Shortest Straw A4 5.7

  • Currently 3.0/5

El Capitan

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
Shortest Straw Photo TR (pics by Tom Evans)
Monday October 29, 2012 3:15pm
solo'd Shortest Straw in October of 2012. Here is a selection of Toms pics and some commentary.

Mark Hudon's photo topo of the route. I felt the grade to be A3 with some serious sections. Lots of fixed heads and rivets, plenty of loose rock, and some fun nailing and hooking. Pretty safe route with only really one "don't fall" section.

Leading Pitch 2, Day 1

About to clean and haul Pitch 2, Day 1

Cleaning Pitch 2, Day 1

Top of Pitch 2, Day 1. Looking at the "Journey Through the Brain" pitch. Runout A3 hooking.

Leading Pitch 4, Day 2

Finishing Pitch 4, Day 2. Looking at Pitch 5 rated A4r in the supertopo. Here you can see my tag bag hanging off a bolt, fixed with a fifi hook and slippery knot. It was the first time I used this system and it worked really well for me.

Looking down at the A4r section of Pitch 5. While a fall could be serious, I found the climbing to be pretty straightforward/bomber cam placements nestled between sections of loose rock. This was the only picture I took on the route with my phone! The rock here was really cool looking. Almost looked like a stone wall or a fireplace masonry...

Camp on the morning of Day 3, top of Pitch 5.

Leading through the crazy white streaks (quartz bands)on Pitch 6. More loose rock on this pitch...less now ;) Day 3

Top of Pitch 6, looking at Pitch 7. Day 3

Camp at the top of Pitch 7. Day 4

Leading Pitch 8. Day 4. I bonked in the heat during this pitch, only was able to climb one pitch that day and collapsed in the ledge for a long afternoon of rest. It paid off in the following days.

In the center of the Great White Circle, pitch 8, Day 5. This was the best part of the route. So much so that I bivi'd at p7,p8 and p9!

Leading Pitch 9. Day 5. this was the highlight of the route. Stellar clean crack leading to exciting nailing and hooking.

Leading Pitch 9. Day 5. this was the highlight of the route. Exiting the Great White Circle and getting into fun climbing on wild rock.

At about this point I was feeling worked and the forecast was calling for a storm near my summit day. I realized I might need help getting stuff down and emailed local Monkey Cheyne Lempe. His response was, "Cool, I'm down, I'll chat with ya at the belay tomorrow."

I was like, "Huh, that's weird...I guess I am supposed to call him....?"

Well at 8am I woke up to shouts from below, "WE'RE COMING FOR YOU LAMBONE!!!!"
And I could see someone cruising the lower pitches, sprinting across the "Journey Through the Brain" in 20 minutes, what took me 3 hours to lead. Turns out that was Skiy Detras, with Cheyne and Dave Alfrey. They crushed the route in 12hrs 20min. I pulled over and got a nice excuse to be lazy in my ledge while they climbed through.

"when you said 'chat with you at the belay,' I didn't think this is what you meant!" Was awesome to have some company after 5 days of talking to myself.

Breaking camp, Top of pitch 9, Day 6

Jugging Pitch 10, Day 6

Pitch 11, "Sun And Steel" pitch. Reaching high to clip one of a string of 18 rivets in a row. Day 6

The last of the hard climbing on Shortest Straw, Pitch 11. Rated A4+ on the topo, this section felt more like C2+. Getting to this point was a big relief. A shout of cheers erupted from the bridge when I hit this roof feature after 6 or so hook moves in a row. Dunno if that was thanks to Tom or even for me, but it felt good! Day 6

Cleaning p11, Day 6. I was really ready to be off at this point but still had a full day ahead of me.

Pitch 13 on Zodiac now. Runout 4 inch wide crack for 100ft. Day 7

Pitch 14-15. The final pitch on Zodiac! Day 7

About to top out on the last pitch! Day 7

Last moves of the climb! Day 7

Only epic of the climb was when my Cheeze Whizz can exploded all over my food bag. Hate when that happens!

  Trip Report Views: 2,428
About the Author
Lambone is a wall climber from Ashland, Or.

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Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Oct 29, 2012 - 03:30pm PT
Righteous. Way to keep the Super in Supertopo. Proud send.


Nor Cal
  Oct 29, 2012 - 03:52pm PT
bump for using mambas and aid climbing, used to do the same thing.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 29, 2012 - 03:55pm PT
Nice job...great thing about Tom's photos- never any butt shots.

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 29, 2012 - 03:58pm PT
Thanks Tom!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Oct 29, 2012 - 04:08pm PT
An Excellent send, Lambone!
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Oct 29, 2012 - 04:09pm PT
Nice! Very, very jealous.

Gym climber
Small Town with a Big Back Yard
  Oct 29, 2012 - 04:48pm PT
Great TR, Lambone! Nice collection of shots from the bridge!

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
  Oct 29, 2012 - 05:05pm PT
Wow! Spectacular photos series!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Oct 29, 2012 - 05:10pm PT
updated topo and gear list can be sent to:

c/o get some stoke
5.7 A4
MungieGetSome, CA

I'm particularly fond of the sun and steel pic. Like an ocean of granite!

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Oct 29, 2012 - 05:47pm PT
Very cool Bone. Way to step it up, and get it done.

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Author's Reply  Oct 29, 2012 - 05:49pm PT
Thanks guys. Crux was being away from home for 10 days. My wife was the real ropegun with 10 days solo toddler time...

I posted in the beta page munge...
I found Nanook's topo to be more accurate.

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Oct 29, 2012 - 05:49pm PT
Well done! Beautiful TR. Thanks!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Oct 30, 2012 - 01:29am PT
I had no intention of reading this trip report: just looking at the topic told me to simply go here, make a quick, smart-ass reply for politeness sake, and get back to flaming Big Jim...

No offense, Oregone guy. With a handle like Lambone, you know what I'm talking about. You really rocked the Cap. So there.

Munge: Edited per your critique. Appparently, I can't handle the double entendre, know what you mean?

Trad climber
Florida Gainesville
  Oct 29, 2012 - 08:47pm PT
Great TR-thanks Tom for the photos and you for the climb!
thanks for sharing. Agree that wives should get the big credit most of the time...
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Oct 29, 2012 - 08:55pm PT
Cool Report and great pics!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Oct 29, 2012 - 08:56pm PT
mouse, ease back on the meds, can't tell what yer sayin.

Thx Lambone

Wade Icey

Trad climber
  Oct 29, 2012 - 08:57pm PT
Nice work Lambone

  Oct 29, 2012 - 09:07pm PT
F*#k Lambone......that's baddass.

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Oct 29, 2012 - 09:20pm PT
Proud solo!

Trad climber
  Oct 29, 2012 - 09:31pm PT
awesome! good job
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 29, 2012 - 09:32pm PT
Awesome job, way to send it!

4 Corners Area
  Oct 29, 2012 - 10:07pm PT

Killer photos, too.

Social climber
The Deli
  Oct 29, 2012 - 10:25pm PT
Nice job, Matt! Good to see that the mafic enclave swarm enticed you to take a photo. : )
Great geology in Tom’s photos too. Way to go!

Mountain climber
  Oct 29, 2012 - 10:58pm PT
I like my trips reports like I like my woman.

Good looking and a few words.

Nice job, nice route.

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
  Oct 29, 2012 - 11:27pm PT
amaaaaaaaaaaaazing pictures. That rock is really freaky looking. Nature is an amazing artist.

Trad climber
  Oct 30, 2012 - 12:33am PT
Makes me want to get some aid gear, I always wanted to do big walls and you made it look super cool! Thanks!

Boulder climber
Institute for Better Bouldering (student)
  Oct 30, 2012 - 12:53am PT
TPFU! Good on ya!

Big Mike

Trad climber
  Oct 30, 2012 - 01:57am PT
Nice work Lambone. Mouse is right tho, love seeing the pics from up there too!!

Edit: I see.... Well I still love the wall pics, but can understand the limited time factor when leading and cleaning each pitch. Well done Matt!!!!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Oct 30, 2012 - 01:29am PT
Biggy Mike, are you putting words in my mouth? I never said anything of the kind.... :0)

Serious schizz on the Cap, so let's give old Lambone a Clap.
A grand old big hand, a slap on the back,
For Lambone's a JOLLY GOOD CHAP.
Lot's of Tom's pix, but no snaps.
Just sayin', not sprayin', you're belayin'
You did rock it, Lambone. Indeed.
So we seed.

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Author's Reply  Oct 30, 2012 - 02:35am PT
heh, pats on the back are always nice and hard to ignore, so they are appreciated.

Soloing El Cap is a personal quest for the few who undertake it. It's great to have encouragement from friends and family on the wall and afterward...but in the moment it's up to you alone to toil up the wall one step at a time...alone with your thoughts, fears, doubts, mundane repetitive tasks, aches, and pains. I intentionally left the camera behind because...for me the best images live within the memory, snapshots are often just a letdown that get filed away rarely to be looked at again.

I knew Tom would be there to supply the goods to fill any void. When you are on the wall you miss so much of the big picture, the swirls and stripes and changing colors all around you. These pictures tell me more about my climb then any boring snapshot of my haulbag could. My goal here with this trip report was less to seek pats on the back, and more to showcase Tom's artwork and the way he captures the colors and textures of El Cap. He posts his reports, but so much of his work remains unseen.

I'm happy with my climb...not speedy or bold, just steady and safe. The day I only made one pitch before quitting early, my psyche was shot, I started to pretty bummed on myself for falling behind. After lying in the ledge smoking about 10 cigarettes I just decided..."you know what, f*#k it. This is my one else is counting on you, you know what feels right, and now it is to rest. Who cares if the wall takes an extra day..." I was worried my wife would be upset that I'd fallen behind schedule but she was really supportive and seemed glad I knew when to call it for the sake of safety. No falls were taken, no gear was left fixed. I feel really good about it all, one of my favorite trips to the Valley...on my 17th ascent of El Capitan. Can't wait for the next adventure. You better believe it will be with a good partner next time, soloing is too much fvckin work!!! Nothing beats a good buddy to have a laugh with at the belay.
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Oct 30, 2012 - 02:09am PT
Nice TR, Lambone. I dug it, except for the crickets.
It's not you, man, it's me.
TFPU all the same.
The Larry

  Oct 30, 2012 - 05:20am PT
Woot!!!! Can't wait to do that route. Nice work!

Big Wall climber
  Oct 30, 2012 - 05:58am PT
Hi Matt,

Thanks for the TR. I was looking at you from my wall. Nice view even I did not know that it was you...

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Author's Reply  Oct 30, 2012 - 11:28am PT
Thanks Regan, congrats on Native Son! It was fun soloing up there with you!

Trad climber
Hankster's crew
  Oct 30, 2012 - 12:02pm PT
Well done! So did you toss your bags?

Gym climber
  Oct 30, 2012 - 12:43pm PT
...for me the best images live within the memory, snapshots are often just a letdown that get filed away rarely to be looked at again.

Well said way to challenge yourself congrats.

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
  Oct 30, 2012 - 01:27pm PT
anyroom in here
for an under-accomplished smartasse?

no, it doesn't look like it.
well, then...

nice f*#king job lambone.
it seems like fall
would be a great season for solo,
cool colors on the rock
and in the valley.
congrats on your summit.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Oct 30, 2012 - 01:35pm PT
Tom is an amazing resource. We are lucky to have him and Suprtopo is lucky to have folks like you doing cool stuff and sharing it all with us.

Solid! Big Grats!! and Thanks for the stoke

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Author's Reply  Oct 30, 2012 - 01:43pm PT
it seems like fall
would be a great season for solo

definitely, solid weather. although it was pretty darn hot up there, I would have guessed in the 90s on the wall. I was getting cooked. It was cool to watch the leaves change as I climbed higher.
Matt Thomsen

Big Wall climber
  Oct 30, 2012 - 02:29pm PT
Great job on the straw, Matt!

It reminded my a lot of my solo last spring. We took the same number of days, same number of photos and the same number of falls.

I thought this was a great route, and I would call it A3+. I thought the crux was the start of pitch 5, and the hooking off off the bolt ladder on sun and steel. The journey through the brain had big fall potential, but the hooking was straight forward and easy.

Also Matt, how did you think this route compared to ZM, as far as quality and difficulty?

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Author's Reply  Oct 30, 2012 - 05:33pm PT
Matt, I remember your ascent, and it was actually a big inspiration for me!

As far as compared to ZM, I only led the odd pitches of ZM. But I remember the route being sustained and consistent pitch for pitch, where on the Straw the even pitches seemed a lot easier then the odds. But as far as technical climbing, nothing on the Straw felt more difficult then ZM and vise versa. Both have ledge falls on p5, but I'd argue ZMs is more secure. ZM seemed like a more natural line whereas Straw has many long rivet ladders. Also ZM has 16 pitches of solid climbing where Straw is really only 11 with quite a few of those being "gimme" pitches. So I'd call ZM more difficult overall. Quality? I dunno. They are both pretty cool.

If you are thinking of soloing ZM I'd say go for it!!!
Matt Thomsen

Big Wall climber
  Oct 30, 2012 - 05:35pm PT
Cool! Yeah it is on my list for sure, and your recommendation bumps it up a bit.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
  Oct 30, 2012 - 05:41pm PT
Nice job Boner. Must have been pretty hot up there, saw you when I was scoping from the meadow while taking rest days to avoid the heat.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Oct 30, 2012 - 05:46pm PT
Cool report thank you for posting. Great pictures of that side of El Cap...

Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Author's Reply  Oct 30, 2012 - 05:48pm PT
Last time I solo'd El Cap was 10 years ago in an August heat wave. This felt about the same, of course by the end I was cold. Go figure...

Social climber
boulder co
  Oct 30, 2012 - 06:51pm PT
Fu%kin solid, the monkey's are sending!!

Trad climber
  Oct 30, 2012 - 07:14pm PT
That was awsome! Great TR Matt.

On pitch 15 of Zod, looks like you went 10 or so feet left then up? We went like 30 feet left then up. How was that option?


Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
Author's Reply  Oct 30, 2012 - 07:38pm PT
Hey Guy, I took the standard path, all the way left on the hand traverse (I hooked) then up. The topo is right, don't link these unless soloing. Last spring we tried to link them with a standard belay and the leader got hosed and to do all kinds of crazy back cleaning shenanigans to finish the pitch! There are some tricky placements on that last pitch of Zod right up to the end!

Gym climber
  Oct 30, 2012 - 10:00pm PT
Nice shots and climb. I expect no less from an awesome town of Ashland resident.
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