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Brent Ware

May/June 1997

Aid ratings are what I consider New Wave-ish, and are based on how I did it. You can make it harder or easier depending on your ethics and willingness to nail. See Long/Middendorf and Walling for definitions of NW aid ratings. Rope lengths are estimates: YMMV. I'm a member of the Camalot generation, so all my sizings are based on those. As always, everything here is subject to my faulty memory, take it on faith at your own risk, etc., blah, blah, blah. You are responsible for your own actions.

A nice hook move to start your day out right. Then pretty casual aid to the roof belay. A fair amount of fixed gear, and I found it pretty easy to make it go clean. Nothing bigger than a #2 cam. SB, 80', C1.

Traverses down and under to rivets. The 5.8 can be aided, then easy aid to a belay. Could possibly be combined with P1 with 60m rope if you were soloing (I didn't try it 'cause I was waiting on the party in front of me). Otherwise rope drag would be a drag. 1 rope to ground. semi-stance, 80', C1.

Mostly rivets, bolts, and a couple of enhanced hook moves. Fake belay with good bolts under the roof, then C1 to Dead Bird Ledge, which has crappy bolts, but can be backed up with a #1 cam. One rope to P2 belay, two ropes to ground, haul from here if fixing. Stance, 150', C1.

Easy aid/free. Unmemorable (in other words, I can't remember anything about this pitch, so it must not be either hard or fun). Semi-stance, 5.6, C1.

Usually combined. 20' 5.8 or C2 hook traverse to rivets. I used a few hand-placed LAs as hooks here. Backclean the crappy rivet ladder to the crappy P5 belay (CP must have been so disappointed when that dihedral turned out to be blank, though if the route were done today, it'd be copperheaded). Big loose blocks here when you finally get your first good placements right before the P5 belay. Watch them. Back clean after you clip the bolt. Easy free over loose diorite to bolts. Try not to put any gear in the free section (it's loose anyway), and continue to backclean to the belay. A rivet has blown here. I used a red Lowe Ball to get past it, though you could nail or use a cheater stick. Stance, good biv, 160', 5.6 C2 if the rivets hold, could be exciting if one pops.

C2 on fixed tatty slung RURPs to the Black Tower. A bomber small cam placement (yellow Alien, quadcam, or TCU), then ratty, tatty fixed RURPs above a bad fall onto the Tower. Okay, I first nailed here, rather than risk a fall onto the RURPs and then the point of the Tower. I'm a weenie. Nice stance, 160', A2 if you nail, C3+ if you don't (it's gonna hurt).

C1 to a hook. A couple of bolts, then a bomber #1 cam placement (below a bolt - whassup with that?). Under a roof to offsets to a couple of fixed RURPs (and some blown ones), then a bomber Petzl bolt. SB, nice bivy, 120', C1.

Fun pitch, lots of small stuff, a few fixed pieces and copperheads. SB, crappy bolts at the belay, but can be backed up in the crack, 120', A2+.

The Nipple pitch. Another fun one. Baby angles, maybe a couple of #3 LAs, aliens, small TCUs, offsets, the usual assortment of thin gear, then all of a sudden it gets wide. The Green Monster #5 gets you to the bolts, a #4 gets you to the thin part again. You could do the pitch with one #4 and some swearing. Probably. It doesn't quit after the nipple. More small stuff, and a nice 3 cam #1 placement. SB, very nice bivy, 150', A2+.

Wild. Overhanging black diorite to a tatty sling and a 5/8" angle. I could not figure out how to do this pitch without using a RURP or birdbeak. Some loose flakes, then a couple of LAs, copperheads and the usual assortment of thin gear. There's a belay ledge off left about 20' below the marked belay that looks like it has at least one new bolt. All the ones at the marked belay were manky, and it scared me to haul off them. It looks like it would be hard to get to the ledge, and hard to get back off of it, though. SB (or ledge), 160', A2+.

An LA or two up and left to some loose diorite flakes (fishhook), then up to the kinda scary Lunar Eclipse blocks. Thin edges and obviously detached. #3 and #4. Rivets to fixed copperheads to exciting hooks to a nice bivy. SB, 160', A2+.

Up a little, traverse left then back right. I nailed an angle to start the traverse, though I had a pretty good nut in not too far below. I'm a chicken. A couple of hook moves. Backclean everything to the fixed pin and the bolt ladder, then hook and traverse right into the big cams. Continue backcleaning the left traverse into the stellar crack. Bomber nuts until you get to the top, #4 handy here. I also walked a couple of #1s for a bit. I must not have backcleaned enough, because even with a 60m rope, I had about five feet left at the end of the pitch. The Peanut Ledge (a sidewalk bench in the sky - dangle your legs over the edge and check it all out), good bivy, 165', A2+.

Hmm. What'll I use here? I think it'll be... the #4 camalot. Fun camalot walk. I left a #2 at the bottom, and the #5 about 1/3 of the way up just because I could. Otherwise it's just the #4s. A few rivets and bolts to clip, though you couldn't ask for better cam placements, and I trusted them more than the rivets anyway. Don't leave them behind when you hit the three bolts in a row, you still need them higher. Bomber Petzl bolt starts the traverse out of the roof. Okay, you can abandon the heavy artillery now. Sharp edge here, pad/tape for rap, haul, and clean. You could make it up this pitch carrying five camming devices (I won't tell you which five, though), about 10 carabiners, and five rivet hangers. Sloping ledge belay, good bivy, 120', C1.

Hook left, clean up, hook left, clean up, walk down the sidewalk to the belay directly above the last after wandering left then back right. Sounds like a football pass pattern - run a zig-zag and buttonhook right. Stance, good bivy, 80' haul, 140' of rope for the lead, C1+.

Not a giveaway at the end. There are several ways to end this game, or so I've heard. I freed right and up, then A2 to the top (includes a hook, nailing, pulling on tatty slings, and placements under loose rock), then went right under the summit boulder on fixed pins. The new Wadman El Cap topo poster shows this variation as A4-. Hmmm. Stance (hell, it's the summit), one good bolt and rivet hangers, 80', A2.


The route has gone clean several times, though it requires bigger balls than I have, or maybe just picking the right team to follow. Or a cheater stick. I didn't nail a lot (maybe half-dozen times?), but there were some things I just couldn't see how to get past without nailing. Maybe I just don't have the NW mindset yet. I probably don't use my camhooks enough. How many sets of each thing you need depends on how much backcleaning you are willing to do. I had about three sets of everything up to #1 camalots, and was pretty happy (the route traverses quite a bit, and you're just screwing the clean unless you backclean *everything*). I'd bring a bolt kit and bat hooks, because some of the rivets are time bombs. Almost all the free climbing can be aided.

1 RURP or birdbeak
2 1/2" angles (not that damn useful)
2 5/8" angles
1 5/8" sawed-off
1 3/4" sawed-off (lots of placements want the size between these last two)
1 each #2, #3, #4, and #5 LAs (These are the pins I had, so I know you can get by with this. More or less, according to your tastes. I didn't use all these; remember, I headed up thinking I was going to do the Trip.)
2 sets of nuts (including offsets)
1 set of Lowe Balls (okay, I just used the red)
2 sets of camming devices from smallest to #4 Camalot. #5 is useful, but probably not necessary.
1 Fish hook
2 Chouinard hooks
1 ea Leeper cam hooks (not necessary, but nice)
Several rivet hangers

ObRant: After the Second 100 Year Flood of December '96 (as opposed to the First 100 Year Flood of May '96) I expected to find major changes in Yosemite. What I found were the same old things. Everything necessary for commerce was open (big surprise, eh?). The roads were fine. The Valley looked the same from a thousand feet up as it always does. Tourists still dress badly. The bad news: The `free' showers at the Lodge cabins are no more. I went over and checked out the damage, and to my unpracticed eye, it looked like there was very little damage to the cabins and the bath that a hose and a wet mop wouldn't fix. Hardly anything that would necessitate a major rebuilding plan. Many of the changes, though minor, seemed to have been designed to keep the OBC types away. Derelict's Row in the Lodge overflow parking is gone. I didn't see many of the usual nomads festering around C4.

A couple of facts for the budding solo wall climber out there. My rack weighed 37 pounds. With no partner to tag things to me, I pretty much carried this up every pitch. At the end of the climb, with everything wet, each haulbag load weighed 90 pounds. And there were two of them. That's without food and water, at least potable water. Everything I had was completely, thoroughly soaked. Had I known how difficult the descent was going to be, I might have had yet another excuse for bailing. But luckily, I have the three qualities necessary to be a wall climber: a high tolerance for pain, a bad long-term memory, and I forget the other.

© Brent Ware <ware@ligo.caltech.edu>

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