Home/Mountaineering/Yosemite Rock information

From: deuce4@aol.com (DEUCE4)

Hello fellow internet cronies.  Here is an article on the Nose-in-a-day
that was published in Onsight magazine #2  (Las Vegas publication).  Sorry
I can't download the topo...

The Nose-in-a-day.
by John Middendorf

 The Nose-in-a-day is quite likely the best one-day climb in the world. 
3000 feet of excellent climbing, with pitch after pitch of exposure and
adventure. The Nose route first went in a long day by the three-man team
of John Long, Jim Bridwell, and Billy Westbay in 1975.  Until around 1985,
the Nose route on El Capitan had fewer than 10 one-day ascents (from the
ground, no fixing).  Now, as we approach the 20th anniversary of the first
one-day ascent, it is routinely fired off in a day many times a season. 
Record holders Peter Croft, Hans Florine, and Dave Schultz have done it in
less than 5 hours (in teams of two), simul-climbing much of the route.  5
hours  is truly Olympic caliber.  For mere mortals with a long rope, times
of 10-12 hours are possible at a reasonable pace by a team of two fit 5.11
crack climbers, averaging 25-30 minutes a pitch.  

 A well coordinated team of two is the best for climbing mainly free
routes (like the Nose, the West Face of El Cap, and the regular route on
Half Dome) fast.  Assuming both members of the team want an equal share of
the leads, it is most efficient on a long route like the Nose if each
climber leads a "block" of pitches at a time before the team alternates
leaders.  Each "block" consists of 4 to 6 leads in a row,  with less than
5 total number of "blocks" for the entire route.  The block system allow
each climber to be in either a "lead" mode or a "clean" mode, and allows
for a rest before the start of each lead (the alternative, to swing every
lead requires each climber to jumar and lead in single pushes, seems to be
more exhausting).  The second will also be carrying the pack with water,
food, and other gear for the climb.
 After each pitch is led, the leader should fix the rope quickly so the
second can jumar and clean as fast as possible.  After the second cleans
the pitch, he or she will then hand over the sharp end to the leader, and
put the leader on belay.  Meanwhile the leader reracks the cleaned gear
and continues with the next lead.  The whole process at each belay can be
efficiently and safely done in less than a couple minutes.
 The rope transfer during each a block are best facilitated if each
climber is tied into the rope with two locking carabiners (instead of
tieing the rope directly to the harness).  It is quicker to switch ends of
the rope since the rope the leader is tied into will be incorporated into
the belay.  The second will be attached to both jumars, which acts as his
temporay belay as he gives up his end to the leader, and puts the leader
on belay with it.. The belayer will clip into the leaders previous tie-in
and the belay at his liesure (but before unclipping his jumars!!!).
 At the end of each block, the second will jumar and clean as normal, then
take over the lead.  Block changeovers are best performed at spots on the
route with a stance or ledge, where a short break can be taken.

Training and Beta
To climb at an efficient level on the Nose requires the ability to cruise
mid 5.11 cracks quickly and efficiently, and a good head for ropework and
setting natural anchors. The best training for the Nose-in-a-day is to
climb shorter mostly all free all day routes.  Below is a list of good
training routes .  Before the big day, be sure to take 2 or 3 days of
complete rest, and carbo-load the night before.  Many parties start in the
night, but is is quite possible to begin at dawn and complete the climb
before dusk.
 Much of the climbing on the Nose is either free or "French-free",
whereupon the golden rule of whatever's fastest and most energy efficient
goes.  A typical section will require running it out 10 to 20 feet on 5.10
ground,  placing or clipping a piece, pulling past it, and continuing free
climbing.  A0 is the grade given to pulling on gear without aid ladders. 
The A1 on the route that is best done with aid ladders consists of 4
sections, none longer than 60 feet, and total about 200 feet for the
entire route (see topo).
 There are a lot of tricks to climbing fast, most of which can only be
learned through experience.  One of the main tricks is to climb with a 200
foot rope (although the first time I did it, with a 165' rope, Dave
Schultz and I climbed it in 10 hours 44 minutes), and have the ability to
go for it all day long.   Tricks aside, the route requires a well
coordinated effort between partners, with good communication skills to
ensure a steady, safe, non-rushed, energy-efficient ascent.  Watch for the
simple traps like getting a rope stuck below or some dumb error like that.
Training routes(the hours in parenthesis are average fast times for these
routes; actually, they are my times for these routes and will equate to
about a 10 or 11 hour time for the Nose)

Routes best done in "swing" style, where leaders alternate, and second
climbs each pitch (no jumars are used):
Astroman, 5.11c (6 hours valley to valley).
Sentinel: Chounard Herbert, 5.11c, (5 hours from base to top, 1 hour
Sentinel: Steck-Salathe, 5.9 (4 hours).
Sentinel: West Face, 5.11 A0 (5 hours).
El Cap: West Face, 5.11 A0 (8 hours valley to valley).
Half Dome, regular route, 5.11  A1 (7 hours from base to top).
The Autobahn, southwest buttress of Half Dome, 5.11+ (long day valley to

Routes done "block" style (second jumars):
Washington's Column, Direct South Face, 5.9 A1 (4 1/2 hours).
Lost Arrow Direct, 5.10 A2 (8 hours).

Good potentially soloable routes for getting in shape and moving fast:
Nutcracker, 5.8 (8 minutes 47 seconds: my record).
Snake Dike-in-a-day, 5.7 (the approach is the main training benefit).
Washington's Column, Direct Route, 5.7+ (a few hours).

The following is a complete list of equipment for the Nose-in-a-day.
Rack: See topo.
Personal gear (per climber): harness, shoes, chalk-bag, 2 Munter locking
biners, short daisy chain, belay device.
Two gear slings (one per person).
One pair of ascenders with aiders permanently attached.
One set of lightweight aiders for leader when necessary.
One 200 foot lead rope (165 or 180 foot ropes can be used, but will
increase the total number of pitches).  A second rope is advised if you
want retreat to be an option (a 7mm 165 rope is light).
One day pack.
Water: at least 2 gallons in warmer weather.
Food: Powerbars and fruit.
Storm gear and warm clothes (optional, in case you don't make it).
Headlamp (ditto).

Good luck!

John Middendorf

 Note: Topo of Nose available from The Climbing Archive, although it is
not the 23 pitch version I describe here.


In article <37jo5g$3n3@crl2.crl.com>, chuckc@crl.com (Chuck Carlson)

>Don't know what variation she freed.   John Middendorf, in an article
>about climbing the nose in a day, describes a variation that is about
>23 pitches.    The first pendulum (pitch 8) is bypassed by traversing
>from below Dolt hole directly to the base of the Stove Legs.  More
>time and effort is saved by traversing up and left from Dolt tower.

>One or both of these shortcuts may be chipped.

Hello.  The 23 pitch "variation" to the Nose in in fact, the original
route with 2 variations: one below Dolt Hole, and the 3 or 4 pitch Jardine
variation about level with El Cap Tower.  The 23 pitches I describe
require a 60 meter rope and are outlined for purposes of doing the Nose
ina day (not the Nose free).The variation below Dolt hole is not chipped,
and is infact a faster and easier way to go (5.10 A0). 

 The Jardine variation is a 3 or 4 pitch variation that avoids some of the
best features of the Nose (El Cap Tower, Texas Flake, Boot Flake, and the
King Swing).  Only the first 25 feet are chipped (by Jardine).  When Ron
Kauk climbed it sometime in the mid 80's, he thought it would have gone
free without the chipping (hard 5.12?...now hard 5.11+, or 5.11 A0).  (you

Home/ Mountaineering/ Yosemite Rock information