Zodiac, El Capitan A2 5.7
Avg time to climb route: 4 days
Approach time: 45 minutes
Descent time: 4 hours
Number of pitches: 16
Height of route: 1800'
OverviewEasy hauling, a straightforward approach and a great location make Zodiac the first El Cap route for many climbers. The climbing is clean and exposed, following a series of large features through overhanging rock. Though the aid climbing is much harder than the Nose or Lurking Fear, only 16 pitches mean that Zodiac is less of an ordeal.
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First ascent historyAlthough one of the easier El Cap routes today, Zodiac was once a test piece, with numerous pitches rated A4 and A5. Charlie Porter went through two attempts before he climbed the route solo over seven days in 1972.
During the climb, several strange events occurred. When Porter reached the top of Pitch 3 he found a dead bird “upside down with its feet in the air” and dubbed the spot accordingly. More ominously, as Porter explains, “This was at the time of the Zodiac Killer, a serial killer in San Francisco. I would go up on the wall, come down, and ﬁnd that he had killed again. His killings seemed to be timed with when I was on the climb.” This disturbing coincidence led to the naming of the route. Also, “It was that time when everyone was running around talking about the stars.”
Porter remembers that one of the wilder moments of the climb came when he reached the Nipple pitch. Right at the tit, the crack became too wide to nail. Porter took off some of the hardware and then liebacked the feature at a 1970s rating of “hard 5.9.” Bolts were later added to this section, and today parties will gawk at the fact that Porter liebacked the feature.
Porter topped out after spending seven days on the climb and placing 74 bolts. He remembers the climb was during ... [full history for SuperTopo members only!]
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