Dihedral Wall clean- TR


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Social climber
san joser
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 22, 2008 - 07:16pm PT
Over 5 days last week, Chris Chan and I climbed the Dihedral Wall. It had been over 5 years since my last El Cap wall so I was rusty at first. Chris did a great job especially considering she had not climbed much this season do to school commitments. Our plan was to get up the rock in 4 days and to climb as clean as possible. We took about half the pin rack as shown in the supertopo description. Turns out those pins stayed there the entire time, though I came close to using a pin on the Black Arch pitch when several clean placements failed mild bounce tests- more on that with the photos below.


 Chris took a 50 footer on the 4th pitch when a fixed pin sheared. She got right back on it and fired the rest of the pitch.

 We had planned on 3 liters per day per person, but had to reduce it to about 2.25/day when we figured (correctly) that it would take us 5 days to top out. With the 95 degree temps we were both pretty parched the entire time.

 We didn't clip the offensive free bolts next to the crack on the 10th pitch. We were going to remove the hangers, but the bag got hauled off before Chris could get the wrench out. Since we were in a hurry and running out of water we decided to just keep on truckin'.

 Very little vegetation on the first half of the route.

-The second half of the route had a ton of vegetation including a weird brown slime on one of the pitches.

A note on the clean ascent- just so folks don't get their panties in a bunch, here are the details:

1. There are about 5 fixed heads along the route that are essential to upward progress. If one was missing or blew out in a fall, then another would have to be placed to continue the ascent.

2. There are about 3 fixed pins in a similar circumstance.

3. In-situ bolts and rivets all held body weight. At some point these will break and need to be be replaced.

4. No cheater stick was used.

What we did use:
3 sets of offset aliens (these are almost like cheating!) These were the most used pieces on the rack. This quantity was essential to our clean ascent. (also 2 ea regular aliens thru red)

1 set tri-cams (6 smaller sizes- white thru purple) for boxed out scars

Cam hooks- one narrow and one regular

Regular hooks- 1 ea including bat (there are 3 bat hooks in old 1/4" bolt holes)

2 sets offset nuts

2 sets micronuts incl. offsets

2 smallest loweballs (used only 1x)

2 smallest WC zeros (used only 1x)

Here are some photos:

1st pitch pedestal- There were two shite bags exploded directly on the pitch: one above and one below me in the photo. I managed to get them off the rock, but the shite stain is still there. Ugh. Gross! Shortly after starting to haul this pitch the lower haul bag and the portaledge came loose and fell about 10 feet back to the ground. Turns out the bottom haul strap of the top bag had blown out. Too much butt-sliding on the decents, I guess! We remedied this and kept going.

Here's a shot of the 2nd or 3rd pitch.

Here's Chris lassoing a knob at the start of the 4th pitch.

Chris higher up on the pitch.

Here's Chris after her 50 foot whip. It was a blue alien that eventually arrested her fall. I offered to send up the pin rack, but she passed and proceeded to finish the pitch as if nothing happened!

At least my teeth were clean. Demonstrating good oral hygiene at the first bivy.

At the triangle roof of the 6th pitch.

Looking down at the meadows.

Pitch 7 with the Black Arch looming above. Looks hot? It was.

Here's the sketch section near the start of pitch 9 as it finishes the Black Arch. I was on very mariginal gear/ cam hooks and had twice popped gear on the bounce test. I was thinking of putting in a pin, but the third piece held the bounce and I was able to move onto better cam hooks and offset alien placements.

Our 2nd bivy was at the pitch 9 ledge. It was nice to have something solid to stand on!

Goingup pitch 11.

Going around the pitch 12 flake. Note: we did not encounter any notably expando features as described in the topo.

Pitch 14: the ooze pitch.

Here's a close-up of the ooze. It was about a 1/4" thick and had the consistency of running pudding. Luckily it didn't smell as bad as it looked! The ooze had to be squeegeed out of the crack before pro was placed.

Higher up on the same pitch.

Looking down from pitch 14.

Here's Chris at our 3rd bivy atop pitch 14. We fixed pitch 15 before settling in for the evening.

Here's a macro shot of a typical fixed pin along with the typical veg nearby.

Pitch 15 had a tough section with multiple micronuts in a row. Here I express my faith in this one by by adorning it with a scream-aid.

Pitch 17 had a full representation of the local flora. I'm still finding bits of shrubbery in my various orrifices!

Pitch 18 sweet hand crack followed by a strenous and frustrating flare.

Pitch 20, the Black Cave.

Thanksgiving ledge, our 4th bivy.
Pitch 23 had some lush vegetation!

Chimney gully on pitch 25 that exits the system out right on old bolts to the right of a death flake.

The last pitch wasn't so bad, a mixture of free and aid. The 5.10 squeeze was not so bad with some cussing, grovelling, and the help of leap frogged #4.5 and #4 Camalots.

So here we are at the top! 9pm on day 5. Very dehydrated, thus very motivated to get to the small creek on the descent.

We decided to keep moving, all the way to the car. We got there at 3AM. Chris was expected that same day at Whitney Portal, and I was supposed to be at work the day before!

Overall, an excellent adventure. A large dose of suffering caused mainly by the heat, vegetation, and lack of sufficient water, is mediated by excellent views and some really nice climbing.

Hopefully it won't be another 5 years before I embark on another journey up the Cap'n.


Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Jun 22, 2008 - 08:37pm PT
Nice work!
Thanks for the report.

East Coast US
Jun 22, 2008 - 08:54pm PT
Thanks and way cool!

Trad climber
Josh, CA
Jun 22, 2008 - 09:08pm PT
Good job. How much gear did your partner pull when she whipped?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 22, 2008 - 09:22pm PT
Bob + Chris,

Awesome job on the clean ascent!!
Nice photos, too. Even of the slime. :-)

50-footer for Chris - yikes! Hopefully not too much skin was lost in the process.
I presume Chris was backcleaning (her standard MO when we did the Salathe'); having a pin shear is bad news.

Jun 22, 2008 - 09:40pm PT
Very nice! Congrats and thanks for sharing. Cool top out portrait as well.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 22, 2008 - 09:49pm PT
Too many photos to load on dialup, but my hat is off to you.

THIS is the kind of ascent that should be celebrated; taking the time to do it right!
You should note the critical fixed pieces and people should emulate your ethical propriety.

Crestline CA
Jun 22, 2008 - 10:03pm PT
Very nice report. I did the route in 92 and found it to be a fine line... very good on the clean ascent. thanks for the pics and report!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 22, 2008 - 11:45pm PT
Bob and Chris,

Exceptional report. What can I say. And your faces: the photo on the summit in the night. Really wonderful and rich. Nice show and thanks ever so much for sharing your experience with us. On a forty-six year old route, the third to go up on El Cap. Great detail and humanity!!

best ph

Trad climber
Jun 23, 2008 - 12:00am PT
Fun read. Good job!
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jun 23, 2008 - 12:42am PT
Great job, guys! Pretty darn fast ascent, considering you took the time to fiddle-fart all the clean placements. [You owe me a beer for one of those fixed heads, eh?] Even better to complete the legit finish, which is UG - LEE.

I've never come close to taking a fifty-footer in thirty years of climbing - yikes!

Oakland: what's not to love?
Jun 23, 2008 - 02:43am PT

Thanks bump!

You're right, the sludge does look like it'd smell bad.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 23, 2008 - 03:03am PT
Very much admire the clean ascent. Great you made it a priority and pulled it off.


Scared Silly

Trad climber
Jun 23, 2008 - 01:25pm PT
Very nice ... Great photos.

Jun 23, 2008 - 02:00pm PT
Nice TR, pix and effort on the climb. Thanks for posting it.

Gym climber
Jun 23, 2008 - 02:48pm PT
The Bob & Chris Show!


Social climber
san joser
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 23, 2008 - 03:22pm PT
about that whipper- I think I felt at least three things pull out of the crack as Chris came sailing down. One of them was a head (wire pulled thru the glob)... I'm not sure what the others were. I know that she was back-cleaning quite a bit, so the pieces were probably spaced a bit. Maybe she can chime in when she gets back from Whitney.

Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Jun 24, 2008 - 12:09am PT
A bigger Rock...good one.

Big Wall climber
Yosemite, CA
Jun 24, 2008 - 01:30am PT
Very impressive! One of the proudest sends this year in my opinion. Good job!


Trad climber
Jun 24, 2008 - 10:47am PT
Great trip report!
With all the greenery it looks like that route doesn't get climbed that often.
Must have made it feel more adventurous that way.
Thanks for posting.
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