Salathe Wall 5.13b or 5.9 C2

  • Currently 5.0/5

El Capitan

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
Cliff+Ryan- Nose, Salathe, Blondes, Monkeys,& Pain (lots!)TR
Wednesday September 3, 2008 3:44am

I started to write this a week ago when I first got down. I've been too passed out to get through it (or reluctant to relive some of it!) What an epic time!

(Scroll to the dotted line if you don't want the intro to the TR)

You all may remember Cliff from our adventure last year on the arrow chimney etc He's one of those guys we just got to get together somehow at least once a year and partner up on something big. We have an ironic climbing history.... Every single time we do a route together for the past few years it just happens to be the biggest hardest route we've ever done in one way or another!

I've been fascinated with linking up things and speed climbing ever since we found Hans' book. Cliff and I worked down in Wawona the past few summers. We'd only get one day off a week so we had to cram a lot in. That combined with Chris Mac's road to Astroman tick list & we were off for a new adventure on our day off once a week all summer. What a blast. Cliff loves running, he's crazy enough to bum a ride out to glacier point on Sundays and run back to Wawona by breakfast every few weeks. I've done more aid climbing and can at least keep up (almost) most of the time. He dropped one of his hiking shoes half way up the DNB last year and I was psyched because I knew I'd be able to keep with him on the descent. Crazy guy was going down the spires gully barefoot with one shoe and I still had to run to make it hah.. Good times!

It was only the next logical conclusion.. We would make a go at the Nose in day on the 16th.

Since I'm a working man now this would have to be the big Yosemite trip of the summer (dang I miss it!) I showed up a few days early and figured well I can rest a couple days after the Nose and then why not line up a partner and jump on the Salathe a few days later?? Get my money's worth!

It would be an off the couch go at things for both of us. Cliff was pushing deadlines on his science research project and had a big presentation to do on the 15th. I hadn't climbed more than 5.8 since last December when I hurt my hand climbing on the coast. I'd been going nuts not climbing (ruptured tendon). I was afraid to train at all leading up to the trip because I didn't want to hurt myself before I got there. So I figured this is a good way to re-enter my climbing career :P LOL.... Well I was psyched because I knew I could only depend on my experience and determination this time to get me by. We'll see how this no climb for 8 months and Elcap twice in a week deal pans out! At least I'd been mountain biking a bunch and hiking 14teeners in CO this summer.

Cliff man if my finger blows while we're up there this is the only thing I want to do this year so I don't care!

We scoped out El Cap meadow the evening before. Definitely a few people on the route. We ran into some of the local hardmen in the shade. You guys going up there? Yeah tommorow... It seems reallly committing sooo big. I've got the top. My buddies got the bottom he's in better free climbing shape this year.. Yeah we're going to bring a 60 meter 5 mil cord. If we don't get to dolt tower in 4 hours we've decided to bail. What 4 hours? Are you this guys this guys bigwall pep coach!? Nah we just don't want the all nighter push! And we won't be bailing with that little POS cord from any higher! We got some good advice to track down one of those omega pacific link cams (omg that thing is pure gold)

*TR-------------------Start ur engines!-------------------TR*

We awoke in Wawona at 3:15...grr AM. The neighbors had kindly been having an end of the year party till errrr about 2:15 A.M luckily I'd left a pair of emergency ear plugs in the car for the past few years!

We would block the leads out Cliff was in way better free climbing shape (obviously!). He would lead to just past Eagle ledge.

We would use our "Semi-hardcore" man's belay technique. Whenever the leader would get to an anchor he would pull up the rope fix and tie a clove hitch at 20 feet and 40 feet out and then go for it.

We scrambled up to the base of the first pitch, threw that #4 in and were on belay at 4:30. Oops left the grigri in the car! Oh well guess the leader don't need a belay device!

Cliff was off like the crazy hard man he is. The first few pitches went wickedly smooth. On belay! Off belay, Rope fixed! Okay ur on Belay! Rope fixed! Ok on belay! Off belay Rope fixed!! Get psyched yeah!

We were not sure we could do it when we left the ground, all we knew was we had to climb and climb fast, no aiders allowed baby! I looked at my watch as I pulled on to sickle ledge (yeah cliff leave me one piece of gear there at the end of the ledge to lower out on ok!) One hour 5 minutes. Dude we're doing it man!

We re racked on sickle and Cliff was off up to the stove legs, we missed the easy 5.9 traverse around the corner above sickle and cliff ended up pulling some 5.10+ finger moves up the dihedral there to the anchor. On with simul climbing! Oh sh#t umm Cliff I haven't climbed 5.11 cracks in 8 months and I got 8 liters of water on my back! Can i get a belay here for a sec bro! Holy geeze! okay woo hah woo ur back on man do it!

I just chuckled, Cliff cranked up the crack to dolt hole just clips the pendulum point and pulls into the stove legs cruising. Hey Ryan is this high enough for lowering out?? .....UHH Yeah Cliff that's great man! (100 feet up is plenty straight for me to lower out!)

Meanwhile I'm rigging our little POS 5mil cord as he gets to the anchor, can't wait to use this thing! And off we were again re rack up at the anchor on pitch 8. Dolt tower he we come.

The sun just hit the rock as we pulled on to dolt. Woo that was close man, its been 3 and a half hours were on dolt! Alright we're sending this mofo with no epic push lets do it!

We were bummed out to see a bigwalling party just leaving camp on from El Cap tower. Dang they are going to be on the aid ladder pitch right when we get there! We had both worn climbing shoes only on the route in anticipation of going for the double king swing (this would be my undoing later huge blister on the side of my foot from the jug strap with all the speed jugging down low). Dang Cliff I still want to do it. But you're the leader if you don't want to that's alright. Yeah it will probably be faster to go up the Jardine this time.

So Jardine traverse it is. Oh well it was a good decision we watched the other party for the next several hours working up through the boot flake. Let me just say that that Jardine thingy is a bit of a Biatch though. Capital B included. The climbing is freaking way trickier than we anticipated "Oh we'll just take the Jardine I guess." No you got to work it! Some thin climbing up there.

Cliff busted out the aiders for the thin dihedral at the end of the traverse. "Hey Ryan! Pretty good I learned to jug last year on half dome, now I'm leading my first aid pitch on the nose in a day hah! And you don't even use daisies!" Yeah just don't drop my cam hooks man! Yeah man use those cam hooks that's awesome its your first time!

We went daisyless for this ascent for a first (no cordalette or anchor gear either for that matter another first). We threw an extra 3rd aider (the super lightest one yates sells) in the bottom of the pack in case we dropped one up higher. And to give us the confidence to really go for it with those things.

Cliff was through some more BS "free" bolt ladders and I took over the lead at pitch 19 at 12:30. Yeah man up we go. I was psyched when I pulled into the first placements on the great roof we were looking watch its still not 1 yet! Damn dude we're 21 pitches up elcap and its

Oh btw, its ur turn to lead half the nose.........Woh ok! I figured I wouldn't climb anything harder than 5.10 its mostly aid up there anyway. Off we go! Great roof no problem, clip, clip, clip, cam, clip, hook, clip, clip, cam, rope fixed! I back cleaned the whole roof so cliff could just lower out (yeap another first lol.)

Cruising up the pancake till the rope ran out. Come on Cliffy clean that roof! Up some more aid bs and there's the glower spot pitch ooh an aid crux, clip, clip, hook, hook, clip, clip, hook, clip. Dang were cruising, hey this Omega link cam is the money woh! I'm never leaving it behind! Get 2 if we ever do this again!

We stopped at the glowering spot, my psych was starting to wain, I could feel my body starting to bonk out......Uhm Cliff get up here lets stop long enough to eat those Apples and stuff and take some goofy pictures. Ok back in motion. Better; still feeling it more. I forgot how much I hate aid climbing!

We cranked it out though, we were linking pitches all over. On with the Semi Hardcore man's way! We clipped whatever was fixed. It was a little airy without out the daisy chains being so runout on one little cam. Getting close to the top I felt like I could fall asleep in my aiders so I started clipping a quick draw in to some of the pieces. At least i wouldn't just fall over backwards.

I wasn't psyched to have to bust out the 5.11 face on the bolts at the changing corners after being so out of shape, and trust me if there was ever an option to bust out something or link it up we were going to take it! The leader always pulls it off......they have to! LOL!

Alright it wasn't that bad a couple crimper moves and we're golden :)

Hey man nice we're only 2 pitches from the top! Cliff saved up his psych jugging the last couple pitches and swung into the lead at the top. I could tell he was starting to slow too when he didn't just cruise up the 10c flake to the bolt ladder, fair enough though he was back in the game pulling on the bolts with quickdraws and not even using aiders up onto the bolt ladder. Yeah! We joked we had never topped out on a route in the dark before together out of all our climbs...I turned my head lamp as the last rays of sun faded cleaning the bolt ladder...

Yeah man we did it! 8:30. 16 hours not too bad... Rock on 16 hours and 13 pitches. Not sure how that works, I counted all the times we re racked, or tagged gear up, or were at the same belay.

We took a double rack up to #3, we brought an extra red alien, and the also the gold link cam so it was kind of like having triples in those bigger sizes as long as you never left those behind! We also had doubles of black aliens that we never placed on the whole route.

We were at the summit, my feet wanted to cry about then, we'd both done the descent before, but I felt like a drunken old man stumbling around. We didn't hit the gully right in the dark and ended up doing some of the worst bush wacking I've done in my life (continuous swimming kind of fun :) Then we ended up at the double raps and took some ghetto fixed rope down to some ledges and ended up rapping off a couple random trees to hit the gully. Man I was so unsteady I had to crawl around and clip in to things all careful. I couldn't help but think..seriously were doing this again in a few days!?

We made it down to the car a little after 11:00 I immediately ran out to the road with 2 thumbs up from the manure pile lot and some chick picked us both up. She didn't have room for us inside so there we were, barefoot, riding on the back tailgate of an Xterra to the meadows. Fun fun:) I didn't care at that point that it was night the first thing I did was jump in the river. Dang that foot stings! Ok back to Wawona, hope you don't mind if I wear these boxers in your car Cliff :P Onto celebratory pasta dinner, drink, and the land of dreams...ahhhh...!

My foot looked horrible, quarter size blisters on both big toes, a gouge on my side, and a blister from the jug strap so deep i was limping everywhere. I seriously considered calling off the Salathe. I mean can the body keep going through the pain?

Then I thought of the quote: "Living with the pain of discipline is better than living with the pain of regret." Alright you're here now this is the time, suck it up Captain here we come!

(To be continued....I got to go to bed, I'll write the rest and the Salathe write up after work tomorrow night) We did top out El Cap the last 2 Saturday nights ;-)

Some Teasers from the Salathe Report with Shondene:

The theme song in my head was that one by Bush:

Too much is not enough. Were hooked again. Adrenaline. Adrenaline takes a way the pain. Adrenaline you don't even feel the pain. Wilder than wildest dreams. I'm not the type to lay down and die! Feel the pain!"

And then I would be wondering can this pitch get a little scarier? That'd be sweet, maybe it wouldn't hurt then!

It went really well. I'm so beat up right now. Life if painful. I have quarter size blisters on both my big toes, gouges on both my sides, and a blister/cut on my left foot so deep it almost hits muscle. I'm considering bumming an antibiotic prescrition off one of the docs at work.

Cover your eyes if you don't want to see the gruesome after scarring photos.

Really if i could just get a prescription of antibiotics and vicodin before I go up there I think we could keep going at it now!

*---------------------"Cliff notes"----------------------*

I'm only sharing this last part here because it makes me laugh. Every time Cliff and I have met up we end up getting on something all the crazier. The last time we got off a climb last year I told Cliff "bro I dread the day we try and top this one." Well this year it was more "Man I dread the day we top this one. What's next? "Yeah Ryan I don't want to think about that one right now, but somehow I think we'll probably go for it again someday!"

Ryan and Cliff's valley tick list:
East butt El Cap (our first grade IV)
NE butt Higher cathedral
Serenity crack/rap/royal arches, Crest Jewel direct(our first 5.10s)
South by Southwest/rap/Moratorium (our first 5.11s)
Steck Salathe
RNWF HD push to Lost Arrow Chimney (2 days here)
Tenaya/Mathes/Cathedral (whats this doing on here yeah it was chill for once although of course Cliff did it in like 4 hours and waited for me reading a book over on cathedral)
Nose in a day

We've only ever climbed together 9 times and that's our effing tick list lol!! We were working crummy jobs always around the valley where we could only climb together like once every week or 2.

  Trip Report Views: 6,794
About the Author
HalHammer is a trad climber from CA.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Sep 3, 2008 - 05:20am PT
Fun report and great photos! Thanks for sharing.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Sep 3, 2008 - 08:30am PT
Great stuff, except for those lesions. . .
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
  Sep 3, 2008 - 10:05am PT
Go gal and guys, Really ! Enjoyed ! Thanks for the super photos.

Gym climber
Small Town with a Big Back Yard
  Sep 3, 2008 - 10:28am PT
Nice TR and cool pics!

Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Sep 3, 2008 - 10:49am PT
Good stuff! Those wounds look hideous!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Sep 3, 2008 - 11:14am PT
what a relief to know that people who climb also post here...

Really refreshing thread! thanks for the TR and the oh so casual descriptions of the sends...

Jim E

  Sep 3, 2008 - 11:42am PT
Totally awesome!! Thanks a ton for sharing.

The writing definitely gave me the feel of the frantic pace of a speed ascent.

Trad climber
San Diego
  Sep 3, 2008 - 12:36pm PT
Way to go on the NIAD!!!
We ran into Shondene after getting down from the Nose and she had just finished the Salathe. She was stoked and exhausted but still went cragging the next day (WTF?) . We all jumped into the Merced zussamen.

Apparently we were on the wall at the same time and we were both answering each other's monkey/moose calls!

Oakland, CA
  Sep 3, 2008 - 12:38pm PT
Damn. Hot damn.


Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
  Sep 3, 2008 - 12:43pm PT
Totally Sweet Dude....

Trad climber
  Sep 3, 2008 - 12:45pm PT

Thanks for posting!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Sep 3, 2008 - 02:20pm PT
Now that was cool!
Gruesome maimings, and all!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 3, 2008 - 03:22pm PT
eeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwww, gross.


Big Wall climber
El Portal, CA
  Sep 3, 2008 - 03:50pm PT
AWESOME!!! Best trip report this year!

Nice job guys and GAL!



Trad climber
Author's Reply  Sep 4, 2008 - 12:11am PT
Yawn.. dang trying to pull out the psyche! Long day, might have to wait until tommorow to finish this one properly. Glad you guys liked our goofy report.

Trad climber
Visalia, CA
  Sep 6, 2008 - 10:51pm PT
RT: You rock dude! I can't wait for the TR about the Salathe! I figured you guys would have camped in the Valley, but starting from Wawona? Wow! Super sweet. Sometime you and I will have to do El Cap. Little dreams of mine...


Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Sep 7, 2008 - 11:27pm PT
bump for gore, blondes, and partially redacted night photos (what's up with those?)
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Sep 7, 2008 - 11:32pm PT
Rebump for general GO!........

You climbed El Cap....That's bitchin'.
It's a cool feelin'.

Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
  Feb 21, 2011 - 11:04pm PT
Nice TR. Really captures the spirit. Great job !

  Feb 21, 2011 - 11:05pm PT
How did I miss this! good stuff.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Feb 21, 2011 - 11:52pm PT
As my cat exclaims ----when gripped!



Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Feb 22, 2011 - 01:59am PT
I'm having the same reaction as Zander. How did I miss this the first time? What a great way to forget about winter! Thanks much.


Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Feb 22, 2011 - 07:17am PT
make that the 3rd vote for "how did I miss it before?"

frantic/speed definitely comes through in the writing
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Feb 22, 2011 - 10:32am PT
Great TR and great send!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Feb 22, 2011 - 09:46pm PT
"we're golden :)"
Yes you are, a couple of lucky blokes!

Trad climber
Author's Reply  Feb 23, 2011 - 01:43am PT
I'm not the kind to lay down and die! Feel the pain! Ooooh remembering this tonight aches a little. As my buddy would say- just take a bozo run on the mountain! That was way rad soooo much fun!

wee man

Trad climber
truckee ca
  Nov 28, 2011 - 11:45pm PT
Awesome work on the nose/salathe, but half dome/then lost arrow chimney in a push that is pretty hardcore well done .

  Nov 29, 2011 - 12:09am PT
hal hammer bump!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, ca
  Nov 29, 2011 - 12:28am PT
Bump bump for awesomeness!

Ryan (Halhammer) calls me up this season "hey lets do Zodiac", so I get myself stoked for my first El Cap route and a non-trivial one at that.

Then he calls me a few days before we're supposed to go up, "Hey, I'm kind of busy, let's just do Zodiac in a push", so, yeah, I have to get re-psyched and then we do it.

TL/DR: Ryan is badass

Trad climber
Author's Reply  Mar 11, 2012 - 09:03pm PT
Cliff is finally out of the Peace Corp 4 years later we're heading to Red Rocks this weekend! We'll see how it goes ;)

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Mar 11, 2012 - 10:19pm PT
Loved it!
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
  May 29, 2016 - 09:52pm PT
BUMP .m. . !N, .,.....And a fun time was had by all! Great stuff, snaps, gobies & all!

Come on back 'HalHammer' !

El Capitan - Salathe Wall 5.13b or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The Salathé Wall ascends the most natural line up El Cap.
Photo: Mark Kroese
Other Routes on El Capitan
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
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Nose—the best rock climb in the world!
El Capitan - Freerider 5.12D - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Freerider, 5.12D
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Salathé Wall ascends the most natural line up El Cap.
El Capitan - Zodiac A2 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Zodiac, A2 5.7
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

1800' of fantastic climbing.
El Capitan - Lurking Fear C2F 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Lurking Fear, C2F 5.7
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Lurking Fear is route number 1.
El Capitan - East Buttress 5.10b - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
East Buttress, 5.10b
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

East Buttress with top of The Nose on left.
More routes on El Capitan