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Zodiac VI, 5.7, C2+

El Capitan, Yosemite


September 12-15, 2001

by Natallia and Henry Wurzer, Munich, Germany



My wife and me made now the second attempt to climb that route. First in September 2000 we tried to do it, but an akward fall on pitch 7 broke my lowest rips and we had to retreat. But the route did attract me so much, that I swore to come back and just did it this year. All the year long I was dreaming of climbing that route with those beautiful rock features and the word Zodiac had a special magnetism to me. We were back next year and succeded beeing 4 days on the wall. The last bivy (#4) we took on top of Zodiac on flat ground. In front of us climbed a 3-person party of Norwegians, climging in the night as well and therefore no running up accured. And behind us two nice tiny Japanese climbers, who we watched falling twice. Unbelievable: the route was then not climbed by any party for a whole week.


We really enjoyed this great and steep climb. A lot is fixed but still some challenging parts remain like cam-hooking, traverse hooking and placing offset nuts which make the route unforgettable. The climb itself leads thru grand and beautiful rock features changing on every pitch you move higher. Climbing W.C.is a bore in comparison.


I shall not attach a beta or gear list since this information is given many times on other reports. We prepared in 2 days up to pitch 4 because when we came first time to the base the first pitches were crowed like a rock festival. We managed to prepare to pitch #2 and returned 2 days to continue the fixing when the crowd moved off and away. We had bivy on belay #6, #9, #12 and on the East ledges at Zodiac top out. Can you imagine how convenient it is to have a bivy on flat ground where you can spread all your things anywhere and turn around while sleeping as you like ? We used 2 wall-haulers for each bag on 2 individual haul-lines what made the hauling procedure comfortable for the leader and the loads for the descent could be packed nicely and equally.


However enjoy our pictures

Picture 1 and 2: my wife Natallia relaxing at the base to Zodiac after preparing up to pitch #4



Picture 3: jugging up to pitch 2 for further fixing

Picture 4: jugging up 330ft to pitch 4 anchor (via Shortest Straw bolt) in order to bring bags up



Picture 5: pitch #5 Natallia on the end of the bolt ladder. Pitch #5 and #6 can be combined, but we did not because of the zig-zag of the lead-line and wasting time in large back-cleaning (only good for soloists).



Picture 6: pitch #7 in the morning of the 2nd day. Henry climbing above Black Tower up to the belay #7.

Higher up the portaledges of 3 Norwegian guys on belay #8, they moved off by climbing one more pitch every night.



Picture 7: via pitch #8 the great white circle is entered, the rock now gets white and steep (see angle of hanging-down ropes)



Picture 8: pitch #8 is an immaculate dihedral and eats small nuts, demands cam-hooking and fixed gear shows up just when you need it (watch the steepness by jugging up the last Norwegian to belay #10)

Picture 9: Natallia on her cleaning job on pitch #8 on a glimpse down the dihedral shown in pic 8. On belay #7 the Japanes can be seen preparing their bivy on a good ledge.



Picture 10: Henry on bivy 2 on belay #9 in the white circle, he is happy having a horizontal spot to relax.

What do you think how old is this guy ? - the answer you find at the very bottom



Picture 11: pitch #10 the nipple pitch in the early morning light.

One of the most impressive pitches I ever climbed, due to the immaculate rock and the perfect climbing line along.



Picture 12 + 13: impressions on the nipple pitch, Natallia after cleaning the nipple and having fun coming up.



Picture 14a + 14b: Natallia jugging up above the roofs of the mark of zorro

Henry & Natallia sorting gear on belay #11 and getting ready for the next attack.

Pictures beeing shot with a huge zoom lense on the El Cap meadows by William Zittrich



Picture 15: Natallia moving close to belay #12 bypassing a hook traverse.

Picture 16: Natallia on belay#12 beeing happy to finish climbing for the 3rd day and getting ready to set up the portaledge



Picture 17: pitch #13 has a beautiful crack to the end and leads to a grand belay station (peanut ledge) offering a splendid view down and to the wall left and right. It makes you feel you achieved something and all those efforts getting up here seem to be justified.



Picture 18: pitch #14 needs a #5 and a #4 camelot - if you do not use the bathook on boltholes higher up. Under the roof waits an exposed little traverse to the left coming round you will be glad to see the anchor bolts. One more impressive pitch on this route of the big stone eastside since it offers wide crack climbing on big cams too. The bolts set here make you really happy. On my journey up the wind was the greatest handicap on this pitch: I almost never got my boots in the aiders.


The last 2 pitches are short but somehow tricky and interesting anyway one can smell the summit and this puts wings on your climbing ambitions and the little roof traverse as a top out is really the best top out I have ever experienced.



Picture 19: pitch #15 seen from El Cap meadows. Henry moving up a C2 thin crack with back-cleaning according to the topo. The pitch goes zig-zag: first left traverse, then up, then a 30 ft left traverse again, then up and at least followed by a right traverse down to the anchors. One good thing: the hauling is short.



Picture 20: pitch #16 seen from El Cap meadows, Natallia belaying and Henry moving up. We topped out at about 6:30 p.m. and had our 4th bivy on the east ledges near the top out on flat and comfortable cosy ground. Yeeeepeeeee Yaaahoooo.


Next morning after an extended sleep we descended down the east ledges which I already new. At lunch time we reached the ranger rock parking lot., 1 hour later we sat at the Hamburger station behind the village store and enjoyed litres of coke and tons of chocolate shakes.



A great adventure has ended but the climbing heart feels still the burning fire ..


Thanks to Charlie Porter, FA, who established a fine line along natural features

Thanks to all who placed the good bolts on this route providing a safe climb to all of us

Thanks to William Zittrich for the ground-up shots of our climb

report by Henry Wurzer, October 3rd 2001

email: hwurzer@aol.com

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