East Buttress 5.10b

 
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El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
East Buttress of El Cap
Wednesday October 30, 2013 1:39am
Ian and got dropped off around 6:15 at the Zodiac parking lot and our friends Shannon and Mark headed over across the meadow to jump on the East Buttress of Middle. From the Zodiac lot, we hiked 100 feet back towards Manure Pile on a trail right off the road. We found a climbers trail jutting out left and followed that past a boulder and a few downed trees until we reached the talus. From there the hike was very straightforward. We followed cairns and an obvious trail up the talus until we reached the base of El Cap. From here we headed climbers right and continued to follow the climbers trail up the ledges until we reached an area covered by Live Oaks and California Bays looking straight down on Moratorium and the Schultz Ridge.
Base of EB El Cap
Base of EB El Cap
Credit: Brian Biancardi
When we arrived at about 7:15 another party had beat us to the climb and they were just starting to lead the first pitch. Drats! We were still there early enough to make our time table though. Our plan was to start up at about 7:30, climb the route in 9 pitches at 40 minutes a pitch and top out at 3pm, giving us more than enough time to navigate the East Ledges, rappel down the fixed lines, hike back to the road and hitch to Upper Pines before dark. The party in front of us didnít seem to be making much progress and it wasnít until 8:15 until he had finished cleaning the first pitch and was starting up the second pitch. Of course we were cursing their names for taking too long and of course we strategized about where to pass, but they ended up rifling up the remainder of climb and we soon learned why the first pitch took them so long.
Belay at top of P2
Belay at top of P2
Credit: Brian Biancardi
We started up at about 8:30, Ian leading the first pitch and me following with the backpack dangling from a runner attached to a gear loop bumping my feet as I worked up the chimney. The belay at the top of P1 is four pins that seem pretty bomber as far as pins go. It was my turn to lead the next pitch and everything I read about the start of this pitch is true. I put in a C3 and an off-set brassy above the pins, smeared my right foot out onto an edge and popped up with my left foot placing it on a little foot pedestal below the left-hand side-pull. I worked my left hand up a little before making the dynamic move with the right hand to the chalked up sloper, my hand slapping down with a reassuring thud. From here I worked my way up a shallow crack system inside of a flaring gully big enough at times to jam my arm in elbow to palm while I placed gear. The jams were hands at times and fingers at others with placements that made me feel warm and cozy. I worked from there towards easier climbing until the pitch ends with a 5.6ish squeeze with wonderful high jugs. The pitch ends on a ledge with the beautiful arÍte pitch to the climbers left and a tree rapped with a black sling and rap ring. This links the 2nd and 3rd pitch in less than 200í of climbing.
Arete Pitch EB
Arete Pitch EB
Credit: Brian Biancardi
Ian started up the arÍte, working his way way down before heading up. With a 70m rope (68 actually), he managed to link the 4th and 5th pitch with about 3 feet of rope left finishing, on the ledges. Once on the ledges, I picked the rope up and went left, scrambling up 4th class moves made more difficult because of the rope in one hand. When we got to the final ledge we heard the paralyzing sound of a rock whizzing past our heads and landing on the ledges with a distinct thump. Luckily neither of us was looking up and we both immediately hunkered down, hugging in an alcove next to the face yelling rock to the party above. They yelled down that it wasnít them, but regardless we were both a little shaken.
I started up the 4th pitch which began by moving up the left crack system for 20 feet or so before traversing to the right into another system on some very fun and adventurous 5.7 moves. The rest of this pitch is very obvious and ends at 3 bolts, a ľ taper, a ľ button-head and a giant SMC fatty with a gray sling girth hitched to it. We assumed that YOSAR probably added the SMC for rescue on the popular route.
Top of P4 EB
Top of P4 EB
Credit: Brian Biancardi
Top of P5
Top of P5
Credit: Brian Biancardi
Ian started up what was pitch 5 for us and 7 for the Supertopo or Don Reid. This pitch offered a wonderful 5.7 crack before reaching a technical 5.8 roof move. I tucked my body way under the roof before noticing a high-step for my left foot and moved off it after blindly reaching up above the roof and finding an edge big enough for two fingers. Trust the left foot here and the move is exciting.
This pitch ended on the top of a pillar with our first views of Half Dome since starting up the route. From here, Ian again took the lead. He worked his way up the airy arÍte that offered some wonderful exposure to his right before clipping the pin that welcomes the 5.9 pin scar lie-back section. This was tricky and sequency but extremely fun. Since we dragged the #4 and #5 up the route, we werenít about to skip the off-width section and with the 70m rope the plan was to link these two pitches together. I know he had gotten in the OW when I started hearing the distinct climbers grunts; the good type of pain you can only get from a few hard-fought inches on an OW.
Top of P6 EB
Top of P6 EB
Credit: Brian Biancardi
I followed up, never really getting into the OW. I started with hand stacks while stemming before coming out into an insecure lie-back (a move I never would have made if I was leading). Leaving the security of the OW for the smooth feet on the lie-back only lasted a few minutes but I used up all of my reserves doing it and by the time I joined Ian at the hanging belay, I was, as the Brits say, puffing out my ass.
Getting stoked to be near the summit
Getting stoked to be near the summit
Credit: Brian Biancardi
I told Ian that I needed a break and he rightfully looked at me with disapproving eyes and said, ďdude, itís a 5.5 pitch.Ē Okay, okay. I jumped back on the sharp end and right away this pitch offered some unreal exposure. The route protects well and the climbing is extremely easy. I got to a ledge and pulled out the supertopo while eyeing the traverse to my right. An optional belay 30í to my right would negate the need for Ian to start the next pitch with a long traverse, creating rope drag. Being the kind fella I am, I started right. I worked hand over hand with no feet at times until I got to the pin I was looking for. It sat a foot above an insecure block and a terrible place to put a belay, but I was here and I was gonna deal. I put in a large blue DMM off-set nut and a .75 and used the pin as the third point. The rusty pin didnít seem like it was going anywhere but the block on the other hand didnít have my vote of confidence. I belayed Ian up, we figured out how to get him on the other side of me to start the next pitch and he set off as quickly as possible. He moved below me at first and then onto the knobs getting higher before protecting the belay in the small corner crack system. I felt much better after that and Iím sure he did as well.
Anchor at top of P8 EB
Anchor at top of P8 EB
Credit: Brian Biancardi
This pitch, which the Supertopo called the 5.8 mental crux, seemed easy enough and ended on a large ledge with tons of loose rock. Ian protected using the large flake at the inside of the ledge and I started up what would be our last pitch. The moves where fun and the sequence seemed to flow as if I was watching someone else climb. I moved past the large pillar on its right side, and with the rope coming taught I pulled the rope 10 times letting Ian know he needed to clean the anchor and jump on simul. Not far past this I came to some fallen dead trees that I could have made a well enough anchor on. Instead I kept working my way up the 3rd class probably farther than I should have before anchoring the rope in and belaying Ian up to the top.
Wild Dikes on the East Ledges Descent
Wild Dikes on the East Ledges Descent
Credit: Brian Biancardi
We summited at 4pm, taking us 7 Ĺ hours to complete the climb with only one epic rope tangle to slow us down. We quickly found the climbers trail to the East Ledges and after backtracking one or twice, we found the super-obvious Wild Dikes. Scrambling down, we found the static lines to rappel and within 10 minutes we were at the base of the trail. I started to clip into the fifth rope out of habit and Ian caught me doing it and let out a big ďDonít clip into to that damn ropeĒ. I looked up and saw the easy 4th class ahead and smiled, laughing about my oblivious loss of style points. The trail took another 20 minutes before popping out at the Manure Pile Parking lot. We hiked back to the meadow and saw two climbers with a haul back heading back to the bear boxes. We both latched on hard and asked to hitch. Luckily they were going back to Curry and they dropped us off right before the left turn to the Pines.
EB reflection from the bridge
EB reflection from the bridge
Credit: Brian Biancardi
We made it back to the campsite and had a beer in our hands by 6pm, victorious and still glowing from the amazing climb that will forever be a true Yosemite Classic in my mind.

Here's a sketched up topo of our beta for doing the climb in 9 pitches.
EB in 9 (topo I drew up based on ST, Don Reid and my memory)
EB in 9 (topo I drew up based on ST, Don Reid and my memory)
Credit: Brian Biancardi

  Trip Report Views: 1,510
Brian B
About the Author
Brian Biancardi is a trad climber from Oakland.

Comments
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Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Oct 30, 2013 - 01:46am PT
TFPU!
BFK

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
  Oct 30, 2013 - 01:55am PT
Bueno! Glad you got on it dude.
shipoopoi

Big Wall climber
oakland
  Oct 30, 2013 - 02:24am PT
brian, great trip report. yeah that second pitch has a desparate start. there used to be a pin that you just pulled on. now you have to free it because the gear is so bad you can't pull on it. take care, steve
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
  Oct 30, 2013 - 03:34am PT
Thanks for the TR. I never did that route, and I regret it. One note: the features at the top are "dikes".
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Oct 30, 2013 - 10:12am PT
Bump!
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Oct 30, 2013 - 11:28am PT
Really appreciate the time folks take to give us these TRs.

Keeping the stoke alive. This is on the list of for next year. Seems to be one of the "must do classics" That I haven't done yet.

Thanks!
10b4me

climber
  Oct 30, 2013 - 11:48am PT
^^^^^+1
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 30, 2013 - 12:59pm PT
I don't see any little kids. Why should I care?
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Oct 30, 2013 - 01:19pm PT
Great send fellas! Way to move fast and smart and get beack before dark. Great photos and write up. Can't wait to do this one some day.

Scott
Al_Smith

climber
San Francisco, CA
  Oct 30, 2013 - 02:23pm PT
Awesome! Nice TR Brian. Please keep 'em coming!

...And love the inclusion of the Dike photo from the EL Descent.

Also, I guess its worth mentioning that its too bad I don't have a good pic of you from the following day getting yourself tenderized on the Meat Grinder. While it has nothing on the EB of EC, it sure looked decently burly!
L

climber
California dreamin' on the farside of the world..
  Oct 30, 2013 - 02:26pm PT
Nice TR! Thanks.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Oct 30, 2013 - 02:59pm PT
Very cool!

John
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Oct 30, 2013 - 03:14pm PT
TFPU. Start of P2 (and even the very end of P1) wakes you up.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 30, 2013 - 09:04pm PT
Sweet!!!
HankMardukas

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
  Nov 1, 2013 - 04:56pm PT
Nice TR dude! Glad you didn't pop that old pin and were able to make it back to camp to regale us with stories of scary belays :)

-L
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Nov 1, 2013 - 05:33pm PT
Thanks! That is one of the funner routes in the valley. One of my faves.

I took a non-climber up it once. We took sleeping bags and bivied on some enourmous ledge up there. I have no idea what pitch it was, but it was a fun camping trip and he got to sleep way up a cliff.
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Photo: Mark Kroese
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