Max Jones and I climbed this excellent route over nine casual days in October of this year. The South Seas portion of the route can only be described as excellent, steep, clean and classic. The PO section, even with three or four grassy and semi dirty pitches, is only a hair less than very good.
Along the way we removed three 1/4 inch bolts, broke off two or three bolt studs and filled 10-12 holes (six at the second belay alone). We drilled one 3/8 bolt at the second anchor making it a nice, comfortable, clean 3 bolt anchor.
We climbed the route mostly clean, placing less that 16 hammered pieces, 3/4 of those being Beaks. We placed no copperheads and removed 16-20 heads that we were able to climb, without much difficulty, cleanly past. We removed half a dozen deadheads, a few cans from the top of the Black Tower and almost all of the tat we came across.
We climbed the route during early October 2010. This is a very excellent route with pitch after pitch of interesting climbing in a very exposed position. The first two pitches are very strenous to lead, clean, and haul. After three pitches we rapped 100 feet down to the anchors for the alcove swing and returned to the ground for the night via the alcove swing. I can say that as of 11.10.2010, the alcove swing rope looked to be in OK condition maybe a 3.5/5 for safety. We spent three nights on the climb.
Rumors of pitch 5 having an A4 expanding section may have been exaggerated. Our fearless leader led this having to nail only once in the middle, using mostly cam hooks to reduce the chance of expanding. Most of the fixed heads on South Seas and the PO part seemed to have been replaced recently. Every time we saw copperheads that had been placed with a circle punch we were pretty stoked. Whoever put those in was a pro. The rack beta was pretty good, but we never used angles as offset cams usually worked well. Maybe add more beaks and bring ball nuts.
I don't see why this route is not more popular, it has all the elements of a five star classic.
We have climbed SSPO from 26. may to 02.june 2009. After fixing pitch 1
we spent 6 nights on the wall. Great route, amazing part of the southeast face. Gear list on supertopo is correct. We brought 2 sets of BD C3`s and found them very useful. You find a video on youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBfwYXiJdWE
I second matt's recommendation of NOT fixing to p2 ..
I made the mistake of fixing to P2 and not using tape to protect the rope, by the time i had jugged back up, the fixed line had the sheath cut through, and some of the core was already cut. pretty damm close call.
This has to be one of the most fun solo's i've done on el cap. Steep climbing, nothing too dangerous since you'll just catch alot of air if you ping .. the rivet ladders are scary since i think you'd go for a while on those too.
this is an awesome line up a stellar aspect of the wall. it is becoming more and more popular and rightfully so. as of last week the route was very clean with little fixed gear spare a few strings of heads and a Pika Toucan that we accidentally fixed.
the difficulty in climbing lies in the strenous overhanging and traversing nature of the route. sometimes it feels as if cleaning is more difficult then leading, beware don't screw your second by backcleaning or extensively using cam hooks! the first pitch overhangs by about 50 feet, eat your Wheates before starting up it!
don't plan on fixing to p2 as there is a bad edge that you wouldn't want to jug up. go on to p3 (bring duct tape) or stay fixed at p1. you may want a lower out line for the bags...or just cut them loose and let them fly in space!
there are some machine head rivet ladders that look pretty good alough some of the machine heads seem to protrude oddly far out from the surface and you have to wonder how deap they go!??
the A4 pitch is challanging climbing, but not dangerous. our leader got dumped out of the expando and had a nice clean fall. the pitch is mostly clean gear.
the Supertaco rack is pretty much right on. arrows are the most common pin used. with lots of small cams (black aliens) and ball-nuts you can get through most of the route clean.
enjoy! don't forget to do the swing!
Nov 2, 2001 - 04:24pm
Regarding the rockfall in the vicinity of South Seas and Tempest: Neither route is affected. the rockfall occurred to the left of Tempest, and to the right of South Seas. Parties doing Tempest should be aware that there is still much loose rock on the first two pitches, inclusing some large choppers on the first pitch that are completely detached. Be careful out there!
Sep 14, 2001 - 11:30am
The rock fall (described above) came from the alcove, maybe 100 feet off the ground. A small portion of the second pitch of the Tempest may have gone off as well. I believe that South Seas has remained intact, though those who chose to do it, should approach with caution.
Sep 12, 2001 - 08:14pm
ROCK FALL - In late August, major rock fall occurred above the Alcove near the South Seas route. It is unlikely that the route was affected. However, climbers should be very careful when walking near the base. This area has been the scene of frequent rock fall activity since the Great Flood of 1997.
South Seas is route number 16.
Photo: Galen Rowell
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