Shortest Straw, El Capitan A4 5.7

 
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Yosemite Valley, California USA

  • Currently 3.0/5
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Summary of All Ratings

SuperTopo Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.3)
Your Rating:     (none)
Rating Distribution
8 Total Ratings
5 star: 38%  (3)
4 star: 50%  (4)
3 star: 13%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Feb 1, 2001 - 12:16pm
Correction to the guidebook Yosemite Big Walls: SuperTopos: Pitches 6 and 7 only link (barely!) if you backclean enough pieces to keep the rope running straight.
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bringmedeath

climber
la la land
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   Nov 10, 2005 - 10:34am
I really liked this route. Mostly safe climbing in a rad location. It has tons of hooking and lots of fixed heads. My biggest beef with the topo is the ratings. I don't feel that the Sun and Steel is A4+ in a million years! It is at the most an A3+ pitch and that is pushing it. I was really surprised to finish the rivet ladder and then only have to do like 6 or so hook moves to get to a bomber cam. The other pitch that is no way A3 is the ramp leading into Zodiac area, pitch 6, this is no way A3! A2- is more fitting I think, it is all cams and nuts.

I'm not sure which route is more fun... ZM or the Straw? ZM has more history but the Straw is probably cooler climbing. There isn't really any awkward parts on the route.

NOTE!!! Pitch two is messed up. Both Ammon and my partner had issues and had to sorta cheat to get this pitch done. I think a rivet is missing. Maybe ask ammon about it to get better and see what he remembers about it.
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dirtbagaaron

Big Wall climber
the right side
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   Mar 6, 2006 - 10:20am
i soloed this route last month. coolclimbing but way easier than the grade would indicate. sun and steel is definitely not the crux. overall grade a3+/4-. this summer we noticed significant rock fall between the starts for kaos and zm. this is apparently from the 8th pitch of the straw. about 40ft of the pitch is missing. the remaining rock is very loose and dirty. to get around the blank section i had to do a long traverse on bad pins and hooks into some shaky blades and heads in shitty rock. then i hit the last 20/30 ft of the nine o clock pitch on zm and penjied to some hooks and heads to get back on the straw. this is a significant change to the pitch. my friend proposed calling it the "aaron is light variation".
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bringmeshelter

Social climber
la la land
Mar 6, 2006 - 06:22pm
 
Wait, so that massive flake on that pitch fell off? Like a bit above the belay. When I did that pitch... that thing barely took like #2 camalot and by the time I was done f*#king with it... a #4 wasn't big enough. Oh my god... no wonder my buddy said he wanted me to lead and see his kid again.
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Nanook

climber
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   Mar 26, 2006 - 09:44am
Richie and I climbed this fun route in 3/06.
Updates:

Pitch 4: is 100'.
Pitch 5: is more like 160'. The shown 5.8r loose variation on the topo is misdrawn. That variation requires you to climb 60ft up and left, all the way to the ZM anchor and then traverse back right--looks like a lot of work to avoid 20 feet of loose, mostly clean aid.
Pitch 6: is A2(really C2 except for one fixed rurp)
(Pitch 6 & 7 look linkable but are definitely not, though you can do just one haul from 6 to 8. We did 6 and 7 on different days so Rich led 7 while I belayed from 6--even with the entire pitch 6 cleaned and only the anchor clipped he reached the pitch 7 belay with only 5ft of rope left).
Pitch 8: 4 rivets were drilled through the blank rock described in the previous post. The beginning of the pitch is still a little loose but otherwise it is fun A2.
Pitch 10: is 140'.
Pitch 11: is 160' (echo what others said about this being A2+((someone fixed a cam in the suppossedly A4+ and we couldn't get it out, so that's nice))). You can link 11 & 12 with a 65m rope.
Pitch 12: is 40'. or if not bivying on Peanut Ledge link with pitch 13 in 170'ish.

Pitches 3 and 9 seem like the cruxes--pitch 9 has more rivets but much questionable-quality rock.
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Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
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   Oct 19, 2009 - 08:27pm
It has been reported that a significant rockfall on or near pitch 5 of the Straw took place on 10/16/09.
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
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   Mar 30, 2011 - 10:10pm
i just got this beta about the 3rd pitch

I had a little tidbit about pitch 3 of the Straw, there is great gear right in the middle of the hooking, a red camalot and 2 small cams, all bomber. Then at the left end of the hooking, before you start going up, there is a good green camalot. I would call the hooking more like A3+ not A4,






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'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
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   Mar 31, 2011 - 05:35pm
Great route - soloed it June of 02, 5th solo, 19th El Cap route.

Good grief, Chris - I sent you that beta YEARS ago! Sheesh. I got in a gold Camalot and a couple green/yellow Alien hybrids, and downrated it to A3. My notes say "8 hooks in a row" so pass the duct tape, eh?

The Straw is better than both Zed-Em and L in A, and has some really great climbing and good value pitches. I remember this muscleman Tony from Oklahoma was bashing his way up Zodiac at the time: "If I hear that radio once more I'll kick your ass!" I was fond of putting on an AC/DC CD as I set off on lead. Hee hee....
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Texplorer

Trad climber
Sacramento
Jul 1, 2011 - 08:39pm
 
Just got off this route last week.

I blew one head which opened up a solid knifeblade placement on pitch 4(partner pulled nothing on route). The journey through the brain is a thought provoking pitch but is all there and the second A4 takes good placements as long as the rock holds. An A3 pitch up higher had a tricky placement when nearing the anchor.

Tomahawks made some tricky nailing casual.

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Neil Chelton

climber
Bouldering your girlfriend
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   Aug 22, 2011 - 02:57pm
I somehow managed to bumble my way up this thing in June 2011. The following is a pitch-by-pitch ramble of what i thought about it. If you don't want beta, don't read this.

Pitch 1: (130' A3+) A C1 start lures you into some fixed heads, reachy hooks and other nastyness. Put good hangers on the rivets because they're probably the only things that would stop you hitting the ground. A solid beak/arrow crack leads up to a strenuous pull through a roof.

Pitch 2: (140' A3) Straightforward rivets, hooks, fixed heads and other shenanigans.

Pitch 3: (130' A4-) Awesome pitch. Follow the path of least resistance on this rising traverse through crazy rock. You'll be an expert at hooking by the end of this. Some reasonable protection can be found with a little wandering. It's possible to bust out some sick free moves mid-pitch which will speed things up, but increase the chances of a necessary change of underwear at the end.

Pitch 4: (110' A2+) Mostly hooks, heads and rivets with a rather long (but clean) fall potential for the grade. Make some rather tricky final moves to gain the sloping ledge belay. You should appreciate this pitch because it will be a long time before you see solid rock again.

Pitch 5: (180' A4-) Aim for the poor rivet above the horrorshow heap of crumbling choss and DON'T FALL. Some moderate free moves and eyebrow-raising hooking will get you there. The difficulty eases after the rivet, but be delicate when climbing up the remaining 140' of dangerously loose, crunchy and sharp rock. Watch out for the big sharp edge at the top of the ramp, from here some loose 5.6ish moves get you to the belay. This pitch goes hammerless.

Pitch 6: (120' A3) Continue up the loose, sharp chossy ramp system. Difficult at first, then easing to C1+ with free moves towards the end.

Pitch 7: (130' A3) Fill up the poop tube to make yourself lighter for this dangerous pitch. Delicately navigate loose, sharp blocks and flakes up to a standard rivet, hook and head section to finish. Here you will find the biggest ledge of the route, which is almost a foot wide.

Pitch 8: (130' A2+) An expanding blade/ arrow slot leads up to more rivets, hooks and heads. Ledge fall potential early in pitch.

Pitch 9: (140' A3+) This is what you have been waiting for. Follow an expanding beak seam up to some exciting sporty hooking. A few rivets here help to control your bowels. This pitch certainly keeps your attention right to the very end..

Pitch 10: (170' A2+) Follow features that use tons of beaks and arrows to an enormous, gravity-defying loose block which seems to be held in place solely by the seasonal slime which oozes from beneath it. Putting a cam behind this feature will ensure that the pitch suddenly becomes R-rated for people in the talus below. Standard hooks, heads and rivets to finish. Time consuming to lead and clean.

Pitch 11: (170' A2+) Cruise up a line of shiny rivets glistening in the sun until they abruptly end. Putting a screamer on the last rivet or 2 will provide you with a bit more confidence for the intricate hook sequence above. Follow small features up to an expanding roof where it is nice to have cam hooks. Traverse around the roof, sink some good gear and pull through to the belay.

Pitch 12: (40' A2) The final hurdle. A few fixed heads and hook moves lead up to a rivet where a short pendulum can be done into Zodiac. Embrace that familiar trade-route smell of urine. You will be excited to plug in the first bomber cam on the whole route. Follow a 5.8 hand crack up to Peanut Ledge. The war is over, you have won.

Pitch 13: (110' C1) Sprint up the wide crack in a state of disbelief about how fast you are moving. Bring 2 #5 Camalots or equivalent.

Pitch 14: (100' C1+) Straightforward climbing with lots of easy free moves. Back cleaning will create a potential 40' ledge fall so consider not doing this if you are soloing, or use 2 ropes otherwise.

Pitch 15: (90' C2-) Possible to link with P14 if soloing with 60m ropes. More mixed aid and free climbing past fixed pins and then suddenly you are on the summit!

Useful stuff to have on your rack:
12 beaks (7 big, 3 medium, 2 small)
2 rurps
6 blades (1 of each size)
20 arrows (mostly medium-big size)
8 sawed angles (2 of each up to 1")
6 angles (3 each of smaller sizes)
1 set of nuts
1 set of micro nuts
3 sets of cams to 2"
2 sets of cams to 5"
offset cams probably would be nice
2-3 of each hook (including pointed)
1 set of cam hooks
15-20 heads (heads are currently all fixed, but be prepared in case you rip a bunch out)
15-20 rivet hangers (nice to have some cinch and keyhole types)
Healthy sense of humor
Box of nice tea bags
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j-tree

Big Wall climber
Typewriters and Ledges
Oct 31, 2011 - 01:58pm
 
Can two ropes reach the ground from the pitch 3 anchors?
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Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
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   Jun 27, 2012 - 10:53am
I climbed this route in mid June with Cheyne Lempe and we both thought it was excellent!

We neglected to take a topo so our mantra for every pitch was "it's A2+ to A3+, loose, expanding, hooks, rivets, take the whole rack".
All the anchors are bomber and whenever you see a rivet, it will be a top step move to get to it.
We removed a dozen deadheads and a few heads with frayed wires but otherwise it's pretty clean.
I climbed the A4r pitch all clean aside from a fixed pin right at the start and it didn't seem too bad.
Take a double set of hooks including two meat hooks. Take 20/25rivet hangers, the "Sun and Steel" pitch is where you'll use them all.
Linking p11 and 12 really does take a minimum of a 65 meter rope!
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Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
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   Oct 24, 2012 - 10:49am
Solo'd this route over 7 days in Oct of 2012. I liked it, lots of machine head rivets and fixed heads, but some fun hooking and thin nailing. Plenty of questionable rock that sometimes cannot be avoided. It seems that all the even pitches on this route were significantly easier then the odds.

Here are some pitch by pitch thoughts.
p1- not too bad, used several beaks, just check those rusty old heads off the deck.
p2- almost all fixed I think I placed one beak and one HB nut.
p3- the Journey...fun pitch, hooking is pretty bomber, I was more nervous about the small heads then any of the hooks.
p4- another mostly fixed pitch
p5- a bit heads up but I'd call it C2+. navigate some loose rock to find good cam placements. I watched Skiy free climb almost the whole pitch from above, looked like the easier way to do it. BTW- there is no 5.8 offwidth on this pitch...1 #3 camalot move and that's it.
p6- another C2+ pitch, watch the obvious sharp edge at the top of the ramp, I intentionally tossed some very loose flakes down while cleaning this pitch.
p7- wild steep headwall pitch, the A1+ section between rivets was the crux of the route for me, some spicy beaking was probly the thinnest piece I placed on the whole climb. Only small ledge on the route.
p8- pretty straightforward with long rivet ladder, kind of zig zags, the A2 at the top is a couple of pins and mostly yellow aliens.
p9- best pitch on the route imo, starts with C1 climbing that is similar to the Pancake Flake, it keeps coming at ya and has a bit of everything.
p10- rather then hold them up I hitchhiked this pitch with the record holding speed ascent party. Looks like a fun pitch.
p11- like Mark said, tons of rivet hangers, cinches work good as some of the rivets are out kind of far. I heard these rivets were super reachy but I am only 5'9" and was able to clip every rivet from my 3rd step. The hooking is a bit spicy but there, and takes you to good cam placements. A4+ after the hooks??? More like C2 bomber aliens.
p12- easy and fixed

Rack notes:
1 set of HB nuts is plenty
never used triples of any cam on any pitch
placed one baby angle, and only a couple of knifeblades and arrows, I'd bring 3 of each, one of sizes 1-3
big beaks were great, and a couple small ones
all the heads were good, but bring a selection
hooks, I brought an arsenal of hooks and only ended up using two "Meathooks" (Pika and Fish Captain hook), and two pointed cliffhangers on the whole route. Didn't camhook once.
T Moses keyhole hangers are money for the rivets on this climb. Bring as many as you can get your hands on.
Lots of screamers.
enjoy!
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El Capitan - Shortest Straw A4 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Shortest Straw is route number 28.
Photo: Galen Rowell
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