Lurking Fear C2F 5.7

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El Capitan

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
El Capitan- Winter Ascent of Lurking Fear
Thursday March 7, 2013 5:13pm
Granite walls of El Capitan make a huge impression on any tourist visiting Yosemite. On my first trip to Yosemite Valley in the fall of 2010, as an aspiring mountaineer I was stunned by it’s size. Back than, climbing a wall on El Cap seemed as realistic as swimming across Pacific Ocean- I did not even think about it. A few years down the road I found partners for my first trip up the "‘Big Stone," at a carpool thread on, a week prior to our ascent. In the end, it was a 33 hour camp 4 to camp 4 push which left us beat, scratched, exhausted, but damn happy and proud to complete our first El Capitan route in winter. Surviving less than ideal conditions, dealing with fatigue/stress as a team, and overcoming a big challenge will keep this climb fresh in our memories for years to come.
At least the views were nice!
At least the views were nice!
Credit: Vitaliy M.

Looking up from the base of Lurking Fear

Just across from El Cap there are more walls begging to be climbed

Most people would not climb an El Cap route with someone they met for a carpool a few hours prior, but not me. When my new carpool buddy mentioned lack of third for an attempt at ‘Lurking Fear,’ I was all over it. I enjoy climbing with people who are psyched about getting out and doing things. Alix (new carpool buddy) seemed like this type of person. Even though I got to climb only a few routes with her on the weekend when we met, she made a good impression, especially by pushing me to onsight my first 5.10d - Catchy. To my surprise, her partner for LF was Daniel - a super nice guy I met in the Bugaboos last summer.

View of Middle Cathedral

Alix jugging first pitch

Hooking something funny

Looking back down

Our plan was to trash ourselves free climbing on Thursday and do LF over the next two days. We ‘warmed up’ at Five and Dime where I led my second 10d clean, and headed for the ‘Cookie cliff.’ Both of us tried Waverly Wafer, which would be a first 5.11 for both of us. Neither of us got the onsight but both whipped (fell) in the lie back section. Mini traxing five more pitches got us fatigued enough to call it a day.

Window Pane Flake

Beak Beak Cam-Hook Free Move

Alix in a sea of perfect rock

On Friday we begun the approach towards Lurking Fear by running into Chris MacNamara and his partner sorting gear in El Cap Meadow for their climb of the Nose In a Day. Must be typical, since supposedly he spent 3% of his life on that wall (according to my guidebook at least). That day we climbed and fixed first seven pitches of the route. It took two sixty and two seventy meter ropes to do that. I took the first three pitches, Alix took the next two, and Daniel took pitches six and seven. Being up there was a blast. Perfect weather, lots of laughter, and clean climbing. Since my block was first, I followed to the top of pitch five, fixed two 60 M ropes from the top of pitch three, and rapped off.

Fun at the belay. Alix heading for pitch 4

Alix leads pitch 4

Daniel ready to jug

Next day was gonna be a big one. With 30% of rain/snow coming in at night the monkeys wanted to get up to the top as early as possible. Avoiding an epic was our priority- we miserably failed here. With a 3am wake up call and a speedy approach we got to the base of the climb around 4:30am. After jugging to the top of pitch 7, Daniel racked up and started his block (pitches 8, 9, 10, and 11) at dawn. The climbing was again clean and enjoyable. There was an awesome #4 OW pitch which Daniel had to run out a ways since we only had two #4s. He was able to combine pitches ten and eleven for a rope stretching monster.

Alix leading pitch 5

Monkeys psyched to be on El Cap

Cool balanced block

Rock is perfect

"Daniel put some pro in!"

Leaning Tower is so overhanging!

My block started out with pitch 12. "C2+" hooking was surprisingly not as scary as some of the fixed pieces I clipped lower on the pitch. One of the pitons I clipped above the belay was literary falling apart - bomber. Next pitch featured clean C1 section and some cool free climbing above. This is where the route quality changed to being more blocky and wandering. More free climbing mixed with tiny bit of aid took me through to 15, where I ended up taking a 25 foot fall after one of my cams blew while I was bounce testing the next placement. After checking myself for damage (just a bruised hip and scratches on my elbow) I continued to the top of my last pitch with not too much more trouble. Happy to be on an 'elevator' (since all I had to do is jug and clean) for the last 4 pitches, I handed the rack to our closer - Alix.

5am jugathon to the top of pitch 7

First light from the top of 7th pitch

All smiles!

The Monkeys are sendin!

Daniel about to link pitch 10 and 11

Alix's block featured the last 4 pitches, part of which were a bit wet. To make things worse she only had just over an hour of daylight to work with after she started her lead. What was a sunny day just a few hours prior, turned to a sea of clouds which built up our anticipation. During the last 3 pitches we were hit with big gusts of wind and were borderline shivering at the belays, even with our puffies and shells on. Figuring out the start of pitch 18 was a bit tricky in the dark since Thanksgiving ledge is so damn big. Basically it was the first possible way up after you pass the bivy cave. At last we got to the top of the route just before midnight, coiled our ropes, high fived, but the crux of our climb turned out to be ahead.

Me leading 12th pitch

Alix smiling at the belay

pitch 12 is a traverse bellow the roof

start of pitch 13

Alix with the usual big wall cluster

Me on pitch 14

After jumaring fixed lines above, we tried to get to the top of endless sea of slabs which were all around us. Lack of daylight, fatigue, howling wind, along with intermittent snow/rain turned our hike into a life threatening full blown epic. We continued up a slabby way going left of a headwall and at some point soloed a wet chimney in our approach shoes. It was probably not harder than low 5th class, but weight on our back along with wet friction climbing sure made it tricky. At this point the weather was turning into a full blown storm. We were surrounded by sea of wet slab and decided to keep it safe and rope up. Daniel led a long spicy pitch that took us to the summit of the formation, finally!

Alix on pitch 16

Daniel and I on the belay ledge

Alix leading 17th pitch

Bivy cave on Thanksgiving Ledge.

My way of dealing with cold wind- a rope blanket

Since it was dark and snowing we tried to follow Yosemite falls trail down to camp 4, but majority of it was covered in snow (waist deep at times). We wandered around the woods for another hour or so and called it a day around 2 am. Finding a shelter under some trees we were able to stay warm enough through the night by huddling around a small fire. In the morning we realized that we were not much past El Capitan and backtracked to East Ledges descent. Our descent was a bit nerve racking since we had to do it while it rained and snowed all around us. Wet slab in beat up approach shoes was not fun at all. However, by 11 am we were done with our final rappells and ready for a hot meal...

Delirious monkeys finally on the summit!

Fire that kept us warm enough while we waited for sun to come up

East ledges descent in the morning

Fixed lines- finally

T-shirt I wore on the climb

Thank you Daniel and Alix for letting me jump on the route with you, it was a blast. Also, huge thanks from all three of us goes out to Supertopo's own MICRONUT who hooked us up with a topo for the route (somehow we could not find ours, and all we had were pictures of topo that I keep on my camera as a backup). Huge thanks to JIM for getting our two extra ropes from the base on Saturday. Having to go get them on Sunday would be hell.


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  Trip Report Views: 5,810
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

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Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:15pm PT
Atta boy V.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:19pm PT
Vitaly, resize your photos to no more than 700px on the longest side.

Trad climber
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:20pm PT
Awesome! The monkeys sent !

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:23pm PT
Ha! That was you V at Curry on Sun?

Congrats to all of you.

Seems like someone forgot the haul cord on that one pitch....I have seen that before! Doh!

Proud blue jean ascent!

Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:30pm PT
Crap! How do I make these pictures smaller? They are way too big! Sorry guys.

For now use for normal size!

PS: Yes mucci I was at curry for a second last sunday. Were you part of that blond guy's group?

Trad climber
under the sea
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:32pm PT
Sweet!!! Way to getter done!!! Looks life a super fun suffer fest...just the way I likes it.

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:37pm PT
Awesome trip, great write-up, and thanks for having an epic so I can be entertained in my nice warm classroom!

In the future, put the TRs on supertopo first. Priorities Vitaliy!
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:41pm PT
Nice job! Full value ascent!!

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:41pm PT
Blue jeans?

Nice send

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:56pm PT
Yup, that was me, I recognized Alix but figured she was towing you two along for the ride!

Trad climber
Southern New Hampshire
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:50pm PT
Hi Vitaliy, I briefly met you with Alix and Dan at Curry. Badass, you guys climbed through and topped out. Excellent job on the winter ascent!


Trad climber
under the sea
  Mar 7, 2013 - 05:52pm PT
Yeah Blue Jeans!!

With all the advice they get here they figured if they were gunna die anyways may as well dress for the occasion (cuz cotton kills...)
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 7, 2013 - 06:04pm PT
Daniel, guy wearing blue jeans, wore those same jeans on winter attempt at Leaning Tower too. He is like a Honey Badger! Style matters! :)

I met him in Bugaboos. He did W ridge of Pigeon spire in swimming shorts right before the rain started. LOL I was laughing my ass off. Didn't think we will re-connect, but happy we did. Ended up climbing El Cap together for our first ascent of that beast. What a fun weekend it was.
He is set on getting shell pants though

Ezra, was nice meeting you too!

PS: re-sized the pics. sorry!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Mar 7, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
It's good to hear you made it down safe. Those slabs are so damn slick when wet. We'll have to sit down and rehash this one. Been there done that in the snowstorm. Adventure comes to those who have the balls. Good job, again!

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Mar 7, 2013 - 06:12pm PT
Thank you for the report and the resize! About those pants.... I would think people who go to law school would be a little smarter than that. Not!!!!!

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Mar 7, 2013 - 06:29pm PT
J Wells

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
  Mar 7, 2013 - 08:54pm PT
AWESOME! Love the psych and energy. Great job!!!

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Mar 7, 2013 - 09:07pm PT

I need to start carpooling

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Mar 7, 2013 - 09:38pm PT
Another Great TR V, love the angry birds shirt!!!!

  Mar 7, 2013 - 09:56pm PT

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Mar 7, 2013 - 11:07pm PT
Fun one! Thanks for sharing :D

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Mar 7, 2013 - 11:25pm PT

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Mar 7, 2013 - 11:41pm PT
I'm speechless but for: AWESOM!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Mar 8, 2013 - 01:57pm PT
Vitya, I had a talk with yer Mum. She said , " Enough, already!". Besides, you're not
supposed to enjoy yer first trip up The Big Stone! ;-)

Social climber
boulder co
  Mar 8, 2013 - 01:54pm PT
Great TR! sounds like the descent was harder than the route! TFPU

Were the summit slabs wet, it sounds like they were and that sounds sketchy

Bump for good climbing content!!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 11, 2013 - 12:01am PT
Yes, summit slabs were wet because it was raining/snowing when we got there :(. Sucked. And I don't think we took the right way up them neither. Next time only gonna do it in the daylight!

And thank you all!

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
  Mar 11, 2013 - 01:49am PT
Nixe work on pushing through, sending, and knowing when to call it a day and wait till morning. Inspiring! Thanks for the TR.

Trad climber
part Texas, part Oman
  Mar 11, 2013 - 02:30am PT
Awesome TR dude and proud send!!

Trad climber
  Mar 11, 2013 - 07:28am PT

Nice work!!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Mar 11, 2013 - 09:11am PT

Those crack systems are awesome.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Mar 11, 2013 - 12:07pm PT
Nice send! And proud descent adventure. You guys earned the winter in Winter El Cap Ascent.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Mar 11, 2013 - 01:11pm PT
Greetings from Kentucky on the way to Mammoth Cave, where angry cardinals are everywhere!

What a proud and near-epic ascent! Way to get committed, so the easiest way down was off the summit. Definitely what we call "Class 2 Fun".

  Mar 11, 2013 - 03:58pm PT
Another proud send, great TR Vitaliy!

Trad climber
  Mar 11, 2013 - 05:04pm PT
Proud man, nice job

Oakland, CA
  Mar 11, 2013 - 06:14pm PT
Damn! Respect.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Mar 11, 2013 - 06:32pm PT
No slowing you down....the Karakorum and Patagonia beckon, do you hear the siren call?

Trad climber
Bath, UK
  Mar 13, 2013 - 12:16pm PT
LF in a day, that is awesome. Still a risky business with cotton T-shirts and jeans at this time of year!

Trad climber
  Mar 14, 2013 - 04:41pm PT
Great job and TR!

Social climber
granada hills
  Mar 15, 2013 - 01:31am PT

Great job!

Brian Biega

Truckee, CA
  Mar 15, 2013 - 02:38am PT
Hey Vitaliy-

Way to send! And great job mixing it all up...

Cheers, Brian

  Mar 15, 2013 - 04:25am PT
nice! in a life of very cold experiences in Alaska, nothing has been colder than when Mitja Bevc and I climbed this route in April and got slammed by a cold front bivouacking in Wall Wombs-- 40 minutes of squirming to get into the bag would qualify us for 20 minutes of sleep- faking awesome way to go happy LIFE!

  Mar 15, 2013 - 12:53pm PT
Yeah Vitaliy! I've been waiting until i had time to really relax & enjoy to read this one. Really glad i did. Great stuff, how many walls have u done?? I'm hoping to get down that way in the spring & do some of that stuff, your report really fuels the stoke. I've never done any aid climbing but knowing your styles from previous reports it seems as though the transition might not be as rough as i would have thought. Thanks dude! Now all we need is a bouldering TR &a clip up TR from you V & you will have reported on almost every single type of climbing out there. Way to get after it dude!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Mar 17, 2013 - 10:20am PT
We passed Vitaliy and Alix on The Nose Friday, two weeks after their Lurking Fear ascent. They have the fire!

Sean Leary gets ready to swing into the Stovelegs. Vitaliy at the bela...
Sean Leary gets ready to swing into the Stovelegs. Vitaliy at the belay. Alix up and right leading.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Vitaliy above Sickle.
Vitaliy above Sickle.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Mar 17, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
Dudes killing it! Funny all of us that were on elcap 2 weeks ago were all on it again on Friday. We're all addicts!!!!

Btw nice job on NIAD again Chris. What was your time this go?

Social climber
Lida Junction
  Mar 17, 2013 - 12:05pm PT
You back on theNose again Chris?
Getting after it early this year
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Mar 17, 2013 - 12:06pm PT
Yup, we have a group of up and coming addicts who are going to be fun to watch in the next few years, although, not to say they aren't fun to watch now!

Trad climber
Nor Cal
  Mar 17, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
Nice report
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Mar 18, 2013 - 11:19am PT
Nice send V and A! We took 7 hours sum thin. working on a TR right now
Jim Pettigrew

Social climber
Crowley Lake, CA
  Mar 18, 2013 - 07:17pm PT
Nice ride! Better pictures than I have!
Thanks for the memories,

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Mar 18, 2013 - 07:19pm PT
My buddy shot this the other day. Was it yall?
Credit: micronut
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Mar 18, 2013 - 09:42pm PT
I think it is Sean and Chris! If it was on Friday at least. We started from Sickle that day. In this picture the climber in Red (most likely Chris) is on the pitch bellow Sickle...soon they were passing us. By soon I mean like within 10 minutes.

RyanD, glad you enjoyed reading it! I think you shouldn't have too much trouble transitioning from multi-pitch rock climbing as long as you are ok with doing a few practice pitches here and there, reading about all these techniques, watching Chris' videos is also very helpful. Being open to screwing up and not getting too annoyed by it is also really good. You get much more efficient with practice. If you check my Lost Arrow Spire TR, you will see that we did 5 pitches a day on that trip! I could not see way in hell I could do the nose back than, and it was only last summer!

Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  Mar 18, 2013 - 10:36pm PT
I love this site because of trip reports like this! Great work Vitaly keep it up, your even motivating me to get off the couch.

Lake Tahoe, Nevada
  Mar 19, 2013 - 11:32am PT
Nice job! 33 hrs car to car. Nothing like a wall thats all yours too. Winter time you have no crowds, but one does need the right clothes..personally I would go with cotton all the way, just a couple of sweatshirts. I would not bother with gortex or any of those high tech garments either, just a hefty trash bag with the appropriate holes. Yep that's the way to roll.

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
  Mar 24, 2013 - 07:49pm PT

  Nov 11, 2013 - 07:41pm PT

(As a reminder = BBST = donini for Bump for a Better SuperTopo)
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El Capitan - Lurking Fear C2F 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
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Photo: Tom Frost
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