North America Wall A2 5.8

  • Currently 4.0/5

El Capitan

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
North America Wall TR
Sunday October 19, 2008 8:56pm
Ok, here goes, my first photo TR on the ol' Taco. I am like everybody else, and enjoy reading and drooling over other people's adventures and cool pictures, but never get around to getting my own out there. So enjoy.

Rob Dillon and myself were sitting around a couple weeks ago in the meadow, looking at all the great lines, and that the forecasted storm would scare everyboady off the wall and we could get on just about anything we wanted. Knowing full well that there would be the post-storm surge of climbers on everything and anything, we fooled ourselves into planning to do the Zodiac on the Sunday after the one day of rain in the Valley.

We meet in the morning to rack up and go fix, but what do ya know? A small army of various parties had the same idea as us. So we sat on our thumbs, checked out the guidebook, considered Eagle's Way, but basically just racked up and started walking the base to find an empty line that somehow inspired us. We walked past several parties on New Dawn and Mescalito, crossing those off our list. Getting up to the base of the NA Wall, we look up, look around, and although there is some gear hanging at the base in between the NA and the Ranch, Rob and I look at each other and just go "Yee-Haw!"
Rob leading the first pitch, me belaying.

We get the first 2 pitches fixed, head down and pack up for the wall. We plan on 4 nights, 5 days on the wall- plenty of time to enjoy the pace, take it easy on the many traversing pitches and lower outs, and have the goal of never setting up the ledge after dark. This obviously sounds real good on the ground, but reality often has other plans.

Morning Day 1.

Day 1 is pretty relaxed. I climb pitches 3 and 4, having a good time on fun, kind of tricky aid with tons of scars and handplaced beaks. These pitches go clean easily only as a result of a double set of offset Aliens courtesy my buddy Dave!
Rob tackles the next pitch, after Mazatlan Ledge, grunting, swearing and getting fully worked in the squeeze chimney. This gets you to an amazing spot under the roof, featuring a cave inside the roof much bigger than I imagined!
Rob leading out the roof.
Looking from out of the roof/cave.

We set up the ledge at the pitch 6 anchors, and I fix the pitch above as well just as it gets dark.

Morning hits and Rob starts some heady free climbing to gain Calaveras Ledge.

Some more free climbing gets us up to Big Sur, a ledge fit for a king! Somebody bailed from here recently, but was kind enough to leave us some canned fruit, soup, 3 gallons of water and....drumroll please...THREE PBRs!!!
I climbed and fixed the Borderline traverse pitch, and came back to enjoy our booty beer.
Tensioning over after the penji.
Big air swinging back to the ledge! This is what climbing is all about!

The morning of Day 3 found us doing some funkiness to get ourselves and the bags out from the ledge. Thank God for Rob's little friend, Mr. Skinny, the 160ft. 7mm cord.

Rob getting it done, free climbing and backcleaning the HELL out of pitch 13/14!

We get it done though, and Rob gets us up through pitch 14 after an extensive backcleaning lesson. I was up next linking pitch 15/16 through the Black Dihedral. The rock texture up there is really cool, due to all the seeping there are calcium buildups which make it a lot easier to step out of the aiders and make some quasi-free moves.
Steeper than it looks!
Exfoliating flakes just hanging on.
Black Cave belay 16.
Rob, bringing the kitchen sink with him on the Black Cave pitch 17.

We get through pitch 18, to a nice little stance. Granted, the Cyclops Eye was only a pitch away, but it was dark, we were hungry, and felt like we were maintaining at a pretty good pace.

Morning 4, Rob gets busy and fires off the pitch to get us in the Eye, and I bitch a whole bunch having a do multiple lower offs some serious mank.
We get up to the ledge, relax for...5 minutes, then deal with having to get the bags across and down to the optional belay. We fashioned a pretty sweet zipline rig with a belay, and got them all over there pretty quick.
Rob started free climbing right off the belay, up some VERY loose and hollow rock, clipping mank which blows the other mank out of the water! Making the C3 Junk pitch look pretty cake, he makes it to the belay, under a nice seeping drip.

I link the next 2 pitches, which I think was the coolest of the route! Steep climbing up cool features, long reachy hooking and tensioning up good rock got me to belay 23 above the Cyclops Eye, and our bivy for the night. It got cold quick, so we set up the ledge with the fly, and hunkered down with all of our clothes, a flask of vodka (Rob smuggled it aboard!), and the biggest jar of Nutella ever.
So much happier now.
Rob taking his Nutella a bit too seriously...

Anyone in the Valley the next day (our Day 5), knows how F-ing cold it was. It was not much better up on the wall. Between me battling the freezing temps and Rob dealing with a seeping and dirty crack which kept spitting him out, we were not having the greatest day.
Rob doing his best to get through the pitch, me doing mine not to freeze to death.

We get to the Igloo after a few issues, and due to the impending bad weather we decide to leave the bags, grab our storm gear and climb up to the summit via the El Nino free variation. We may have cheated ourselves out of the full route by missing out on the top 2 pitches, but we made an executive decision to stay safe and get to the top so we could fix ropes back down and take another weather check.
Good decision. As soon as we topped out, we were greeted by David, who had just soloed the Reticent and hooked us up with some roll-your-owns, and had a brief moment of elation before realizing we still had to get our bags.
Not too exciting about the storm a'comin!
We got our storm gear on, and started rapping. Rob tied the bags on and no sooner than I started hauling did it begin to get nasty. An amazing cloudbank and entered filled the Valley from behind Half Dome, and within 10 minutes it was snowing sideways on us, coating our ropes in the white stuff. I jugged up to the top, carefully, and hauled up, getting a bit of help from the wet rock.
Rob wrestling with the pigs up top.

The weather passed, the skies cleared, and we were able to see the most beautiful purple sunset over the Clark and Cathedral ranges. Sadly my camera was still buried deep in the bag....

We pound a couple of Cobras in celebration, pack the bags, and head down. Along the way (around 8pm), we run into a couple of guys who had topped out at dusk off E. Buttress and got completely lost. Contemplating either the long walk down the Falls Trail or an open bivy, they were psyched to run into us! We got em down in exchange for grabbing our ledge!

The rest is just details. We went to ask Tom if he had any pics of us, even though we had forgotten to tell him we were going up. it was kind of disappointing that he didn't but writing up this TR made me realize what a great time Rob and I had on the route, and how much more it makes me psyched just looking at my own pics. This was my first REAL El Cap wall (not counting Lurking Fear), and it has inspired me to do all of the stuff I was more apprehensive of getting on before.

keep rocking everybody!

ryan huetter

  Trip Report Views: 3,973
About the Author
Hoots is a climber from Tacoma, Toyota.

Jordan Ramey

Big Wall climber
Calgary, Alberta
  Oct 19, 2008 - 09:15pm PT
Nice writeup. You don't hear much about the NA wall it seems. Maybe it's just me. Anway, nice job.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Oct 19, 2008 - 09:23pm PT
kick ass!!!

nice TR. good job, too!
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Oct 19, 2008 - 09:23pm PT
great TR ryan - thanks.
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Oct 19, 2008 - 09:24pm PT
Hoots & Rhodo-Rooter, un unlikely sounding pair......
Way to go, You guys are out there!

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
  Oct 19, 2008 - 09:34pm PT
Yeah... Nice TR Bro and I am really sorry to have missed you guys... I am old and don't am barely functioning at this point in my life. So contact me in advance and then you have a 50-50 chance I will remember you are on the wall!!

Big Wall climber
El Portal, CA
  Oct 19, 2008 - 09:38pm PT
Super nice job guys!! I love your photos. Great to see pics of Rob up there making it happen. He cleaned up nicely afterwards for the YCA auction gig. Thanks for taking the time to post it up!!


Random Nobody
  Oct 19, 2008 - 09:58pm PT
Nice work guys.

Great TR and great pics!

Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
  Oct 19, 2008 - 10:11pm PT
A nice report - thanks!

I believe the two guys you helped down from the East Buttress posted a report on their adventure, at

Social climber
Santa Cruz
  Oct 19, 2008 - 10:30pm PT
nice TR, good job.
Rob's a total bad ass.

beneath the valley of ultravegans
  Oct 19, 2008 - 10:32pm PT
Rad report! Royal Robbins and Ed Drummond will be giving their retrospective take on the NA soon here in SF. Come and check it out if you can!
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Oct 19, 2008 - 10:43pm PT
Great TR, and a quick send of a pretty involved wall - lots of traversing and awkward pitches to keep you busy. Good call on the free finish via El Nino to beat the weather.

You just climbed what is probably the WORST route on the SE Face of El Cap. Everything else will seem so much better! See you in the spring, eh?

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 20, 2008 - 11:01am PT
Thanks Ryan!

Big traverses, no good for huge bags...mandatory 5.8 (gasp!) free climbing...5 pitches a wonder Pete didn't like this one!

Ryan is being a bit modest here...he pretty much got the crux of the route, which was an extended early-morning belaying session whilst I sketched around trying to get something to stick on the very cold and windy morning before that snow squall blew through. That pitch was the first time I've ever been psyched to do some hauling, is how cold it was.

A pile of dirt.
  Oct 20, 2008 - 12:23pm PT
Booty PBR - Wahooo!

Nice TR, perhaps this is one for me this spring....

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Oct 20, 2008 - 12:34pm PT
Great photos! thanks for posting

A long way from where I started
  Oct 20, 2008 - 12:37pm PT
Ok, here goes, my first photo TR

And a fine one it was. Thanks.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Oct 20, 2008 - 12:58pm PT
Mandatory free climbing my ass! I probably found a way to aid it... ;)
handsome B

Gym climber
  Oct 20, 2008 - 01:14pm PT
Sweeet TR!



Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
  Oct 20, 2008 - 02:19pm PT
Sick TR, nice send guys and nice camera work! Way to keep your plans flexible...gotta keep an open mind on the Cap Trade Routes. NA is a badass adventure!

Mammoth Lakes, CA
Author's Reply  Oct 20, 2008 - 02:22pm PT
Yah Lambone- I'm not gonna lie- the beta you posted about the route was a spoiler for sure, but helped IMMENSELY with some of the pitch linking and hauling beta. Thanks.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
  Oct 20, 2008 - 02:31pm PT
Very nice TR (and good job). Fun read and nice pics. Made my morning a bit better. Thanks.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 20, 2008 - 02:50pm PT
Well done guys!
I loved that route in 1980.
Bump for climbing thread.

Trad climber
san dieco, ca
  Oct 20, 2008 - 02:57pm PT
way to go ryan!
good to see you up there enjoying yourself!
ill have to get ahold of you to see where youll be this winter...
mark from socal

Trad climber
  Oct 20, 2008 - 03:30pm PT

Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
  Oct 20, 2008 - 03:33pm PT
Really Great Pics and Trip Report! Thanks for taking the time to share your very cool adventure. lrl

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
  Oct 20, 2008 - 03:37pm PT
Good times Ryan, glad to see you guys rocked the Captain! And in good style, a boiling sun to snow trip!

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 20, 2008 - 03:40pm PT

I wish. That looks like the way to do it for sure. Unfortunately I remain a weenie free climber.

Yeah Matt (and Holly), the run-together beta was nice. I didn't feel like my adventure was spoiled (just me), but maybe I've spent enough time cussing at stuck bags and so forth. Ryan's mileage may vary.

Dave's vast trove of hybrids rendered this thing pretty harmless- thanks man!

Arkansas, I suppose
  Oct 20, 2008 - 03:41pm PT
Tried to solo that thing and backed off after the 8th pitch.

I still had a bit of ground grip I guess.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Oct 20, 2008 - 07:25pm PT
Great report and photos - thanks for sharing.

Social climber
  Oct 21, 2008 - 12:20am PT
Great composition of your photos.

On my to-do list for some time. Maybe when I get layed off....

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
  Nov 3, 2008 - 05:44pm PT
Nice work boys! Damn Rob, this really brings me back and makes me hungry again! Thanks for the inspiration. This was one of my favorite climbs for so many reasons. Historical significance alone is just awesome. A must do route for anyone in love with El Cap. Thanks for sharing this and let's plan something for the Spring or early Summer?
Cheers my friend,

Lee McGuffey

  Nov 3, 2008 - 06:39pm PT
Thanks for the bump. I'd missed this one.

Nice one, hoots.

Not sure why the NA gets occasionally ragged on. Over the years I've heard a few people say how awful the route is. I think it's fantastic, but what do I know.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Nov 3, 2008 - 06:41pm PT
Sounds like it ain't changed much since 1968.

Trad climber
  Nov 3, 2008 - 06:48pm PT
gee, Don, you found PBR up there back then too?

great TR. handsomeB, I also dug the nightime shot - just enough exposure on the rock

Trad climber
Durham, NC
  Nov 3, 2008 - 07:01pm PT
not having to spend the night up there was well worth the weight of the ledge.

Good stuff.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Nov 3, 2008 - 07:21pm PT
We didn't find anything. RR, Yvon, Chuck, and Tom are very neat climbers - tidy.

We brought are own.

  Nov 3, 2008 - 07:43pm PT
Great report!
Fantastic photos too. The black rock up there is wild!
Thanks for posting.

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Nov 5, 2008 - 10:43am PT

Good to hear from you! I thought about you guys a lot on that one..especially luggin' all that iron around. Leave it on the ground, folks!

  Nov 5, 2008 - 10:54am PT
How about that aluminum hanger stamped YC? Hopefully still on the route as it was in, er, '97?

Anybody get to rap the pitch above the Cyclops Eye? Sup-air!

  Nov 5, 2008 - 11:09am PT
The Black Cave


Mammoth Lakes, CA
Author's Reply  Nov 5, 2008 - 11:21am PT
There were definitely some original bolts on the that thing! One of the more unforgettable moments was when we finally got our ledge set up with the fly at belay 23, hung it off the one high rivit out of a museum collection of old bolts, and started drinking. Rob was quick to point out that if that one rivit failed, we would be COMPLETELY f-ed. Drunk, a the end of our tie-in, wrapped in nylon, and likely completely apathetic from being so damn tired. We laughed a bit and then both looked at each other and thought LIGHT THOUGHTS!

Trad climber
Ashland, Oregon
  Nov 5, 2008 - 12:40pm PT
Hey ryan, nice send bro, and very awesome pictures. Glad you had a great time and sent a sick route. Hope to see you in the spring. I know exactly which cold day you speak of. I had promised rich i would take his noob friend phil up manure pile and show him the ropes. We kept waiting for it to get warmer and gave up a little after noon when it seemed to be getting colder and just started climbing with lots of clothes on. After topping out and walking to the base it started snowing pretty good. Watched and listened to a five man team for a while as they attempted to bail from the middle of nutcracker in these fun conditions.
Anyway, point is i was real cold. Hope your knee is doing better. Congrats on your send again
Ottawa Doug

Social climber
Ottawa, Canada
  Nov 5, 2008 - 10:42pm PT
Awesome send guys! Loved the story and accompanying pics.

Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Nov 8, 2008 - 07:09pm PT
Rhodo(& Hoots) Bump!

Social climber
  Nov 9, 2008 - 07:41am PT
hey there hoots... say, this is far more than a "hoot"... say, this GREAT!!!

i missed before, as my computer is wayyyyyyyyy too slow to unfold these pics... i miss many great trips, this way...

but this was bumped, thanks to (i think it was captain... skully)?

and i just happened to be up before work (it COLD! IN HERE)--and i have time (trying to warm up)... and man, oh, man, i waited for this:

a WALL trip, no less, too!

MAN,i may be a mite late, but it is always worth it to come back and try again...

thanks and god bless....

will have to read it more in detail, too, as i am skimming it now, or---i'd forget ALL ABOUT goind to work--- :O

Trad climber
Golden, Co
  Aug 25, 2011 - 12:37pm PT
Incase you missed the first one, here's the same report but with some different comments and pictures
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Oct 13, 2011 - 04:17pm PT
Aid bump
Trusty Rusty

Tahoe Area
  Oct 13, 2011 - 04:36pm PT
Cheers to a classic!

Trad climber
  Oct 13, 2011 - 04:52pm PT
Man this TR is inspiring... Makes me want to get up there so bad!!

Thanks Mike for the bumping spree...

Social climber
London, Paris, WV & CA
  Oct 13, 2011 - 05:03pm PT
Great trip report! Good call on the executive decision - good to see you got down safe


Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Oct 13, 2011 - 05:46pm PT
That cave in the roof, and all the dark parts look awesome. Crazy-looking swings too!
Myles Moser

Lone Pine, Ca
  Apr 16, 2013 - 02:29am PT
Hoots that was great man, killer photos.

Bad ass.
El Capitan - North America Wall A2 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
North America Wall is route number 19.
Photo: Galen Rowell
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