Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dihedral wall VI A3, El Cap

After H-Dizzle I was fully feeling the Valley-psyke and was eager to jump on another route ASAP. So I hooked up with the most psyked climber I've ever met, Ivo Ninov. After tossing around a few ideas for what to do next we settled on a push of the Dihedral wall. Neither of us knew much of the route other than that mega-bad ass Tommy Caldwell recently crushed the route and free climbed it at a stout grade of 14a. We had no intention of freeing the route, we just wanted to blitz another route on the Cappy.
So with much deliberation and consultation of the McTopo we settled on our supplies and hiked up to the base of the dihedral by headlamp with my cousin, Matt. We hung out eating mac and cheese well into the night to put off the sleepless night surely to follow.
Many alarms and reset buttons later we rose well after light. We quickly racked and drew straws to see who led first. Ivo won the first block and scampered up th 5.6 start and the ensuing left leaning dihedrals. I believe we climbed the entire route with left ascender on top to ease the cleaning difficulties caused by the left-leaning nature of the route.
I took over the lead around pitch four and continued several more pitches until the ledge on pitch 9 where we would again swap. We sat down for a casual can of chili and candy bars before Ivo resumed climbing. I sat on the ledge weighing the options of continuing. 16 hours had brought us 9 pitches of elevation so we weren't exactly gonna nail a daylight ascent. Ivo called out lines fixed and i responded with "how bout bivying?" I know, I know sleeping violates the first rule of speed climbing but I foresaw an epic in the making if we continued without sleep. So Ivo consented, rappelled and settled in for a suprisingly comfortable bagless night on the rock. I'm sure the rasta-bivy kit and music helped.
As the sun rose, so did we and soon enough we were pitches above our nights perch. Somewhere along the way I dropped my aider into the forest thousands of feet below which made the route a little more challenging but hey you gotta keep it interesting right? Again darkness began to fall as we neared thanksgiving ledge.
The pitches right below thanksgiving have to be some of the worst groveling on El Cap. Ivo led with multiple headlamps and swear words in many languages to get us to our nights rest. Wide OW, dirt and wandering crack systems gained the glorious ledge where another team was already bivied. They greeted us with praise for going so light and we corrected pointing out our speed or lack there of. All their gear strewn about the ledge spoke of their stay on the wall. That being said, all ascents are equal as long as its all smiles on top! Alex Lowe nailed it with the comment "the best climber is the one having the most fun."
After a fitful few hours of sleep we continued on the west buttress escape instead of the grovely, disgusting finish to the Dihedral wall proper. A few free pitches gained us the summit slabs and we quickly strolled across the summit towards the east ledges and valley floor.

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