Never Never Land A3 5.7

  • Currently 4.0/5

El Capitan

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
August in Cali -Never Never Land, Evolution Traverse,Muir Wall,WFLT
Thursday September 30, 2010 7:25am
On July 27th I left for California and everything was planned and ready for it to become the coolest climbing trip ever, which it certainly was.
After warming up in Tuolomne Meadows, I was psyched to climb the coolest rock face in the world. Climbing El Cap with my dad had been on my wish list for ever and on August 2 we finally started the operation!
Since he has done most classics we decided to do Never Never Land.

We fixed 4 pitches,

during which I did my first actual aid leads...

which was necessary to get to Timbuktu Tower...

which has to be one of the coolest ledges on El Cap. I don't think aiding is that cool, but hanging out on the Cap definitely is!

After Timbuktu the climbing got alot harder...

and so our dinner was well deserved!

The first pitch after the Pinnacle of Hammerdom, which we climbed too, was the crux, by far. It was the first time I placed a pin in my life and very interesting. Much more fun jugging it the next morning...

The next A3 pitch was much easier, but less good.

on the way to the top we met an animal that was in worse shape than we...

and finally got to the summit happiness moment!

After a night on the summit...

we made it back down,

and took a rest day.
since I was 9 (when my dad did El Cap the first time), i was w...
since I was 9 (when my dad did El Cap the first time), i was waiting for this picture. after 11 years, it was super cool to take it.
Credit: freerider
The next day we climbed Laurel Mtn,
and then met with Jim Donini, George Lowe,Karine and Peter Croft, and Don Lauria for dinner. Peter did not provide very much beta for the Traverse, but tons of inspiration! It was a fantastic dinner.

The next day, Don, Jim, George, my dad and me hiked in. Don is more than 4 times my age and really fit.(for any age but considering he is 78 makes you speechless) His dog Olivia accompanied us.

Looking at the Mendel and Darwin made me wonder if the Evolution Traverse was a reasonable objective...

But i did not know Jim and George ... yet!

The camp at Darwin Bench is really cool.

The next morning we started the traverse, and quickly made it to the first peak.

Only 8 to go!

photo by George

photo by George

On this picture you can see the crux section, Haeckel and Fiske.
Going down from Darwin is a real bitch, tons of choss. But I guessed that as long as Jim and George were making jokes and taking pictures it couldn't be too bad... ;)

George on one of the few pitches we got the rope up for:

Jim on one of the most exposed sections...

Those "old guys" are not "old guys". I will not be able to describe this, and you will not be able to understand it, unless you see them in action. But believe me you would anyways not believe me.

After Haeckel my dad opted out, and we all started to get tired! By the time we were below Huxley I took this selfportrait:

we reached the last summit , where we bivied, just before dark.

The next day it was time for the victory shot!! Hell I was proud, I have to admit.

Jim enjoys his last bits of food and coffee.
Jim enjoys his last bits of food and coffee.
Credit: freerider

What is clear is that without George and Jim this part of the tripreport would probably be like... we tried, got to darwin, which has this scary descent and called it good...
As an illustration, imagine your on a pretty big face with gullies etc. You want to cross that face but no way seems better than another and you can't see very far. They will apperantly randomly choose one way to go and you end up not encountering many difficulties.So far so good. Now you look around and realize that it had been the only doable way, for some reason. ... ...

After two rest days, my friend William, with whom I had climbed the Nose, showed up for a bigwall camping trip...

Being physically but especially mentally completely trashed I was looking forward to some tanning and hanging out on El Cap.

Equipped with new sunglasses we were stoked to try the Muir Wall!

It was too hot for tanning though!

Between 95 an 101 in the valley every day made us decide to go quicker and drink more...

we had an infite amount of fun!

Those dihedrals they made me sooo happy!

On pitch 23 I took a pretty nice whipper, after cam hooking for a while and then trying to topstep a 000 C3 it blew and I had a good flight.

William who in the last 365 days had climbed on 3 days, led the hardest pitch of his life on 24. C2 my arse...
It was all microstoppers for 50 feet, and I almost pissed in my pants belaying!
He is clearly the best not climbing climber I know.

Pitch 25 was easier with a little freeclimbing, but had an interesting placement:

The exposure was amazing up there!

That big dihedral, the reason why we wanted to this route, blew my mind!!

After we reached the rim, I went back down 100ft to clean the bags, and performed the summit dance in space...

Unforgettable moments!

Credit: freerider

Having a few days left in the Valley, Neil, an english guy I me in Camp 4 and I planned to give the Leaning tower West Face a shot... I was more tired than I thought I was, and when I ended up accidentially climbing the free variation on Pitch 5, I got scared...

But we needed to get up there!

Ahwahnee is such a good ledge...

sketchy on P5

nice sailing for the rest, though...

look for me...

it's pretty steep!

When you top out, you get this nice view of the Bigger Stone.

Credit: freerider



  Trip Report Views: 9,267
About the Author
freerider is a climber from Luxembourg

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Comment on this Trip Report

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Sep 10, 2010 - 04:49pm PT
Awesome! A threebanger!

Way to make us look weak, ya pup....

Rock on and way to get 'er done!

Gym climber
  Sep 10, 2010 - 05:25pm PT
Impressive climbing career . . . er, season . . . er, trip!

Super pictures, too. Thanks!

Author's Reply  Sep 10, 2010 - 05:30pm PT
Hahaha... thanks!

  Sep 10, 2010 - 05:36pm PT
What Murcy said. Sheesh!

I need to go nap now.

Trad climber
  Sep 10, 2010 - 05:44pm PT
Stoke factor turned up to 11!


Thanks for posting,
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Sep 10, 2010 - 05:45pm PT
Way to get 'er done, man.
Excellent reportage. So ya climbed El Cap with your Dad, huh?
That's pretty awesome. My Dad would have none of that!

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Sep 10, 2010 - 05:47pm PT
Your trip in august is what dreams are made of for most of us.

Thanks for the Tr, and taking the time to write it up.

Can't wait to hear about the next adventure......


  Sep 10, 2010 - 05:47pm PT



Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Sep 10, 2010 - 05:51pm PT
Wow, that's a lot of pitches!!! All in one kickasssssss Trip Report.

Nice job.

Social climber
Butterfly Town
  Sep 10, 2010 - 05:59pm PT
Very inspiring TR! Great pix! Sounds like a grand time all around!

Author's Reply  Sep 10, 2010 - 06:00pm PT
Thanks for the comments... appreciate that a lot! After the Muir I did Leaning Tower WF , and that really kicked my ass.As in, it felt as almost big as the Muir, and as hard as Never Never Land... I will edit this tr once I have those pics.

Social climber
WA, NC, Idaho Falls
  Sep 10, 2010 - 06:52pm PT
Bump for the real deal!

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA/Joshua Tree
  Sep 10, 2010 - 06:57pm PT
You are an ANIMAL!!!

Kudos on some seriously awesome stuff.

Trad climber
  Sep 10, 2010 - 07:11pm PT
MAN- you killed it. All of it and nice work.

Author's Reply  Sep 10, 2010 - 08:23pm PT
Thanks!Haven't climbed in 10 days I think, so I guess I will see how it feels tmrw on Cathedral Ledge... I already see it coming! ...

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Sep 10, 2010 - 11:08pm PT
What an excellent TR and quality effort by everyone

Mammoth Lakes, CA
  Sep 11, 2010 - 09:53am PT
Yowza. Nice work Ben!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Sep 11, 2010 - 12:06pm PT
Kickass !!!!

  Sep 11, 2010 - 12:23pm PT
Awesome TR. Thanks.

Author's Reply  Sep 13, 2010 - 12:24am PT

  Sep 13, 2010 - 12:30am PT
Great trip report, man!
Long too, which I like. What a great few week you had!

Mountain climber
Marooned, 855 miles from Tuolumne Meadows
  Sep 13, 2010 - 12:59am PT
Super spectacular report! Many thanks for posting up, and for the inspiration. The Evolution Traverse looks really great. Apparently you opted for going to two rock concerts with a classical concert in between. Right on!
Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

Trad climber
  Sep 13, 2010 - 01:29pm PT
Super cool. Thanks for sharing. Nice pictures too!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Sep 13, 2010 - 03:53pm PT
Great report Ben! I'm just back home from 12 days in the Tetons with 9 climbers from the Iranian Alpine Club. I'll e-mail you in a couple of days.

Author's Reply  Sep 13, 2010 - 06:19pm PT
Jim, how was the Tetons-exchange? That calls for a tripreport!I will send you the pics tomorrow, so you can write an Evtrav TR too! ;)

coz, my vote for best climbing partners goes for those in this TR for sure!

Big Wall climber
total Disarray
  Sep 13, 2010 - 06:55pm PT
Now THAT'S the sh#t right there!
You are my new hero, that's all there is to it. Way to go.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
  Sep 13, 2010 - 08:02pm PT
"we had an infite amount of fun!"


Why didn't you lower that bag out before you cleaned?
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Sep 13, 2010 - 10:30pm PT
So you did your first aid leads on Never, Never Land and then you went out and knocked off The Muir and WFlT?


Great TR!

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
  Sep 13, 2010 - 10:58pm PT
Stoked for you!!! That is definitely a lot of vertical ground! The pictures of the upper Muir Wall dihedrals were mind blowing! What a cool spot on El Capitan!


Author's Reply  Sep 14, 2010 - 08:14am PT
mark, i have done the Nose before, but would only consider very few pitches "aid pitches", and I wore climbing shoes on almost every pitch...
wade, there is one horizonatal and one morepitch tothe rim from where the bags are. instead of figuring something out with the fifi and the tibloc so no one would have to go down, i just rappelled, because I thought that was a fun thing to do anyways...

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Sep 14, 2010 - 10:00am PT
wow, what an AWESOME climbing trip. well done!
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Sep 23, 2010 - 08:14am PT
Kick as report on an amazing trip. I really liked your words about your Evolution Team. Very nice work.


Trad climber
  Sep 23, 2010 - 09:26am PT
Amazing, great work.

Author's Reply  Sep 23, 2010 - 12:19pm PT
Thank you!

Trad climber
  Sep 30, 2010 - 09:35am PT
WOW. That's pretty much all I can say. And getting out in the Sierra with climbing legends, man, is that cool.

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Sep 30, 2010 - 12:41pm PT
Wow! missed this first time around. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and those are some pretty amazing gnarly trees you've been blessed to share the learning curve with. As you said "these old guys are not old guys", I'd say that you made me think pretty highly of the "new guys".

Will the circle, be unbroken?

Mountain climber
  Sep 30, 2010 - 03:20pm PT
awesome tripreport! looking forward the next trip:)

Trad climber
  Sep 30, 2010 - 03:36pm PT
Wow. Awesome fun, great pics, and well done!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Sep 30, 2010 - 08:47pm PT
First climbed with Ben (freerider) in IC last spring and it was fun to belay him on his first trad new route. He was a great partner on the Evolution Traverse and after meeting his dad it was easy to see where his enthusiasm comes from. Climbing with great young partners like Ben helps keep me young, or, at least, delays the inevitable.

  Sep 30, 2010 - 10:48pm PT
"Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back..."


Anyways ...... WOW!

Trad climber
  Sep 30, 2010 - 10:54pm PT
Nice job Dad! You should be proud that you raised your son well! You are both inspirational!

Gym climber
Small Town with a Big Back Yard
  Sep 30, 2010 - 11:04pm PT
Ripping it up! What a great read - thanks for the killer pics and reporting. Great crew you're running with - stoke!

Author's Reply  Oct 1, 2010 - 02:16am PT
after the last 3 months I am pretty sure the circle will not be broken.
me too, I am looking forward to the next trip! Wilder Kaiser ahoi on sunday, I hope!

also it was very good being belayed by Jim on my first squeeze chimney on that route. who knows how far i would've gotten otherwise...

Trad climber
Yay Area
  Oct 1, 2010 - 02:21am PT
I agree with the above comment about "what dreams are made of."

That's awesome, dude!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Oct 1, 2010 - 02:22am PT

Big Wall climber
El Portal, CA
  Oct 5, 2010 - 02:28pm PT
Wow, this is amazing. Very cool. Thanks for the great report.
goatboy smellz

Gulf Breeze
  Oct 5, 2010 - 05:08pm PT
Great photos, thanks for sharing.
I hope to do the Muir before it becomes a free climb.

Author's Reply  Oct 5, 2010 - 07:08pm PT
it is not going to be a free climb (following the aid line to the top) i think. there is 4 pitches that look quite impossible. but then so do the changing corners...

also that doesn't mean you shouldn't hurry up and do it! ;)

who knows what will happen on the Big Stone once Ondra shows up there.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Oct 6, 2010 - 02:28pm PT
Very nice TR bump

Big Wall climber
  Oct 7, 2010 - 08:25pm PT
Nice TR Ben. Sounds like an awesome trip. Cool to see you and your dad made it up the captain together. Your dad's an animal!
Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
  Oct 11, 2010 - 01:33pm PT
Bump. Very good stuff! Way to get after it route after route after route!


Author's Reply  Oct 11, 2010 - 01:55pm PT
thanks all :)
yeah he is an animal, alik. I hope your wrist is getting better!

Trad climber
Triumph, Idaho
  Oct 14, 2010 - 01:28am PT
Don't use this word much... AWESOME !!!
You nailed it. Thanks for posting.

Author's Reply  Oct 25, 2010 - 11:30am PT
because of the many comments, I added a few pictures. thanks

Grand Junction, Colorado
  Oct 25, 2010 - 01:02pm PT
Gives me that warm fuzzy feeling.....

Trad climber
  Oct 25, 2010 - 07:56pm PT
Awesome summer.


Author's Reply  Nov 19, 2010 - 07:31am PT
thanks! I added some pics that George sent me. They are pretty much a 100 times better then mine.

  Feb 26, 2011 - 04:24pm PT

Social climber
  Jul 16, 2011 - 07:35pm PT
bumpitty bump.

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Jul 17, 2011 - 03:33am PT
Uber BUmP! Tfpu!!!!!
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Photo: Chris McNamara
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