The Shield, El Capitan A3 5.8

 
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Yosemite Valley, California USA

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SuperTopo Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (3)
4 star: 33%  (2)
3 star: 17%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
youri

climber
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   Jun 18, 2013 - 08:46pm
Mark and Lambone are right on. The triple cracks and 2 pitches afterwards were the cruxes for me as hand placed s.a. angles and beaks where just about new to me. I ended up nailing 4 in the groove, but probably 25 in the next 3 pitches and some more above chickenhead ledge... I would bring 4 sawed angle 1", 3 sa 3/4, 1 sa 1.25 (and maybe 1 sa 1.5? You should leave it at home since Mark and Lambone agree on this) . As to how much to cut away from them, cut at least half of the blade length, and up to 65%. Your biggest cam needed should cover 3" (1 of it needed). I had 7 big tomahawks (I have 4 for sale btw) and 3 big peckers. I wish I had only 8 peckers as the big tomahawks are heavy and do not do better on the shield... 3 small and 3 medium tomahawks were more than enough for me. Know that you can hook a deadhead with a small tomahawk, it is bomber (pecker works too). I had varied offset cams (Metolius And aliens). If talking Metolius size, I had 2x #0, 3x #1, 3x #2, 3x #3 and 1x #4. It was very good but would have been better with a 4th #2. I probably could have done it with 1x #0, 2x #1 and no #4. Make sure you notice thAt offset cams of the same size come in the outside lobe left and outside lobe right flavors and that you have specimens of both on your rack. It actually MATTERS ! :) bring 3 hooks: maybe grappling pointed, grappling and cliffhanger. Bring 2 narrow (normal) cam hooks and 1 wide ( no fragile flake nor smallest needed). Bring a little bit of webbing in case some breaks in the roofs ( maybe 1m total) and maybe some 3mm to replace threaded pieces if needed. I had a simple loop of 1/16 cable and left it on a piece. Another could be usefull when you climb... No need for any hangers, but some belay bolts need tightening as they are completely loose (wrench handy). Not to much trouble since most belays are 3 bolts... No rurp, kb, la or regular angles needed. Make sur you have 2 of offset nuts #5 to #10. Single of #3, #4 and #11 is ok. I do not remember the usefulness of #1 and #2... A 70m haul rope is usefull from Heart to Mammoth only. 60m lead rope ok if Mammoth fixed. I did not see the 2 threaded holes mentionned in 2002, they may have been filled. Enjoy the climb!!!
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Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Jun 16, 2013 - 07:32pm
 
You will not get any sleep on the Grey Ledges. They are neither large enough for sleeping nor are they flat. If you can manage to tie yourself into a sitting position you might be able to catch some Zs.
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Brandon Adams

Big Wall climber
Monterey, CA
Jun 12, 2013 - 05:56pm
 
Anybody know anything about the rap from Shield Roof down to Gray Ledges? I want to climb the route without a portaledge, and fixing three pitches up off of Gray will give me a headstart on the headwall.

And Gray Ledges is sufficient enough to spend the night at without a portaledge? Right?

Any thoughts/ tips?
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Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Jun 23, 2011 - 08:55am
 
Mark's rack beta is right on. Big beaks are the ticket on the Shield, I'd bring 6-10. I only had two and ended up lowering to backclean them a few times. They are hookable in the pin scars, and with a slight tap become bomber pro.

Hand placed many 1" sawed angles, a few 3/4", and the 1.25" only once.

The Groove was the crux for me. It has very little useable fixed gear in it right now, just a handfull of pieces, the ones you can use are pretty good. Took a 40 footer when a tipped beak blew. Felt solid A3 to me.

The Shield is badass despite the scars and climbing them with beaks is fun.

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Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
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   Oct 24, 2010 - 06:55pm
As far as the SuperTopo rack goes, you won't need any RURPs, knifeblades, LAs or small angles. You don't need any cam bigger than a 3 inch either.
3 sets of offsets are recommended up to 1.25" as are beaks of all sizes.
We never used a 1.5" sawn angle but lots of sawn standard, 1 and 1.25 angles.
There is no need for copperheads or rivet hangers.
Take two or three sets of offset nuts but no micro nuts.

All in all, we hammered only 8 pieces, half of those were beaks. We "one tapped" four of those.
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climb_7a

Trad climber
Norway
Sep 8, 2010 - 01:38pm
 
We are planning to do the Shield. What route do you recomend to reach the Mammoth Terraces?



Kris
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HoustonWallRat

Big Wall climber
TX
Jul 26, 2010 - 11:50am
 
I'm planning on starting up el cap a week from today and wanted to see if I could get some input from other supertopo members. This may take a second to explain and since this is my first supertopo post I apologize ahead of time if this is an inappropriate place to post this kind of thing or if I ramble on a bit. About 6-7 years ago I spent 2 summers in Yosemite with the express purpose of climbing el cap and have done little wall climbing since. I did SF of the column, leaning tower, lurking fear, zodiac, Muir and the Nose. For each of these climbs I was with an inexperienced partner (some trad following but solid rope handling, cleaning) so I led all the pithces, set up belays/bivies, etc. Since then I have done some A2-3 aiding in north conway NH (Prow, Mordor Wall)as well as at Looking Glass in North Carolina (Glass Menagerie, Invisible Airwaves) and spent my spring break in Zion getting up Moonlight Buttress, Touchstone Wall, and Spaceshot. The first question is what would be the better route to rope solo on el cap? Mescalito, Shield, or Magic Mushroom. I keep reading about people spending 2+ weeks on mescalito and I only have about 12 days to work with. Shield looks incredible but I would not look forward to hauling on FreeBlast. So I'm trying to figure out which one of those routes would be the best choice for a soloist. I'd much prefer doing some spicy aid to getting strung out on some free climbing while soloing too. Also saw the previous post on this site saying Magic Mushroom is MUCH harder than the supertopo suggests. Comments? Thanks for your help!

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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Oct 23, 2008 - 09:14am
great photo trip report here

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=704603
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Jun 20, 2008 - 06:00pm
great trip report with photos here:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=618730
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Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 3, 2005 - 02:28pm
 
Charles,

Undernieth the Shield roof makes a great hanging bivi, very sheltered.

I have known 3 parties who have bailed from up on the Shield headwall, one from an injury and two from a storm. It is do-able, not easy...but if you are going up there have an emergency bail off plan and the skills to pull it off.

As far as tips on handplacing pins, it's pretty straightforward really, make sure you are using the right size, the farther the pin is in the slot the better. Best advice is to get some good practice in before heading up there. The hardest part is getting past the fear of being strung out on 10 hand placed pins in a row.

As far as fixed gear, I thin the Groove pitch and first 20 feet of the Tripple Cracks had the most extensive "nescesary" fixed gear. If it is missing, plan to place some small heads and mabye a RURP or Beak or two.

I thought the crux of the route was pulling past the Shield roof. The roof itself is fixed with good pins, but once you get to the edge you move out on some suspect sawed-offs and small offset nuts. I have know a couple people who took big falls there.

Good luck and have a blast. We spent an extra night on the headwall just because it was so sweet up there.
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Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
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   Nov 3, 2005 - 12:08pm
OK, I'm going to lecture the last two threads a bit. After all, I am Fat "Dad." If you're going up on a route like the Shield, where bailing would be very difficult, and you're relying on the presense of fixed gear for your ascent, maybe you should scale down your expectations. I mean, are you really going to down climb the roof pitch and rap 18 pitches if the Shield headwall isn't as fixed as you were hoping.

Having said that, the only pitch that would really be gnarly without a ton of fixed gear, the Groove pitch, is perpetually festered with heads. That does not mean that you don't need to be able to place your own if some blow. When I did this several years ago, we were (as far as any could tell us) the first ascent of season, and my partner was able to hand clean some fat heads on this pitch. If either one of us wasn't competent to place our own heads, it would have been an epic retreat.

As for sawed offs, just chop them roughly in two, with some stubbier than others for varied placements. Aliens and TCUs also work pretty well in many places.

I personally didn't find the Shield all that difficult. Nothing is too sustained or even dangerous. You still need to be competent at good old fashioned El Cap A2, which isn't cake if you're uninitiated. But I'm comparing it to the last wall I had done--an early ascent of Zodiac years before (early 80s), when it was still considered a hard NAILING route, with very little fixed gear and lots of loose blocks--probably old school A3+/A4 (as you can tell I don't get a chance to bag the Captain all that much). My advice, go stand in line on Zodiac. If you scratch your way up that, you should do fine.
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Charles Perry

Big Wall climber
Fort Collins CO
Nov 3, 2005 - 09:39am
 
Planning on climbing Shield this May. Any help on condition or availability of fixed gear would be appreicated. I have read that the groove pitch can be very hard or there is tied off pieces and goes quite easily. This will be my first nailing route and true total aid route on El Cap. Also wondering if a portaledge would work under the Shield Roof and what lengths should I cut the sawed offs too?. I really want to try to hand place as much as possible. Any help, suggestions, or beta would be much appreciated.
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david_webb_aus

Big Wall climber
Canberra Australia
Aug 30, 2005 - 11:40pm
 
Hey all, my partner and I are planning on doing the shield and was wondering if anyone has any up to date beta on the route. Any specific fixed that has blown and so on.
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Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Nov 28, 2004 - 10:37am
 
yes

the shield is not too difficult, but awesome! my advice would be to practice nailing and hammering pins the least amount possible (and only hand placing) before you head up. the nailing is straightforward, but over drivin pins are a real shame on this route, youīll see when you get up there. HB offsets and Offset Aliens will reduce the amount of nailing. iīd bring the Supertopo suggested pin rack.

have fun!

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spectreman

Trad climber
Nov 27, 2004 - 09:24am
 
I've been fantasizing about getting on the Shield. I'm looking for recent gear beta and any tips in general. I've done The Triple Direct and Mescalito on El Cap - Does the Shield seem like a good next step in the progression?
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Sep 1, 2004 - 09:15am
here is a trip report of speed climb in made on the shield

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?m=42320&f=0&b=0
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Doki

Big Wall climber
S.F. bay area
Aug 1, 2003 - 09:48am
 
HOW!!!!!!!!!
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JR

climber
S.F. bay area
May 28, 2003 - 10:14am
 
Just climbed the Shield last week. We started on the Muir Wall instead of the Freeblast, which adds an extra day of climbing, but gets you into aid mode more quickly. We spent five nights on the wall (bivies at Mammoth, Grey, top P8, top P10, Chickenhead). A few comments on the pitches:

(Don't read this if you don't want the beta):

P4- Grey Ledges bivy. Make sure not to set your ledge up too far left on the ledge if water is dripping from above the Shield roof. It is very close to where the water lands at night when there is no wind.
P7- goes clean pretty easily at C2 (not C3 as in the topo).
P9- usually wet. Since it also overhangs it means it is also dripping as you climb. Expect to get wet.
P10- Groove pitch. (May '03) Not as much fixed gear as it seems there has been at times in the past. There are actually tons of fixed RURPs but no cables to clip. Some of these can be threaded with 3mil cord. Expect to place some RURPs and beaks.
P13- one of the bolts has a ridiculously long reach. Bring tape to rig a cheater stick.
P14- Bring hooks
P16+17- easily linked, but the full 200' pitch puts the leader on the sharp end for upwards of 4 hours. Bring hooks.
P18- roof traverses slightly downward. Do your second a favor and do a good bit of backcleaning here.

Key gear beta- bring a set of offset aliens. #4.5 camalot is useful on the upper part of the route, as well as on the lower Muir.
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Feb 12, 2003 - 11:15pm
Yes, you should be experienced with nailing before heading up on The Shield. More importantly, you should be experienced with hand-placing pitons. It is amazing how bomber hand placed pins can be in those scars. If you hand 2 or 3 out of every 4 placements, you will be saving the rock and still safe by nailing the occasional piece. while i don't think everyone who does the Shield needs to do it completely hammerless, everyone should be doing it as hammerless as they can.
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Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Feb 12, 2003 - 09:27pm
 
Brett, I'd say the Sheild is about the same as Zodiac, but longer of course and the cruxes are more sustained, ie. full pitches of moderate (C3-A2) aid. It is pretty easy nailing with the right assortment of pins, and offset gear helps alot. Zodiac has harder and perhaps more dangerouse tricky clean cruxes (ie. Black Tower), but they are short and mostly fixed.

I'd suggest getting some good nailing practice before going up on the Shield though. I'm afraid the poor crack suffers because it is the first nailing route for many parties (myself included). When unfamiliar with pins one typicaly has the tendency to overdrive them. I'm not telling you what you should or should not climb, just saying tread lightly. I wish my partner and I had possed the experience to when we did it. It's a shame that such a STELLAR line has seen so much abuse. Five days would be about average if you spent 3 on the Zodiac. Have fun, be safe!
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spacemonkey

Big Wall climber
sweden
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   Feb 5, 2003 - 01:23am
Yes, this climb is harder than Zodiac. Not only is it tecnically more demanding but it is much longer. Pitches like Triple Cracks and the two after that, is much more involved than any pitch on Zodiac. I have done Zodiac clean, but I think doing Shield in that style would be hard. BUT, itīs a totally awesome route!!! I suggest doing Mescalito instead, itīs really easy if you compare, itīs like a very long Zodiac, and a really nice route too! Good Luck
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gumby

Big Wall climber
Hartford
Feb 3, 2003 - 04:01pm
 
I was wondering if this route is much harder than Zodiac. I am planning on doing this in late May in slow style. I was thinking we could do it in Five days but bring enough food and water for six. Any beta would be appreciated.

Cheers,
Brett
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Nov 7, 2002 - 05:46pm
CORRECTIONS TO TOPO IN <A HREF='http://www.supertopo.com/bigwalls/yosemite/bigwalls.html'>YOSEMITE BIG WALLS: SUPERTOPO</a>


These updates to the topo come from Erik Sloan who did us all a HUGE service by replacing many of the anchors and lead bolts on this climb. All anchors and most lead bolts are bomber.

P10 - write "great hang" at belay. you should try to bivy here.
P14 - climbing part of pitch is out of proportion to bolt part of pitch. make climbing part smaller and bolt part longer.
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George

Advanced climber
Mill Valley, CA
Oct 25, 2002 - 12:00pm
 
Just finished the shield. One thing I realized is that topos for big wall climbs are equivalent to trying to map out a drainage gully off a mountaintop. It’s constantly changing. For instance, the famous Groove pitch seemed like the crux of the route for us and we brought bashies and chisels to deal with it, thinking we might spend a whole day just getting up it. But when we got to it, someone had placed gorgeous silver shiny bashies and actually suaged new hangers on all the fixed rurps (You'd laugh if you saw the stuff we brought to deal with those). My partner, who got the pitch, cruised right up it in less than an hour and a half. The Triple Cracks pitch and the next one after that, however, had very little fixed gear, and my other partner and I were placing shimmed stubbies, African peckers and birdbeaks along the whole pitch, making your topo pretty right on. So, in short, I think all you can do is give someone an idea of a worse case scenario to prepare for, and if it’s easier, than so be it.
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Pierre Olsson alias spacemonkey

Advanced climber
Mill Valley, CA
Oct 20, 2002 - 06:27am
 
Yes, itīs actually true (read SAD) there is a Petzl threded bolt on triple cracks. I canīt belive that someone really had the nerv to start drilling on lead on that ultra-classic pitch. And itīs right next to a really good A3 placement aswell. Some climbers donīt give a damn and it makes me sad to see their junk all over the climbs.
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Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Oct 10, 2002 - 07:12pm
 
A couple of years ago when I did this route there were two bolt "placements" on the headwall, the tripple cracks (not the ones origionaly placed to connect the tripple cracks) and the pitch above. When I say "placements," I mean it was a threaded hole that you could hand screw a bolt with a hanger into.

Anyway, I was wondering if they were still there? If you are a shamles bolt clipper (like myself) you may want to bring a bolt and hanger (I believe 3/8") to place in the holes to reduce the fall potential. If you are antibolt/traditionalist/route preservationist etc...you may want to take up patching material to fill the holes.

I am not advocating one response over another, I just thought this to be a usefull piece of information that is not shown on the supertopo. The holes may very well be gone by now. Enjoy the magnificent line, tread lightly.
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El Capitan - The Shield A3 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The Shield is route number 7.
Photo: Tom Frost
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*What is "Route Beta"?
It's climber slang for information or tips on a route as in, "what's the beta on that route?" As a service to fellow climbers we ask SuperTopo guidebook users to post tips and updates to this website if they have relevant information to share after a climb.