North America Wall A2 5.8

 
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El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
NA Wall Solo - Fail
Thursday April 9, 2015 3:09am
I made a short video about a Solo Attempt on North America Wall (Hammerless).. there is an article too which goes with it detailing what I learned.

Thanks to everyone who I met, esp the guy who helped me limp some of my gear down from NA Wall base and also to the people who let me go first on leaning tower (who I slowed down by 20 min or so by faffing around).

Video:


You can read the full article about the trip here.

If you are thinking about big wall solo - skip to the end of the article as there is a bunch of things I learned that might come in handy.

Note; video also features west face of leaning tower - solo in a day. Which was a blast and I recommend it.

cleaning gear
cleaning gear
Credit: loverock

  Trip Report Views: 2,035
loverock
About the Author
Nate Murphy is a mediocre climber from the UK.

Comments
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Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Apr 9, 2015 - 05:04am PT
Leaning Tower in a day? Damn good. I soloed it in winter 30 years ago and it took me 3-1/2 days.
WBraun

climber
  Apr 9, 2015 - 08:07am PT
Holy sh!t !!!!

What a documentary! Both video and written.

And yeah that pendulum on the 6th pitch is hard to do solo.

Shipley soloed the NA years ago and it was tough.

Whether success or fail you did a damn fine good job with everything .....
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Apr 9, 2015 - 08:40am PT
Nice effort lad! Great video and writing. This kind of report red-lines the stoke meter for the upcoming season!

Keep the adventures coming. Thanks for the effort you put into this.


Scott
crankster

Trad climber
No. Tahoe
  Apr 9, 2015 - 08:50am PT
Wow, Nate, what a brilliant film. Obviously, not your first one. Well done trip on all counts.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Apr 9, 2015 - 09:14am PT
I'm afraid I will have to skip the fifteen minutes video, as I do not have the attention span.

I know your bivi....

You should never hike water up to the base of El Cap as your first load! You may well find water abandoned by other parties who have bailed, especially around popular routes, or if you go sniffing in the boulders a bit.

Aha! A Petzl Croll for the Froggy system! Very smart, most climbers do not do this.

You can read all about the Petzl frog and the Better Way to ascend a free-hanging rope here:

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/big_wall_and_aid_climbing/jugging_the_froggy_way/106076796

Add a CMI ankle cam to make it really slick.

You POURED OUT WATER ON BIG SUR LEDGE? Are you f*#king kidding me dude?? Why didn't you just LEAVE IT THERE for other parties who would eventually - guaranteed - drink it when they were running low on water on the wall??

Good grief. ^^ Big wall fail ^^

You hung the haul bag and ledge from your belay loop as you rapped off? Holy frig, dude! Have you not studied and read about how to climb big walls, and how to rappel with a really heavy pig?? Can someone provide Nathan with a link to how to properly rappel with a pig?

[short version - the rap device goes on the pig, not you. You clip in short to the rap device, and "ride the pig" down. This way, it does not crush your bollocks] Load release knot or adjustable daisy on top of the pig for docking at rap stations.

I bet you were singing soprano for a week after rapping this way with gear all the way from Big Sur Ledge.

You don't need a Ropeman to prevent the rope from autofeeding back, because the rope isn't moving. A long prusik works fine - tied in a Klemheist for a one-way asymmetric knot. Use them every thirty feet or so, and with the correct amount of slack or tension in the rope, when you clean, your rope is held by each of these "rebelays" and will not touch the rock and abrade. Properly done, your rope will remain intact and never have abrasion on it from jugging and cleaning.

No rope bag for your haul line, eh? Not too windy, eh? You are definitely a lucky man. This can be a recipe for disaster! What do you do if your trailing rope gets blown horizontally and hangs up on a flake fifty or a hundred feet to one side of you?? [Ask Matt Madlioni - this happened to him on Shipton Spire. He spent an entire day bolting horizontally to reach it and retrieve it]

Havasupai looks rad! I need to go there sometime....

OK, now here is the big question for you:

WHY did you bail? I am not entirely sure it was really your knee's fault. Your knee seemed to recover awfully well, and rather quickly too. So .... what was the real reason you bailed? Gads, you were halfway up the wall!

Thanks for the trip report. Good analysis of everything. You need to spend some time around here reading up on all this stuff, because you are missing out on many of the tips and tricks that make solo climbing a big wall a lot easier, and hence a lot more fun. It is good to write of our failures as well as our successes - no doubt many of the things you talk about in your trip report will teach other big wall soloists a few tricks of things to do, and things to not do.

Mark Hudon - maybe you can direct Nathan to some of the cool big wall tips you have posted?

Nathan - when are you coming back? Hope to see you on the bridge for beers, eh?

Cheers,
Pete
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Apr 9, 2015 - 10:57am PT
Awesome man! Congrats on going for it, no matter what the final outcome is. It is a chance to grow and get better! Hell yea!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Apr 9, 2015 - 10:57am PT
Wowee! I guess climbing content can be engrossing after all.

Thanks much.

John
ZachW

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
  Apr 9, 2015 - 11:43am PT
Howdy Nate! I was the kid setting up behind you on the Leaning Tower. Ya had me all worried with all your sh#t taking and gear leaving on the first pitch, but then you flew up that thing! I was also successful, spending 2 nice days on the route before the horrifying choss gully descent. You should come back out to the Valley man, I'll hop on the NA Wall with you!
Jones in LA

Mountain climber
Tarzana, California
  Apr 9, 2015 - 02:02pm PT
You went out for a grand adventure and found it. NOT a fail at all!
Thanks for sharing this.

Rich Jones
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Apr 9, 2015 - 04:19pm PT
Sweet! Thanks.
loverock

Trad climber
london
Author's Reply  Apr 9, 2015 - 04:29pm PT
Pass the Pitons Pete.. thank you for the great reply and tips.. always useful for a noob!

Petzl Croll for the Froggy system >> Game Changer for steep jugging! Chris Bevins gave the croll to me and I was thankful for that!

You POURED OUT WATER ON BIG SUR LEDGE? >> There was already a fair bit about and I wanted to reuse the bottles! Honest y'honour.. :D

You hung the haul bag and ledge from your belay loop as you rapped off? >> Yup.. mostly I did not plan on bailing and had not really had do it before. Just glad it was fairly straight down.

No rope bag for your haul line, eh? Not too windy, eh? >> Not so windy. I did have a rope bag for this purpose but found it more useful as a trash bag - it just slowed me down/added faff.. obviously the case until something goes wrong.

WHY did you bail? >> 65% knee, 10% raw sides due to bad harness choice, 15% intimidated by reversing traverses if knee got worse, 5% breakfast choice, 5% wimp. Knee - it took a couple of days before I could walk with out a fairly pronounced limp/pain I think it was a chimneying-related sprain. The chimney below the roof kicked my ass. Ironically it hurt more walking then jumaring. But meh, essentially I bailed this time - but I learned.

Mark Hudon - maybe you can direct Nathan to some of the cool big wall tips you have posted? >> I actually have probably read most stuff you have written on here (thank you for posting it - it would be harder to figure out with out the knowledge you share).. only there is so much to get your head around for a first solo I had to economise and go for simplicity to some extent. I found your butter knife you lost on reticent gave it back via Tom.. initials MH were recognisable due to how much of your stuff I had read.

Nathan - when are you coming back? Hope to see you on the bridge for beers, eh? > I am actually in the process of quitting my job, will spend a year climbing europe/asia/south africa, then aim to do a year doing south america up to north america.. so 2017 I hope to be strong enough to do some more big wall free.. pretty psyched to do some solo again too.
loverock

Trad climber
london
Author's Reply  Apr 9, 2015 - 04:35pm PT
@ZachW congrats man!! Great to hear you did well on it in the end. Yea the choss gully is a delight.. just goes on and on.

Again, apologies for the initial faff! :) Def coming back!
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
  Apr 9, 2015 - 08:00pm PT
cool camera work! TFPU
Scrubber

climber
Straight outta Squampton
  Apr 9, 2015 - 10:25pm PT
Thanks for that great little documentary of your trip Nathan! Very inspiring.

Kris
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Apr 9, 2015 - 10:39pm PT
Ok, ok - just wanted to make sure it was a "legit" bail....

... and not extreme pussification.

But still...
loverock

Trad climber
london
Author's Reply  Apr 12, 2015 - 06:23am PT
:) thanks for all your kind comments - very much appreciated!
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North America Wall is route number 19.
Photo: Galen Rowell
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