Tribal Rite, El Capitan A4 5.5


Yosemite Valley, California USA

  • Currently 4.0/5
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Rating Distribution
7 Total Ratings
5 star: 71%  (5)
4 star: 14%  (1)
3 star: 14%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
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   Jun 13, 2014 - 08:34am
We replaced 3 lead rivets on this route with 1/4 inch button heads, one fell out when Keenan tried to tap a pika hanger onto it (don't do this with machine head bolts!). The others were missing rivets on pitch 9. Many poor lead bolts remain, almost every pitch has at least one rusty old split shaft 1/4 incher with a Leeper hanger. These are removed with shocking ease. Future parties may want to bring tuning forks and hardware to replace some as you go. We blew two heads while testing them but were able to avoid placing any on the route and many could easily be pulled and bypassed with clean gear or beaks.

Despite miles of fixed heads and ugly dowls, this route is really cool. Lots of fun beaking, we placed only 2 arrows and 2 sawed angles (3/4 of those were on the 2nd to last WEML pitch), the supertopo pin rack is light on beaks and heavy on arrows and angles. For beaks bring 4 small, 6 meds, and 6 large. One set of arrows and one set of sawd angles up to 1 inch. The directional T Moses beaks work great as many placements are in corners. I'd agree with J-Tree on 1 set of offset nuts, maybe doubles on the largest 3 brassies. We didn't place many nuts.

Be cautious lowering your bags from the last New Dawn belay over to the Texas Flake. This went smooth for us but loose rocks abound.

The bivi ledges at p4 and p7 are awesome and hard to pass up.

Tribal should be on every A3 climbers tick list. We weren't too impressed with the climbing on New Dawn and the hauling is sometimes difficult, but Lay Lady Ledge is pretty sweet.

I'd give Tribal a 5 star rating for location but the abundance of old fixed heads and rivets dropped it to 4 stars for me. The Carrot and the RURP pitches are the best on the route IMO.

Big Wall climber
Typewriters and Ledges
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   Sep 26, 2013 - 02:10am
Soloed this route in Sept over 11 days via New Dawn.

If you don't camhook, learn. Much of this route eats up a regular sized camhook so solidly that you forget at times to put in a piece until you look down at the runout.

Here's what I ended up using:
 4 of each size beak (used them all)
 No blades
 No Arrows
 No Ztons
 1 each smaller angles
 2 each sawed angles medium to larger (idk exactly) Didn't use them more than once or twice until the second to last pitch where they were used.
 Pulled three heads, replaced one and used beak tips to get by the other two. The rest look fine, but then so did the other three that popped. (There's too many heads in micronut and beak placements. If you've got time and a butterknife, bring one)
 2 each hooks (pointed not needed) Large pika was helpful but not needed.
 2 each large and medium camhook, 1 micro camhook
 10 rivet hangers is more than enough if you skip every other rivet or so. (I have a wire hanger always attached to my ladders so that made skipping every other rivet easy) Half the rivets will not take keyhole hangers
 1 set of offset nuts large to micro (could have placed more, but cams are faster to place, faster to clean, and make you lighter than nuts after you've placed them.
 ST Cam rack was sufficient. Triple up on smallest offsets. Full set of Totem cams were heaven-sent and yellow and blue probably helped to avoid placing angles and sawed angles for much of the climb.

1 - C2f
2 - C3f
3 - A3
4 - A2+
5 - C3f
6 - (can't remember)
7 - C3
8 - C3f
9 - A3
10 - C2
11 - A2
12 - C2
13 - Very exposed 3rd, fix a line.

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   Aug 20, 2011 - 11:00am
tribal rite beta

the most important first. this is the most fun el cap route i have done(although I have only done 3 others, so that maybe doesn't mean much..) it has great location, and p6 and p8 are the best aid pitches I have ever done. you get an absolutely insane top out too. Getting to the Boot Flake is going to suck on terms of hauling if you do the New Dawn start, but it truly worth it. The bivies are AWESOME.

the pitch ratings are inconsistent and IMO wrong on most of the pitches.
many of the C2F and C3F pitches do not have enough fixed gear to clean at the rating they are given. also many rely so heavily on fixed gear that a C rating is not of much help. carry a hammer on every pitch except p10. you may not need it, but you better be safe than have other people risk their lives on a rescue.

pitch ratings:
6.A3- (the so called C3+ part is C1+ with offset cams, just look really well for the placements.)
9.A3 ( i personally think this pitch was the hardest. it took the longest, almost 2h)
10. C2

I am not saying people should nail anytime because it's so much fun. But, I do think that putting in a beak is not that bad if it makes a pitch safer. pitch 20 or whatever on el cap is not the place to break your ankle. someone else will take risks to save your ass.

Also, I do not think that a pitch that has more than 10 fixed hammered placements (heads,pins) should be called CxF. Take a hammer and a few beaks - you are climbing on someone else's gear and relying on it to be there and good.

Ottawa Doug gave excellent beta! Thanks for that. His rack is about right, although we barely used z-tons (1 or 2) and sawed angles (also 1 or 2) as we had 2 sets of offset cams.
take many beaks, like he suggests, maybe 3 or 4 big ones, and 2 or 3 rurps for the rurp pitch. take the hooks on every pitches - they help to get around hard moves quite often. also if you can freeclimb a bit take chalk, there is a few spots where a hearty lock off of a crimp will get you to that fixed piece a lot easier.
we used no knifeblades because we had 4 ea. beaks. we used only one #3 LA. Take 2 #2 LA's and a #1 LA. We wished we had one.

Important: Take two or three sets of Metolius Master cams - they replace sawed offs and save the rock on this not so scarred route of becoming like the second to last pitch of WEML.

Congratulations to Mark Hudon for his really clean ascent. I am puzzled as of how he did that. But compared to Muir or the NNL his ratings/the ratings on the topo are sandbagged to hell and back.

People should use lead (Pb) heads instead of Al - I haven't seen them in America. They can normally be cleaned, can be placed very easily, and don't destroy nearly as much rock as a copperhead. These things are bodyweight though. We placed and cleaned 2. We placed one #1CuHead and pulled 2.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Jan 20, 2011 - 12:36pm
here are some updated pitch ratings from mark hudon

As far as pitch rating goes, I didn't do the first pitch so I'll start with the second, numbering them as per your topo.

2) C2+/C3
3) C2
4) C2+
5) The Carrot C3 (it's pretty casual on cams, cam hooks and nuts.
6) C3+
7) C3 there are two rivets missing in the rivet ladder on this pitch. A BD Talon hook fit nicely into them.
8) C3r
9) mild A3 If I had been braver I think I could have done this pitch clean.
10) C2 5.8
11) A2 (I placed three pins on this pitch but I can see it easily going clean with cams had I had a little more experience).
12) C2

You could add an F for Fixed to all of the Clean pitches as they all had at least one fixed pin and most had many fixed copperheads.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
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   Aug 18, 2010 - 02:51pm
I climbed Tribal Rite in the first ten days of June 2010 and found it quite nice.
I climbed most pitches "clean" aside from the overabundance of fixed copperheads. In fact, every head on the route looked solid, and the wires not frayed. It was actually quite a bummer to clip into the miles of fixed heads. I placed only six pins, three on the RURP pitch and three on pitch 11.

Aside from that, the rock, location and bivys are awesome.

Here's an up to date rack:

6 Beaks, 2 each size, you won't used them all but they work well as hooks in pin scars.
1 KB long thin
3 LA #1, 2, 3
3 sawn angles 5/8", 3/4", 1"

I used only a couple of micro nuts
I used lots of medium offset nuts
Cam Rack:
The usual 2-3 ea, offsets work great, up to 3.5"
2 sets hooks and make sure to have one hook that will work in blown out rivet holes.
cam hooks, 2 ea, narrow and wide.
5 heads just in case although you'll probably be able to use something else.
20 rivet hangers

My Trip Report is Here.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
May 20, 2009 - 03:45am
links to a great photo trip report here

Gym climber
sawatch choss
May 18, 2009 - 02:56pm
Location, location, location!

Besides that, you pull on gear a bunch.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Apr 29, 2009 - 09:12pm
I just got feedback on the latest rack and clean aid ratings from climbers who did the route last week

Rack for Tribal Rite only:

11x Peckers (4x sm, 4x med, 3x lg)
2 KB's
2x LA's
1x 1/2" & 5/8"
7x sawed angles (basically all for the second to last WEML pitch) - what you have in the guide
2x Z's
1x nuts
2-3x micro nuts (we had two sets and could have used more in the mid-range)
Cams as in your book - except we didn't really need anything larger than a #3 Camalot (off-sets and micro's very helpful)
2x hooks (you don't need a Fish Hook, but one would be nice)
1x Cam Hooks
5x Heads - we didn't place a single head even though we pulled four testing - we were able to use other gear at the places where we pulled them.
20x rivet hangers (10x is BS unless you want to leap-frog a bunch)

1. C2
2. C3
3. C2 (one KB placement)
4. A2
5. C3F
6. A3
7. C2F
8. C3
9. A3
10. C2
11. A3
12. C1
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Jan 27, 2009 - 07:58pm
Here are some great photos from John Middendorf
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Sep 8, 2008 - 02:14am
Many photos in a photo essay here
Ottawa Doug

Social climber
Ottawa, Canada
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   Aug 24, 2008 - 03:17pm
Climbed this beautiful route in June '08. I won't give away all the beta here, but will give some good tidbits, so if you want the complete adventure when you go - don't read any further. :) Actually, I just read what I wrote and it appears I have given most of the beta away.


Pitch 1. Starts just above boot flake. Topo show a rivet leading from one crack feature to another low on the pitch. It is a bathook. I had to look for a while before finding it. Also there was not one fixed piece where the topo says C3F.

Pitch 2. Good bolt above C2+ awkward, then it gets involved. 2nd bolt/rivet shown on topo is not there. Some loose stuff, cams, beaks, arrows, couple of heads, rivets higher up......I've never climbed A4 before and I hear that it's on the soft end of the scale (if on the scale at all), but I didn't fall so we'll never know. :)

Pitch 3. Two rivets are missing from the rivet ladder. I bathooked. I replaced the rusty spinner bolt at the top of the rivet ladder with a new 3/8". There is another lousy bolt with a wingnut on it higher up, but I figured one good bolt in the pitch was enough.

Pitch 4. Says "no cams on pitch" , but 3/4 of the way up this pitch where the heads are I got a great yellow/green hybrid alien and a .75 camalot.

Pitch 5. I replaced another lead bolt below the carrot with a shiny 3/8". I didn't find the expando above my first pin placement at the base of the carrot to be that bad

Pitch 6. Cool pitch. Quite sustained. The lead bolt above the A3+ heads could really use replacing! I just kept going to the belay.

Pitch 7. Fantastic corner, good position. Made two bathook moves on rivet ladder.

Pitch 8. A little bit of everything - hooking, heads, rivets, big gear closer to the top, then beaks. A3R is easy hooking to a couple of pins/pin-stacks and then a good bolt that protects hooking above.

Pitch 9. Stellar position, take all your thin gear, then sawed offs and z-tons. Some small/medium cams partway up pitch.

Pitch 10. Bolts are mostly large rivets, most without hangers. Great bivy at top of ten.

Pitch 11. (WEML) Take thin gear, sawed offs and z-tons. It's not over yet.

Pitch 12. Pretty straightforward, great position, awesome belay!

Pitch 13. It's over. :)

Sun ledge at top of 4 is a great bivy, good broken ledges at the top to 7, and the ledge at the top of 10 is spectacular as well. You get to look up at the second to last pitch of the Reticent without having to climb it.



Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Jul 25, 2008 - 01:28pm

Cool photo trip report
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
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   Feb 25, 2008 - 08:56pm
Minerals & I retroed all the belays on this route in 99, right after Chrissmack climbed it. I wish heads had been invented then, but oh well. could have avoided the rivet ladder. Enjoy!

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
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   Mar 26, 2006 - 11:10pm
There are some rotten 1/4" bolts on this route, but the belays all seemed to be OK. The Carrot is a 50-75 foot long stalagtite, totally expando, and should probably be cleaned top-down on rappel so you don't fix all your gear. You can haul from lower right edge of Texas Flake (New Dawn haul station) to the top of Boot Flake with a 60m. You need to babysit the pigs across the traverse, though, or you'll knock loose stuff off the broken ledges there. Shuttle, don't haul, your stuff up the last little bit to the summit. The last haul is probably one of the best top-out hauls on El Cap (thanks Warren!).
El Capitan - Tribal Rite A4 5.5 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Tribal Rite is route number 11.
Photo: Galen Rowell
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