Muir Wall A2 5.9
Trip Reportthe long journey up the Muir Wall, El Cap. Another long[er] TR.
2 weeks later...
Back on the base of El Cap. It looms above me. The Shield Headwall looks like it is miles away. I don't want to lead today. My dad and William take care of most of the carrying and the first two pitches on Moby Dick. I am so tired... the Evolution Traverse was about the coolest thing I'd ever done, and also the most tiring, especially mentally. Because I'd wanted to do it for so long, and it came together so well, I fell in a sort of hole, that caused me to get scared while seconding the great white book.(my dad traded carrying 2 loads to the base of the Muir Wall for me following the thing).
It's strange how tired I was compared to my three partners on the traverse.
I jug to the big ledge, and lie down. I get a mildly uncomfortable feeling. It is high, and we are far from the ground.
William does the next pitch, and I can't see him belaying. He backcleans wildly on the C1, and as clean, I realize that nothing will be the way it was on Never Never Land.
The next day I fell a little better, and lead two of the three pitches to the sixth anchor, from where we fix to the ground.
We could've fixed to Heart too, but feel that it is not the best way to do it, especially considering the outstanding style of the first ascentionists. Of course, we can never come close to them, but fixing only our climbing rope and haul line seems like an acceptable compromise.
Since I am so tired, and William had only climbed 3 days in Smith Rock sine last year, we plan to go slow, and take lots of cookies, chips and some beer. We have really heavy bags for our standards and want to take 7 days. That way I would get some rest, and William could lead as much as he fancies.
The next day, we jug up an haul. As I arrive to the 6th anchor, William has already finished the hauling. He does not do 2-1 or any tricks. I help hauling as a counterweight for the last 20 feet... He passed the knot and hauled quicker than I could jug. He's animal in a good way.
The climbing on the lower pitches is mostly easy, but awkward. The first mishap on the climb happens before we even start.
"Ben, are your climbing shoes on your harness"
"Nah, in the haulbag."
"Sh#t, Did you take yours?"
"Yeah, size 45"
So much for that idea...
I regret being so uncareful for the first time on pitch 8 or so, where the top says C2+ or 5.9+. I decide to go for the 5.9+, and am pretty challenged. I am wasting some power I could use higher up, but I am not thinking all too clearly it seems.
On the pitch to Heart Ledge, the absence of climbing shoes is a problem for the second time. My trashed approach shoes, combined with my mental crapness make the slab feel heart. I hope I went the wrong way.
The temperatures today were 96. Tomorrow will be 102, then it will cool down to 98 and stay about there for the rest of the week. 96 already drained us, as the gallon of Gatorade we each had was too little. William doesn't want his beer because it dehydrates him, he says. It takes me about a minute to make the haulbag 2 Budweisers lighter. The canned fruit is what dreams are made of on Mammoth, and we wish we had brought some more.
William climbs the first pitch the next day. We slept a little longer, and with my dad's linking beta I quickly find myself stuck in the 5.8 flare getting to Gray Ledges. The sun is coming as I near the end of the flare, and with my last meter of rope I reach the anchor bolts, very beat up. Did I mention that I forgot my climbing shoes?
On Grey Ledges, we debate whether or not it is smart to take a rest until the sun hits us less hard, and continue later. Already a little bit affected by the summited fever, we decide not to. William climbs to the base of the first awesome dihedral of the route, and I climb the long pitch as quickly as I can. How amazing would it be to free that pitch?
With plenty of time left we decide to keep going. Just as I belay William huge rockfall occurs on the Nose. We have no clue what is going on. Our idea of bailing into the Triple direct, which we discussed while William did the bolt ladder is discussed to an end.
As it gets dark I finish the first more tricky pitch, to a not so nice bivy anchor. The climbers on the Nose scream a lot during the night. We do not understand them, as they don't speak english. Also we cannot see what's up with them exactly. Down in the meadows, the SAR guys ask them questions in circles because their responses probably don't make any sense. They announce to rap in in the morning. The next morning we decide to try to go quicker, and drink more. Especially get more fruit!
This day we climb the two hardest, and the one of the best free pitches I have ever seen. I almost lose my shoe on the 5.10 squeeze pitch, when it gets stuck as I move my foot up. I almost suffer a stroke, but slide down a few precious inches to get my shoe back. Whew.
The next pitch is so good that I will climb this route again just to free it instead of jugging it. It is an ultra clean, 1 inch splitter dihedral. Golden granit, and one good rest in the middle. Awesome.
The next pitch is pretty hard. I try to climb it clean and cam hook for a while after the penji, but my first piece other than a cam hoof pops and I land pretty close to William. I place 2 or 3 LA's (all we brought, dumb idea!) and it goes okay, until the heidious ropedrag makes the finish incredibly hard. I fix the rope, haul 10 feet, and fall asleep.
As William gets to the anchor I wake up and feel very sick. I say that I would rather take a rest, and resume climbing tomorrow. He offers leading the next pitch, which I really appreciate. We set up the ledges, and wait until the sun is almost gone. He then place micronut after micronut to a fixed black alien, and comes back to the anchor.
The next day William finishes his lead, and I tackle the so called 2nd crux pitch, which is alright with some free climbing where the flakes are expanding and aiding would be hard. We climb two more pitches and bivy on the ledge at 26, with a pitch fixed.
I am tired of the portaledge and sleep on the small ledge. Williams ledge collapses... We really want to get to the summit, and down the next day. We set the alarm for 4 am... but unfortunately both alarms we have run out of batteries that night and I only wake up at 7.30 or so. We quickly jug, and then I start climbing as quickly as I still can. The extra water we now have is useful!
The dihedral is the most beautiful feature I have ever climbed.
Our quickest strategy is for me to wait after climbing, while William cleans the pitch, and rest and drink some water while he hauls, than keep going climbing. We fall onto the summit at 1.30pm. I can't remember being so relieved after a climb. We dance to exhaustion, haul the bags from 30, and reorganize our stuff. We eat our last tins of fruit... happiness!
Psyched for the next one.
Recent Trip Reports
Other Routes on El Capitan