Mescalito A3 5.8

 
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El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Mescalito June 2012
Saturday August 18, 2012 1:36pm
ďIt was the best of times, it was the worst of timesĒ Literally. That quote from Dickens definitely sums up the past year of my life. On the up side I met the most amazing woman ever and decided that she was the person I wanted to marry. I have a decent job (teacher) that I like and it gives me the freedom to still go on adventures. After years of climbing more or less full time I finally feel like I can maintain a balance between the rock and the rest of my life. On the down side my father, who was also my best friend passed away suddenly in February. It was him and my uncle who took me to the mountains on a backpack trip when I was eight. I climbed the Grand Teton with my dad, uncle and best friend when I was 18.
From left to right; my uncle, best friend my dad and myself on top of ...
From left to right; my uncle, best friend my dad and myself on top of the grand teton 1995
Credit: Spanky

After the service someone asked me if I would still climb or would it now be too risky. Having seen death would I change my lifestyle? Or would I stay true to what I loved and all the great things my dad and I had seen and experienced in the mountains together. As Iím sure many climbers have found, I felt myself drawn back to the mountains, back to the wild places, and of course back to El Cap. I decided that I would take a small urn with some of his ashes up the Captain with me as a remembrance. I had climbed the Zodiac last year (2011) and while it was intense and scary it felt like we where dialed and the route went smoothly. We climbed it in three nights and had a blast. I felt like I needed to up the ante and get on a route that was longer and harder to see if I could hack it. My friend John who I had climbed the triple direct with in 2009 was psyched and we started planning. We decided on Mescalito as our top choice because it looked hard but not too ridiculous.
Mescalito goes right up the sunny part of the face
Mescalito goes right up the sunny part of the face
Credit: Spanky
We were both super psyched to climb a route on the dawn wall. We still had to wait for school to end and we both had commitments in June. We would only have 10 days in the valley to get up the route so if anything went wrong we would be screwed. The school year ended and I immediately took off in the car for Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon with my girlfriend. We visited old friends and spent a day swimming in a river in Sedona. So gorgeous. Then Sarah and I went to the Grand Canyon and I proposed as we hiked down to the Colorado River to camp. She actually said yes and we drove back to Colorado for one day before we flew to Connecticut for her cousins wedding and to hang out with her family. On June 10th I got on a plane leaving Connecticut at 6:00 a.m. and flew back to Denver where John would pick me up and we would start the drive to Yosemite that day. We hoped to get to the Utah/Nevada border that night and hopefully get to the valley early enough on Monday to lead/fix the first pitch. We arrived in the valley on Monday afternoon around 3:00 and ran into a friend named Greg from last year. He said there wasnít anyone on Mescalito so we grabbed the rack and ropes and started hiking up to the base. John said he wanted the first pitch so he racked up and was leading only 2 hours after we pulled into the meadow.
John at the first anchor, a long way to go.
John at the first anchor, a long way to go.
Credit: Spanky
The first pitch is pretty spicy, some hooks/bolts/free climbing up to some fixed heads. John styled it and after cleaning the pitch and stashing the rack on the first anchor we were down on the ground by 7:30. We bolted to Curry for pizza psyched that there was nobody on the route and we had a pitch fixed. Originally we had planned to maybe blast the next day and try to get to anchorage ledge to bivy, but after reading some beta that the ledge dripped we decided to go back the second day and fix to 4 before we blasted off. In the end it was definitely the right call. We got up early the next day and hiked up to the base. Pitches 2 and 3 were mine and I was psyched to get on lead. Pitch 2 felt fairly mellow but I was surprised at the number of fixed heads.
Pitch 2
Pitch 2
Credit: Spanky
Pitch 3 was more intense and I found myself doing a short pendulum off a head to another head. They all seemed pretty good but I had never seen that before and it felt intense.
Cleaning pitch 3
Cleaning pitch 3
Credit: Spanky
John lead the 4th pitch which had another pendulum but he got it done and we were back on the ground around 8:00.
John on pitch 4
John on pitch 4
Credit: Spanky
Sh#t, these were full days and we werenít even off the ground yet. We had talked about wanting to blast the next day (Wednesday) but when we got to the ground I mentioned being a bit more chill the next day and blasting Thursday. We still had a lot of logistics to deal with and I didnít think we could get it all done fast enough the next day. We decided to make the call in the morning but after not crashing until almost 11:00 and waking up sore we quickly decided to blast on Thursday. This turned out well because it took 4 trips and almost the whole day to haul our water, the bags, and the food to the base. We also repacked the bags and hauled everything 1 pitch so the gear was off the ground and away from the bears. Now we were psyched and ready to go. We woke up early the next day and hiked up with almost nothing. We got rigged and spent the next couple of hours getting us and all our crap up to our high point at the top of 4. The hauling was tough and it took both of us to get the bags up. Our goal was to finish the Seagull that day and we knew it would take us a long time to get it done. Pitch 5 was mine and it was my first C3 pitch. I was a bit nervous but it was all there. Offset aliens and mastercams are money. I was able to haul this pitch myself but it wrecked me. The hauling always crushes me on the first day but you know it will only get easier. John headed off on the Seagull which we knew would be one of the cruxes.
John around the corner on the Seagull
John around the corner on the Seagull
Credit: Spanky
Me cleaning the Seagull
Me cleaning the Seagull
Credit: Spanky
It involves a lower off/pendulum right off the anchor which is weird and then he went around a corner so I couldnít really see what he was doing. He sounded tuned in and the pendulums looked pretty sporty. He finished the pitch and I lowered out the bags. We were definitely glad to have a long lower out line for this route and used it quite a bit. There was a long piece of tat (blue haul line) on the anchor at anchorage ledge. At first I thought it was garbage and Tom had suggested taking it down but it proved valuable. Since John hadnít clipped anything on the first lower out to reduce drag it made my first lower out really long. I had to lower off a loop in the tat that was about 10 feet below the actual anchor in order to not swing at the bottom of the lower out. I actually didnít do this the first time and had to jug back up to rerig it to avoid the swing. The Seagull is an amazing feature and the traverse at the end was pretty wild. We had heard rumors that the Seagull is expanding but it felt solid to us. I got to the anchor about 7:00 and we set up the bivy. On the ledge we joked about how we had to go to the top because neither of us could think of any way to reverse what we had just climbed. It was kinda scary but exciting to feel committed to finishing the climb. We woke up early the next day and John would lead 7 and 8 and I would get 9 and 10.
Pitch 7
Pitch 7
Credit: Spanky
Pitch 8
Pitch 8
Credit: Spanky
John moved through his block and by the time I was getting ready to lead 9 it was getting pretty cloudy. The forecast said a 30% chance of thunderstorms but no big systems. The clouds built as I finished 9 and it was sprinkling by the time I got to the anchor. I tagged up my rain jacket and started to rig the haul. We heard a lot of thunder but it never really opened up. We spent a couple of minutes deciding what to do. If the storm really came in we would get soaked and the best plan would be for me to rap back to eight and set up the bivy. The down side was that would mean we were done for the day and had only climbed 3 pitches which would mean we were behind schedule. After a few minutes I realized it made sense to do the haul and that I just had to get the bags up as fast as possible in case it opened up. Thank fully it was the easiest haul yet and I got the bags to the anchor ahead of John cleaning with a fair bit of yelling/cursing at the piggies to move.
piggies on Pitch 9
piggies on Pitch 9
Credit: Spanky
Lots of fixed beaks on pitch 10
Lots of fixed beaks on pitch 10
Credit: Spanky
The weather cleared as John reached the anchor and I decided I should start up pitch 10. I had heard it was one of the cruxes but I was surprised to see a bunch of fixed gear. There were 6 or 7 large beaks with beefy tie off webbing. I have since found some video of Tommy and Kevin on that pitch and believe they placed them to have gear for free climbing. Regardless they took some of the sting out of the pitch and it felt pretty mellow. We finished climbing just before dark and by the time we sitting on the ledge we needed our headlamps to see. The next day was hot in the morning and John took the morning shift again. He would lead the pre-molar and I would get the molar traverse since he lead the Seagull.
traverse over on the pre-molar pitch
traverse over on the pre-molar pitch
Credit: Spanky
Mandatory self portrait taken while belaying
Mandatory self portrait taken while belaying
Credit: Spanky
That way we would each get one of the big traverses on the route. The premolar involved a traverse on large hooks into a corner and it was a long pitch. I took off on the molar traverse right as we were getting into the shade and had a lot of fun.
molar traverse
molar traverse
Credit: Spanky
end of the molar traverse
end of the molar traverse
Credit: Spanky
The gear was pretty good and the penji wasnít to bad. I think I got it on the second or third try. I set of on the next pitch hoping it would be quick since it had a few bolts and some easy free climbing at the end. It wasnít bad but by the time I got the bags to the anchor and John cleaned it was 7:00 and we knew if we started the next pitch weíd be climbing in the dark. We decided to stop there and get and early start in the morning but that meant we needed to climb 5 to get to the Bismark the next day and we definitely didnít want to miss that ledge. In the morning John lead the 5.9 squeeze without much difficulty but we lost a red alien on that pitch because the trigger broke and I couldnít clean it. (Boooooty). Pitch 15 was definitely the crux pitch for John and he climbed it well. We still hadnít placed a pin and we were starting to think we could climb it clean.
Pitch 15
Pitch 15
Credit: Spanky
There were 2 more fixed beaks in the expando flake at the end which definitely helped the stoke. I got 16 and 17 which I thought were way fun. There were a bunch of hooks and heads on 16 to a long line of rivets. The rivets were pretty good and I just kept moving to get them over with.
Pitch 16
Pitch 16
Credit: Spanky
Pitch 17
Pitch 17
Credit: Spanky
17 started with rivets and lead into this cool crack that went into a roof. The exposure was awesome and the aliens were solid. A short bit of mellow free climbing and I was at the anchor. The hauling was pretty easy by now and by the time John reached the belay it was almost 7:00. The bismark was only 70 feet and 5.7 away. We wanted that ledge so badly we could taste it. John lead the pitch and the bags and myself arrived on the Bismark just as it was getting dark. We collapsed on the ledge and noticed a single can of pbr just sitting there. ST member Aliebling left it several weeks before and somehow there was one beer left. It was definitely the best pbr Iíve ever had. I had been thinking about my dad a lot during the down time at belays. Memories flooded back to me with all the fun stuff we did together. I often found my self silently thanking him for showing me the mountains and the national parks and all they had given me. While I was sitting on the ledge I remembered that it was fatherís day and it really hit me how this is the way life is supposed to be lived. My dad was an adventurer and a climber (not walls but he loved easy alpine routes) and he had always encouraged me to push my limits and see what I was capable of. I thought about the great lessons he had taught me and how these climbs truly are a unique experience, unlike any other, that Iíll remember forever. We were up late again and lounged a bit the next morning enjoying the ledge.
Breakfast on the Bismark
Breakfast on the Bismark
Credit: Spanky
We didnít start climbing until 9:30 that day. John lead the Bismark and the one after it.
Bismark
Bismark
Credit: Spanky
Pitch 20 ended up being fairly involved and it took a while to get to the anchor.
Pitch 20
Pitch 20
Credit: Spanky
Pitch 21
Pitch 21
Credit: Spanky
The topo calls 21 one of the cruxes and I wanted to try it. It started out with either C3R or A1. You are climbing above a ledge/slab and I was a bit gripped and tapped in a beak. It was the only thing we hammered on the route. After that it was hooks to an expando flake which I cam hooked most of the way to the anchor. By then it was 7:30 and we bivied there on top of 21. We had hoped to climb one more that day because we were definitely ready to top out. Now we needed to climb 5 to get to the top the next day. I suggested we set the alarm for 4:30 and I would try and lead 3 in a row and then John would take the last 2. We woke up early and we were psyched to get going. I was leading before 7:00 and lead 22 in under 2 hours.
Pitch 23 sweet little penji at the top!
Pitch 23 sweet little penji at the top!
Credit: Spanky
23 was C1 and only 110 and I was done with it in an hour and a half. It had a pendulum to a belly flop on a ledge at the end, which was fun. I got on 24 and found it to be awkward but safe. Most of the pieces were C1.
Starting 24
Starting 24
Credit: Spanky
We were on schedule and only had 2 pitches left. It was 2:00 when John started on 25 which showed hooks or 5.7. The pitches with free climbing near the top of the wall can be funky and sometimes scary but John was happy to find that there was gear and it really was 5.7. Because the pitch went sideways we lowered out the bags here and I free climbed most of the pitch cleaning because it seemed safer than jugging and way faster. John cruised up the last pitch and we were on top with all our crap by 7:00 p.m.
John on the summit pitch!
John on the summit pitch!
Credit: Spanky
We spent an awesome night on top and then descended in the morning. Before we started to go down I took the little urn with my dad to the top of the dawn wall and sprinkled just a tiny bit into the breeze. I shed a few tears but I knew he was smiling at me, proud of this ridiculous accomplishment. I felt good knowing I had made the most of this opportunity.
Typical Junk show on top
Typical Junk show on top
Credit: Spanky
almost done
almost done
Credit: Spanky
I hate the descent. We had such heavy loads that we double carried to the top of the raps and then single carried to the bottom. One of the rap ropes was trashed so I left my haul line as this was its last wall. We got down, showered, ate pizza, drank beer and collapsed. We went and stared at the meadow the next morning and then got in the car for Boulder since John was going to a wedding in 2 days. This was definitely one of the coolest climbs Iíve ever done and it once again amazes me how bold the first ascensionists were. Much respect to those guys and we know who they are. Hopefully I can make it back to the ditch next year and maybe I can motivate to do a TR on the Zodiac from 2011. Good photos and some cool folks next to us on the Shortest Straw. Thanks for reading

Dan

  Trip Report Views: 2,621
Spanky
About the Author
Spanky is a social climber from boulder co.

Comments
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aliebling

climber
San Francisco, CA
  Aug 18, 2012 - 02:26pm PT
Sweet! Nice job and glad you enjoyed the beer. Such a fantastic route in such an amazing location.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 18, 2012 - 02:28pm PT
sweet, thx for throwing that up on the boards!
Enty

Trad climber
  Aug 18, 2012 - 03:07pm PT
I had been thinking about my dad a lot during the down time at belays. Memories flooded back to me with all the fun stuff we did together. I often found my self silently thanking him for showing me the mountains and the national parks and all they had given me. While I was sitting on the ledge I remembered that it was fatherís day and it really hit me how this is the way life is supposed to be lived. My dad was an adventurer and a climber (not walls but he loved easy alpine routes) and he had always encouraged me to push my limits and see what I was capable of. I thought about the great lessons he had taught me and how these climbs truly are a unique experience, unlike any other, that Iíll remember forever.

Wonderfull!

E
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Aug 18, 2012 - 03:15pm PT
TFPUAC, and about your dad!

As for the fixed heads: "Paging Mark Hugedong".
Chief

climber
The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
  Aug 18, 2012 - 03:51pm PT
Thanks for the most excellent trip report.
Brought back fond memories.
Mescalito was my first El Cap route back in October 77 and I think we did the eighth ascent right after Mark and Max.
This was pre cams and Java (Greg Child) had lent us a few RPs to go along with a fairly humungous pin rack.
We fixed the first four, then spent five nights on the wall, four in hammocks and one at the Bismarck.
Mindblowing and transformative.

Thanks again,

PB
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  Aug 18, 2012 - 04:58pm PT
mmmmmmmm, cheers.
Prod

Trad climber
  Aug 18, 2012 - 08:15pm PT
AWESOME!!!!

Cheers,

Prod.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Aug 18, 2012 - 09:05pm PT
Yes, very good. Mescalito is one of my favorite routes.

Heads, yes, argghh! I don't know if I'd feel right about cleaning them out of Mescalito, though, it seems too much of a trade route at the grade it is now. Cleaning them out would bump it too far beyond its expected difficulty.

I'm selling a set of two butter knives for $25 including shipping if anyone wants them.

Chief, Greg must have lent you the same set we used! We always figured we did the 5th ascent, you must have done the 6th.
Nohea

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
  Aug 18, 2012 - 10:27pm PT
Nice climb, thanks for sharing yo! Way to be motivated, damn fine climb.


Aloha,
Will
Chief

climber
The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
  Aug 19, 2012 - 12:28am PT
Mark,

That's very interesting.
Here's what I recall.

1) Burton, Sutton, Hawkins, Porter
2) Daryl Teske & Co. (Flak from Burton for adding bolts?)

Dale Bard and Rick Piggot, Dale leading the whole thing.
Greg Child and Eric Weinstein
Mark and Max
Perry and Scott

If I haven't missed someone you're right.
What I do remember is one of the finest big wall outings ever.
I think it was Diegelman, Augie and Yabo? hollering up at you and Max, "Yer gonna die!"
And of course your beat up cleaning biner at the pendulum above the top of the Bismarck.

Cheers and once again great TR

PB
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Aug 19, 2012 - 02:38am PT
Proud climb in more ways than one. Dads rule, he sounded like a great guy. Thanks for sharing!
David Wilson

climber
CA
  Aug 19, 2012 - 11:13am PT
great trip report and great job on that route !
Gunkie

Trad climber
East Coast US
  Aug 19, 2012 - 11:22am PT
I love almost pitch-by-pitch photos. Awesome!
elcap-pics

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
  Aug 19, 2012 - 12:01pm PT
Great shots and interesting report! Good Job!!!
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
Author's Reply  Aug 19, 2012 - 12:12pm PT
Thanks Tom, I was going to add some of your pictures too but they are too big to upload so I'm trying to figure out how to resave them in a smaller file. It was good to see you again in June. When are you back for the fall season?
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 19, 2012 - 02:55pm PT
Great TR, I'm sure your father is VERY proud of you.

Thanks for sharing!!!
Gagner

climber
Boulder
  Aug 19, 2012 - 03:47pm PT
SWEEEEET!!

Nicely done - it sounds like you guys got in to and enjoyed being up on the big stone.

Paul
RP3

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Aug 20, 2012 - 07:34am PT
Very well done, fellas! I was watching you guys the whole time. It looked scorching hot up there. Way to get it done!

-Roger
fatbastard

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
  Aug 23, 2012 - 04:43pm PT
Nice work. In addition to the beer on Bismarck, we also fixed those beaks in the A3 expando. Glad you enjoyed both. :)
eagle

Trad climber
new paltz, ny
  Aug 24, 2012 - 01:45am PT
one thing before i die is i would like to have beer on thie bismark ledge. if it is as good as people say it is, i'm all over it.
Nate101

Trad climber
Aliso Viejo, CA
  Aug 24, 2012 - 02:12am PT
Great Job!
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
Author's Reply  Aug 25, 2012 - 12:12pm PT
Thanks for the comments! It was a great route. I'm already fantasizing about the next one.

Eagle, the Bismark is definitely one of the best ledges I've been to on the captain but I haven't been to a bunch of the others. I want to do new dawn because it hits some great ledges. I've heard chieftain ledge and el cap spire are pretty cool too.
Chief

climber
The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
  Aug 25, 2012 - 04:12pm PT
We didn't have beers on the Bismarck but we did have enough high grade Thai for one hit each per bivi.
It was October, the weather was clear and the fall colors were radiant.
Although there was still some hard climbing ahead, we had a real sense the route was in the bag.
We had arrived late in the day, sorted our gear, ate dinner and were settled in for our fourth bivi when we broke out the home made pipe.
Holy Hendrix did we get high, high high!
Cherished memories.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Aug 25, 2012 - 11:50pm PT
Thanks for the story and pics.

I just got back from a three-day canoeing, portaging, camping and fishing trip with my dad. He's 87 and still givin' er...
Michael Nicholson

Big Wall climber
Thousand Oaks
  Aug 26, 2012 - 02:49am PT
Great job guys! Pitch 15 was the crux for me too...
msiddens

Trad climber
  Aug 26, 2012 - 10:46am PT
Nice job and great posting thanks.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Aug 26, 2012 - 01:56pm PT
What a great route.

Thanks for putting this up.

Congrats!
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Aug 26, 2012 - 10:33pm PT
Beauty of a climb and a tr!
whitemeat

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
  Jun 19, 2014 - 06:38pm PT
BUMP!!! I just read that... Great TR!!! Mescalito looks soooo fun :)

Thanks!
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Jun 19, 2014 - 07:22pm PT
STOKED!
aliebling

climber
San Francisco, CA
  Jun 19, 2014 - 10:47pm PT
Glad you enjoyed that beer! Bismark is such a wonderful ledge!
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Jun 20, 2014 - 10:29am PT
Nice report Dan. I especially liked the sentiment about your Dad.
lars
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El Capitan - Mescalito A3 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Mescalito is route number 15.
Photo: Galen Rowell
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