The Nose of El Cap as recorded in the Supertopo Yosemite Big Walls guide, 2nd edition. Climbed with a mix of free and aid in 3 days (May 15th-18th 2013).
1 set micro nuts with offsets
1 set offset cams
Little ones x3
0.75-2 x1 each
0.4-1 x2 each
60m lead line, 70m static haul line, 5mm lower out line (30m)
1 mini traxion, 1 large pulley, 5ish free locks, 5ish free non-lockers, slings/cord, personal gear, etc.
Wish we had substituted 1 Link cam for 1 BD cam sizes 0.75-2, and added smaller C3s, use dynamic haul line (safety + a back-up lead line).
These are the notes Preston and I wrote up just after getting off the climb.
Pitch 3 is tricky if the fixed gear is gone.
Link pitches 5-6
Top of pitch 6 - Great 5.9 crack.
Pitch 7 - Three lower outs with optional belay at the bottom of stove legs.
Straight forward climbing to dolt - leader should bring all the big gear.
Dolt Tower to El Cap Tower also straight forward.
Bivy on El Cap Tower - Glorious and magical.
Texas Flake - SO! SCARY! With the climbers back to the wall top out to the right.
Boot Flake - nuts not cam hooks.
King Swing - Lower out a bit more than 20ft below the boot. Once you gain the crack system left of the boot you have to climb with a huge swing potential if you pop off. The swing back into the boot would be very very bad. I forget how the bag and 2nd lowered out. (Preston please comment)
Pitch 18 - Lynn Hill traverse is very nice and saves time.
Pitch 19 - Leaving no gear on the 5.7 down climb makes life much better for the follower to lower out.
Great Roof - Belay was lower than the book showed???? Leader needs to be aware of 2nd’s need to lower out. Sorry Preston. Lots of small gear in roof. Slow.
Pitch 24 - Headlamp climbing in lame 5.11c flaring slot. Awkward aid.
Bivy at Camp 5 - Lame and sloppy.
Pitch 25 - Bad fall to ledge resulting in cracked helmet and floating stars. Move to the right crack sooner!! Wear your helmets kids.
Changing Corners pitch - There was long cords hanging from bolts on the 5.11 A0 var. making this much easier. Hard aid if those cords were not there.
Pitch 28 - Very good free climbing potential if your not gassed as we were.
Pitch 29 - Watch the rope in the slot. Be aware of lower out needs and sharp edge at belay.
Pitch 31 - Be aware of lower out needs.
I might have forgot to leave a lower-out piece for Preston at the great roof. From my perspective the swing looked manageable. As Preston removed his last piece and braced for the swing everything looked good until, 15 ft up and to the right, the next piece blew. This sent Preston on a bit more of a ride than he expected. The yell that followed was all I needed to always be mindful of the 2nd.
We did not want to risk trying to find the rap route at night so we opted to hike. It was then that we realized we also had no idea where the trail was. Several broken phone calls and half a night later we were still a few miles from the car. We ditched the bags, stole a bicycle, found the car and the end of our adventure. (Bicycle was returned following our adventure)
My Grandfather is a retired doctor who is now hard of hearing in his old age but still very sharp. He carries himself with a quiet gentle confidence. At a large family gathering someone mentioned to my Grandfather that I had climbed 'El Capitan'. With a slow and deliberate tone he said, 'the first time I saw El Capitan was in the early 1950s. If someone told me then that my grandson would climb that rock one-day I would have cried'.
I climbed El Cap for myself and I am eternally thankful to all the people who helped get me there. Cheers