The Shield A3 5.8

 
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El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Up the Shield- Bocarde & Porter Climbing Nov/Dec 1973
Sunday April 19, 2009 4:27pm
A great account of an ultra classic El Cap FA.







The sweetest line on the headwall to be sure and my second El Cap route back in 1978. The cracks start and end in utter blankness.


  Trip Report Views: 3,713
Steve Grossman
About the Author
Steve Grossman is a trad climber from Seattle, WA.

Comments
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hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
  Apr 19, 2009 - 08:16pm PT
steve, your shakin' on my tree. i so revere this route, it's "position" in particular, that i'm hustling to be the first to say hear! hear! i am motivated now to scan a few and gather a few thoughts to shore up your call. though it has been tread by many by now she was still my first ec(among few) and i was thrilled in the absolute back in '78. for now i'll hit the send button and get some education on how to post slides.

ps. i've travelled lite in my day so know that i, among many i'm sure, appreciate reading, after all these years have passed, the literature apropos that you make accessible by posting here.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Apr 19, 2009 - 10:15pm PT
I've always thought that The Shield's location was second to none on El Capitan, and that being on that headwall is one of the most bizarre and unique experiences available to man, unlike (in the 1970s) anything else in history when you think about it.

JL
noshoesnoshirt

climber
Arkansas, I suppose
  Apr 19, 2009 - 10:22pm PT
Just the idea of this route got me into big walls, and I still haven't done it.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Apr 19, 2009 - 10:23pm PT
I agree John. And that this route was unknown to the rest of us, swept right up, done in great style. A really world-class eternal achievement. Really creative, really strong. As if in a dream!!

Charlie was the most creative, productive big wall climber of his time.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
  Apr 19, 2009 - 10:37pm PT
My second EC wall as well, but in the mid-90's- a much, much different experience from those early ascents- the Triple Cracks were so beat out that it was inconceivable that they ever took dozens of RURP's. I remember being surrounded by my new-generation gear being in awe of the early ascents on the gear of the time.

The Headwall is one of the top three climbing experiences of my life- truly mind-blowing to have the sweep of EC below your feet. Hats off to Bocarde & Porter for one of the most impressive, visionary ascents ever.
Thorgon

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
  Apr 19, 2009 - 11:06pm PT
Thanks again, Steve!!! Another stellar post!!!

Thor
Elcap76

Trad climber
Long Beach, CA
  Apr 20, 2009 - 12:13pm PT
I did the shield as my second wall in 1979 (Dihedral was first), and absolutely loved it! Looking up at the route from the triple direct it looks like an old bronze age shield, and the orange/golden staining really adds to the impression. Many fixed rurps were present in the groove and triple cracks pitches, but we had to place at least 1/2 of the gear ourselves. Crack damage was not too bad at that point, I actually placed two rurps on the triple cracks pitch and about 5 tied off knifeblades. At the end of the pitch it was a two bolt (button head contraction type) belay, and I thought about how I would really prefer three bolts at that point.

We bivy'd on the triple cracks, and due to a major error (I thought my partners pile pants were my hammock-hey the stuff bags were identical), I spent the night in three butt-bags. I passed the night fitfully, listening to Pink Floyd's The Wall (mommas gonna keep baby comfy and warm), and watching the celestial clock tick off the minutes until the first rays of light. What a fantastic wall! the exposure and the crack system are the stuff of dreams.

Dana
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Apr 20, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
Bump it for Mr. Grossman the historian again.
Whoo hoo!

Steve, you know how to pick 'em!!!!1111
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  Apr 22, 2009 - 09:30am PT
Chickenhead Ledge is covered with......bumps!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  Apr 25, 2009 - 05:34pm PT
Lots of bumps....
crunch

Social climber
CO
  Apr 26, 2009 - 01:52am PT
Thanks Steve. Such a wild position, like being on the outside of a huge balloon.

When Matt Dancy and I climbed the Shield in 1983, I led the Groove pitch, placing a few tiny RPs in the gaps between rurps (we climbed clean up to here). The webbing on the rurps had had a decade of sun, and was white, brittle and frayed. The rurps’ webbing seemed worse towards the top of the pitch. The very last rurp was the worst of all; just a few pathetic strands were left, and as I weighted it, I could see the dust flying off the straining threads. I held my breath, and reached up and up and up and yes! grabbed the bolt.

I heard that just a couple months later, someone took an eighty-footer there.
Gene

climber
  Apr 26, 2009 - 02:28am PT
"Looking down the Canadian Route."

Guess "Magic Mushroom" was too heady for the mags BITD.

AAJ first called Mescalito the "End All Route."

To say nothing of "Untitled" rather than "Walls without Balls."

gm
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Apr 26, 2009 - 02:33am PT
I watched through binoculars, amazed, as Charlie nailed the Triple Cracks.

I didn't even realize there was a crack system there until then. I don't think anybody else did either.

I feel lucky to have witnessed the first ascent of possibly the most out there solid line on The Captain.
Olihphant

climber
Somewhere over the rainbow
  Apr 26, 2009 - 09:23am PT
Brilliant, simply brilliant!
Mike.

climber
  Apr 26, 2009 - 09:40pm PT
Chance meeting with CP, mid-90s. He told me about scoping out the line, planning to give it a go; a Valley kingpin appealed that he leave it for a free attempt because he (the VKP) knew the decisive climbing was a perfect one-inch crack. On site, the "one-inch crack" materialized as predominantly thin nailing. When he finished the FA and got back to his car, his windshield wipers had been broken off. *laughs*
don't have one

climber
  Apr 26, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
I didn't get to climb The Shield until '94(I was only 21). At that time it was well beaten out; it seemed like the key pieces were sawed off 3/4 and 5/8, and of course the leepers helped a lot. Still, this is one of the more memorable routes on the Captain. Great climbing and exposure....an incredible vision for its time.
WBraun

climber
  Apr 26, 2009 - 10:40pm PT
We flew right by Charlie and Gary in the chopper (Angel 1) when they were up there. They were using my red haul bag I made on my moms sewing machine.

Awesome looking, to bad we didn't have a camera.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  May 3, 2009 - 10:29am PT
A shot of Steve Sutton on the triple cracks taken by Pratt on the third ascent from Yosemite Climber. Absolutely joyous climbing!!!



Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
  May 3, 2009 - 11:08am PT
There's quite a good related thread, about Charlie Porter, at http://supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=538088
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  May 3, 2009 - 12:53pm PT
What would the Triple Cracks go at free? Are they lead protectable without a hammer?


(I do expect to catch sh#t for even asking such a stupid question)
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  May 3, 2009 - 02:13pm PT
Most of the Triple Cracks is the size of a thin Bugaboo. No telling what sort of scars are up there at present. Little for the feet, overhanging about five degrees and no rest features at all. The good news is that you wouldn't touch a thing but eternity falling for miles up there! LOL
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  Jun 28, 2009 - 02:15pm PT
Triple Bump!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  Jul 5, 2009 - 05:41pm PT
The finest seven pitches of aid on El Cap- no argument here!


First week of June, this year.
Walleye

climber
The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
  Jul 5, 2009 - 06:54pm PT
"I heard that just a couple months later, someone took an eighty-footer there. "

Sounds like Troy Johnson. He went for a big ride on that pitch sometime in the early/mid 80's. It rattled him good.



Michael D

Big Wall climber
Sorrento Mesa
  Jul 5, 2009 - 08:21pm PT
A group of us were doing the Talkeetna hang at The West Rib, swapping stories about 'the best route'. I was testifying to the utterly surreal feel of the upper headwall pitches on The Shield, when Gary turns around from the table behind us, and smiles. Priceless when you meet people who impress you, face to face.

Bluering, when Jacobson and I did it, there were about a half-dozen small pin placements after I took a long ride and chickened out of the 'hammerless' ascent. You could hook peckers on old heads all over the place.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jul 5, 2009 - 08:26pm PT
Nice, steve-o!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  Jul 7, 2009 - 09:56pm PT
Always easy to spot people on the upper pitches...
yo

climber
Mudcat Spire
  Jul 7, 2009 - 10:59pm PT
Who else remembers this rad TR?

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=704603
ec

climber
ca
  Jul 7, 2009 - 11:30pm PT
I remember watching Jim Beyer taking a decent ripper on Triple Cracks while on the first solo ascent. It was quiet enough in the meadow that we could hear the pins popping...

 ec
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
  Jul 7, 2009 - 11:52pm PT
Shield photos and stories: http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=544998
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  Jul 11, 2009 - 12:02pm PT
Shield Bump!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  Mar 10, 2012 - 02:41pm PT
A shot of the Shield in changing weather.

Ian Gill

Big Wall climber
Redding, CA
  Mar 10, 2012 - 09:09pm PT

Great stuff, Steve. I had never seen this original TR before.

I feel so privileged and "blessed" to have done this route in it's relative "infancy" if you will(1979), before it got beat to hell. There were still some of the original rurps in the Groove, with the original "tat", buried too deep to thread any new 1/2" through - you had to just take a deep breath and hope the tat would hold. Triple cracks and above were all tied off blade and small arrow tips, with more small nuts higher up.

I've never had a more surreal experience than the hanging bivy at the base of the triple cracks - so exciting it was hard to go to sleep - making the Shield Headwall my all time favorite location on El Cap! An absolute temple!

R Leversee belaying from one of his self styled "Cocoons". Truly a min...
R Leversee belaying from one of his self styled "Cocoons". Truly a mind blowing bivy!
Credit: Ian Gill
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Mar 11, 2012 - 12:01am PT
Leversee bump!
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
  Jan 23, 2013 - 09:07pm PT
Bump for real climbing content.
Johnny K.

climber
  Jul 16, 2013 - 07:21pm PT
up
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Canada
  Feb 25, 2014 - 10:44am PT
10b4me

climber
  Mar 12, 2014 - 10:37am PT
Bump
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Mar 12, 2014 - 12:20pm PT
My fourth el cap route. Climbed it with e colonel in '84? My lead of the roof was the wildest most exposed thing I've ever done. It did not prepare me for the austere isolated nature of the head wall!

What an adventure, to be there for the first time, not knowing if it could go!
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El Capitan - The Shield A3 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The Shield is route number 7.
Photo: Tom Frost
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