Ah, the dog days of summer have settled on the valley. Most of the camp 4 denizens had either gone to Tuolumne or some other fair weather climbing locale. Only those that can't or won't leave remain. While lazing by the river one day Lance and Ted inform they once again have time off. Sweet, another El Cap mission. We've been discussing the plan for some time, we're all hot for the Shield. Mega classic climbing in arguably the best location on El Cap. The plan is roughly the same as the NA climb to a ledge, sleep in your puffy jacket (at most), wake up do it again.
Lance and Ted have done the free blast before but I insist on climbing it anyway. If you jug 1000 feet of a wall then climb 2000 feet you should just climb a smaller wall. Cheating in my book but no one has to follow my book. Ted offers to boot up for the whole free blast as Lance and I jug behind with the bags. Much to our surprise our friends Josh and Ian are doing the exact same plan! They are well ahead of us with a 3 AM start so we just get to follow in their fresh footprints.
The climbing is without incident each pitch flowing into the next. We arrive at mammoth in the heat of the day. The sun has taken quite a toll on Lance so we bed down for the rest of the day hiding from the sun. Turns out Josh and Ian bailed but left water so we drank ourselves water drunk. Such a great bivy, huge and flat with many options for leashless bivying.
In the morning we are woken by a team of well known climbers, George Lowe and Conrad Anker! They were attempting a one day ascent of the salathe but had dropped a jumar and other crucial gear so were bailing but gave us more much needed water. We may have underestimated the left side in summers blazing sun. After chatting with the guys we each go our respective ways. Ted leads us to grey ledges where we swap leaders and Lance takes over until the roof pitch. From here I get the honor of leading the entire headwall at night arriving at chickenhead at 2 AM. Actually it was really fun, great climbing. It had been cleaned a little bit so big peckers worked great on every pitch including the groove and the headwall scars.
We slept peacefully due to the exertion only to be disturbed by me in the middle of the night. I saw lights in the meadow and assumed it was tool patrolling for ob campers and since one of my favorite things to do on a wall is get my aggression out, I began yelling at them for quite some time. Only afterwards did I realize it was the moon reflecting on puddles of water in the meadow. Oops, still got the aggo out of me!
At dawn we rose and began preparations to get off the route. The top out is straight forward and easy where it joins the magic mushroom, so we cruised the final pitches no problem. Amazingly we were greeted on top by Lori, Dean, and Ivo! Its very rare to have that but very welcomed. Its nice to share the El Cap buzz with friends on top! We finished our business of hauling and hung in the sun with our fellow monkeys until the desire for cold beverages overwhelmed our minds. Once again we packed our shit and ran towards the river for a dip and a drink .