This time around I team up with my Canadian friend Alik who I haven't seen in a few years and is also my age. He has similar taste in walls and we quickly decide on the aquarian wall on the southwest face of El Cap. A new route for both us and we're psyked.
We're at the base in no time and doing battle with the ringtail that feels entitled to our food. He can climb better than us so what he grabs is his but I'm bigger and capable of wielding rocks. So we continue the hang at the base despite the rodents and lay out all of our gear for the morning. We get a decently early wake up and slam some yogurt and bagels for a quick breakfast.
We get off to a good start with me leading the first block in no time flat. The climbing is ok but fairly chipped. Lots of chipped heads alongside shiny new bolts. Ok climbing by slab aid standards and pretty easy. Alik gets some awkward free and aid climbing leading us past timbuktu. I take the lead here and get stumped quickly by a blown circlehead. Shitty placement in bad rock and the head won't stick no matter how hard I try. After many failed tries I whack in a shitty blade and quickly get to the fixed pin farther down the feature.
This leads us into the night and some more awkward climbing. Weird water grooves with thin cracks in the back, not really free climbable but not easily aided either. These almost stop us cold. Alik requires 4 hours for one lead but it was warranted as it looked strenuous as hell and it was dark. After this we hit familiar terrain at thanksgiving ledge and climb quickly off the west butt escape. We top out in 26 hours and just a little worse for the wear. Nothing a few days rest won't cure.