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El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Rescues and Daddy Issues, El Capitan (Triple Direct) PART 2

by Zay
Monday May 14, 2018 11:54pm
(see PART 1)

Lynn Hill… Tommy Caldwell… Jorg V-something…

I gotta check this out. I decide to just hang there and play around. Hands on the arette, stick the foot out. “Where would I…”

F*#k this looks hard. Oh well, up I go.


I get to Brett and the anchor. He seems mentally occupied. I prod, “you stoked man?

“Yeah dude, I just miss my wife and my dog.”

They’ve been together a total of ten years, and they still love the sh#t out of each other. She’s a climber too, and Brett has said that that has helped tremendously. I think of Alix, we were together 5 years. She is amazing, but not my kind of amazing. We fell apart.

Then I think of my friend Megan. She and I hooked up pretty fast after Alix and I split. I brought ber climbing outside for her first time in Yosemite. She even likes the long, f*#ked up adventure climbs in Pinnacles. Yet for the past few months, I’ve been stringing her around like a total d#@&%ebag:

“I’m just not ready to settle down.”

I think of this for a minute before snapping back. Check the topo… 5.10d hands to 5.8 hands. Sheesh, 5.10d hand crack? That must be overhung…

I look up, yup, C1 for me. I’ll try to switch to free when I hit 5.8, but I’m leaving the free shoes.

And up I go. The C1 is pretty tame, though I manage to get a #2 stuck. Brett’s cool about it, maybe a little annoyed (he retrieved it later).

The the crack turns vertically, straight up. I’m wearing approach shoes, but I manage to get out of aid for a few moves before getting stumped. Keep the train moving… Aiders come back out…. one aid move and they’re back on my harness…. two free moves… one aid move… three free moves and I’m at the anchor.

Three pitches left.

Brett’s pitch. C1? C2? I don’t recall, but he moves fast.

The exposure is phenomenal. People in the meadow are simply not visible unless they're moving. My vision is based on movement. I am a T-Rex.

I can see way, way over The Cathedrals. I decide that someday soon, I'm going climbing higher cathedral. Ooo… the spires too… I can see the central valley. Sh#t, I can see the coast ranges.

The wind is blowing. Not too strong. Just right.

“Hey Zay!” It’s Brett. “Right here, watch out for the block with the white taped X on it!!!”

I yell down to the Spaniards.

“Hey Madrid!”

“Yes!?”

“When you get- to the top- of the next- pitch,- watch out- for the big- rock- with the white- letter X!!!”

“Yes okay!!!”

By the way, when that things goes, ladies and gentlemen, it has a clear shot straight down The Nose. It will wipe out numerous people, both on the wall and on the ground. It’s about 5 feet tall, and 2 feet by 2 feet square. A pillar. And oh yes, it will come someday. Some freaked out climber will not be paying attention and dislodge it.

The death pillar at base of second to last pitch. A white taped X is v...
The death pillar at base of second to last pitch. A white taped X is visible to leaders climbing up from below. Beware.
Credit: Zay

When I reach the death block, Brett reminds me, “Dude, be careful. I barely touched it, just to see, and it shifted.”

Instead of jugging next to it, I find it easier to again stow the jumars, self belay, and climb around it.

Two more pitches to the top.

My phone buzzes, it’s a text from Elliot:

“Almost there!!!”

No way, is he down there??? I look down, and yes, I hear cheering. I can't tell the difference between people, bushes, trees, or grass. A textured blur, three thousand miles away.

Down below.

I fire off a text back, “I’m about to lead.”

I found out later he wasn’t down there. Just some really, really good timing. But as far as I knew, he was down there.

Out comes the topo. This will be the last time I have to do so. Brett is to lead the penultimate pitch. The topo shows a 10c lieback, 70 feet up to a belay at the base of a bolt ladder.

I’m feeling bold. My fourth ever 5.10 crack lead, do I dare?

Sink or swim.

The approach shoes are staying behind, for the last time. Again, the pocket aiders are coming with me, just in case.

Last time for this.

Looking down. Close to the top.
Looking down. Close to the top.
Credit: Zay

A fist bump from Brett, and I’m off. A few tenuous moves up a crack, and then I have to switch cracks to the left. I reach out, and feel that the crack isn't just a crack, it's like a flake: one that is best held from the left. I am on the right-hand side.

I reach out with my left hand, my right hand zealously clinging to to right-hand crack. Stick my left foot out, try to swing over and transfer my weight. As i try to settle into my new stance, I judge the incoming force on my left hand to be just too much. I will fall for sure.

I look down, three thousand feet.

Up a little higher… Maybe this will work… Transfer the weight… Consider aiding… No, Elliot might be watching, and I want to make him proud.

Lock off on the left hand, left foot out, weight my right foot, delicately take my right hand off the right-hand crack, shift it over, grab the left crack, ready to shift my right foot…

One, two, three…

I swing out left. I hold on tight while my right leg swings below me, and whips into the crack. Center of gravity achieved.

Three thousand and five feet… Go, go, go.

Hand over hand, the rest stances are not as abundant as the Pancake Flake.

I’m burning out. A little higher. I’m going to lose it.

I’m really going to lose it. Where’s my last pro? I look down, not close enough for comfort. Focus, hold on… What is this, a 0.5?

That will work. Place it, look at it.

I make a decision.

Take.

Without grabbing the piece, I let go. Brett does his job, and the cam does its own. Is this still A0? You know what? I don’t care. Three thousand and ten feet.

Shake it out, okay go.

Hand over hand, pump rising, here it comes!

The bolt ladder?

Where is the anchor?

Where are the birds?

Only the wind responds.

“Hey Brett!”

We go back and forth, I look at the topo. A gear anchor? Hm… an intermediate belay?

“Do what you think is best!” Calls Brett.

I had actually really looked forward to lead this bolt ladder. Supertopo simply describes it as,”Steep!” It’s just as I imagined it. Amazing exposure, easy bolt laddering, in free shoes and pocket aiders.

Just as I’m in the middle of the headwall, I hear from below,

“Zay!”

The Spaniards. I can’t even see them.

“Can you do us one more thing!?”

I pretend not to understand, “What!?”

“Can you do us one more thing!!??”

“Can’t talk!!! Climbing!!!”

I ditch the Spaniards.

Good luck, guys.

I find a two bolt anchor, fix the line, and start hauling. Last time for this.

Brett joins me at this belay. He busts out the topo. Super easy. Fist bump. Bolt ladder out right. The Clark Ranges are his background. I smoke a few cigarettes by the time the bag is free, and commence to re-aid the ladder. Eventually, the line goes straight up. I must reassemble my jumars, and start jugging.

Was that a squirrel?

I take one last look down. The Meadow, Cathedral Rocks, The Coast Ranges and now, The High Sierra.

Brett leads the final pitch. Clark Ranges behind.
Brett leads the final pitch. Clark Ranges behind.
Credit: Zay

I wave. Goodbye, who ever is down there.

I had to stop and take a photo. "Goodbye, everyone."
I had to stop and take a photo. "Goodbye, everyone."
Credit: Zay

I disappear over the rim, and the meadow disappears below.

Brett and I are rejoined with a final fist bump. Let’s eat. We stuff our faces with beef jerky, and I use the jetboil to whip up a cup of coffee and a pack of rehydrated Biscuits and Gravy, With Sausage Bits.

Brett calls his wife, and I call my dad.

“I am so stoked for you boy! El Cap was something I could never do.”

After a few minutes, our call ends. I call Megan. We talk, she reflects the stoke. I don’t tell her yet, but I’m going to settle down. If she’ll have me, I am hers.

Suddenly, a voice from the rim.

“Off belay!”

An American.

I blurt out, “Dude I want to go talk to him!”

Brett dismisses this, “Dude, let’s get the f*#k out of here.”

We really don’t want to see the Spaniards, we know they’re right behind. But more obvious in Brett’s mind, is his wife.

And his dog.

I get the chance to talk to the climber after coming back for a lap of gear stashing. I catch him drinking our water. I smile, “Dude, drink up. We still have two gallons.”

A smile, “Thanks, I just need to kill this dry mouth.”

I ask him what route he just did. He says, “Oh, well, I just did Nose In A Day. Always wanted to do that one.”

I’m baffled. “Dude you’re a whole ‘nother league man! I just did my first big wall!” Like an eight year old.

Then I smile.

“How are the Spaniards doing?” I ask. “Did they ask you to fix a line?”

“Haha yeah, they did. I asked them if they were ever going to climb a big wall again, and they all were like,

“F*#k no!!!”

… ...

The following story was told to me by my mother:

In the early 90’s, [my father] was early into his career at YOSAR as a “technician.” That basically meant he was a paper pusher, and ordered for pizzas for SARCACHE. He had only just gotten his EMT certification.

One day in the spring, a man had found himself stranded on a rock in the middle of The Cascades between Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. No one wanted to go in, as the spring runoff was very cold and turbulent.

“...because, you know, people don’t come out of that water…”

My father was a big wave surfer, and fairly comfortable with those conditions.

“... I don’t remember if it was a wetsuit or a boogie board, but he had one of those…”

A helicopter transported my father up the mountain, and using the ropes the team had prepared, he entered the water, and saved the man’s life.

In the end, both my father and the victim became hypothermic, and both rode in the helicopter to the valley floor.

For his actions, my father was nominated for a Medal of Valor For Bravery. Years later, he became a “Swift Water Rescue Trainer” for YOSAR.

For reasons unknown, he never received the medal.

“A lot of people were pissed about it, even his coworkers. They thought he deserved the medal. But you know, YOSAR can be very elite. Your dad was just a newbie.”

“... Some people want all the glory, but you know your dad.”

My father has never told me this story.

His name is Rick.

  Trip Report Views: 2,881
Zay
About the Author
Zay is a climber from Monterey, Ca.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
  May 15, 2018 - 04:10am PT
Thanks for the story! Nice job!
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  May 15, 2018 - 06:30am PT
Cheers!

DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  May 15, 2018 - 07:30am PT
Excellent piece. A real narrative!
WBraun

climber
  May 15, 2018 - 07:43am PT
My father has never told me this story.
His name is Rick.

You mean Rick Faulks? (sp)

In the end, both my father and the victim became hypothermic, and both rode in the helicopter to the valley floor.

The victim actually went into cardiac arrest during the z-rigg raising haul and had to be revived by the medic during the raising that was in a runoff waterfall.

His core temp was at a critical stage close to death.

When we got him out of the gorge he started to go into another cardiac but was stopped by medical intervention.

He broke his ankle during one Swiftwater training.

He worked in dispatch for a long time ......
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  May 15, 2018 - 07:33am PT
Yay Zay,
nice read.
TFPU
Tad
Zay

climber
Monterey, Ca
Author's Reply  May 15, 2018 - 08:46am PT
Thank you so much WBraun.

Honestly I just talked to my mom the other day and asked her "Mom did we know WBraun?"

She laughed a lot. Apparently I was supposed to marry Mary when I grew up.

By the way, Mom says hi.
clockclimb

Trad climber
Orem, Utah
  May 15, 2018 - 09:03am PT
Riveting account. TFPU
E Robinson

climber
Salinas, CA
  May 15, 2018 - 11:53am PT
Proud!
NegativeK

climber
Chicago
  May 15, 2018 - 12:00pm PT
Dude, thanks for posting!

I think I ran into Brett when I popped up on Heart Ledges for lunch, and you were starting to haul to Mammoth. Muir guys had actually pendulumed onto the fixed lines behind me, because they were "sick of [that] f*#king corner."

Well walled and well told.
Zay

climber
Monterey, Ca
Author's Reply  May 15, 2018 - 12:48pm PT
That's crazy NegativeK Brett and I were like, "Holy crap there already on Mammoth???"

And yea I remember seeing you cause Brett was like oh yeah that dude is just coming up for lunch
Zay

climber
Monterey, Ca
Author's Reply  May 15, 2018 - 03:51pm PT
Added some photos.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 16, 2018 - 03:24am PT
Definite adventure. You could call it "Double Direct", as you didn't do the Salathe' pitches.
I did a similar ascent of the "upper Muir" once, where we started up the fixed lines. My partner had done the lower Muir pitches on a prior attempt.

It seems like you got on El Cap without the normal amount of experience, such as at least some hauling on a different climb.
Mostly you pulled it off, but it showed when:
 you took a portaledge on a climb with good ledge bivvies (this usually means you are unsure about how many pitches you can do in a day)
 you became exhausted
 you called YOSAR (when concerned about the Spaniards)
Really, people should call in their own rescues unless they are incapacitated.

P.S. I enjoyed your descriptions of the somewhat tense freeclimbing moments.
And your frequent references to Elliott, a man who knows adventure very well!
Zay

climber
Monterey, Ca
Author's Reply  May 15, 2018 - 06:32pm PT
Thank you so much Clint for your honest and sincere criticisms :). I have read much about you and look up to you in many ways. I agree with just about everything you said though we decided that a porta ledge would allow us to climb in till we felt like it, And wouldn't have to worry about where we were.

By the way when Elliot and I were trying to decide on our adventure that would ultimately take us up North Dome, our other consideration was Ho Chi Min trail

edit: alas, camp six also smelled horibly of urine. we were glad to set up the portaledge on a gear anchor jusy above it. we also picked up a fair ampunt of trash, including a free knee pad!
the more valuable of the items we removed from camp VI
the more valuable of the items we removed from camp VI
Credit: Zay

second edit: i do want to make it abundantly clear that brett and i called yosar for advice, we did not expect yosar to just come pluck these guys off the wall. in that sense, we really did call yosar more for ourselves: to find a justification in our ultimate dexisions regarding pur assistance of the spaniards

thanks again
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  May 15, 2018 - 09:57pm PT
Really appreciate the great amount of effort you put into this trip report. What a grand adventure. Well done. Way to keep it together and knock that mother off!


Scott
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 16, 2018 - 03:26am PT
Zay,

Thanks for your further explanations.

It's true, Camp 6 stinks. I thought I would never stay there, but the last time on the Nose we were a bit slow and bivvied there. Fortunately I don't mind stink that much.

The story your dad told about the epic at Camp 6 with multiple parties in cold weather is scary and true. You can read more about it in Accidents in North American Mountaineering 1995:
Stranded, Failure to Turn Back, Hypothermia, Dehydration, Inadequate, Clothing and Equipment, Weather
California, Yosemite Valley, El Capitan

Accident Reports
Accident Year: 1994
Publication Year: 1995
Here are the events leading up to the rescue of the nine climbers, from three parties, from Camp 6 on the Nose. Quotations have been edited.

The American party consisted of Dean Freeman (34), Craig DeMartino (29), Tom Nonis (37), and Karen Bates (30). Freeman, DeMartino, and Nonis had big wall experience in Yosemite and/or elsewhere, while Bates was an experienced free climber on her first wall. After getting a good weather forecast on September 29, the four fixed Free Blast on the 30th and continued up the Triple Direct the next day. Although climbing as two groups of two, they planned to bivy together on a leisurely ascent. They carried pile and polypropylene clothing, coated nylon rain suits, synthetic sleeping bags, pads, Gore- Tex bivy sacks, and one large plastic tube tent.

The “Spanish” party consisted of Juan Romero (23), his brother Jesus (19) (both from Spain), and Pedro Moretti (22), of Venezuela. Juan had climbed for several years in Spain, and Jesus one year. Neither had climbed walls, but Moretti had participated in numerous expeditions in the Andes. They fixed to Sickle Ledge on the Nose on the 30th and started up on October 1, with Moretti leading all of the aid. The Romeros wore mainly cotton clothing. All had down sleeping bags, no bivy sacks, and they had one tarp.

The French party consisted of Jean Luc Bal (37), and Jerome Perett (25). Both indicated they were certified mountain guides in Chamonix, with ten years climbing experience each. They began the Nose route on October 1, behind the Spanish, bivvied with them at El Cap Tower on the 2nd, and passed them the next day. The French had adequate clothing, one synthetic and one down sleeping bag, one tarp of unknown type, but no bivy sacks.

On the 3rd, the Americans reached Camp 6 and set up a bivouac for the approaching storm. The French reached Camp 5, three pitches below. They were joined by the Spanish well after dark.

All parties were hit by wind and rain sometime before midnight. The Americans had cut their tube tent open and pitched it as a fly. With two of their party in Gore-Tex sacks on either side and the others under the fly, they stayed dry all night. A waterfall a few feet away did not affect them.

In the morning they decided not to try for the top in the rain; the storm had worsened, with high winds and heavy rain. If they opened their bivy sacks they would get soaked; to communicate they had to shout to each other through small openings in the zippers. Meanwhile, both the French and the Spanish had elected to continue climbing rather than rappel, despite having lost their tarps near Camp Five. The French, being more experienced, did all the leading and fixed ropes for the Spanish.

At about noon the French arrived at Camp 6 to find the Americans comfortably bivouacked. According to Freeman, the French were soaked and shaking uncontrollably, yet were not wearing their rain gear. Nonis offered to share his bivy sack but they refused and Perett, “very bold and impatient”, led on. Freeman was amazed at their lack of rain gear and at their will to continue up in such a dangerous situation—as Perett ascended he was so cold he had to struggle to clip his protection, yet he had six pitches to go and the temperatures above were much colder.

While Perett was climbing, the Romeros showed up, leaving Moretti a pitch or two below They were wearing cotton and no rain gear, and were incapacitated by the cold. Jesus, in particular, seemed “delirious” and “in agony.” (Both Romeros said later that they would not have made Camp 6 without the efforts of the French.) Nonis offered them gear from his haul bag and made several other suggestions; each time, the Romeros would begin to comply, and then their attention would wander.

The Americans were still dry at this point, but they felt the Romeros and possibly the French would die if they were not helped. However they also feared that the presence of the others on such a small ledge would destroy their bivy, thereby endangering their own lives.

After some discussion, the Americans convinced the Spanish that they needed to be rescued, and everyone pitched in to yell for help. This went on for some time, with the Americans having to prod the Spanish as they periodically lost their initiative. Finally, after an hour or so, the French belayer announced that he had a flare gun. That he had let valuable—perhaps life-saving—time go by without offering a flare dumbfounded the Americans.

At this point the French leader took a long fall. He hurt his face in the fall and no longer had the strength to climb. He returned to the ledge; the French put on their rain jackets and “just sat in the rain—no words, no complaints,” shivering violently.

The ledge was only big enough for three or four. As the French and Spanish settled in at the back, the Americans were forced to move down a bit, toward the edge. The Romeros finally got into their wet sleeping bags after being told to do so, pulled the Americans’ tarp over their legs, exposing Nonis and Bates to the weather, and slid under and even on top of the Americans for more protection. The French tried to help by partially covering the Spanish with their own bags, and the Americans donated what gear they could— including a down jacket—without dooming themselves.

In mid-afternoon they heard a faint bullhorn. The flares had been spotted and the NPS was trying to contact them. The wind and rain competed with the sound; the Europeans could not understand and the Americans were trapped in their bivy sacks by the weight of all the people on top of them, and unable to hear.

Freeman commented that, “As darkness fell, we realized that all hope for that night had been lost for these people. The Spaniards were crying, partly from physical agony, partly from their awareness and apprehension of the situation.”

With eight of the nine climbers now packed onto the ledge, the bivy disintegrated. Because of the limited room, no one could move without affecting the others, and because of the storm they couldn’t leave their sacks or bags. As a result, most had to urinate in their sleeping bags.

DeMartino said, “I actually had a Spanish guy sitting on my head for an hour and a half. I couldn’t get him to move—you know how lethargic cold people get? I got to the point where I couldn’t breathe anymore, so I finally got him to move by continuously pinching his leg.”

The rain turned to sleet, then back to rain, and the ledge offered no protection: “The water came from every angle and was whipped up and swirled around—probably like being in a washing machine.”

Slowly the Americans were pushed closer to the edge as the Europeans moved around to reduce the pain of being cold and crammed against the back wall. Eventually the Spanish became so “desperate and violent” that they were literally kicking the Americans in their heads, forcing them to abandon the ledge and to hang over the side in their sacks, suspended by their harnesses. As a result, the Americans were now getting soaked by water running down their tie-ins into the tops of their sacks. DeMartino managed to stay on the ledge but was pushed to the side, until the waterfall was running over his knees.

The Romeros were so delirious and/or panicked that they started unclipping and moving things in their efforts to survive. Bates claimed that someone unclipped one of her two attachments, causing her to fall the full length of her daisy chain. Freeman fared worse: “Suddenly I felt a strong tug on my daisy chain. I reached up to the ledge, through the hole in the top of my sack, groping in the dark. I managed to grab a piece of 5mm cord with an overhand knot in the end, although I didn’t know what it was at the time. Just as I started to pull myself up I was cut loose. Now I was hanging straight-armed by one hand on this knot, below the ledge, with nothing for my feet, completely unclipped, out over the frigging Nose!”

“I was screaming, Tom, Tom, they cut me loose!’ and he was shouting, ‘I can’t see you; I don’t have a light!’ Somehow I found mine and handed it to Tom through the top of my sack. He grabbed my daisy and clipped me in. My nerves were shot. I had to get back on the ledge—I didn’t have the stomach to hang there anymore.”

While trying to climb back onto the ledge, Freeman lost his bivy sack and shoes (others subsequently lost a sleeping bag and a down jacket). It was about 2000, and now Freeman was sitting in a puddle at the edge of the ledge, knees to his chest and hands wrapped around his bare feet. He wore light polypro top and bottoms and a rain jacket, and had his wet sleeping bag over him. He had no socks, gloves, or hat. “It was raining and snowing and blowing and pitch-black. I sat like that for the rest of the night, saying, ‘It’s not my day to die,’ and thinking of the Japanese that had died on the last pitch years before.” (Later he credited his synthetic sleeping bag with allowing him to survive the night.)

Moretti came up around midnight, making nine on the ledge. He was aware that the outlook was grim, but he was calm; he said that he couldn’t stay below by himself anymore because he didn’t want to die alone.

By morning everything was icy but the storm had broken. The Americans were wet and shaking like the others, though the Europeans, now somewhat protected by what remained of their sleeping bags, had stabilized a bit.

A helicopter looked them over that morning, but the Americans thought rescuers might not arrive until the next day, and it was clear that another night could finish them off. Furthermore, they felt it was up to them to get themselves out of trouble. So they made plans to climb, despite their weakened condition and lack of clothes, and despite the conditions on the wall above—which, they knew, now included snow and ice on the summit slabs. Freeman: “For me, it didn’t matter—we were going and that was that— you could die sitting or die trying.”

They were willing to fix lines for the others, but not willing to wait for them. Freeman: “We were going to stay alive and take care of ourselves. It was simple and focused.”

Just as they were starting up, a rescuer came out of the clouds on the end of a rope. He found the ledge being hit by strong gusts of wind, everyone soaked and cold, and the Romeros crying. Nevertheless all the climbers were able to Jumar the 600 feet to the rim. Freeman managed to fit into someone else's spare shoes for the ascent. He was unable to use his hands, so his ascenders were linked to Nonis's, who climbed a second line nearby; their ascent took two hours. Freeman’s hands took a few weeks to recover but no one suffered permanent damage.

Analysis

It’s a good bet that many of the 13 climbers would not have survived another night on the wall. Frankly, we’re surprised that some lasted as long as they did. Here is a summary of some of the key lessons from this incident:

Storms in Yosemite are frequent, unpredictable, and can be life-threatening if you are not prepared. The safest strategy is to assume the worst: a) You will be hit by a storm; b) you won’t be able to climb off or retreat without endangering yourself; c) you won’t have a choice of bivouacs; and d) you will be hit by more cold water than you ever imagined.

The most significant problem for most of the parties was lack of adequate shelter. Without it the climbers’ insulation could not perform. Bivy sacks are fine for protecting sleeping bags from condensation and light rain, but inadequate as the primary shelter. A tarp may suffice on a rock ledge, but it must be of strong material, very large, and with sealed seams. Tarps have their limitations in that you may not find anchors in the right places, you may not reach a ledge, and it’s difficult to keep water from running underneath.

Few take portaledges on routes with natural ledges like the Salathe and the Nose, but in storm season that might be the wisest choice. They pitch anywhere quickly and keep you out of the water. As a compromise, consider hammocks with flys. Two hammocks are not much heavier than a tarp.

In our opinion, almost every climber in this incident had inadequate clothing. The reasons seemed to be lack of cash, no room in the haul bag, and simply not knowing or accepting the potential for a typical storm. Clothes and sleeping bags rated for 30° F dry air are worthless when soaked with 40° F water or even with condensation. Dress for sitting around, not exercising, in 0° weather. Do not let the size of your haul bag determine your gear.

Miscellaneous: a) All the items lost at Camp 6 could have been clipped in. Sew anchor loops on every item you want to keep, and use them. b) Dehydration hastens hypothermia. If you can’t drink plain, cold water, add a little sugar/energy powder and keep the bottles in your sleeping bag where they’ll stay relatively warm. c) Whether to climb or rappel depends on the route and your condition, and can be a very difficult decision. Retreating on the Nose is straightforward, however. Being so unprepared for rain, the Europeans should have gone down when they saw the bad weather approaching. d) If things don’t go right, try to deal with them, but don’t let pride take you past the point of no return. (Additional reading: “Staying Alive,” in Yosemite Climbs; Climbing, 2/90, p. 97; Climbing, 5/95, p. 114.) (Source: John Dill, SAR Ranger, Yosemite National Park)

Editor’s Note: First it should be noted that the above incident should not be construed as an international one. While climbers from different countries were involved, it should be apparent that even if they had all been from the same country, the problem would have been the same: urban crowding and the behaviors that go with it.

There were lengthy reports from the Sunkist party of two and the Salathe Wall party of two who also had to be rescued during this time that have not been included. The latter account describes the fight against hypothermia, the desire to self-rescue, and the ultimate decision to ask for help. It concludes with a fitting quote: “We were whipped, and we were fortunate that rescue was an option.”
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13199504602/Stranded-Failure-to-Turn-Back-Hypothermia-Dehydration-Inadequate-Clothing-and-Equipment-Weather
Zay

climber
Monterey, Ca
Author's Reply  May 16, 2018 - 07:45am PT
holy sh#t... holy sh#t

edit:i am suddenly reminded that one of the reasons we brought the ledge was for the rain fly.

when i pointed to brett that the weather was supposed to be good, and that we good save tons of space by leaving it (it bunches up like a basketball), his response was,

"yeah, but if it rains, we die."

we chuckled...
WBraun

climber
  May 16, 2018 - 07:18am PT
French were soaked and shaking uncontrollably, yet were not wearing their rain gear

When they came up to the top I was blown away they were wearing those st00pid Venice beach pants.

And those guys claimed they were mountain guides?

They almost killed someone on Camp 6 with their unclipping people ....
mtnyoung

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  May 16, 2018 - 09:38am PT
I could never do what you just did.

You doubled your knowledge of systems, safety, and big walls (maybe tripled your knowledge or more on the last subject) ;)

Thanks for sharing!
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
  May 16, 2018 - 10:55am PT
Thanks Zay and Clint. Best climbing thread in a long time.
Zay

climber
Monterey, Ca
Author's Reply  May 17, 2018 - 12:00pm PT
thank you everyone for the overwhelming positivity and comments. ive posted it to other sites and every comment has been amazingly suppirtive.

mtnyoung, that means a whole lot to me coming from you.

i have silly fantasies about expanding this story and getting it published as a book, kinda like "Crazy For The Storm"...

would be nice to pay off those student loans...
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
  May 22, 2018 - 09:20pm PT
Great finale to a fabulous adventure.

Thanks for posting both of these TRs, Zay.

Looking forward to the next one!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 23, 2018 - 02:27am PT
Great writing Zay,
Thank you!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  May 23, 2018 - 07:47am PT
So, recalling from Part 1 what you're dad said to you on the phone about getting the hell away from those Spaniards, this is pretty much what I imagined was going through his mind, based on his knowledge of prior rescues:
Slowly the Americans were pushed closer to the edge as the Europeans moved around to reduce the pain of being cold and crammed against the back wall. Eventually the Spanish became so “desperate and violent” that they were literally kicking the Americans in their heads, forcing them to abandon the ledge and to hang over the side in their sacks, suspended by their harnesses. As a result, the Americans were now getting soaked by water running down their tie-ins into the tops of their sacks. DeMartino managed to stay on the ledge but was pushed to the side, until the waterfall was running over his knees.
I can see how you got drawn into fixing lines for them as described in Part 1. Having an incompetent party caboose on to you like that is creepy.

Oh well, all part of life experience and a very enjoyable read!
And, BTW, good luck in your pursuit of a stable relationship, Zay. The peripatetic climbing lifestyle can definitely fray that rope ...
Rill

Mountain climber
Ireland
  Jun 9, 2018 - 06:53am PT
Thanks Zay - Natural born writer.
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, A sailboat, or some time zone
  Jun 9, 2018 - 07:08am PT
Wonderful trip report... love the old and the new woven together.
Best read in ages.


Susan.
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El Capitan - Triple Direct C2 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Triple Direct is route number 9.
Photo: Tom Frost
Other Routes on El Capitan
El Capitan - The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
The Nose, 5.14a or 5.9 C2
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The Nose—the best rock climb in the world!
El Capitan - Salathe Wall 5.13b or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Salathe Wall, 5.13b or 5.9 C2
El Capitan
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The Salathé Wall ascends the most natural line up El Cap.
El Capitan - Zodiac A2 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Zodiac, A2 5.7
El Capitan
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1800' of fantastic climbing.
El Capitan - Lurking Fear C2F 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Lurking Fear, C2F 5.7
El Capitan
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Lurking Fear is route number 1.
El Capitan - Freerider 5.12D - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Freerider, 5.12D
El Capitan
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The Salathé Wall ascends the most natural line up El Cap.
More routes on El Capitan