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.

Trad climber
Jun 24, 2008 - 01:15pm PT
chris is insane... lol

Agoura Hills, CA
Jun 25, 2008 - 01:37am PT
Great job, but where are the pictures of you getting down?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 13, 2008 - 01:33am PT
Great TR! Way to work it out up there and not pound. Leaves a satisfying feeling to take nothing away from the route but the smiles in your snapshots. Good job!

Where I once was,I think?
Aug 13, 2008 - 02:46am PT
Way cool TR. thanks.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Aug 13, 2008 - 02:52pm PT
Neat report, congrats on a fine job!

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Aug 13, 2008 - 06:15pm PT
If you guys are still following this thread, wondering if you did standard hauls through the last chimney pitches or monkeyed the bags up some other way? Just curious. I think it's cool you did the full route. Congrats!
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Aug 13, 2008 - 09:02pm PT

Big Wall climber
No. Cal
Aug 14, 2008 - 06:10pm PT

Social climber
san joser
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 14, 2008 - 07:01pm PT
We hauled the final chimneys. It was not too bad- I hauled whilst Chris unstuck the bags on her way up. At one point the bags dislodged a block that almost clobbered her. Took all day to get from xgiving to the top and we were a bit parched.

Stoked OW climber
San Jose, CA
Aug 14, 2008 - 08:51pm PT
This is pretty inspirational, good stuff!

Ice climber
Aug 14, 2008 - 10:14pm PT
Great job on doing such a proud ascent. I agree with Piton Ron.
THIS is the way to climb El Cap; CLEAN!! Thanks for the TR

Lost Arrow

Trad climber
The North Ridge of the San Fernando
Aug 15, 2008 - 08:19pm PT
Cool tr
Lost Arrow

Trad climber
The North Ridge of the San Fernando
Aug 16, 2008 - 06:10pm PT
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 17, 2008 - 02:02am PT
The Dihedral Wall is definitely a line! Lots of awkward left-handed nailing back in the day. Much more fun without the mallet.

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Aug 17, 2008 - 03:18am PT
Clean walls are proud. Nice job!

Looks like so many classic lines and cracks from far away but pretty grassy up close. How was the munge factor compared to other el cap routes?


Chris C

Sep 9, 2008 - 04:24am PT

Thanks for all your encouragement! Life's been a bit crazy this summer, but I thought I should finally set the record straight.

First, Bob did an amazing job, leading all those pitches! Except for the 4th pitch, the one where I took a whipper. Yes, I can say I have now jumared almost all of El Cap. It would have been nice to have had time to lead more, but Bob did a great job leading under those sweltering conditions, which was a ton of work.

Clint and Bob are right, I was back cleaning quite a bit. The things that popped were 1) blue alien that came out, 2) sheared the pin, 3) blew the copperhead. Landed like Bob said on another blue alien. It was a totally clean fall (very steep!) so it was no problem to finish it except I had to figure out how to get up past the fixed gear which took some time. Sorry again for the delay which did not help with the water situation.

The scariest moment was actually near the top when (yes, we were doing standard hauls through the chimney), I was on my jumars and a block the size of a laptop sailed at me. Fortunately I saw it at the last moment and I was able to deflect the flat side coming at my face, but it knocked me off my jumars and I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn't seen it in time or it hadn't been so geometrically advantageous. I put on my helmet for the last pitch.

Since right before Dihedral, I had to move out of my house, grade a final, and e-mail in my own final exam for a class from Yosemite Lodge at around 4a, following which I hiked up my load to the base of Dihedral around 6a, I was grateful to actually get some sleep on the wall...! Only once we got down, I didn't get very much again before I had to be down at Whitney Portal. But, once I arrived, Sarah made me take a day off before we hiked up to Upper Boy Scout and that kind of easy mountaineering is possible even if you are moving slowly. So there were no heroic ascents of any sort, at least not in comparison to Eric's free solo of East Buttress on Whitney. Eric and Sarah were great company and put up with my post-wall state of fatigue, so I have to thank them for their patience!

I have not gotten to do so much climbing this summer since then - a couple days out at Baihe outside of Beijing. Right now I'm in Yangshuo trying to rustle up some partners so definitely e-mail me if you know of anyone who can go out in the next week!



Gym climber
Otto, NC
Feb 18, 2009 - 08:52pm PT
Bump for a great bunch of photos and taking the time to do it right.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
Mar 26, 2009 - 01:18pm PT

Trad climber
Eastern Sierra
Feb 18, 2010 - 08:35pm PT
Bump for a cool TR

Trad climber
Feb 18, 2010 - 09:01pm PT

What a TR!

Trad climber
Joshua Tree
Feb 18, 2010 - 09:12pm PT
You should learn how to pound pins, its way fun!
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Last clip of Lichen Lunch
Feb 18, 2010 - 10:54pm PT
Yowza, Mark.

Double yowza.

Feb 19, 2010 - 10:34am PT

Thanks for sharing! So cool!
gonzo chemist

a crucible
Feb 23, 2010 - 02:22pm PT
Awesome TR! I don't have many big wall aid aspirations, but the Dihedral Wall is high on the list. Its nice to know that with some persistence it can go clean...


Trad climber
Bay Area
Jul 11, 2010 - 09:15pm PT
Bump for Chris

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Aug 24, 2011 - 01:21pm PT

I've been scouring through my Meyers and Reid guide trying to find a good real deal Captain route that has pretty straightforward hauling, maybe not as crouded as other trade routes and would preferably go clean. From the topo the Dihedral looked like a good candidate, glad to come across this tr to confirm that.

Now to just spend a couple years getting in shape and getting my son up for the task.
Captain...or Skully

or some such
Aug 24, 2011 - 01:34pm PT
Watch out for bees. They zapped me on the first pitch. That's been a while, though.
I think you'll rock it, Paul.

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Aug 24, 2011 - 01:52pm PT
I think the crux will be buying my A5 double ledge back from my climbing partner. I'd planned on climbing the Salathe with my wife, but before we even managed to start our training we found ourselves expecting a child. So, the double ledge collected dust for a long time, was occasionally setup on our living room climbing wall, but then I figured I'll never do a wall so might as well sell it.

Well that was 5 or so years back, and now I have a almost 15 y/o that is built like a gymnist, does 1 arm pullups, and has a dedication to training that I never had as a teenager. He's also developed an appreciation for good music (borrowed my Bob Marley collection to put on his I-pod) So I figure he'd be an awesome wall partner. That and his teenage surliness has made me want to throttle his punk azz on more than one ocasion when he mouths off to his mother. So I figure doing a wall with him will be a good way to work out the parent/kid teenage kinks.

So I figure if we manage a family road trip next summer and get in some long free routes in the valley and meadows, and he has a chance to gaze upon and meditate upon the captain, the seed will be sowed.

When I mentioned doing the captain together he said, ah I guess so.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Aug 24, 2011 - 01:52pm PT
Hauling paybacks above Thanksgiving Ledge?

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Aug 24, 2011 - 02:57pm PT
First time I've read this...very inspiring! And what was that goo on pitch 14?
Captain...or Skully

or some such
Aug 24, 2011 - 03:01pm PT
Just a seep. They're all over the Cap.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Aug 24, 2011 - 03:28pm PT
For an El Cap route, it's one of the hotter ones due to less breeze. So be careful what time of year you do it.
Captain...or Skully

or some such
Aug 24, 2011 - 03:30pm PT
True dat.

Aug 24, 2011 - 04:21pm PT
Chris Chan left us way too early. RIP.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 6, 2012 - 11:56pm PT
Proud but Bittersweet Bump...
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