Climbed Excalibur last Saturday. Had a real good time up there for the First One Day Ascent:
11/9/13 - David Allfrey + Alex Honnold - First One Day Ascent: 16 hours 10 minutes
We skipped the 9" cams and took Honnold instead. We had a double set, 1 set offset cams, micro nuts, 2-4's 2-5's and 2-6's It seems that *most* of the wide could be aided with that, although it might get spicy in a few places. We joined forces with Alex leading the big wide pitches and me on the aid pitches and others.
For aid climbing, I would recommend 1-2 each #2+3 arrows, 3 small beaks, 3-4 medium and large beaks (Tomahawks over peckers, of course). Take a selection of heads from 0-2 just incase you rip some of those tiny things out (very possible).
We opted to not haul and took an 80m rope and wore a big backpack (it was heavy as hell at the start, but faster than hauling and maybe less effort in the long run).
Overall, this was an interesting El Cap route. As a pure aid route it would be mediocre with lots of wide crack cam jugging. I think the most enjoyable style would be to plan on free climbing up to 11c or so, or french freeing up to about that grade, then you would be able to climb many of the pitches faster than just aiding them, plus you would get to enjoy some really amazing crack climbing high on El Cap.
The 6th pitch is the aid climbing crux, the topo makes it look shorter than it is. The crack peters down to a beak tip seam above very small fixed heads and has some really big whipper potential. The rest of the aid pitches are substantially easier with only a small amount of nailing here and there.
I can't say I recommend the route, but I am not against it either. If you are looking for a bizarre journey up the captain, this could be it. It turned out to be about what I thought it would be, a 3000 foot (mostly) wide crack. The cracks always trend right, and the aid climbing brings it back left to another major system, then trend right, then back left, repeat.
There area few belays that could use some bolt replacements in the second half of the route. Some belays use gear as listed in the topo, they all turn out fairly bomber when equalized together.
You need 9 inch cams or wooden shims for the wide stuff. The belays at the top of P7 and P8 need gear for the crack; the post-FA bolts there are not particularly good. The top of P10 is a big bombay cave with a perfect hand-cam crack in the roof, and would make a great storm bivy. You can link P24 and P25 with a 60m rope; back-clean all of P25 to leave a straight shot for the cleaner. We left our pigs at the P26 belay bolts, and then did the last two pitches to the summit. The next day, I rapped down to the pigs from about forty feet West of the Salathe top-out tree on a 60m rope. It was a straight, free-hanging haul. Rap from the base of a ten-foot high sloping "headwall" about 30-40 feet East of where the route comes over the rim. You need some creativity to get a good anchor there. Hauling across the slab traverse of P27, then up the OW and chimney of P28 would be a nightmare.
San Luis Obispo CA
Feb 18, 2002 - 06:18am
How wide are the biggest offwidths on this route? Do #6 Friends fit, or do you need bigger cams?
Excalibur is route number 4.
Photo: Tom Frost
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