The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2

 
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El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
"The Tortoise and the Hare" : Six Days on The Nose
Sunday January 7, 2018 3:08pm
Daydreaming.
Daydreaming.
Credit: Miles Fullman
(this is a long TR. I've linked my video at the end. Thanks guys!)
I still remember the first time my parents took me to Yosemite and sticking my head out of the car’s sunroof to stare up at El Capitan as we drove past, my hands sweating. From this moment on, I knew I had to climb The Nose. It took me several years to teach myself how to big wall climb. I didn’t have any mentors and spent countless hours reading The Freedom of The Hills and How to Big Wall Climb. After learning how to aid climb with a personal hero Ammon McNeely at the Red Rocks Rendezvous and spending my first night on a wall on Washington’s Column with my friend Eli, we were rearing to give The Nose a shot.
Eli loving life on Dinner Ledge.
Eli loving life on Dinner Ledge.
Credit: Miles Fullman
The first time we got on The Nose it was 110 degrees and I made it two thirds up the first pitch before we bailed on the verge of heatstroke.
"It's not THAT hot!" ...
"It's not THAT hot!" ...
Credit: Miles Fullman
Deciding to never set foot on El Capitan in summer again, our next viable break from school was in the middle of winter. Finally having a short dry spell we humped our gear back to the base of the Nose. I was determined to get us up the wall this time, and set off the first pitch with hail raining down from the top of El Capitan three thousand feet up, pelting our helmets and shoulders. We made it to Sickle ledge, rappelled down and hauled back up our fixed lines in darkness, falling asleep in our ledge at midnight.

In the morning breakfast was a little hard to stomach as we took in the view. Looking up the route was worse, seeing the cascading vertical ocean of granite between us and the summit was daunting. Deciding we didn’t have enough time to finish the route before a forecasted snow storm we bailed once again, driving out of the valley with our tails between our legs.
Just before avoiding an impending snowstorm on our second attempt.
Just before avoiding an impending snowstorm on our second attempt.
Credit: Miles Fullman
May 9th, 2017: “The third time’s the charm,” I said as we racked up at the base of The Nose. We had been obsessively checking the Yosemite forecast on our school’s library computer for the past month. Having seen a week of sun, I blew off my senior ball date and told Eli to drop everything. Tying my figure eight and climbing up the foot of the route, I had an iron feeling in my stomach: I was not coming down the way I had come up. The haul bag had everything we needed, the weather was great, now it was a matter of sheer resolve and obstinacy.
We take ourselves very seriously...
We take ourselves very seriously...
Credit: Eli Spitulnik
This time we opted for a ground up approach, giving us less incentive to abandon ship by fixing lines to the ground. We made it to Sickle Ledge with all our gear in tow on the first day. The route was packed with people swarming over the first clear week in months. The wall rats were coming out of hibernation, and everyone was going for The Nose. We set up the ledge at Sickle and chattered excitedly about the rest of the route before nodding off.

In the morning we packed up as people were ascending their fixed lines to Sickle ledge. We waited patiently for the congestion of climbers to clear. Normally I can’t stand waiting to climb, but this time I was enjoying every second. I had kept a hand drawn map of the route taped above my bed, staring at it every night before I fell asleep, dreaming about it, waking up and running it through in my head, waiting. And now here I was, climbing the materialization of my dreams! The last pitch of the day was a full rope length of wide crack climbing. With only two cams to protect that size, I had to run the rope out for over a hundred feet. Inching my way up as the sun went down behind me my only sphere of consciousness was held in the beam of my headlamp. The pitch felt long and ordinarily I would have been petrified having such little gear in the wall. The party above us had bailed because of this very section. I felt that iron resolve that I had sensed at the base of the climb and pushed onwards, my limited field of view like a form of meditation. I flopped onto Dolt tower triumphantly - flat ground! After a difficult haul the party below us ascended our rope and the four of us hung out on the ledge and admired the lights in the valley below us. They gave us some much needed sunscreen and we enjoyed the silent comfort of each others presence in such a wild place. The night breeze was warm, and everything was still and right.
On our way to Dolt Tower. Day Two.
On our way to Dolt Tower. Day Two.
Credit: Miles Fullman
In the morning the party started ahead of us and we basked in the warm winter sun. The pitches to El Cap Tower were fast and suddenly the entire wing of El Capitan spread out to my right. Soon I was chimneying up the Texas Flake, a two foot thick detached flake with one bolt halfway up the inside for protection. Panting and wriggling to the top I swung my leg over the flake and sat up, releasing a howl. Things start to get interesting here. The next section of the route is a featureless sheet of granite that you traverse by a series of bolts. This was one of my favorite positions on the route. The whole wall sweeps away under you. We decided to set up the ledge atop the boot flake to not have to wait behind the party ahead. The flake here is only about two feet thick as well, and getting our ledge set up to sleep was a trick. A forecast of rain prompted us to set up the rainfly and hunker down. It felt cozy and safe in our island in the sky and we talked late into the night, clouds gathering in the valley.
Eli giving me an attentive belay. Day Three.
Eli giving me an attentive belay. Day Three.
Credit: Miles Fullman
In the morning I peeked my head out from under the rainfly and over the edge of the portaledge. Everything was a swirling mass of grey. The ground was nowhere to be seen. The wall and the clouds became a uniform golden grey color. Feeling the exposure, we fumbled to pack up camp and get everything back in the haul bag. A fast party of three french climbers came up to join us on our perch atop boot flake. I was feeling nervous about the king swing, and was eager to see someone do it before I lowered down. We let them pass, one of them being lowered into the mist for the pendulum.
Hanging out atop the Boot Flake.
Hanging out atop the Boot Flake.
Credit: Eli Spitulnik
“You guys are a little slow for this route, I think,” one of the frenchmen said.

“Probably so. A lot of teams have passed us doing it in a day,” I replied. I wasn't in any particular rush. We had hauled up enough water to take our time and enjoy ourselves. Why rush something that I will remember for the rest of my life: my first time up El Capitan?

After watching them do the king swing I bolstered my confidence and Eli lowered me into the unknown. Level with the bottom of the boot flake, I started jogging across the wall to the right. The rock was slick from the overcast weather and my feet skidded out at times. It took a couple swings until I was flying, the rope above me bouncing and sawing against the flake above. I was wildly freaked at this point, and slowed my momentum. Eli cleverly flicked the rope over the left side of the Boot flake so it was in a less aggressive angle, and I launched into motion again. Hurtling horizontally across the blank wall under the detached flake, I caught the corner feature at the farthest reach of the pendulum. Pulling myself around the corner, Eli gingerly fed out slack so I wouldn’t lose balance and fly back to the right. After a delicate few moves with the tension of the rope I was safely perched on Eagle ledge. I let out an ecstatic howl. The king swing truly is something magical.

We were passed by another two parties doing the route in a day, both of which were astounded by how young we were. The rock in the next few pitches of the route is of lesser quality than the flawless granite that composes the rest the route. The climbing through this rock to Camp IV is tricky to navigate with a haul bag. At one point I found myself jumping to catch a small edge with twenty pounds of gear and two ropes hanging from my harness. Free climbing with a big wall rack is clumsy and difficult.
Traversing to Camp IV. Day Four.
Traversing to Camp IV. Day Four.
Credit: Miles Fullman
We had a bit of a fiasco when our haul line snagged behind a flake under Camp IV. Eli took command and winched the haul line towards him with the lower out cord hand over hand, the thin rope digging into his hands as he yanked the rope free of the flake, letting the bag swing free across the wall so I could finish the haul. We wanted to climb past the Great roof but a clog of parties and lack of daylight remaining prompted us to set up at Camp IV, which is exposed to the wind and cold. We had to tie the ledge down from below to keep it from billowing like a sail in the vicious gusts of wind. Wanting to get moving quickly in the morning we didn’t bother with the rain fly and suffered a cold and windy night. Without sleeping pads the wind froze us from below.
Morning at Camp IV. Day Five.
Morning at Camp IV. Day Five.
Credit: Miles Fullman
After a night of shivers we packed up early. The Great Roof from below is eery and intimidating. It looks massive from the ground, and is even more awe inspiring up close. The hood of granite hangs out over an oozing crack that makes gear placements dicey. I took a long time on this pitch, making sure all of my gear was well placed. Wanting to make cleaning safe for Eli I back cleaned the entire roof, risking an enormous pendulum into the left wall. Just at the end of the roof there is a step across to get over to the anchor on the smooth overhanging wall. Facing a pendulum fall with no gear in the roof and some powerful gusts of wind, I gingerly stepped across, keeping my body as close as possible to the wall. Clipping into the bolts was an enormous relief. The wall was so steep here that the haul bag hung out in space, dangling over the route of the Nose in all its sweeping grandeur. The exposure had stopped bothering me. I found that our steady pace up the wall was like an incremental acclimatization to each new position. The trees looked like broccoli and I could see over the Cathedrals to the snowy high country.
View from Camp V. Just after getting the carabiner stuck.
View from Camp V. Just after getting the carabiner stuck.
Credit: Miles Fullman
After the pancake flake I cracked when the carabiner on our hauling device jammed. For a moment all rationality went out the window as I cursed and yelled at the carabiner, willing it to open. I wasn’t going to let one stupid carabiner stop me from climbing the Nose! Unable to free it I thrutched up the next pitch full of frustration and doubt. After a horrific haul using a carabiner and ascender, Eli’s triumphant grin greeted me. Thankfully he had managed to unscrew the carabiner as I climbed. Instantly flooded with relief I felt silly for my extreme overreaction. I feel a surge of gratitude and love for Eli - his ability to remain calm and sanguine through the inevitable hiccups balances my fiery passion. We have each helped each other through difficult moments and our experiences together fuse our bonds as great partners and friends. I couldn’t have asked to climb the Nose in better circumstances. It was always important to me that climbing El Capitan was something I would come to do upon my own initiative and drive, and Eli being a naturally fast learner was enthusiastic about taking on the challenge with me. This climb is something special that we will always hold together. Taking a deep breath, I continue climbing and we made it to Camp VI with the sun melting into the horizon behind us. We didn't talk much on our last night on the wall, each of us drinking in the raw experience in its beautiful immediacy.
Approaching the top. Day Six.
Approaching the top. Day Six.
Credit: Miles Fullman
Our last day on the wall was extraordinary. The exposure was unbelievable, from the changing corners to the glowering spot to the overhanging bolts at the top above three thousand feet of air. I hauled the bag for the last time and lay down on the slabs in the sun, the clouds parting just for us. I let the emotions course through me that I had shut out on the wall. Feeling myself relax from the constant chores involved in wall climbing for a moment, I started crying and laughing. Eli and I hugged on top in disbelief. I have never given so much of myself in the pursuit of a singular objective, and sitting on top made me realize I taught myself things in the process that will stay with me forever, both the technical skills and the raw reservoir of emotion and courage that comes with accomplishing something so audacious. As storm clouds gathered we started our descent. The descent was brutal and unglamorous, but a toll I would pay any day for such an experience. Back on flat ground we staggered deliriously into the road and hitched a ride back to the meadow. We lay on our backs in the grass staring up into that massive black breach between the ground and the starlit canvas above, now just a little bit less unknown. That stretch of emptiness in the night that is travelled by headlamps, the weavers of colorful stories on its impassive tapestry, has stolen a piece of me that can only ever exist up there on its walls.
Dare to Dream!
Dare to Dream!
Credit: Miles Fullman
There is a poem that has always stuck with me by Michael Borghoff, included as the epigraph of Steve Roper's old green Yosemite Guide:
Look well about you wanderer! There is but one Yosemite on the face of the earth, and through the myriad moods, the shifting cyclic patterns, will always sound the chord of this, your need: simple joy and certitude, the face of life itself.


[url="http://https://youtu.be/zvncLkx5AOw"]http://https://youtu.be/zvncLkx5AOw[/url]

  Trip Report Views: 2,256
Miles Fullman
About the Author
Miles Fullman is 18 years old, has been climbing since he was 10 and is stoked on life.

Comments
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rincon

climber
Coarsegold
  Jan 7, 2018 - 03:38pm PT
Good job! Nice video too!

Next time your biner's stuck, try screwing while weighting it, or if that fails, then try it unweighted.
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
  Jan 7, 2018 - 04:27pm PT
are you in any way related to a Canadian Pete?

Thanks for sharing your snail-ey success!
Miles Fullman

Big Wall climber
Orinda
Author's Reply  Jan 7, 2018 - 04:51pm PT
Yeah we gave that a go - some of Petzl's 3D Attache's are really prone to this because they screw so high over the nose. The older models had a cap that stopped the sleeve from going too high, thus preventing this problem. Annoying as hell! Will be bringing a Leatherman with pliers on all future walls haha.

Haha! I would be all too proud to be related to PTPP. I would definitely say we took a leisurely approach to our first experience on El Cap and enjoyed it thoroughly. (Although we are very excited to go fast and light on more routes in the future).

Cheers for the comments guys!
mareko

Trad climber
San Francisco
  Jan 7, 2018 - 05:07pm PT
All that matters. You did it. Congrats
ClimbingOn

Trad climber
NY
  Jan 7, 2018 - 06:03pm PT
Way to get it done! Proud!
ablegabel

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Jan 7, 2018 - 06:33pm PT
Nice job getting it done, and a good read too.
Here's to many more adventures for you in the future.

-Eric Gabel
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Jan 7, 2018 - 06:51pm PT
Congrats

I've never been a fan of speed ascents, as long as the terrain and weather permitted a safe and relaxed climb. I like to smell the roses and savour where I'm at. I guess I like being in the mountains more than I like the sense of accomplishment of the ascent. Nothing like chilling overnight on a big wall, a couple thousand feet off the ground. Always blows my mind. Why not slow down and enjoy the experience?
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
  Jan 7, 2018 - 10:42pm PT
Congrats! Nice read and pics. Like the stoke!

Stop and smell the roses...

TFPU

S...
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Jan 7, 2018 - 11:36pm PT
hey there say, miles... wow, THANK you very much!
for the share,here... :)
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
  Jan 8, 2018 - 12:09am PT
Six days on the Nose isn't that long if you are working on a free ascent. People have taken days just to get the Changing Corners pitch. No need to feel bad.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Jan 8, 2018 - 02:51am PT
Beats school any day. Good write-up. Memories await. Speed kills bears.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Jan 8, 2018 - 05:40am PT
Way to go Miles!
TFPU
Tad
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
  Jan 8, 2018 - 05:55am PT
“You guys are a little slow for this route, I think,” one of the frenchmen said.

And that matters how? I enjoyed your TR and enthusiasm, well done.
fear

Ice climber
hartford, ct
  Jan 8, 2018 - 09:52am PT
"You guys are a bit too slow for this route"

I hope you told that guy to stfu and eat a bag of dicks.

Nice work!
Mike.

climber
  Jan 8, 2018 - 06:27am PT
TFPU, Miles, and congratulations on your and your partner's accomplishment. It's yours forever, will never tarnish or fade, and nothing anyone says can lessen it.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:13am PT
Congratulations on a fine adventure. Proud of you for sticking it out and getting it done! Great write up and photos. Thanks for taking us along for the ride!


Scott
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Jan 8, 2018 - 08:54am PT
I love it! "The trees look like broccoli ,,,"
Miles Fullman

Big Wall climber
Orinda
Author's Reply  Jan 8, 2018 - 09:44am PT
Wow, thanks for the amazing comments everyone. A real pleasure to share my story with you all.
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jan 11, 2018 - 07:07pm PT
Hell yeah dudes! What's next?
MAD BOLTER

Trad climber
CARLSBAD,NM
  Jan 31, 2018 - 04:51pm PT
REMINDS ME OF MY "FIRST RAPPEL" DOWN THE NOSE IN 1969. STORY IN ROHRER RAP BOOK. THAT PITCH ABOVE IS ONE OF THE 2 I LED IN 1971, WITH A BROKEN THUMB. MY PARTNERS WERE NOT THAT MUCH INTO "AID" CLIMBING.
DID YOU KNOW THAT A RAPPEL IS KNOWN AS A BIG-LETDOWN? (!!)
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jan 31, 2018 - 05:04pm PT
Nice job! Persistence and poetic prose. I look forward to reading more of your future adventures :)
eKat

climber
  Feb 3, 2018 - 06:53pm PT
YAY!

TFPU!
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Feb 3, 2018 - 07:40pm PT
Lovely read. Thanks for bumping it.
Jeff Gorris

climber
Not from Portlandia
  Feb 4, 2018 - 09:00am PT
Well done!
Rexi

climber
  Feb 6, 2018 - 01:05pm PT
awesome TR and great job finishing the route!
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