Son of Heart A3+ 5.8
Trip ReportInterview With First Ascentionist Rick Sylvester about Mt Asgard, BASE and Son of Heart on El Capitan
Here are some rough notes from an interview i did with Rick Sylvestor on the phone in 1/4/99. Him in Squaw Valley and me in Mill Valley, California.
First Ski Off El Cap
He made the 3rd BASE jump off El Cap (before the term BASE had been invented) and the first ski BASE jump ever. He ended up doing the feat three times to get camera footage. At the time the “Paracommander” parachute was most advanced rig but Sylvester was not experienced enough to use it. Instead he used a “Thunderbow”
He remembers launching off way away from the wall – at least 200 feet. He remembers the first time it took him a little while to get his skis off. He became a little concerned when he saw El Cap tower go by and opened up so late that he had to aim for the clearing in front of the nose. His chute got caught in a tree. The second time was more routine but the third time, while approaching a landing in the meadow, his chute hit a 160 tall tree and collapsed. He started accelerating towards the ground, breaking branches and luckily the chute snagged a branch before he impacted.
I was always surprised when I asked him if he wanted to join forces and he said yes. He had done all the work to get all his stuff out there alone and it seemed that he would want to do the route alone. Maybe he was just getting lonely.
He was doing most of the leading. An amazing climb. A seam crack with four or five rotten placements and then the seam would open up for an A1 placement. After eight pitches it looked like the aid climbing was ending. I wanted to push on and he wanted to go down. I am not sure why he wanted to go down. My girlfriend and I didn’t have enough provisions for another attempt so we had to go back to the village to get more supplies. Charlie continued up.
The route has been called one of the great big wall achievements but I have never been sure if the route was actually done. Porter was to throw off the fixed ropes as he committed to the summit. When I returned to the base of the route to retrieve the ropes I found them lying in a way which did not suggest that they had been thrown off. I looked up and couldn’t find any sign of him on the route. That said, it is more likely than not that he did the route. I just have my doubts.
At the same time that I was retrieving the ropes I also found a note accusing me of stealing some of his Tigers Milk bars. It still pisses my off that he accused me of being a thief.
The route looked exceptional and I have thought about returning to climb it.
Pitch 9 on the Zodiac took Charlie Porter ten-hour lead which was unheard of at the time. Pretty revolutionary for those days. Same thing happened to Rosenthal on the solo second ascent.
My first ascent of Son of Heart was the first route where somebody (me) led all the pitches. When you look at El Cap by moonlight Son of heart is one of the most obvious lines on El Cap. I though it was going to be a real test piece but then routes like the Shield and Zodiac were climbed that were much harder.
Made the first ascent of the Waterfall Route with Chauncey Parker. There was a story written up in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Tower to the people may have fell off the heart route.
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