Trip Report
El Cap East Butress
Tuesday October 23, 2012 9:05pm
The East Buttress of El Cap is high on my list of favorite routes in the Valley, or anywhere for that matter. Iíve described it as having good wow value for the effort involved and a couple of the easy pitches seem particularly spectacular and photogenic.

My 1st trip up the East Buttress was a grand adventure shared with Zander in 2003 (also my 1st trip to the Valley since 1981!). I had recently met Zander at Indian Rock and I donít think we had climbed together outside the gym before talking ourselves into the route. In addition, having spent the previous couple years living in Fort Collins where I sport climbed almost exclusively, I donít think I had placed more than a couple dozen pieces of gear in recent memory. Iíll never forget driving past the meadow just before dawn, seeing El cap lurking in the dark for the first time in 20+ years, and swallowing hard as I realized we could be getting into rather more adventure than we had intended. Not to worry though, Zander was up to the task and managed to snap at least one great photo as a bonus.

Credit: rocknicenut

The next time up the route was with my friend Bill Launder. We started by doing the Moratorium on a day that was much too warm, and realized too late that the route is like a big reflector oven on a hot day. As we topped out on Moratorium the talk was of calling it a day as we were sure weíd never have enough water to finish the East Buttress. Since the first pitch was breezy and still in the shade we went up thinking weíd rappel after a couple pitches and go do something sensible, like drink beer with our toes in the river. After a couple pitches though we found the temperatures to just right on East Buttress, and we had a great time finishing the route (sans camera this time).

Now donít get me wrong, doing the route with Zander and Bill was great, but the next trip up the route was special in a different way. I started proposing to my now wife Ingrid at the first belay, and stammered out a final plea on my knees at the summit. It was another HOT day but we didnít seem to mind.

Credit: rocknicenut
Credit: rocknicenut

Credit: rocknicenut

A couple weeks previous to the proposal trip my friend Justin drug me up the Nose on a day with perfect temps. I remember thinking that if it had been as hot on the Nose as it was on the East Buttress Justin would have had to leave my shriveled carcass somewhere in the vicinity of camp 6.

After talking for a couple years about repeating the route to celebrate our engagement, Ingrid put the suggestion forward in earnest this summer and we were off on 10/20/12 to see if we still had the (climbing) magic.

It all started innocently enough with a little hiking in the dark.

Credit: rocknicenut
Credit: rocknicenut

Then we got held up a bit with traffic at the start.

Credit: rocknicenut

Finally we got on the route after waiting an hour or so for a couple parties who got up even earlier than we did!

Credit: rocknicenut

After that things moved along smoothly enough, though there were a couple suspicious characters ahead of us who seemed a little reluctant to have their pictures taken. They said they were gear reps from Marmot but Iím guessing secret agents, super heroes, or maybe arch villains!

Credit: rocknicenut
Credit: rocknicenut

Pitch 3 looks pretty steep (especially if your spouse tilts the camera a bit Ė good work Sweetie!).

Credit: rocknicenut
Credit: rocknicenut

The mid-point ledge makes for a nice lunch spot with a good view.

Credit: rocknicenut

Ingrid busting a move on pitches 6/7, which we ran together (we also combined ĺ with a bit of easy simul-climbing.

Credit: rocknicenut

The scenery on pitch 9 is hard to beat.

Credit: rocknicenut

And the view from the top is not half bad.

Credit: rocknicenut

I can't wait till we get on it again!!!

  Trip Report Views: 1,862
About the Author
rocknicenut is a climber from Everett, WA.

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Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Oct 23, 2012 - 10:36pm PT

Random Nobody
  Oct 23, 2012 - 10:50pm PT
Bad ass f*#kin report manÖ
Thanks for posting
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Oct 23, 2012 - 11:29pm PT
Awesome route isn't it?! I got on it for my first time 2 weeks ago. Had a blast. Thank you for posting!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Oct 23, 2012 - 11:44pm PT
lamenting the fact I haven't done this yet. Thx for the good reminder.
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Oct 23, 2012 - 11:53pm PT
Sweet. Nicely done TR, man. I like your pics, too.
I'd climb that one again, though it sounds kinda popular these days...

Oakland, CA
  Oct 23, 2012 - 11:59pm PT
Don't you love how certain routes take on life as you build a history with them.

Social climber
Lida Junction
  Oct 24, 2012 - 12:38pm PT
This is probably the only EC route I could do

Good job

Trad climber
Stockholm, Sweden
  Oct 24, 2012 - 01:33pm PT
This route was the grande finale on my first trip to the Valley in 2008. Pure magic!!! Had the pleasure of climbing behind an austrian photographer and ended up in some german climbing magazine.. =)

Thanks for bringing back the memories. Awesome pictures and good job asking that beautiful woman to merry you!

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Oct 24, 2012 - 02:02pm PT
Nice! Thanks for a fine TR of a superb route.


Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Oct 24, 2012 - 02:15pm PT
Thanks for the read! Looks like fun!

  Oct 24, 2012 - 02:49pm PT
Oh yeah!

Everett, WA
Author's Reply  Oct 24, 2012 - 08:01pm PT
Sounds like Mungeclimber and 10b4me need to get together and jump on that thing. Iíve even got the crux beta fresh in my head should you need it (I did).

What good fortune wallyvirginia to be so photogenic as to end up in a German climbing magazine! I keep hoping some famous photographer will get stuck behind me on a route and take photos for Rock-N-Ice. In my dreams I can hear myself singing a song about it:

(Sung to the tune of Dr. Hookís Cover of the Rolling Stone, with credit to Bryan Burdo)

Well, were big rock climbers
We got gobied fingers
And we climb everywhere we go
(that sounds like us)
We complain about ratings
And we rant about bolts
On a website we call Supertopo
We place all kinds of gear
And still live for the thrill
But the thrill that weíll never know
Is the thrill thatíll getcha
When you get your picture
On the cover of the Rock-N-IceÖ
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 26, 2012 - 07:34pm PT
way to go!

  Oct 27, 2012 - 11:57am PT
G, I still remember what a great time we had on the climb. It must have been eight years ago now. I went back to do it again years later but for various reasons we retreated. Still got to do it again sometime. Nice TR.
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Oct 26, 2012 - 11:45pm PT
thanks for the stoke!! next time ill get on this one first!!

Social climber
NZ -> SB,CA -> Zurich
  Oct 27, 2012 - 04:19am PT
Very nice!

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Oct 27, 2012 - 01:25pm PT
I love the TR's of the classics. Many people here have done them, but we don't have pics. So you look at the pics and go, "Ho Man, I remember that pitch."


Trad climber
Hustle City
  Oct 27, 2012 - 09:30pm PT

Everett, WA
Author's Reply  Oct 30, 2012 - 07:30pm PT
Zander - You should jump on it again. Iíll bet itís waaaaayyyyyyy easier than Lost Arrow Chimney! We should go back for a rematch with Eeyorís Enigma one of these days too.

Base104 Ė I know what you mean about not getting photos. Iíve done the Grand Wall in Squamish a half dozen or so times with various partners but we rarely took a camera in those days. It was great to see the Squamish link this year and relive those days a bit.

Posting TR's is so fun and easy I don't know why I waited so long. Everybody should get busy and post up!!!

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Oct 30, 2012 - 08:11pm PT
Thanks dude! I love seeing reports of places I'll never get to, places that are on my "some day" list, places that I've been.

Especially the places I've been like this, it triggers such nice memories!
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