Lost World/Squeeze Play A3 5.7

 
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El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Speed Record Ascent of Lost World via Squeeze Play
Tuesday June 25, 2013 12:35pm
Credit: Chris McNamara

I'm on the hunt for routes I haven't done that will go down in a day. And by day I am hoping for daylight (no 23-hour suffer-fests need apply). Lost World with the Squeeze Play variation looked like it fit the bill and Mark Melvin was on the same page.

Credit: Chris McNamara

We woke up at 4 which seemed appropriate. However, we hadn't racked a thing so it took us until 7:25 to actually start climbing. Considering it got light at five, we burned 2.5 hours of daylight. So much for making use of the (almost) longest day of the year.

Racking up in El Cap Meadow... slowly.
Racking up in El Cap Meadow... slowly.
Credit: Mark Melvin

Mark cruised the first pitch which is 5.10 or C2. On the second pitch, it got tricky at the top. He whipped when a thin stopper pulled. Then whipped on the same piece again… but the cam hook he had just placed above caught him! This is one of the all time great moves in aid climbing. The only thing that tops it is when nailing an expanding the flake and having the piece you're standing on pull while the piece you're nailing catches you.

Mark Melvin leading pitch 1.
Mark Melvin leading pitch 1.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Chris McNamara Cleaning pitch 2.
Chris McNamara Cleaning pitch 2.
Credit: Mark Melvin

I took over on the third pitch which started with perfect clean "sport aid." (Sport aid = tricky moves between good protection with a safe fall. A sideways hook lung led to inverted cam hooks under an expanding flake. The flake expands a little so cam hooks are much less scary than trying to nail the thing.

Pitch 3 C2+ sport cam hooking.
Pitch 3 C2+ sport cam hooking.
Credit: Mark Melvin

The next few hundred feet went super fast. Any weird aid placements (where you might be tempted to nail) can be easily avoided by offset cams, top stepping and easy free moves.

Chris McNamara busting some free moves on Pitch 4.
Chris McNamara busting some free moves on Pitch 4.
Credit: Mark Melvin

At Pitch five we headed left on the Squeeze Play variation. 80 feet up i was stumped. There was a big gap between bolts and a clear sign a flake had pulled. I looked for a micro hook move and saw nothing. So I had to dig deep into my clean a bag of tricks: I made a massive top step and intertwined three stoppers to snag a rivet. You can read more about this at my clean a article: Clean Aid and Hammerless Climbing - Top 11 Tricks. If you have a shorter reach than me then you will likely need to tape your intertwined stoppers to the end of a hammer.

Chris McNamara trying to navigate a missing feature... uh
Chris McNamara trying to navigate a missing feature... uh
Credit: Mark Melvin

Pitch 6 was a little awkward but pretty straight forward. it might go free at 5.10/5.11.

Chris McNamara leading Pitch 6.
Chris McNamara leading Pitch 6.
Credit: Mark Melvin

Pitch 7 is the epic super corner. 5.7 blocky free climbing led to blue Alien leap frogging. The top was the first tricky clean aid crux of the climb. Bring you tiny wires and REACH!

Looking down at the epic Pitch 7 super corner.
Looking down at the epic Pitch 7 super corner.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Looking up at the crux pitch 8.
Looking up at the crux pitch 8.
Credit: Mark Melvin

Pitch 8 is by far the crux. In fact, without this pitch the entire climb would probably be less sustained (but more awkward) than Lurking Fear. The pitch started with smallest Black Diamond Camalot X4 in a pod. This has become my new favorite piece of clean aid gear. It magically sticks in weird pods where no other cam will fit. Why? Because its head is so narrow, the lobes are so small and it just seems to always stick.

From here I was stumped by tiny pin scars. Then i remembered the intertwined stoppers used on pitch five. On the first cast I got a bite on distant fish… err pin scar. I moved to haul it in… it held!

Intertwining three stoppers to reach a distant placement on pitch 8.
Intertwining three stoppers to reach a distant placement on pitch 8.
Credit: Chris McNamara

This in general would be a very time consuming way to get past a tricky spot. I was just lucky I had the stoppers already intertwined and happened to have the right Dmm Peenut. From here, spicy cam hooks led right under a roof. One placement was so bad I just used it as a handhold to do a big reach. This is another tip I just added to my clean aid tips article: place an intermediated crappy piece to help you stop step or make a huge reach and keep that hammer holstered!

Mark Melvin at belay 7.
Mark Melvin at belay 7.
Credit: Chris McNamara

I was about 2/3 of the way through the pitch and thinking I might get this pitch hammerless and therefore the entire route hammerless when I hit Lost Arrow and Tomahawk scars. I had to nail two arrows and two Tomahawks over the next 25 feet which was the only place on the route we used a hammer. This section will go hammerless but will require:

 more offset micro micro nuts (we only had a few)
 more cam hooks (i only brought the narrow, i should have also brought the micro and the wide)
 more big Tomahawks or Peckers. I only had the medium size, with the bigger size it would have been likely able to hand place some and hook the feature

Even with that gear, it still would have been pretty heads up C3+/C4. But it is a very clean fall. So the next team can nab the first hammerless ascent!

Brief rant: I am seeing more and more fixed Black Diamond Peckers with fraying or broken cables. I never see fixed Moses Tomahawks. Either the Peckers are just way more popular, or there is a design issue making them get fixed a lot more. I am not quite ready to say avoid Peckers all together in favor of Tomahawks, but it is something I am leaning toward. It is just depressing to see giant pieces of steel welded in the rock that are impossible to use because the thin cables has broken and there is no way to thread something in the eye. I think Black Diamond needs to A) use thicker cable and B) experiment with ways to curve the bottom like on a Tomahawk so that the pecker is easier to clean and can be re-slung if it gets fixed. End rant.

The next pitch was one of the weirdest in memory: it required new aid trickery. 50 feet up the crack gets funky. Its hard to describe so just look at this photo below. Actually that photo doesn't work either. Anyway, I had to "get all 1920's on it" and make a "nut" out of a knotted sling.

Passive protection made of a knotted sling.
Passive protection made of a knotted sling.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Next, I used a number 2 Camalot as a hex. How? I forgot to take a photo so I'll to describe: with the cam lobes full extended, I slotted it down so the edges of the flake on either side constricted the cam at the axle. The lobes did little more than keep the cam from moving. Possibly the first time I had done either technique. I carried two sets up cams 1-6" and had to SERIOUSLY back clean. Bring 3+ sets to protect every ten feet.

Mark Melvin cleans pitch 9.
Mark Melvin cleans pitch 9.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Mark took over from here. This next pitch was awkward with a capital A. Nothing like a really steep wide crack…that oozes. I hoped our 7" cam (#6 Black Diamond Camalot C4 ) would stay holstered and therefore I could save future parties the need to carry it. No dice. The 7" cam makes this pitch just suck a little. Leave it behind, the pitch will thoroughly beat you down.

Oh no! That hanging dagger flake just ate my climbing partner!
Oh no! That hanging dagger flake just ate my climbing partner!
Credit: Chris McNamara

Upside is... you end at a sweet ledge. Not bivy worthy, but fit for a solid El Cap Lie-back while belaying.

Sweet ledge at the base of Pitch 10.
Sweet ledge at the base of Pitch 10.
Credit: Chris McNamara

The next pitch passes the bivy between pitches 9 and 10 on Lurking Fear which currently has 4 gallons of water on it. Then leans back right to join the West Buttress. From here, 40 feet joins Lurking Fear. I led the next 4 and set mark up for the last 5 to the summit.

Mark Melvin looks down at Chris McNamara at the point where Lost World...
Mark Melvin looks down at Chris McNamara at the point where Lost World joins the West Buttress.
Credit: Mark Melvin

Mark Melvin belaying one of the traverse pictures on the West Buttress...
Mark Melvin belaying one of the traverse pictures on the West Buttress.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Alert: based on the recent El Cap tragedies, I feel compelled to mention again that loose blocks kill. Even the most trade of trade routes have them. Be aware. There is a block on pitch 11 of Lurking Fear that will probably go in the next decade and likely because someone puts a cam behind it instead of using a nut to the right. Don't be that person!

The sun set, the headlamps came out. Mark rocketed up these pitches as if he was doing espresso shots at each belay. My energy vaporized and his seemed to just grow.

Sunset from Lurking Fear belay 14.
Sunset from Lurking Fear belay 14.
Credit: Chris McNamara

We stumbled on another 5 gallons on Thanksgiving Ledge (thank you Andy Kirkpatrick and or Steve Schneider?). Summited at 10:58. 15:33 from the start.

Chris McNamara and Mark Melvin at the top of Squeeze Play (Lurking...
Chris McNamara and Mark Melvin at the top of Squeeze Play (Lurking Fear) 15:33 after starting.
Credit: Mark Melvin

I was tired. Really tired. Mark pulled out a whole wheel of cheese. I mean, I wasn't even mad we jugged all that weight to the summit... I was impressed! Ok, not really, but the recent Anchorman 2 trailer made me want to mention that line. Mark did actually pull out a giant wedge of cheese... and an avocado... and some spiced almonds. Ive long felt eating is a relative experience more based on situation than ingredients. The best restaurant in the world is the one you visit when you're so hungry you're ready to eat sawdust. Needless to say, tonight on El Cap we were dining at a 3 star Michelin.
Summit feast. Too tired to smile.
Summit feast. Too tired to smile.
Credit: Mark Melvin

Gear and rating notes
Our rack for Lost World. I would take way less pins next time.
Our rack for Lost World. I would take way less pins next time.
Credit: Chris McNamara
 all rating above assume you have good gear, see my Dream El Cap Rack Article. I will go as far as to say it is irresponsible to climb an El Cap route that might involve a hammer without really good micro cams, offset nuts and cam hooks. These get you past 90% of spots that might involve a hammer. Top stepping gets you past the other 10%.

 If i did the route again, i would just bring 3 lost arrows (1 of each size), and 3 larger Moses Tomahawks. And one hammer. I think this route can be done hammerless if you really get creative with cam hooking.

 I drew a topo for this route while eating fish tacos at the Mobil Mart. It will be in Yosemite Big Walls 4.

 The smallest new Black Diamond Camalot X4 is my new secret clean aid weapon. it gets in everything! I am buying more of the smallest sizes.

  Trip Report Views: 3,933
Chris McNamara
About the Author
Climbing Magazine once computed that three percent of Chris McNamara’s life on Earth had been spent on the face of El Capitan – an accomplishment that left friends and family pondering Chris’s sanity. He has climbed El Capitan more than 70 times and holds nine big wall speed climbing records. In 1998 Chris did the first Girdle Traverse of El Capitan, an epic 75-pitch route that begs the question, “Why?”

Outside Magazine called Chris one of “the world’s finest aid climbers.” He is the winner of the 1999 Bates Award from the American Alpine Club and founder of the American Safe Climbing Association, a nonprofit group that has replaced over 5000 dangerous anchor bolts. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and serves on the board of the ASCA and the Rowell Legacy Committee. He has a rarely updated adventure journal, maintains BASEjumpingmovies.com, and also runs a Lake Tahoe home rental business.

Comments
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mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Jun 25, 2013 - 12:41pm PT
Nice Chris!

You did set the new record, but there was already a one day ascent logged a few years ago...

First One Day Ascent: Snyder, Rodatz 23:44 (rocknclimb.com)

Taken from here:
http://mountainproject.com/v/squeeze-play/108092932

Cheers to both teams, cool looking route!

crunch

Social climber
CO
  Jun 25, 2013 - 01:15pm PT
Excellent stuff. Some very clever clean climbing tricks.

Agree about Tomahawks being easier to clean, the curved/pointed bit at the base allows for more options for cleaning, doing less damage to rock and piton both.

Less expensive than Peckers, too.

Thanks Chris!
Red Wing

climber
California
  Jun 25, 2013 - 01:47pm PT
The first one day ascent went down in 100+ degree temps. We knew we'd get it in a day and really didn't try to hard to go too fast - just cruising, enjoying the climb. We figured a speed record wouldn't last long because the conditions weren't optimal and the climb is so easy. We knew there are many very capable climbers who'll blow our record away, probably even the current one, but there is only one First One Day Ascent - that is what we were after.

Chris, I have to acknowledge that you've been a huge inspiration to me and several other climbers. Ammon, Flyn Brian, and others as well. In the early/mid 2000s you guys redefined what it meant to climb "fast" and I knew that what you guys were doing is what I wanted to do. You totally changed the way I climb bigwalls and as a result, I've enjoyed wall climbing more. Thank you!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Jun 25, 2013 - 02:38pm PT
Nice work Red Wing! Great to hear that Ammon FlynB myself and others got you so psyched to climb fast and light on the walls. It's the only way to go. It really does change the entire sport from vertical baggage handling to El Cap Craggin. Hope you are sending some more big ones soon.

PS: I couldn't find any mention of your one day ascent on SpeedClimb.com or RockNClimb... which makes me wonder who is the "keeper of the speed records" these days?
yo-so-mighty

Big Wall climber
salinas, ca
  Jun 25, 2013 - 02:52pm PT
Dammit Chris, I tried telling you how useful that micro cam hook is, but you didn't listen. I guess you are going to have to take me up something else so I can impart more wisdom to you.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jun 25, 2013 - 03:22pm PT
good stuff TFPU
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
  Jun 25, 2013 - 03:47pm PT
i enjoyed a fluid read of
your trip report,
but i blew the onsight at
this sentence,

..contricuted the cam at the axle..

whoa. that sounds....
uhh. i don't know what it sounds like?

maybe a lyric from a pink floyd song?

good fun, chris.
congrats and i commend
your substantiated promotion of
clean aid climbing.

ps it is awesome when
the boss drives an early model subaru
with a dent in the bumper.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jun 25, 2013 - 04:00pm PT
Contricuted is definitely one of the coolest new words I've seen in a while. Nice report! +1 for bringing an avocado on a climb- bold move. But I guess the only real risk is having guacamole instead of avocado.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Jun 25, 2013 - 04:10pm PT
damn dictation software! Constricted is what i meant... but maybe ill get an addition to the urban dictionary: crack so weird it causes you to lose powers of speech. Maybe ill add an avocado to the rack.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Jun 25, 2013 - 04:09pm PT
Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!! Chris Mac is showing us pictures of his cheat stick! Even though it's not a stick.

Yup, the only safe way past that one loose bit is to extend your reach somehow.

Emphatically concur with the design flaws on the Peckers - B.D. needs to address that issue. Which we have been telling them for years, and which they have continued to ignore.

Nice send! Three of those gallons of water on that stellar bivi ledge were ours left over from our West Buttress big wall camping trip. That is one superb bivi ledge.
ElCapPirate

Big Wall climber
Ogden, Utah
  Jun 25, 2013 - 05:09pm PT
Awesome! Thanks for the TR Chris and good job guys.

PS: I couldn't find any mention of your one day ascent on SpeedClimb.com or RockNClimb... which makes me wonder who is the "keeper of the speed records" these days?

The reason I started keeping track of the records was because Hans is/was so busy he would let a lot of them fall through the cracks. I no longer own or have access to RockNClimb.com. I gave it up a few years back and a friend of mine, basically, took what was there and archived it. So, that's why it's so out of date and many of the links don't work.

Cheers, Ammon
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  Jun 26, 2013 - 11:27am PT
wow, serious kudos for clean aid creativity. i wonder how many people can honestly say they have climbed on knotted rope shoved in a crack in that type of setting? that shot of the "cheater stick" of nuts that worked out is pretty awesome. legit rant for the peckers, hopefully someone is listening?
cowpoke

climber
  Jun 26, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
Great TR. I have never really aid climbed, let alone done tricky clean aid, but the pictures and explanations of your adventure helped me get a real (distant, of course) sense of your climb. Very cool.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jun 26, 2013 - 03:59pm PT
Makes my Smith Rocks hike/climb look pretty lightweight...


Nice work MEN!
Tez

Mountain climber
  Jun 27, 2013 - 10:50pm PT
Great trip report!
S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
  Jun 27, 2013 - 11:49pm PT

BURT BRONSON WOULD BE PROUD
hollyclimber

Big Wall climber
North Rim, AZ
  Jun 28, 2013 - 12:46am PT
Awesome Chris-
Thanks for doing this report. I look forward to the new topo. I consider Hans and speedclimb.com to be the keeper of all records - but sometimes you have to push people to report their ascents, or report for them if you know about it. Some people just don't get their ascents on the books.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Jun 28, 2013 - 01:08am PT
Excellent TR Chris . . . showin' us fools how to get it done up there.
Thanks for your many visionary contributions to the climbing realm.
Betty Uno

Mountain climber
Colorado
  Jun 28, 2013 - 10:44am PT

Reading and especially, looking at this made me happy happy happy.

It's an irony that when there is everything right, everything working, there is little to say, except, that it is good.

Sets the bar for trip reports, pretty much.




Nanook

climber
  Aug 9, 2013 - 11:21am PT
Here's a topo(the one Chris used?):

http://yosemitebigwall.com/lost-worldsqueeze-play
little Z

Trad climber
un cafetal en Naranjo
  Aug 9, 2013 - 11:50am PT
way to go!

thanks for not scrimping on the photos. Cool to see a lesser known side of El Cap.
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  Dec 8, 2013 - 12:29am PT
birthday bump
melski

Trad climber
bytheriver
  Dec 9, 2013 - 07:56pm PT
somehow that side of the captain looks friendlier[ANGLEathion][sun]nice to hear more about that area,,winter dreams,great pics,gracias,,
Jaysen

Big Wall climber
NYC
  Feb 25, 2014 - 10:40pm PT
Chris, i ran into you and sean last season when whitemeat and i were headed up the shield. I have one very important question for you. Where did you get those pants? And do they come in Fuschia?
10b4me

climber
  Mar 12, 2014 - 10:35am PT
Bump
GARY Owen

Trad climber
Lexington
  Mar 12, 2014 - 02:55pm PT
TFPU. BBST
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