Zodiac A2 5.7

 
  • Currently 5.0/5
Search
Go

El Capitan


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Zodiac in 110 Hours, Couch-to-Couch, April 11-15, 2013
Tuesday April 16, 2013 10:19pm
Climbers,

This is a report of a new speed ascent on the Zodiac. No one has ever climbed the route in this time, starting from, and finishing on, my couch.

Here's our trip report:

Day zero:
We left San Francisco about 6am and drove to the valley. We hiked up to the base with all our gear and some water. We fixed two pitches, hiked back to the car for the haul bags, brought them up to the base. We saw a party of two on Mescalito and hollered up at them while hiking with the bags. It was fun to watch them for the remainder of the climb as we both made upward progress.
Horsetail falls was going fairly good at this point, and I got a little bit wet throughout the night at the base but it wasn't too bad.

Getting off the ground.
Getting off the ground.
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Cruising up pitch 2
Cruising up pitch 2
Credit: fat-n-sassy

More pitch 2.
More pitch 2.
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Day 1:
Blast off! Woke up, pooped one last time on sweet mother earth, clipped the jummars on, and took off. It's always super exciting to blast off onto an adventure like this. So much unknown! Would I run out of food? Would it rain? Would I die?
Anyways, we worked our way up the next few pitches pretty easily. The falls got us a little bit wet especially at the top of pitch 3, however, the sprinkles seemed to lighten up by the time we got to our planned bivy at the top of pitch 7. We linked 5 & 6. Pitch 7 was pretty heads up above the black tower. The urge to hammer was strong but we resisted. The ledge at the top of seven is outstanding. Definitely good for one to sleep, but I don't know if anyone does this route without a portaledge?

Blast off!
Blast off!
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Falls in background, out of reach!  Note the sweet dikes.
Falls in background, out of reach! Note the sweet dikes.
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Day 2:
We woke up, took care of business, and started climbing. Pitches 8, 9, & 10 go on forever. They were much harder than what was below. To start, everything was fairly overhung. Pitch 9 was notable for more than one stripped head. There was chalk everywhere on the smallest holds. Damn free climbers upping the grade of this aid climb! My partner tomahawked his way through this section and the hammer remained in the haul bag (I would have called out for it without hesitation, so good on him).
Let me say that I have never brought a belay seat on a wall with me before and after this day I will never again climb a wall without one. I'm thinking of just turning my belay seat into a harness. Did I say these pitches went on forever? I mean FOREVER. The nipple, or pitch 10, was going to be our last for the day as we planned to sleep at the large sheltered, albeit hanging, bivy atop this pitch.
My partner wanted this one too and I had no objections. This thing looked hard. He worked his way up the bolt ladder quickly, and then started out the traverse on small cams and nuts, back cleaning everything so I could lower off a fixed pin at the start of the traverse. At about 1/3 the way through he got spooked and started leaving gear. I said that would be fine (anything was fine if I didn't have to lead the sucker), so long as he left every piece of gear, I would be able to get everything back. A few pieces out, I've slouched forward in the belay seat, my head resting on the power point (this is a really comfy position if you haven't tried it) when suddenly I hear a sound and the gri-gri slams up into my face, I'm lifted up off the belay seat about 2 inches.
Now the only respectable thing to do in this situation is to play it off like you weren't asleep when your partner fell, right? So that's what I did. "You're ok?" He was sitting only 8-10 feet below the traverse, apparently a micronut had popped on him, and a yellow Metolius #2 caught him. Clean fall, I hoist him back to the little cam, and he puts in another piece and starts to go for it again. I fall back asleep (not really, but there IS a reason I use a gri-gri) and BAM, he falls again. Yellow cam catches again, I hoist him back up again and am started to get a little worried. I really don't want to lead this thing now! I gently remind him that that the topo recommends leap-frogging cam hooks the whole way. He doesn't like that idea, but puts one in, it holds, and off he goes. For about 20 feet without any gear. We both know I'm not getting that yellow cam back and he's ok with it, so I'll just lower out off it. A small sacrifice for the big stone. He finished the pitch, I jug up bolt ladder, lower off the pin, clean a few cams, am up to the yellow one that has now caught 2 falls and begin to set up to lower off of it, when POP! It rips out! I had most of my weight on the cam at this point which caused a fall right on to my jummars. I haven't had that pleasure before. I fell, swung, and popped a bunch of small gear above me (less cleaning). As soon as I realized what happened I screamed loudly. I didn't know my voice could go that high! My partner, above, was oblivious.
Got that yellow cam back at any rate.
Anyways, finished the pitch, partner had the ledge setup by the time I got up to the belay (I think I jugged extra slow after that fall). It was getting dark. All day for 3 pitches! Slow!

Bags on the nipple. I seriously underestimated how steep this route wa...
Bags on the nipple. I seriously underestimated how steep this route was, it seemed like everything was overhung!
Credit: fat-n-sassy

A "hold."  If you ask me, I'd prefer to just grab the bolt!
A "hold." If you ask me, I'd prefer to just grab the bolt!
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Ledge.
Ledge.
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Sunset atop the nipple. Grand.
Sunset atop the nipple. Grand.
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Relaxin'
Relaxin'
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Am I gonna die?
Am I gonna die?
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Credit: fat-n-sassy

Day 3:
During the night we slept fine, but were woken up by some massive rock fall. It was my turn to sleep on the inside of the ledge and when I heard this massive sound, I immediately knew what it was and just instinctively turned into the wall, clutching one of the ledge straps. It was over. I was gonna die.
That didn't happen, the fall was east of us, and we fell back asleep after trading a few "Oh, shit! We're gonna die!" remarks.
We planned on sleeping on peanut ledge the following night and then toping out the day after, but checking weather that morning it looked like there was a storm brewing so we decided to push as far as we could and hopefully do two days of climbing in one and summit that night.
Our friends over on Mescalito were bivyed on a nice looking ledge and didn't move all day. Rest day for them!
The wind really picked up this day and the temp dropped. I was wearing a huge puffy most of the day. We go to peanut ledge around 5pm, but neither of us wanted to stay. We decided that the next 3 pitches looked short and easy-ish. So we would go for it. The wind died down around sunset. We ended up topping out a little before midnight. I wish someone had seen/videotaped us trying to get the bags over the top. It was so awkward, we were so wrecked, I imagine everyone on the 'taco would have really enjoyed watching that fiasco.

The party on Mescalito is barely visible on this picture.  No zoom len...
The party on Mescalito is barely visible on this picture. No zoom lens on my camera, sorry boys!
Credit: fat-n-sassy

View from peanut ledge.
View from peanut ledge.
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Pitch 15 at sunset!
Pitch 15 at sunset!
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Belay.
Belay.
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Day 4:
MOTHER F*#KING RINGTAIL CATS!
You guys know the story; it's been told before. We were exhausted when we topped out. I couldn't even hold a can of soup up to eat out of it. Fell asleep with gear everywhere. This is not the first time that this same thing happened to me. I should know better. But I'm a slow learner.
So just before dawn, I hear a noise, there is a ring-tail cat in my haul bag (I left it open). He runs off, I fall asleep, he comes right back! Some screaming and chasing and he's gone for good. In the morning, I discover he's taken my cinnamon raisin bagels. Which is the same food they stole the last time they got into my stuff over on the Column! Interesting choice, but it seems that they have a preference.
It wasn't a big deal (other than the poor form of feeding the wild life) because we had topped out a day early so I had plenty to eat still.
The east-ledges descent was hard, long, and painful. It always is--I needn't go into more detail. One day I'd like to do this without a bag just to see how easy it would be!
In spite of the weight on our backs, we were happy! Summit!

Good morning!
Good morning!
Credit: fat-n-sassy

Victorious!
Victorious!
Credit: fat-n-sassy

I won't lie, it took forever to pack up our bags in the morning!  We b...
I won't lie, it took forever to pack up our bags in the morning! We both dread the hike out...
Credit: fat-n-sassy

The whole route went clean for us, although I would not judge anyone who busts out the hammer on some of those sections.
We drove back to SF that night and made it all the way back to my couch by 8pm without dying!

Closing thoughts:

Climbing walls is fantastic. I remember the first night I spent in a portaledge. I was out of my mind with fear. It was on Lurking Fear, top of pitch 5 and I made my partner bail the following morning. I swore off all climbing for good.

Only, slowly, the obsession crept back in. I could not believe I had failed. Of course, we went back and did that route. There was some drama, some fear. But we made it. Later we did the Nose, and our style had improved further.

This was my 3rd time up El Capitan, and I know it won't be my last. With each summit there has been decreasing length of time before I get the bug and have my eyes fixed on a new line. That length of time used to be months. Now it is hours.

It was Big Oak Flat, precisely, where my partner said, "What's next? The Shield?"

Happy Climbing!

YER GONNA DIE.

  Trip Report Views: 2,763
fat-n-sassy
About the Author
fat-n-sassy is a social climber from San Francity, CA.

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Apr 16, 2013 - 10:48pm PT
Sweet! TFPU! My wall itch is reallyyyyy bad right now...must go climb soon. Thanks for the cool photos and story
moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  Apr 16, 2013 - 10:49pm PT
Good report and nice pics too. Thanx for sharing and keep up the good work.....

Stevo
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 16, 2013 - 11:03pm PT
Nice understated report. It has an everyman sort of feel to it, lulling potential victims to just cruise on up there and do it as if they're not really gonna die. I hear the siren song.
skywalker

climber
  Apr 16, 2013 - 11:13pm PT
Thanks Man!

Fully enjoyed. Gosh I remember seeing chalk on the WFLT thinking how the hell???

Anyway nice job and thanks!

S...
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
  Apr 16, 2013 - 11:13pm PT
Good stuff, you poor bastard. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!6!!
TFPU, eh?
Remember, if it doesn't kill you, it just makes you stronger.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Apr 16, 2013 - 11:19pm PT
Very cool, love the wide angle view!
jabbas

Trad climber
New River, AZ
  Apr 17, 2013 - 01:05am PT
I Er jelus of such menagerie of fun and thrill !! Splendid defiance of gravity !!
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  Apr 17, 2013 - 01:13am PT
Steep learning curve - Propers.
10b4me

climber
  Apr 17, 2013 - 01:18am PT
thanks for the tr
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Apr 17, 2013 - 01:32am PT
Awesome report and photos! Thanks for teaching me the way to attract a ring tail cat. Never seen one in the wild before :)
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  Apr 17, 2013 - 02:04am PT
Awesome TR...
Funny, great narrative, heart pounding, and AMAZING photos...

Thanks for the share. Smiling from ear to ear.


~peace
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  Apr 17, 2013 - 02:38am PT
great shots!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Apr 17, 2013 - 03:01am PT
enjoyed!

TFPU
krahmes

Social climber
Stumptown
  Apr 18, 2013 - 01:27pm PT
Good job and nice write up. Kinda reminds of fanfare for the common man.
photonez

Big Wall climber
San Jose, Armpit of the Bay!
  Apr 18, 2013 - 01:48pm PT
Great TR.
That swing on the nipple sounded sporty.
Ring-tail cats hey-hep!
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Apr 18, 2013 - 02:10pm PT
Great job guys! Some really great photos in there
RP3

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Apr 18, 2013 - 02:16pm PT
Those photos are amazing. Thanks for posting
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Apr 18, 2013 - 02:19pm PT
Boom,, and nice! Those ringtails are much like the bear sub-specie there,,,"Ursus sneak-a-snackeye"....
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Apr 18, 2013 - 02:19pm PT
NIce!

Way to dig in early season.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Apr 18, 2013 - 02:39pm PT
No one has ever climbed the route in this time, starting from, and finishing on, my couch.

That alone was worth the price of admission, but the pics and trip report were first-rate, too. Thanks for whetting my appetite.

John
Mikemcee

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
  Apr 18, 2013 - 04:01pm PT
Awesome report and loved the comentary about your first trip up LF...know that feeling well.
Gunkie

Trad climber
East Coast US
  Apr 18, 2013 - 04:15pm PT
Nice one!
cencalclimber

climber
  Apr 18, 2013 - 04:21pm PT
Dude...pics are great! What camera did you use?

Thanks!
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
  Apr 18, 2013 - 04:29pm PT
Nice TR TFPU! the zodiac is sooo good. I have never repeated a wall but I would do the zodiac again. BTW your pictures are great, what kind of camera or setting did you use?

Bump for wall stoke!!
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
  Apr 18, 2013 - 05:00pm PT
Sweet! Zodiac was my first EC route and it brought back good memories. Dig the photos. What did you use to take the pics? Definitely steep. I didnt get the cat visit atop zodiac but sure did at the start of leaning tower!
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Apr 18, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
Excellent Adventure! Way to stick it out. Skeery story of your buddy peeling...but way to stay on the horse. Wonderful photos man. You using a post production program to pop those colors?


This one is simply breathtaking. One of the best I've seen.


Thanks for the story and images!
fat-n-sassy

Social climber
San Francity, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 18, 2013 - 07:40pm PT
First, I should point out, rather my girlfriend reminded me: it is her couch, not my couch.

That small detail aside...

I use a Sony Nex-5 with a fish-eye lens (that can pop off, turning it into a 24mm). The micro 4/3 type cameras are fantastic for climbing! Small but really pack alot of punch. A few other companies make similar products. I clip the case to my harness and then a separate (locking) biner connects the camera on a long sling to my harness. That way I can feel comfortable taking the thing out at any time! (I am horrified of dropping things up there; I usually bring 1,000 extra belay devices--just in case.)

Lightroom to edit color, etc.

Looking at buying some new camera gear as soon as finances allow! (Would love a Nex-7 with a fancy zoom, but that may have to wait a while.) Thanks for all the comments folks!

See you guys on the wall!

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 18, 2013 - 09:49pm PT
Very Nice pics, funny story about the cat purrrrfurrring cinamon-rasin bagles!
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Apr 18, 2013 - 10:03pm PT
Great report. Thanks
bergbryce

climber
East Bay, CA
  Apr 19, 2013 - 12:51am PT
Great TR, way to get er done!

-Bushface
fat-n-sassy

Social climber
San Francity, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 19, 2013 - 01:09am PT
^^^

miss my bush!
Plaidman

Trad climber
South Slope of Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, USA
  Apr 19, 2013 - 01:44am PT
Super great job man. And not a bad write up. Funny too!

I hope I have as much fun as you guys did. Anytime spent on a wall is sweet.

Best to ya

Plaid
msiddens

Trad climber
  Apr 24, 2013 - 01:38pm PT
Nice read
briar

Big Wall climber
San Rafael, CA
  Apr 24, 2013 - 05:34pm PT
I saw you guys up there on the Nipple Pitch.
Seemed like it was taking a while.
Great to hear what was going on.
Congrats.
Neil Chelton

climber
Bouldering your girlfriend
  Apr 25, 2013 - 01:27am PT
Congrats on the speed ascent. Great write up and awesome photos!
JohnnyG

climber
  Apr 25, 2013 - 03:04pm PT
Now the only respectable thing to do in this situation is to play it off like you weren't asleep when your partner fell, right? So that's what I did. "You're ok?"

hahaha

great report, funny. great photos
elcap-pics

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
  Apr 25, 2013 - 08:45pm PT
Looked like Zodiac to me!! Nice job and a great route! Enjoyed your report too, excellent photos!
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Go
El Capitan - Zodiac A2 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
1800' of fantastic climbing.
Photo: Chris McNamara
Other Routes on El Capitan
El Capitan - The Nose 5.14a or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
The Nose, 5.14a or 5.9 C2
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Nose—the best rock climb in the world!
El Capitan - Salathe Wall 5.13b or 5.9 C2 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Salathe Wall, 5.13b or 5.9 C2
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Salathé Wall ascends the most natural line up El Cap.
El Capitan - Lurking Fear C2F 5.7 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Lurking Fear, C2F 5.7
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Lurking Fear is route number 1.
El Capitan - East Buttress 5.10b - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
East Buttress, 5.10b
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

East Buttress with top of The Nose on left.
El Capitan - The Shield A3 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
The Shield, A3 5.8
El Capitan
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Shield is route number 7.
More routes on El Capitan