The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2

  • Currently 5.0/5

El Capitan

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
The Nose of El Cap
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:40pm
It has been almost a year since Preston and I climbed The Nose of El Cap and the trip report is long over due. So here we go.

The Players
Preston all smiles <br/>
Preston all smiles

Credit: Phillip
Preston - Super strong, wicked smart and an all-around good guy

Credit: Preston S.
Me (Phillip): Pretty strong, average smarts and also a good dude

The Route
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).

The Rack
1 set micro nuts with offsets
1 set offset cams
WildCountry Zeros
Little ones x3
BD C3s
0.75-2 x1 each
BD C4s
0.4-1 x2 each
#2 x3
#3 x2
#4 x3
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).

The Beta
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.

Photo courtesy of Tom Evans. Just above sickle before the stove legs.
Photo courtesy of Tom Evans. Just above sickle before the stove legs.
Credit: Tom Evans

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.

El Cap tower.
El Cap tower.
Credit: Preston S.

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)

Photo courtesy of Tom Evans. Preston pieced this together from a few o...
Photo courtesy of Tom Evans. Preston pieced this together from a few of Tom's shots.
Credit: Tom Evans

Photo courtesy of Tom Evans
Photo courtesy of Tom Evans
Credit: Tom Evans

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
Great roof
Credit: Phillip G.

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.

On top of the world.
On top of the world.

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

  Trip Report Views: 4,590
stinky hippie
About the Author
Phillip is a trad climber currently living in Oakland CA.

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Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Mar 20, 2014 - 10:03pm PT
Nice writeup and videos. TFPU!

Random Nobody
  Mar 20, 2014 - 10:11pm PT
Awesome TR, great photos (Thanks Tom too!) and great vids


Social climber
granada hills
  Mar 20, 2014 - 11:41pm PT
Thanks for the great report. Stoked to get back on this route. Great job.


Trad climber
Truckee, CA
  Mar 21, 2014 - 12:01am PT
You gotta get more dirt on your clothes before you take those initial photos, some scuffs and tears, blood from OWs, like that.

Wenatchee, WA
  Mar 21, 2014 - 12:14am PT
Fixed gear on pitch 3?? You mean the 4 shiny bolts? I guess there's the piton between the bolts.

Now pitch 4 would be harder without the fixed pitons...

Nice going! Thanks for feeding the Nose fetish.

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Mar 21, 2014 - 12:15am PT

  Mar 21, 2014 - 03:43am PT
Good job!

Trad climber
  Mar 21, 2014 - 05:16pm PT
Excellent trip report!
The Evans photos are excellent. I think you should frame one -- oh wait, you did already? Sh#t, now what am I going to get you for your birthday ?!

Will you still big wall with a static haul line??

You do know you'll be leading the way for me to do The Nose this coming Fall??

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Mar 21, 2014 - 06:35pm PT
Proud send fellas. Great lil write up and stellar video. Preston, if you want to boulder with Adam and I one of these mornings, shoot me a text and we'll show you around. Nice job up there Phil. Way to grind it out.

See you around,


Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Mar 21, 2014 - 07:43pm PT
Such a wonderful life!
ian stern-markovitz

Trad climber
Denver, CO
  Mar 21, 2014 - 10:18pm PT
Good work, Dr. Phillip. Thanks for sharing and I hope you're enjoying the bay!

  Mar 22, 2014 - 01:34pm PT
Thanks for sharing. Love the videos.

Big Wall climber
  Mar 22, 2014 - 03:04pm PT
Your screen name matches your picture perfectly

Now to get Tucker Tech to register under the name "Young Urban Professional"

Nice TR :)
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