Salathe Wall 5.13b or 5.9 C2
Trip ReportThree Days on the Salathe
KC and I climbed the Salathe Wall in three days from June 22 to 24, after pre-hauling our bag to Heart ledges on the 21st. This was his first route up the captain and my second route. The Salathe Wall is an incredible natural line with lots of fun free climbing. After my first time climbing El Cap via The Nose over six days, climbing the Salathe in three felt was a tangible improvement in my big wall skills for me. Mostly everything went smoothly and we had an absolute blast. This was my big goal for the summer and was my last route before I left the valley, which made the top out pretty sweet. Enjoy the photos!
We woke up at four and hauled our one bag to Heart Ledges. We were very efficient and were down by 9am for work. Feeling nervous and excited!
I took the first block of the freeblast, and was a bit anxious having never climbed it before and it only being my second route on El Cap. The first pitch was really lovely despite my jitters and after linking to the top of pitch two I was warmed up. I aided the undercling traverse but the climbing afterwards was very enjoyable and quite mellow. The "10d tricky pro" pitch was a bit exciting, and the bolted slabs were a ton of fun. Free climbing on El Cap is so awesome!
KC led the half dollar with some grunting and took us up to Mammoth. We made it to Heart Ledges at 2pm! The lack of wind and the very hot sun turned the heart into a microwave. We considered continuing on to lung ledge but wanted to sleep comfortably on heart. KC managed to rig the sleeping bags into a kind of shade and we waited until the sun passed. KC fixed pitch 12 and we ate dinner. After staring at the heart so much from the ground it was pretty sweet to be sleeping in it.
We got up at four and started moving after a quick breakfast. KC showed the hollow flake who was boss with one cam! I led the next chimney with one cam as well. I found it very exciting but fun in its own way. I almost slipped out pulling the finishing bulge but made it to the anchor safely. The next couple 5.10 pitches were very fun, though I still felt like a fish out of water free climbing on El Cap. It was a liberating experience to be doing so much free climbing on a big wall for me.
KC led us through the boulder problem which I eyed up as I jugged past. As a boulderer, it looked like a ton of fun. I'll have to rap in and try it out sometime! The Block was also a really cool ledge, which we made it to quickly thanks to having fixed a couple pitches. The Sous Le Toit was the only hiccup of the route. KC got suckered in too far right by some tat and we ended up having to lower out on some slings around a massive chockstone wedged behind a flake. I remember this terrifying me.
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