El Cap: Freeing the Stove Leg Cracks

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Messages 1 - 20 of total 35 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 4, 2006 - 09:49pm PT
What's the best strategy for going up and freeing the Stove Leg Cracks on the Nose route up to the top of Dolt Tower? Sounds like a neat thing to do on a warm winter weekend. Free up to Sickle one day and fix, then jug up and blast the rest the next? Wondering, though, which is the best way to access the Stove Legs from Pitches 6 and 7: Just pendulum in or face climb over? Stay low or pendulum from Dolt Hole? Whatever way is simplest.
WBraun

climber
Nov 4, 2006 - 09:59pm PT
Gee wiz Bruce you don't know this one after all these years?

I don't think you need to fix to go just to dolt. But what do I know?
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 4, 2006 - 11:08pm PT
I just see all the free climbing info on the topos around Pitches 6 and 7, but wondered if it's just easier to pendulum into the SLs? Nope. Never been up there. That's why I asked.
WBraun

climber
Nov 4, 2006 - 11:10pm PT
Just tension over just below dolt hole to the bottom of the stove legs.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2006 - 04:17pm PT
Ok, Werner, thanks! I've been climbing in gyms so long now that if there aren't colored holds or pieces of plastic tape, I have to ask directions!
Haggis

Trad climber
Scotland
Nov 5, 2006 - 04:57pm PT
it looks like this

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 5, 2006 - 08:59pm PT
If you want to go freeclimbing, do the low road across to the bottom of the stovelegs. You get a lot more bomber crack for your buck that way, and only one traversing pitch instead of two.

It's not a great way to go if you have a second that has any doubts about how to follow a horizontal thing like that though.

Peace

Karl
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2006 - 12:06am PT
You mean you get to terrify your second when he tries to follow the traverse across the face? Great! I'll have to go that way then.
mcreel

climber
Barcelona, Spain
Nov 6, 2006 - 04:24am PT
I belayed from the spot where that photo was taken. My partner tripped on the edge right as he was swinging over. There was a tremendous rattling and jangling, and then silence. After a bit I heard "...sh#t..."

Doing the stovelegs sounds like a great day climb, better than the Free Blast. "Solid handjums all the way, 5.9 max" Actually, there is a fist jam or two, if I remember correctly.
nate

Trad climber
virginia
Nov 6, 2006 - 08:43am PT
Solid handjams until you swap leads and stick your buddy with the off size pitch to dolt !
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 6, 2006 - 10:33am PT
"Doing the stovelegs sounds like a great day climb, better than the Free Blast. "Solid handjums all the way, 5.9 max" Actually, there is a fist jam or two, if I remember correctly."

Definately not Solid 5.9 max to get to Dolt tower. It gets wide and physical. With a big rack, hauling rope and device, it feels pretty burly.

It can also be more problematic than freeblast as a day climb since there are usually parties going slow on both the pitches to sickle and the pitches to Dolt. Don't expect them to take the time to let you pass on your day climb because the delay could easily force them into climbing at night or spending a "deal killer" night in slings in the stovelegs.

But heck, in the off season or if there doesn't happen to be anybody on the route, or if you don't mind waiting behind clutzy wall parties, it's a fun thing. Harder, in my opinion, than freeblast to pull of in a day from the ground, because the first pitches are tricky and then there is the logistics of the traversing.

Peace

Karl
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Nov 6, 2006 - 01:48pm PT
If you run double ropes (you need 2 to get down anyway), you can give your second a back belay on the traverse into the stovelegs. Otherwise, they can rig a lower-out to get over to the base of the stovelegs.

There is often a lot of rope and perlon strung up there to avoid needing to do anything tricky or slow on the traversing bits.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2006 - 02:34pm PT
My topo seems to show a 5.10a pitch and a 5.10b pitch on the Stovelegs themselves and a 5.11d second pitch on the Nose route getting off the ground. But whatever. Sounds like fun to just get as high as you can on a clear, warm winter day; that is, if you can get out of camp before 11am! Not many slow parties in the way in January, I bet.

With 2 ropes along you can probably rig up something to back up the second on the scary traverse below Dolt Hole.
WBraun

climber
Nov 6, 2006 - 02:39pm PT
Bruce

You can do it easily in Jan/Feb. I've done it to across the king swing many times from the ground leaving at 10:00 AM. Jan/Feb and rapping back to the ground way before dark.

Do it like a standard free climb, no jugging, it's a blast.
mcreel

climber
Barcelona, Spain
Nov 7, 2006 - 03:42am PT
That "solid handjums" line is from an old "Hardman" comic, where a little 2 foot tall guy is talking about what for most people is a heinous thin crack. It's true that there are some wide-ish bits before Dolt tower, but they're solid, as long as you have the right pro (that was my lead, and I hate wide cracks in general). I think we took 2 #3.5 friends and 1 #4. I remember the whole Stovelegs as great fun, the only problem was that it went too fast. The crux for me was the little mini pendulum on the 2nd (?) pitch. Must have done it wrong. I guess that doing it in Fall/Winter there would be few parties above, but I haven't been to the Valley for a while now. I almost got killed on the Free Blast, bombarded from above by a really slow party that had their haul bag stuck in the Half Dollar. But I guess that if you want to climb on El Cap these days you just have to risk having someone above you.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 8, 2006 - 04:46pm PT
Just found out from Bridwell's new article in the Alpist that it was he and Jim Stanton who first free climbed the Stovelegs (although Sacher had given him the idea). cf. "Bird's Eye View" - a really great article full of the details of climbing history. A must read!

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/ALP18/jim-bridwell-birds-eye-view
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Dec 8, 2006 - 08:59pm PT
Bruce,
Reading the Birds article reminded me of my ascent of the stove leg cracks. It was in 1973. I had finally figured out how to climb hand cracks (it was a learning experience that has some funny moments--maybe I will relate some in a later post)I was so enamored by them I mentioned to Ray Jardine that it would be so awesome to climb some hand crack that went on forever. He suggested I do the Stovelegs. I couldn't resist. At the time they had been done but a handful of times. I got together with Ed Barry and we sent them. We jugged to sickle and free climbed from there except for the pedulum. We were the first to do them free and clean. We left the ground at 8am and reached Dolt Tower by noon. The rappels were exciting. We tied big hexes on the end of our rap lines to keep from rappoing off the end of our lines. Ed let go of one after joining me at an anchor. Of course the wind took it with the hex still attached. An epic loomed but as the wind calmed we barely managed to snag the line and continue to the ground. Bridwell met us at the base. He must have been impressed as he brought up the idea of a one day ascent of the Nose at that time. Of course he would end up doing it at a later date with Largo and Billy but I couldn't help but feel our ascent helped convince him it could be done.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 8, 2006 - 10:30pm PT
If you are really set on fixing lines first so that you can savor the fine crack climbing in the Stovelegs, then you definitely want to do the 5.10d low free variant from the end of Sickle Ledge and avoid both pendulums. The pitch puts you at the very bottom of the Stovelegs and is four ropelengths to the ground if I recall correctly. Take binoculars and count anchors back down to the ground to verify the number of ropes necessary so that Werner and John can go home at days end! The rappels off of Sickle are a decent yardstick for reference. This is a prime spot to fix ropes because you will be well ahead of anyone hauling from Sickle if you leave the ground at the same time. While you are up there how about an anchor report on the current state of the descent line from Dolt Tower down. Anybody feel free to chime in here if have been down the rappels this season. Same goes for the two bolt ladders off Sickle. What condition are they in at the moment?

The other fabled endless handcrack that I recall from the old days was the Zebra pitches on Tis-sa-ack that Yabo was all frothed up about for a while. Great background story Mark. I once talked to Gary Colliver about the original state of the Stovelegs which were completely choked with dirt and vegetation on the first ascent. Was there any crap still in place when you guys first freed those five pitches?

Nice air shot Haggis!
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 9, 2006 - 12:04am PT
Mark-
When you say "free and clean" does that mean that you and Eddie were the first to do all the Stovelegs in one-push with nuts and in situ pro? How did your ascent differ from the Bird's? He must have been driving steel.

Does sound like the low 5.10d xvrs off of the end of Sickle Ledge does set you up for the most number of pitches in the actual Stovelegs.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 9, 2006 - 12:39am PT
At the very bottom it is a cafeteria tray sized flake and ends. You layback right on up, its way fun and you get absolutely all of it.
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