Zodiac A2 5.7

 
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El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
6-16-12 Zodiac TR w/pics
Sunday June 24, 2012 5:06pm
6-16-12 Zodiac TR w/pics.


I had been aid climbing for a short time and I was hooked. I loved it. Stony point bolt ladder, Rocky Peak roof, & Riverside Quarry were my frequent aid climbing practice areas. My friend David Gerwe was looking for a partner to do a Big Wall. To myself I thought, I had been climbing for literally thirty years, but I had never been up El Cap. In fact I had never been up any big wall. What was I waiting for? So I stepped up and made the commitment. Then I found out he had a date with the Zodiac!


David gathers the rest of the gear from the car while I solo the first...
David gathers the rest of the gear from the car while I solo the first pitch. Fair trade! :)
Credit: wallgumby


Too late to back out, I put my self on an intense schedule of Aid Climbing and Big Wall internet forum lurking. Lot's and lot's of time reading and learning and practicing out on the rock.


Our first camp site.
Our first camp site.
Credit: westhegimp


As the date drew near for our first attempt, I found myself prepared, calm and ready. People asked if I was nervous, and I did not know what they were talking about. Well after getting up to the 4th pitch and then having to bail due to the impending storm. I learned a few things. I learned that I did not have what it takes to get this route done. At the first sign of weather we bailed. WTF?
David solos the second pitch.
David solos the second pitch.
Credit: westhegimp
So I did some soul searching. I asked some heavy questions of myself. Did I have what it took? Was I made of the right stuff? etc. David and I discussed a new plan and we agreed on some changes. We immediately set a new date. We lightened the load. We were going lean and mean. Just the necessities. We thinned out the rack. No two portaledges. No stove or hot coffee! I'm talking Real sacrifice!


Black Tower pitch, no fall zone!
Black Tower pitch, no fall zone!
Credit: westhegimp
We arrived late Tu. and humped a load up to the base. We had stashed our remaining water from our aborted attempt a few weeks ago. The plan was to launch if we could and if the water was there. Well we were in luck as nobody was on the route and the water was there! So I soloed the first pitch while David went back to the car for the remaining food and gear. Well I took a couple of whippers in the dark but I eventually climbed to the anchors. After hauling the ledge and sleeping gear up David arrived. He cleaned the pitch while I hauled the rest of the food up past where the bears could get at it.


David in the no fall zone of the Black Tower pitch.
David in the no fall zone of the Black Tower pitch.
Credit: Tom Evans
The next few days were a sort of controlled chaos. Wolf down breakfast, try to answer the call of nature(crux of the route in my opinion), rack and lead the next pitch. Upon reaching the anchor try not to create a cluster fk. Hauling. Cleaning. De-clustering, and doing it all over and over again until after dark.


We are at the head of the line.
We are at the head of the line.
Credit: westhegimp

And through it all was the behind the scenes terror of what might happen. What if the weather changes? What if that next fixed piece blows? What if that flake I'm hooking peals off and Frisbees down and causes some death or dismemberment. What if that rockfall we heard the first night was on our route? What if that haul bag that was pitched from the top on the second night caught a little more air and drifted into us instead of just flying by? These and many many other questions were better left unsaid. But just thinking about this stuff could make you lose your nerve, your courage. Worse, they could make you bail.


David Gerwe leads 9.  Hand placed angles on this one!
David Gerwe leads 9. Hand placed angles on this one!
Credit: westhegimp


Thankfully none of that happened. There was a small thunder and lightning event somewhere above us, but we were in the sheltered steep section of the route and hardly noticed. No fixed gear pulled. A few times one of my pieces blew and I took the ride. But I was able to shake it off and keep climbing. I mean what are you going to do? Right?


Get a grip
Get a grip
Credit: wallgumby


As the days came and went we became better at our jobs. Belaying while sleeping or reading a book no longer seemed wrong. Drinking as much water as I could while telling David we needed to conserve became second nature. Later I realized he was doing the same to me. (He actually won in that department. As I found out back at the car when we weighed our bags. Well done sir. )

David on the MOZ
David on the MOZ
Credit: westhegimp


We also learned to just pour out a little from the pee bottle, then you watch and see if the wind is kind to those below you on the route before you dump the rest.

Cam hook, Japanese or flying J position.  :&#41; <br/>
I deployed this thr...
Cam hook, Japanese or flying J position. :)
I deployed this three moves into the 12th pitch.
Credit: westhegimp


The higher we climbed on the route the more we could feel the pull of the summit. The moving up kit duties seemed to get easier. 2 x1 hauling became 1x1 as we ate and drank through our supplies.


Last camp site. Peanut Ledge. The best spaghetti with meat sauce and g...
Last camp site. Peanut Ledge. The best spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic in the World.
Credit: westhegimp


But the long days of climbing were taking a toll on me. Both my legs painfully cramped up and I asked David "What causes this?" His reply, "Big Walling."

Leapfrogging big cams on 14.  Thrilling lead for me.
Leapfrogging big cams on 14. Thrilling lead for me.
Credit: wallgumby


When my hands stopped working I really started to worry. Next was my arms. But at this point I had no doubt we would get to the summit. We had come too far to back down now.

Top out on my birthday, priceless!
Top out on my birthday, priceless!
Credit: wallgumby


Also it was looking like we would reach the top on my Birthday!


Birthday Summit!
Birthday Summit!
Credit: westhegimp


Pretty cool birthday summit I think. :)


Thanks Ingrid and kids for letting me go on this adventure even though it was my B-day and Fathers day weekend. Thanks to David's family for the same reason. David thanks for being an awesome climbing partner and friend.



Thanks for reading this. I hope you enjoyed it. It was like fun but different.
Also thanks to all who posted information over the years on "how to big wall", big wall route beta or answered questions from big wall n00bs like me. You all rock!

  Trip Report Views: 3,580
westhegimp
About the Author
westhegimp is a social climber from granada hills.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jun 24, 2012 - 05:17pm PT
CONGRATULATIONS, on your first trip up the Big Stone!

Keep it up!
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Jun 24, 2012 - 05:19pm PT
Big grats!

This is the stuff I love about ST

Really appreciate this TR :)
norma r

Mountain climber
Ventura County
  Jun 24, 2012 - 05:21pm PT
Bravo! And Happy Birthday! Big Wall, Big memory, worth its weight in granite!! Great TR too. Guess you're no longer a gimp, though?? ;-)
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Jun 24, 2012 - 05:39pm PT
Very cool! Congratulations and thanks for sharing!!!
hamik

Mountain climber
Pasadena, CA
  Jun 24, 2012 - 05:39pm PT
Nice job, Wes! I also fear trying to force poop in the mornings... mine come whenever they damn well please.
spenchur

climber
Flagstaff/Thousand Oaks
  Jun 24, 2012 - 05:50pm PT
Nice Wes!!! A happy belated birthday, a big congratulations as well as a thanks for keeping the psyche high!

eKat

Trad climber
  Jun 24, 2012 - 05:52pm PT
BITCHEN!

HapHapHap, too!

TFPU!
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
  Jun 24, 2012 - 05:56pm PT
Well, WTF! Now you're a wall climber!

Rad dude.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
  Jun 24, 2012 - 06:24pm PT
Good job! I was up there for my bday and father's day too.
Prod

Trad climber
  Jun 24, 2012 - 07:01pm PT
Awesome! Zod was my first as well.

Prod.
nscherneck

Trad climber
Portland, OR
  Jun 24, 2012 - 07:04pm PT
Great TR and pictures. Thank you and congrats on the accomplishment.
JSpencerV

Trad climber
Santa Monica, CA
  Jun 24, 2012 - 07:09pm PT
So cool Wes! You went into aid climbing full force and now you're rocking it!

Doesn't bailing on your first attempted make this one so much sweeter?

I love the line "Drinking as much water as I could while telling David we needed to conserve became second nature." So true...

Hope you keep walling and maybe we can jump on something together at some point.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jun 24, 2012 - 07:32pm PT
Way to go man. Livin' the dream. I hope to take the same journey someday soon. Proud send. Thanks for the story.
Morgan

Trad climber
East Coast
  Jun 24, 2012 - 07:38pm PT
That was cool. Nice job!
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
  Jun 24, 2012 - 07:43pm PT
Nice Wes...glad you finally got up the Big Stone....was over there and saw you guys on the route.

Hope to see ya back over here for whatever!

Cheers,
DR
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jun 24, 2012 - 07:55pm PT
good timing, cool!
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Jun 24, 2012 - 08:47pm PT
excellent!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jun 24, 2012 - 09:37pm PT
Great job gangsta Wes and da team!!!
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
  Jun 24, 2012 - 09:40pm PT
give us a TR on rocky peak roof.
middle joe

Trad climber
OC
  Jun 25, 2012 - 12:03am PT
Damn Wes! You're the man! I quite inspiring tale. Now I need to do something amazing just to keep up with you..

BJ
BruceAnderson

Social climber
Los Angeles currently St. Antonin, France
  Jun 25, 2012 - 01:48am PT
Great job Wes!!!!
Grampa

climber
from SoCal
  Jun 25, 2012 - 11:54am PT
Way Cool! Happy B-Day!
neversummer

climber
30 mins. from suicide USA
  Jun 25, 2012 - 01:44pm PT
Good stuff...
BiletChick

Sport climber
Bishop, CA
  Jun 26, 2012 - 12:42am PT
Great TR Wes!!! Congrats on your top out...nice birthday present to yourself ;-)
You worked hard for this one and it sure paid off!!!

Stacy
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Jun 26, 2012 - 12:50am PT
Nice TR Thanks!
westhegimp

Social climber
granada hills
Author's Reply  Jun 26, 2012 - 01:59am PT
Thanks everyone for the nice words and thoughts. Thanks for all the cool stories, endless stoke, and future shenanigans. Rock on!!! :)
Lambone

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
  Jun 26, 2012 - 10:21am PT
Nice meeting you at the base, way to go! Wish I had stuck around another minute for that whipper you took!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Jun 26, 2012 - 10:44am PT
Wes the Wall Climber now, eh?

Good work sticking to it, getting back on it and getting up it! Topping out has a great feeling, doesn't it?
Karan

Sport climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Jun 26, 2012 - 01:31pm PT
sweet trip report man! so stoked for you. thanks for the inspiration as i get ready to rack up and head out to yosemite next week to reattempt a wall i failed on before (i too am planning on going way lighter, but i refuse to sacrafice coffee).
eagle

Trad climber
new paltz, ny
  Jun 30, 2012 - 08:43pm PT
nice report and gret photos. i vaugly remember doing this route back in '84 when i had to lead the wide pitch above the peanut ledge with just 2 number 4 friends.
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
  Jun 30, 2012 - 09:11pm PT
Lovely pictures. And WAY TO GO FOR IT.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
  Jul 1, 2012 - 11:48am PT
that's pretty damn kool wes! it must be a relief to have el cap under ur belt. i know alot of old timers at stoney who would love to say they have climbed the captain.

is that Dave from box cyn?
ImplicitD

Trad climber
Boise
  Jul 1, 2012 - 10:36pm PT
Nice TR.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Jul 1, 2012 - 10:59pm PT
when was sleeping while belaying ever wrong?

nice TR
westhegimp

Social climber
granada hills
Author's Reply  Jul 3, 2012 - 11:51pm PT
Thanks again everybody!

Ryan, yes that is David from Box Cyn. We did some big wall training there. Aided up and spent the night in our ledges(two). Made coffee. Good times!

Two falls Matt! I have some cool pics of you guys. Email me if you want.

Mark, it does feel good. :) Thanks for all your help and encouragement. Congrats to you on your accomplishments as well.

Wes
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Jul 12, 2012 - 08:16pm PT
Nice!!!! An inspiration to go. Thanks for sharing that story. How many days did it take??
sullly

Gym climber
  Jul 12, 2012 - 08:30pm PT
I like your "what if" doubt section. It's human. Your photos close to the wall are fantastic too.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Jul 12, 2012 - 09:48pm PT

Awesome, guys!
Soloing the first pitch and flying off--YOW!!!!
Great report, thanks for sharing!
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
  Jul 12, 2012 - 11:57pm PT
Way to go you guys!!!!!

Remember this though, the fixed pieces never blow, no matter how bad they look. Just clip 'um and step right up, just like a 3/8" bolt.

westhegimp

Social climber
granada hills
Author's Reply  Aug 7, 2012 - 07:27pm PT
Tony here you go.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1532370564581.46408.1694296979&type=3&l=85d1a7bea9

Enjoy
Zander

climber
  Aug 7, 2012 - 07:53pm PT
Great Job! Thanks for posting. Nice pics.
Zander
Levy

Big Wall climber
So Cal
  Aug 7, 2012 - 09:46pm PT
Nice job Wes! Glad to see you guys sent! Wooo HOOO!


Stokeage for some nicest of the Stoney Point Crew!
roadman

climber
  Aug 7, 2012 - 11:02pm PT
Nice man!
GhoulweJ

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
  Aug 7, 2012 - 11:36pm PT
Way to go guys!
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Aug 8, 2012 - 12:54pm PT
Sick!
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
  Aug 8, 2012 - 01:10pm PT
Wonderful TR Wes!

You really do live the dream.

pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
  Aug 8, 2012 - 05:43pm PT
wes thank's!
Box cyn dave had been climbing with waugh this last winter at Stoney. Waugh really likes that guy and wants to take him up on his offer.
cya around!

p.s when levy yells out "whoo hoo" maybe refers to the banny root hoot?
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  Aug 8, 2012 - 05:57pm PT
Awesome trip guys, way to stick to it and get the send.
jahil

Social climber
London, Paris, WV & CA
  Aug 14, 2012 - 01:35pm PT
Very cool ! You look wasted on the summit ! Proud send !!!

steve
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Aug 26, 2012 - 12:58pm PT
Nice job. Way to stick with it!
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
  Aug 27, 2012 - 01:25pm PT
Nice TR, and congrats. The zodiac is a sweet line. Those photos take me back. I think we met you guys hiking loads in while we were fixing on mescalito. proud send
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El Capitan - Zodiac A2 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
1800' of fantastic climbing.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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El Capitan - The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
The Nose, 5.14a or 5.9 C2
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The Nose—the best rock climb in the world!
El Capitan - Salathe Wall 5.13b or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Salathe Wall, 5.13b or 5.9 C2
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The Salathé Wall ascends the most natural line up El Cap.
El Capitan - Lurking Fear C2F 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Lurking Fear, C2F 5.7
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Lurking Fear is route number 1.
El Capitan - East Buttress 5.10b - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
East Buttress, 5.10b
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East Buttress with top of The Nose on left.
El Capitan - The Shield A3 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
The Shield, A3 5.8
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The Shield is route number 7.
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