Trip ReportThree Walls, Three Partners, Three Weeks
I’ve just had the best wall season of my life but I’m a bit burnt out on writing intense trip reports.
This one is going to be mainly photos and comments.
Lost in America
It was hot so we planned on a gallon each per day.
Organizing gear at the base.
Starting up the first pitch.
No joke, it was really much more comfortable to be wearing DaBrim than not. It wasn't so good for leading or cleaning since it got in the way a little.
Max leading the third pitch.
Both Max and I both took this same photo. What do you think the chances are that that head is still there?
I love anchor photos! I led a pitch late that afternoon and then rapped down the haul line to the previous anchor.
Hauling that pitch the next day. That was a cool pitch, BTW.
Max leading off on the 5th pitch, another good pitch.
Further up on that pitch.
The 5 mil Tat Cleaning Cord in action.
A Munter makes lowering out easy.
I was worried about the run-out 5.10 but at first glance it looked to be more featured and far less runout than the 5.9 on Iron Hawk. It'll be interesting, if I ever get back up there, to see what Iron Hawk feels like when I'm not totally hammered.
The geological survey cards we were photographing for Roger.
Me taking a photo of Max from the start of the "A4" (really, solid A3) pitch.
Hmm... Do you think that head is still there?
Looking back at Max again.
Max cleaning the crux pitch. It was a really good pitch, actually, very interesting the whole way.
We were treated to an awesome sunset that night. While talking to Ben and Dave over on Reticent on the radio and they said that Half Dome and the high country beyond light up like they had never seen before.
In this photo and the next one Max is in the same spot.
Max at the anchor. Tough duty, eh?
Me on the "Fly or Die" pitch.
Fly or Die was a great pitch but it was really easy due to fixed heads and a giant, honkin' 3/8 bolt in the middle of it. Who the hell drilled that?
Max leading off on the "Place of Dead Roads" pitch, easily one of the best pitches on the route.
Cleaning in the evening light.
Coffee in the morning.
Looking down towards the East Butt in the morning.
Max belaying and me leading over on Zenyatta Mondatta.
Max was totally in the program on this route!
We were both having fun being up on El Cap together again.
I was racing to the top, trying to link the last two and get there before dark.
Another great sunset.
Max cleaning in the dark.
We removed one bolt, a dozen heads, five or six pins and 100% of the tat on the route.
Cheyne and Max packing for the hump down.
Cheyne Lempe, load humping animal!
Max Jones and Mark Hudon on top of Lost in America.
I've climbed El Cap seven times with Max now. Our first ascent together was the Nose in 1976 and our latest was Lost in America this fall of 2012. Our El Cap climbing career together spans 36 years. Hopefully, we'll get a lot more years at it together!
Three days after toping out on Lost in America I was humping loads to the base of Native Son with Cheyne Lempe. Our plan was to simply pack the bags and blast, no fixing.
Humping a load to the base of Native Son.
Yes, you actually do have to climb a tree, climb out on a limb and get it swinging, before you can get onto the rock!
It’s a really, really good pitch.
Cheyne Lempe, the Mayor of El Cap, 2012.
Leading the crux of the route, the “Coral Sea", the only pitch I’ve climbed in my last eight El Cap routes that I would call A4.
Getting ready to go the next morning.
This hook held a 50 foot fall!
Cleaning the “Coral Sea”.
Cheyne wanted to lead the “Wing” so I got to lead another pitch after the Coral Sea.
This pitch is one of the best pitches I’ve ever climbed on El Cap.
Cheyne cleaning it.
Me on the ledge, getting ready to enjoy the show!
Cheyne just starting to lead “The Wing”.
Far out on The Wing.
Looking back from the same position as the previous photo.
I didn’t lower the bags out at all, I cut them loose and let them swing!
Cheyne getting ready for a night under the fly.
The clouds the next day.
Getting ready to go.
We climbed in the clouds all day.
It was a fairly surreal day.
Leading off into the clouds.
They parted long enough for Tom to get a shot.
It wasn’t damp that day but we got cold laying in the ledge for a two hour belay session.
Cleaning in the clouds.
Probably the second hardest pitch on the route for me. There is an expanding block right above the anchor that really scared me.
Cheyne looking up at the Finger of Fate.
I crack myself up!
Me on the ledge, belaying, Cheyne leading the first Finger of Fate pitch.
Hauling on the Finger of Fate.
Beautiful rock, beautiful position.
You can see through to the other side of the Finger of Fate for a long distance.
The Finger of Fate is going to make a far bigger impact when it leaves the wall than Boot Flake will.
Looking up at me struggling up the “5.9” slot near the top of the Finger of Fate.
Looking down the second Finger of Fate pitch.
We had planned to short fix the two Machine Head Wall pitches and as I belayed Cheyne I had to laugh at how fast he was going, I could barely keep up feeding the rope to him!
Pigs in Space!
Cheyne short fixing the Machine Head Wall.
Cheyne belaying from the comfort of the Parke Belay Lounge.
As of that morning, I had been on El Cap for 10 of the last 12 days, I was pretty beat!
Cheyne leading the last A4 pitch of the route.
Cheyne leading the last A4 pitch of the route.
He didn’t want this hook to come off!
The Incomparable Valley.
Mark Hudon and Cheyne Lempe on top of Native Son in October of 2012.
I keep kidding Cheyne that I’m closer to three times his age, than twice his age (I'm 35 years older than him!). I’m not fast, I’m not a monkey pushing it in a day, but for some reason Cheyne enjoys climbing with me. I’ll take it though, I enjoy climbing with him and we’ve had a real good time so far on our two El Cap trips. Hopefully, there will be many more to come.
West Face of the Leaning Tower
Three days after toping out on Native Son, Skot Richards and I humped a load each to the base of The West Face and started up.
I “met” Skot over the internet after he posted here at SuperTopo. He posted a photo of something that he had “invented” for climbing and people were giving him the usual SuperTopo load of sh#t about it. I was rather embarrassed of my ST brethren so I emailed Skot and apologized for the reception he was getting.
Skot had only been climbing a few months and he was totally excited about it. Being naturally creative his brain was brimming with ideas, “you could do this, or this, how about this?”
He started emailing me questions about wall climbing and eventually we met in Yosemite when he drove up from Southern California to help me carry loads up to the base of Iron Hawk this spring.
Over the summer Skot and I decided to climb the West Face of Leaning Tower together. At the time I had plans to climb only Lost in America with Max so I figured I’d have plenty of time left over for the West Face afterwards. When Peggy and Ellen gave me an extra week off I texted Cheyne and suggested we do The New Jersey Turnpike together (we later switched to Native Son when we decided that NJT didn't look that good). I knew my time schedule would be tight and that any extra rest days or a single rain day would ruin my plans. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
I woke up the day after getting down from Native Son thinking, “Oh, man, I’m beat, this is going to suck”, but Skot, I’ve come to learn, is always happy, psyched and raring to go. I couldn't let him down, I put on my best game face and got ready.
It’s quite a hump up to the base of the route.
Looking up at the route from the scree slope.
Skot is an ironworker in LA and wore his work helmet on the route. He has it outfitted with a small iPod and ear buds.
The 4th class part of the approach.
The tree at the base of the route.
This was Skot’s first wall but he climbed the first 200’ pitch as quickly as anyone.
He was pretty happy to be up there, getting some real experience rather than just talking about it.
The usual, big wall belay loop cluster.
The anchor at the top of the 2nd pitch.
Cleaning the last bit to Ahwahnee Ledge.
Skot leading the pitch off of Ahwahnee Ledge.
Looking back down to Ahwahnee Ledge.
It was his first big wall bivy.
A Peregrine Falcon swooped down, caught a Swift mid flight and came over to Ahwahnee to have breakfast with us.
It was pretty wild! He stayed on the ledge for about five minutes before flying off.
Leading the second pitch above Ahwahnee.
We just layed the bags down on Ahwahnee and hauled them off at the top of the next pitch.
I was surprised at how good and fun the climbing was on this route!
Skot had a fun time dangling around on this roof.
Fun, interesting climbing!
Skot Richards and Mark Hudon on top of Leaning Tower after climbing its West Face route in October of 2012.
Well, I was wondering what climbing a wall would be like with a complete n00b. I had an idea that it would go well and I was pleasantly surprised at how well Skot did. I think his training in ironworking on high rises taught him to think for himself, be safe and to get going. He’ll be raging up bigger walls real soon and I’m sure we’ll climb an El Cap route together in the future.
My nephew, Paul Tyler, had traveled to Yosemite with me from Hood River and on the way down from the Tower I called him and told him to be ready to leave for home the next day at noon. I was totally beat by then and wanted to get home. I had had a great season, maybe the best wall season of my life. I had climbed three great routes, with three great partners, in three amazing weeks.
Can't ask for much more than that!
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