This is how this episode began. Mickey was already in the valley climbing Skull Queen when I discovered that I was to have 4 consecutive day off from work (absolutely never happens working for DNC). We always joked about doing an El cap route but until this point considered it to large an undertaking, but for whatever reason this time it stuck and Mickey slept on my floor for a couple days until it was time.
-triple set of cams to 3", 1x 4",1x 4.5",1x 5"
-Nuts, 1 set, 1 offset
-Micro Nuts, 1set, 1 offset
-cam hooks, talon
-water 8 gallons
I had to work at 1:30 so we got an early start and attacked what I found to be the most difficult part of the climb.... getting the bag up that awful 4th class step to the base of the first pitch. Mickey and I swung leads to Sickle and hauled our bag there, fixed 3 60m ropes to the ground, rapped and took a rest day. There was 1 team of 3 behind us that was fixing and blasting off the following day so we had a 1 day cushion between us.
Both Mickey and I slept through our 4:30am alarm and woke up at 7am, already starting off on the wrong foot we hauled ass and got to the cliff and jugged our lines. We Immediately muscled our bags about 15 feet up sickle so we could link p4 and p5 to get to 6. I got this pitch and it was a great way to start out, free climbing all but a couple step through's to a sweet handcrack and feeling fast because we linked was good for morale. Hauling was easy (only had an 80 or 90 pound bag) and didn't require any fancy systems other than the mini track. My belay changeovers were slow at first (never really did alot of bigwall anchors) but as we progressed, our changeovers were blazing fast, maby 8 mins or so? Anyway, Mickey crushed p6 up to dolt hole and I was in for what was going to be one of my favorites. Mickey and I were under the general understanding that I would take most of the hard free climbing if he took most of the hard aid. On p7 I did a bolt ladder to a SWEET pendulum into the beginning of the stovelegs and ran out the remainder of the pitch. Took down the next couple pitches to dolt tower (a little fuzzy in my memory) and chilled for a little before we set off for el cap tower. Mickey freed p11 and I got p12, 12 ended up being alot harder than I thought, the liebacks were insecure because the sidewall was so polished and I ended up pulling on my #4 cam alot, regardless mickey took p14 to El Cap tower. Arriving at the tower to see the party that we had fixed with was nice, also that we arrived with hours of daylight left after waking up 2 hours late began spurring thought that we may need to change our conservative goals of climbing the wall in 4 days. Mickey fixed p15 to the Texas flake skipping the bolt and being a badass, thanks Mickey! We hunkered down and spent the afternoon eating oreos with peanutbutter and conversing with the other party about Whitemeat's (Mickeys) supertopo fame while listening to some tunes from the infamous ghetto blaster.
Day two began at about 7 am. The party we caught up to had woken up at 2am and was now just leaving the boot. We jugged to the top of the texas flake and mickey set off up the boot. Arriving at the boot the party ahead of us was just beginning p17 from eagle ledge and we sat up on the boot looking down at el cap bridge where mickey's father was sitting and watching along side eric sloan who had loaned us his #5 and swivel, thanks Eric! We waited for a while and mickey CRUSHED the king swing first go and ran out p17 to the anchors and I lowered out after we lowered out the bag from the top of the boot. P18/19 was the worst section we experienced. I free climbed up the 5.10 to p18 then the 5.10 bolted variation, climbed through this and got the go ahead from the party infront of us to push on the the p19 anchors roughly 50 feet to the left. I arrived to the anchors after a very taxing pitch to find I dident have enough rope to fix to the anchor. I clipped in- direct and untied to fix the line to a far off right bolt that I backed up to the main anchor with a chordalette. Wind was high and Mickey couldn't hear me so the other party helped me communicate. Mickey began jugging and I began hauling, the bag got very stuck and mickey battled the bag over for 20 mins. Luckly I had protected the traverse enough so it was reasonably safe for mickey but skipping the optional belay was a very poor choice and Im sure we could have found a better opportunity to pass. To top things off I had clipped some empty water jugs to the bottom of the bag with a non locker and that had fallen (bigwall gumby move) so its easy to say that this was the low point of the climb. Mickey crushed p20 to camp 5 and the following pitch to the great roof being careful not to knock the loose blocks on the party below. AS SOON as the great roof was in sight we forgot about the whole camp 4 ordeal and off mickey went. Cruising through C2 mickey did one of the most classic pitches in the world in under 30 mins. Cleaning the great roof was somewhat surreal for me, growing up reading books and magazines with endless photos of big walls, this was my mental image of a hardcore climb (obviousley there are more hardcore lines). So climbing it was a pivotal moment in my life for sure. Even more substantial to me was the next pitch. Freeing the pancake flake 2000 feet off the deck was THE BEST EXPERIENCE EVER. I was confused why it used to be bolted? But regardless the best pitch of rock climbing ever. Mickey took the next 2 pitches of awkward c1 and I got the last pitch (p26) to camp 6 where we were to bivy. By this point Mickey and I were having 5 minute belay change overs and had been consistently leading sub hour pitches, we felt like we were moving blazing fast. I felt the pressure to speed up my aid to keep up the pace and somehow it just happened. Completely dialed, I blazed up 100 feet of c1+ to another 50 feet of 5.7 lieback and made it to the anchors in under an hour. This was my mental high for the entire climb. I felt like I was a real wall climber because everything just flowed, even the transition to free climbing in my approach shoes with a full rack on and haul line ect... I had finally gotten used to the weigh and compensated. We Bivyed, feeing like we were home free, eating our crushed oreo's and gatorade. We knew at this point we were going to top out the following day and IT FELT GOOD. Camp 6 sucked and I got the outside (I had a tether on each wall and sat in my harness in my bag with my feet in a aider clipped to an anchor to distribute weight off my legs and got no sleep. Mickey on the other hand with his feet hanging 2 feet off the ledge immediately passed out.
We woke up and after some route finding (topo for the changing corners sucks) mickey handled the trickey aid up to p28. It was my turn and attempting to match my speed from the previous night I moved through p28 at a similar pace. Mickey took p29 with the aukward trough and I made it up to the base of p29. P29 had this wild stance as c-mac states in the topo and exits the corner system. Leaving the corner system was surreal in thinking that there was only 2 pitches left and up to now there was literally only a single pitch that we even had a minor issue on. Not once did we got our ropes stuck, bag wedged into a flake, shutdown pitch or any other common difficulty. It was literally, too easy. For the climb that I had revered for such a long time, it was crazy to think that we had just taken it on so easily. Anyway, I lead a short c1 pitch and mickey took the bolt ladder to the top. Topping out and seeing the El Cap tree was another nostalgic moment for me, if I hadn't been so hungry for a can of spaghetti-o's I may have even shed a tear. We ate our summit mnm's and prepared for the descent.
Did it in 2 hours, thanks for the fixed lines on the east ledges whoever you are.
After making it down I began to understand something Eric Sloan had told me about the nose. He said something along the lines of this "With most wall routes once you get down you would be disgusted with the thought of climbing it again, but with the nose, it just not like that." I refused to believe him when he told me this but after such a cruiser route up such an amazing rock, I cant help but to agree.
Photos below! would have taken too long to order them with the text so here we go.
Side note, looking for a partner to do more walls with! (zodiac, lurking fear, any column route, leaning tower ext...)