '81 and it seemed like it was ready to go then too.


Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 19, 2013 - 10:34am PT
- ScottR.. glad to hear your ok.. the reason I posted this thread was because I knew just how loose that thing is.. so its not surprising that it moved again...

that thing is coming down.. and soon.. its only a matter of how and when its triggered...

that said.. it will likely cause a larger event when it goes.. based on where it is...

no good solution I can really see... lets just pray it doesnt get any of our friends!!

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 19, 2013 - 10:48am PT
Just expressing my desire to transform potential energy into kinetic.

Wes, I like to think the Second Law of Thermodynamics is for our protection, so I do my best to increase entropy.

Seriously, though, I can think of several formerly frightening features that are gone now: Psyche Flake, the Undercling Pitch, the Gong Flake, the Rotten Log, the "killer Death Flake" after the Hog Trough on Overhang Bypass, and most of the El Cap Tree Direct route, to name a few. Regardless of where the plumb line lies, when (not if) this Nose death flake goes, it seems likely to me that it will take someone lower down with it unless we find a way to trundle it and evacuate the likely fall areas soon.

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Jun 19, 2013 - 11:02am PT
That thing sounds serious.

Cheyne to the rescue?

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Jun 19, 2013 - 11:12am PT
gunna be tough to launch that thing mid season...people and ropes all over the place...

Big Wall climber
Grass Valley, CA
Jun 19, 2013 - 11:20am PT
ScottR, myself and Jarad were on the nose a few days ago. I was on lead when Chris passed Scott and Jarad. They told me about the flake moving at the next belay. When I set out on the pitch I tapped it and it sounded absolutely horrible. I made the 5.7 moves around it I avoid using it but that thing is scary. Seems like its gonna go very soon. If you're jumping on the Nose be heads up at that belay? Maybe put in a set of anchors left of it?

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Jun 19, 2013 - 12:01pm PT
Right now the best thing is if someone like Cheyne could get up there and stabilize it until the offseason when it could be trundled safely.

Problem of course is devising a foolproof careful system to tie/bolt/net/duct-tape/chewing gum or whatever that thing down without risking dislodging it in the process.

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Jun 19, 2013 - 12:18pm PT
Given where it is, even in the off season, simply trundling it doesn't sound like a good idea. It seems like bringing it down to at least the Stove Legs raps and letting it go from there would be good. Although, it you had it in control from there, lowering it down like a haul bag seems doable too.

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Jun 19, 2013 - 12:21pm PT
I bet Burt Bronson would haul it up the route to safety. Could make for a fun boulder problem at the summit.

Jim Henson's Basement
Jun 19, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
I wonder if there is a way to sling the top of the formation there so you can get a loop of rope under it to keep it from sliding down further for now. Might stabilize it long enough to bolt/chain it in place.

Mountain climber
Jun 19, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
On a somewhat unrelated topic - my son took this pic of the massive 10/11/10 rockfall while he was on the nose route
El Cap Rockfall 10/11/2010
El Cap Rockfall 10/11/2010
Credit: mpmoody


Jun 19, 2013 - 01:17pm PT
from the Sierra
from the Sierra
Credit: R. Swafford, ec collection

Oakland, CA
Jun 19, 2013 - 02:58pm PT
Those pics are the stuff of nightmares.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jun 19, 2013 - 03:11pm PT
Best part about new climbs...

You get to choose which ones stay, and which ones go.

Trad climber
Jun 19, 2013 - 06:23pm PT
place bolts on either side of it and then wrap a chain across it as tight as possible in such a fashion it will arrest any further slide and prevent it from falling. might not need to put a bolt in the flake at all
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