Survival- What's your real name? We must have met. I got to know Lesher fairly well when he was on the rescue team, but I never got to know the Lepton man, only by reputation. I do recall seeing the Lepton man in the cafe parking lot one time, I think he had just been rescued? He kind of snarled at me as I walked by, I must have been staring at the iconic big wall climber dude in full regalia, curious as to why he looked so worked. Around '80 or '81?
Yes we have met numerous times. I'm Bruce Birchell, a forgettable fixture from 78-82 when I joined the military. Semi fixture from 82-86 when I was there on leave for El Cap climbs, then went to Saudi. Almost wanna be fixture from 90-96 dropping in for the occasional wall.
My primary wall partners were Lesher and Royster with a few others scattered in including Bob Williams, John Dale, Lepton, Doug MacDonald and Scott Burk.
Coming out of the woods after Tribal Rite 3rd ascent.
Quick note--ours was the last "Topo-free" ascent, I believe. I think our ascent, in 1992, was somewhere less than the 10th ascent, but I really have no idea. We climbed the right side of El Cap tower start--a real grunt, but way cooler than hauling big bags up the Nose.
It was one of those routes with an "aura", mostly due to the lack of Topo. Like today, climbers generally go where there's info, and tend to put off the more exploratory missions.
I drew up a topo after our ascent. But then I broke the unwritten rule about the topoless Tribal Rite, and shared the topo with Mark Blanchard, who was going up for the first solo ascent. When he got down, he told me my topo was wrong, because I apparently forgot about a pitch somewhere in the final stretch where it joins WEML.
Not having a topo made the route a lot more cool, almost like a first ascent, but without having to establish anchors after a long hard pitch of climbing. Really a stellar route, even though it stormed on us each and every of the seven days we were up there.
I will see if I can scare up my raggy pix from up there. Have a few decent ones someplace.
We also did the right side of the towers to start!!
Stayed on Lay Lady, even though we got there pretty early in the day and Bob Williams was shouting at us to keep going.
It was just too sweet to pass up.
I agree about the topo free ascent. It really felt adventurous casting off from Boot Flake. We only had to sit for one whole day in a storm. Luckily, we had plenty of "supplies".
The long copperhead corner had nothing fixed in it and took me a long time even though Lesher was making a lot of noise about the time. I told him that if I came zippering down at him, it was going to take a lot longer than just getting it right the first time so "Shut yer piehole"!!
That upper wall was so spectacular that it remains my most treasured memory of El Cap, even over some very special places I've been up there.