Tuesday, February 19, 2008

North America Wall VI A2+, El Cap 6/07

My first four routes of the season had taken a huge toll on my body. My hands were a mess and I was forced to rest for two weeks until I could heal up. As soon as I could you better believe I began scrambling for partners once again to feed my big wall granite addiction. I was able to snare Lance and Ted away from their jobs in Yosemite West to join me for another lap on the Cappy by mid-June. We racked up and headed for the base first chance we got. Our plan was to climb as far as possible on day one, bivy and then summit late on day 2. Hopefully hitting the cyclops eye or big sur as a back up.
Lance and I had done the route in 5 days last fall and were psyked to be one a historical mega classic again. It seems most people don't like the NA so much but I believe it to be a great moderate big wall. The difficulties arise more from its wandering nature than the fall potential. It is a logistically challenging route more than anything else.
The first four pitches are some of the most difficult aid climbing on the route but we flew up them no problem. I relinquished the lead at mazatlan to Ted. The next pitches were a mix of aid and free, not too difficult but definitely cool. Then Lance led us to big sur by early afternoon. What now? Rest and then keep climbing into the night or just hang out and enjoy the view?
We had a unique perspective on our friends Pete and Kate on WSR so we decided to chill for the rest of the day. It is surprisingly easy to laze away the day on a 10x20 granite perch a thousand feet in the sky. We milled around on the ledge and scoped the next days climbing until darkness fell and we settled in with only a rasta-bivy bag each to keep us "warm."
Dawn came and the climbing continued through the traverses and penjis to gain the black dihedral. I lead the dihedral and the roof almost all the way to the cyclops eye before mid afternoon. Once again our big wall laze and haze enticed us to spend another night on the wall instead of a grim night suffering summit-ward. Food, water and other essentials were holding out so why not get another hassle-free bivy, a yosemite rarity? No tool to wake us up here.
Again we greeted the day with a wake and bake in the sun and I set out on the traverse out of the eye. After gaining 5.7/c1 climbing we again swapped leads and hurried to the summit. I truly despise the NA summit pitches and was glad to give up the lead. Ted and Lance pushed the rope higher until finally gaining the summit tree in all its glory. We threw gear in bags in a rush as we could hear the cries of the victory beverages in El Cap Meadow.

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