Many people who consider The Nose also consider the Triple Direct or Salathé Wall. Which wall should you climb? Ill explain the pros and cons of each:
CROWDS: all three routes are crowded. The Nose is by far the most crowded and sometimes when the nose has 4 parties the Salathé Wall only has one. The triple direct is hit or miss with crowds. if you time it wrong you can end up at Camp 4 with tons of people in front of you.
The Nose is harder than the Triple Direct and a little easier that the Salathé Wall. The Salathé Wall has more wide climbing and requires you to be comfortable on 5.9 OW. The Salathé also has slightly more tricky aid (or 5.13).
TIME: There are few good bivy spots on the upper half of the Salathé Wall. On The Nose, and Triple Direct there are more ledges spread over the climb. This means that The Nose and Triple Direct can be comfortably climbed with 2 or 3 bivies while The Salathé Wall can only by comfortable climbed in 1 bivy (El Cap Spire). Therefor, the Salathé Wall is best climbed in a fast and light style while The Nose and Triple Direct can be climbed at a more leisurely pace.
OVERALL I feel the Nose is the best route on El Cap. The triple direct is good but misses many of the classic pitches on The Nose: Stoveleg Crack, King Swing, El Cap Tower. The Salathé Wall is almost as classic as The Nose and takes the most natural line up El Capitan. Overall you will have an incredible experience no matter which route you do.
Just finished this route last week it was phenominal. We went total gumby style fixing the first two on free blast then going to mammoth, day off than two and a half days on the route, got stuck behind some slow sar siteers who seemed on edge with eachother the whole day and so we napped at camp 4 then passed them in the night and fixed up to the glowering spot. The next morning brought cold temps and we started up early got to camp 6 in the dark and passed a columbian team that had taken whippers off of the changing corners pitch, I had to climb on a few of there pieces thay left which were admittedly falling out of the pin scarrs once i placed n offset nut all was good, we fixed a few pitches for them as a snow storm begain dumping on us (apparently drizzling on valley floor). We fired to the top before noon by short fixing and topped out in time to be thankfull for not getting stuck on the boltladder like last years Japaneese team, yikes I was gripped and cold. So on the top I did some jumping jacks to get warm and we fixed to the tree for the columbians. then the weather broke, ahhhh
My appologies to Rob Miller for taking some of your water when we discovered that it did infact belong to someone, I decided to and did head up the fixed lines to replace it but the line above the fourth rope was layed way out to the left of the route so I left the water there, and asked another team if they could bring it up[ when they figgured out how to get the rope. I had to drive home that morning.
I've done 3d several times and found it totally classic. You avoid that "bail de facto" parties on the Nose...The Muir pitches are amazing but will be very awkward if you don't free climb the easier sections. Cool to aid a 5.13 corner (before Shield junction) if you like looking at hard free stuff.
Plus you get the best pitches of the Nose (GR, Pancake, Headwall)...though you do miss out on Stovelegs.
The pitch that head tripped me the most on this climb was Pitch 19 to Camp 4. It says 5.9 or C1 with 3 inch pro. How bad could it be right?
Lies!!! I headed up this pitch and backed off it before I realized there was only one way to go and this must be it.
First, no way you could C1 this pitch without a supply of #4 and #5 Camalots. It has at least one section of very wide with no alternative.
Second you have to launch up the madatory free climbing (if you don't have a few giant cams) not being able to see when you'll be able to start aiding or get reasonable sized pro. There is a very grassy area above where the free climbing is demanded.
To make matters worse, unless you care to move the belay and Haul-bag down to the lower ledge and across to the right, you are being belayed from far away and off to the side and across. Almost impossible to get a reassuring belay that way.
Now fortunately, once I realized it was free climb into the unknown or bail, I just went for it and found that there is some pro available to left of the wide crack in the grassy area. The pitch probably isn't worse than 5.9 if you know that it will pan out for you after a short section of wide uncertainty.
When you reach Camp 4, then you find out what you new reality is concerning parties on the Nose. Prepare to make friends and share ledges. The ledge in the middle of Pitch 14 is better than Camp 4 and Camp 5 is best of all
On the Supertopo for the Triple Direct, as well as topos for the Shield and the Muir, I notice the symbol for a bolted belay stance (xx) is missing at the top of pitch 16, where the Shield heads left and the Triple Direct and the Muir heads right. Is there a bolted anchor there? I do see the xx symbol just below there, at the optional belay for the 5.13 free variation, but none at the regular end to the pitch. Thanks for your assistance.
J.R. - yes, there's a bolted anchor there, if I'm understanding the belay you're referring to (before the near-horizontal bolt ladder breaking right). The corner that ends at that belay is long and beautiful, too.
FYI: RAPPING IS A BIG LETDOWN
BETTER THAN MAKING A BIG HIT ON "BROADWAY"!!
Triple Direct is route number 9.
Photo: Tom Frost
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