just so I could maintain fitness for El Cap. I couldn’t climb really and practice, I just had to stay in shape. I was absolutely sick of pull ups. Up and down up and down.
After months of pull ups and rows, my ankle finally fully healed. Doug and I found a weather window from the smoke of the Ferguson Fire, not to hot and clear skies. I got the days off work (after paying a coworker $100 to cover me) and got all our gear together. Doug and I got to the valley Thursday night, parked in the meadow (not the bridge, could be potentially towed but didn’t) and we were off to Lurking Fear. Before we knew it we were at the base of
The Nose and both thought wow this isn’t so bad. About 15 minuets later our pace has slowed and the uphill is killing us. Our usual attack method of going 100% all the time was stopped in its tracks. Everybody knows El Cap is tall. No body ever talks about how wide it is. It’s a short slightly uphill 15 minute approach to the nose. Once at The Nose, you can go either left or right from there and it’s just slightly never ending uphill. After an hour of slowly walking through the night and a couple leaking gallons of water, we made it to the base of Wings of Steel
and bivouac there for the night.
Saturday rolls around, we take care of our business and we’re off. Instead of swapping leads we started doing small block leads of two. We found this is more effective for us giving the follower more rest time and and exhausting the leader more from leading and hauling two pitches and then giving them proper recovery time to do it again. We shared hauling duties with space hauling and jugging the haul line so it was not all that bad for hauling purposes. We climbed/hauled 5 pitches and fixed one. The stand out pitches that day were pitch 7 with fun traversing hooks and pitch 8 long off width. I placed a couple questionable #3s on the offwidth and just walked up two #4s the whole way. Doug took the next couple pitches and absolutely killed it with the free climbing. The whole climb, Doug took the bulk of the free climbing due to him being a stronger climber. We set up the portaledge quick and made dinner and we’re off to sleep.
Eventually it was Doug’s lead and we had one pitch to Thanksgiving Ledge. While I looked up into the night, Doug was cruising offwidth into the stars, it was a pretty sweet angle to watch someone climb an offwidth. Before I knew it we were in the cave cooking dinner psyched to have finally taken our harnesses off and sleep on a ledge.
The next morning we made a quick breakfast and got back to work. We shuttled our gear across the ledge and climbed the last two pitches to the slab section at the top. From the top of pitch 19, we shuttled gear all the way to the unroping spot and when it was safe, we packed our bags for the descent. We didn’t realize how long of a descent we had a ahead of us. It was our first time doing the east ledges, but it was pretty straight forward. The fixed lines were in good condition and 5 hours later we found ourselves in the manure pile parking lot. Not more than 20 Minutes later it begins to rain.