Native Son A4 5.9
Trip ReportInterview with Troy Johnson about first ascent of Native Son, El Capitan
Interview with Troy Johnson about first ascent of Native Son, El Cap. Interview by Justin Murano
J = My questions
T = Troy's answers
J - Did you map a possible route before you began your first ascent?
T - yea, we climbed Iron Hawk and Aurora and scoped the line.
J - were you frightened about putting up an unclimbed and unmapped route?
T- No, we were excited. Once we got going, we understood the only way down is up. The gravity, the ground has a downward pull on you, the gods pull you up.
J- Which parts of the climb stand out in your mind?
T- The coral sea and the Wing stand out in my mind as the most challenging and exciting. Walt and I shared leads, alternating each pitch.
J- what was the scariest experience of your climb?
T- Well, halfway up the Coral Sea, I was leading and very run out on a rivet and a copperhead or two, and Walt calls out casually, "Hey, don't you think you should drill a bolt now?" The part of the climb I enjoyed the most was the freeclimbing in the middle of the route.
J- Did you sleep in hammocks or did you have portaledges to bivy in?
T- We had portaledges to sleep in, but we stood in hammocks to belay some of the pitches.
J- how long did the climb take?
T- 6 days, 5 nights we topped out on the wall at night. We had brought a ghetto blaster and some tapes, and we got great radio reception. To lighten our load on the descent, we packed our water bottles on the bottom of our haul bag and tossed it off the top; we could hear the shouts of a tour at the bottom as our gear came crashing down! 'Course you cant do that anymore.
J- Where did you get the name for the machine head wall?
T- I had a graveyard shift grooming the slopes at squaw valley. In the machine room they had extra rivets lying around, and I would pocket them for climbing. Many of the rivets put up on Native Son are from the machine shop at squaw valley. We were on a tight budget.
J- Where did you live during the time of your first ascent?
T- I spent most of my time living in Camp 4, until I met Virginia, Tobin's Mother. [Tobin is my good friend from college]
J- What did you think about your accomplishment.
T- Not to sound modest, but at the time I didn't think anything of it! we were busy dreaming of the next route."
Here are some numbers Troy mentioned when I asked him what size equipment bolts and rivets they used, but I didn't get label them well in my notes. maybe you can identify these numbers.
Left hangers on. 5/8ths, 1 1/4th. 5/16ths blolts 1in bolts?
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