Wall of Early Morning Light, El Capitan A3 5.8


Yosemite Valley, California USA

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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Aug 27, 2004 - 08:04pm
(Report by Hans Florine)

We started at 6:29am on Tuesday.

The bolts on the first pitch have been chopped. I free soloed the pitch, not recommended unless you have Bacher or Schneider like prowess on thin granite. The bolts at the second anchor were hammered flat, we tried to pry one up but it broke the hanger.

The first bolt on the 3rd pitch was hammered down, albeit it looked old and beat anyway. The first fixed head in the crack on this pitch appeared to have been hammered on until on one very small dapple of wire was holding it there. Brian and I admit to being paranoid sometimes if warranted, but not in this case, we really think some one left this head there purposely f*#ked up dangling by one metal thread.- meaning it looked like someone hammered the wire until it was down to just the thread.

Although rivets do break occasionally it appeared as though they had been purposely chopped in a few places on the route. Brian and I placed six rivets on the route, but only because that is all we had and we were very imaginative in other spots and got by.

We replaced two rivets on the 3rd pitch bringing it back to doable.

On the 8th pitch going over to Mescalito I ran into rivets with the heads just sitting on their shafts as if someone had cut them off and just lightly glued or mashed the head back on to have it sit there. Here there was four or more rivets removed, I had to pendulum over to Mescalito and climb that pitch leapfrogging and back cleaning for 40 ft.

On the 12th pitch I encountered a place where three rivets in a row appeared to have been chopped. I could not get through it by adding one rivet, I had none. I climbed up Reticent to a belay and then pendulumed BARELY enough to lasso the next rivet in line.

At pitch 13 the route joins New Dawn to the top. From there up there was plenty of hard climbing but we did not encounter anything that seemed to be purposely whacked.

I dropped my helmet from the anchor at pitch 21, presumably all the way to the ground. My name is in it, please return it if found! ( love to send it back to Petzl if it's not in working shape.)

Brain led three times and I led three times, Brian led for about 15 hours and I for 12 hours. Kinda cool - I led 12 pitches and Brian led 15. - we kept to an hour a pitch. We topped out at 9:29:57 am. And stopped the clock where a "normal party" would have walked off.


Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
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   Jun 25, 2018 - 01:56pm
June 2018 w/Eric Barnard

We found all the rivets on the route easily passable thanks to the work of Mike Ousley, PTPP and Mike Sanderson (Blueblocker). There are many poor rivets remaining on the route, but a large majority of them are seemingly good aluminum button head dowels that were drilled to nearly flush with the wall. Many of those require the smallest size wire rivet hangers so come prepared with those.

We used the #6 BD Camolot twice, once on pitch 6 and once on the pitch above Wino Tower, where it proved to be pretty crucial. Most all the big cams listed on the rack are for pitch #6. We brought 2 #5s and used them on p6, but could have been fine with just 1. The #4 was only used once or twice as well.

We brought 6 Small Tomahawks, 4 Med Beaks and 4 Big Beaks. I would have preferred to have 6 big beaks and less smalls.

Almost all the sawed offs listed on the rack are for the final pitches starting just above the Dawn Roof. Many boxy scars that also take Offset Aliens, Totems, hand place angles, beaks, etc. The only saweds I placed were 3/4” and 1” and i think i placed 5 or 6, mostly on p25, the second to last pitch. I think we only placed 2 lost arrows on the route, opting for Beaks instead when possible.

We linked 3+4 and wished we had linked 5+6.

I thought p13 was the crux of the route, it took many beaks. However, there is a false belay mid pitch that allows you to easily lower and back clean beaks which you will need higher. Another awkward and dirty crux awaits just after you pull past the big Dawn Roof.

We found the fixed heads to be in good condition, and there were far less fixed heads then I was expecting to find. We didn’t need to place any.

Fun Route, I had done Mescalito and New Dawn-> Tribal Rite so this was the next moderate route on the Dawn Wall to tick. I enjoyed it. Some wild positions on rivet ladders splitting the face and some classic natural features, the upper half is especially stellar. It has an “old school” feel and as Pete described below, one must wonder WTF Warren Harding was thinking drilling all those bolts, but when you hit the upper half of the route it all starts to make sense.

All belays have at least one good bolt, most have two good bolts. We added one belay bolt to p5 anchors. The belay at the top of the Roof pitch could use a new bolt, it has one solid bolt and two 1/4” bolts backed up by a fixed angle.


'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
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   Dec 22, 2017 - 11:43am
In October 2017, the team of Mike Blueblocr Sanderson, Andre Kovacs and PtPP repaired Wall of Early Morning Light [WOEML]. The route is now climbable in its entirety.

We were unable to remove he Beyer-smashed bolt anchors near the top of 2 because the bolts are fresh stainless, and our tuning forks were not sufficient to remove despite significant effort. They look ugly, but the climbability of the route is not affected as there is much better bolted belay on top of a stance another ten or fifteen feet higher.

The first repair was completed by PtPP in the middle of P8. An unknown number of rivets had been chopped, hard to see because the chopped ones are virtually invisible. I took a straight line diagonally left to Mescalito, slightly lower than Harding's line which went too high and required more rivets. I drilled four holes and installed four rivets, each a 1/4" Rawl buttonhead which you see here. If you look carefully, over the middle finger of my glove you can [barely] see a chopped rivet that I "replaced".

New 1/4" Rawl split shaft buttonhead rivet on WOEML - not Beyer-choppe...
New 1/4" Rawl split shaft buttonhead rivet on WOEML - not Beyer-chopped rivet above my extended middle finger, strangely appropriate, eh?
Credit: 'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Note: You cannot "replace" a rivet, because even if you could extract it [not possible as you see above] you can't reuse the same 1/4" hole with a 1/4" piece, you could only upgrade to 3/8".

I took a comfortable stance and drilled from my top loops. You would think being a left would be an advantage on this leftward traverse, but in fact it doesn't matter. I switch hands when I drill, and I drilled about 60% left and 40% right.

I was amused to see this afterwards:

Ha!  My four rivets were so straightly aligned, I could see the rope g...
Ha! My four rivets were so straightly aligned, I could see the rope go straight down through all four carabiners!
Credit: 'Pass the Pitons' Pete

I drilled in such a perfect straight line, I could see the rope down through all four carabiners!

Higher up, near the end of P12 just past the Reticent crossover, Blue was able to replace the chopped rivets with two additions. And this is all we had to do!

Amazingly, pretty much all of the original aluminum dowels are still AOK fine! I bet 90% of them accept a regular #2 Donny wire hanger, and only 10% require a #1. Had these been Grade 5 steel machine bolts, one wonders how good they would have been a half-century later.

This is a better route than we expected, but we remain mystified why Warren Harding chose this unnatural line rather than Mescalito.

Had we asked him, he probably would have said, "I chose it cuz I felt like it, and if you don't like it, well F you!"

Good ol' Warren. RIP.

Trad climber
berkeley ca
Jul 24, 2007 - 10:22pm
Jim Beyer, chopping??
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
May 11, 2009 - 02:05pm
pitch 17 is not 5.11c. its 5.11 at the bottom and 5.12c at the top
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
May 28, 2009 - 01:00am
sports illustrated article on the dawn wall, 1971


Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Jun 2, 2009 - 02:53am
Here is a trip report of belaying Tommy Caldwell on his attempt to free climb Mescalito (the free mescalito climbs some pitches of Wall of Early Morning Light) http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=868495

May 12, 2017 - 02:45pm

Per the 2004 note from Hans, pitches 1-3, 8 and 12 had sustained damage.

We re-established pitches 1-3. (±4 rivets on P8 and ±3 rivets on P12 remain to be replaced.)

P1: Replaced chopped HW with one 1 1/2 x 1/4" BH rivet/washer, one 1 1/8 x 1/4" with Banqo SS hanger, three 3/8 x 2" 5-piece SS with Fixe SS hangers. The first drilled pieces, two rivets, are in succession; the 3/8" bolts on the slab above them are interspersed with A2 (two existing rivets) and 5.10. The belay consists of four resident pitons and can be backed up with clean gear.

P2: The two belay bolts with broken hangers were not replaced. Sufficient natural pro is available for this anchor.

P3: The first chopped progress bolt was replaced with a 3/8 x 2" SS with Fixe SS hanger.

[Click to View Linked Image]

Thanks to ST member Banquo for designing, producing and supplying consumable HW and tools for this project. Holes were hand drilled on lead, with the aim to maintain published difficulty ratings.

Our hope is that another party might continue with the higher replacements to make WEML a complete route (sooner than I'll be able to get there). I will share hardware/tools with anyone wanting to take on the work.

El Capitan - Wall of Early Morning Light A3 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Wall of Early Morning Light is route number 14.
Photo: Galen Rowell
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