Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Zodiac VI A2+, El Cap

For my fourth wall in two weeks I recruited friends Matt and Lance for a run up the Zodiac on El Cap. We planned on crushing the route and only brought minimal supplies, no belay seats and light rations so the hike up wasn't so bad. We crashed at the base at like 2 PM for a siesta before the nights festivities commenced. After much beer and mac and cheese we settled in for a long and apprehensive night.
We awoke to a lightless morning and began the blast off procedures. Bags were packed, racks organized and final flat ground goodbyes said. I took off on the original start as I had done the direct previously. I found good climbing on this pitch heads and cams as well as more than a few pins. Clean climbing has its place but bomber pins sure as hell feel better to me than dodgey nuts especially on a push.
Several pitches later Lance took over the lead until the start of the black tower. At this leader swap we decided to hang out for more than two hours baking in the sun and enjoying our spectacular view. Not exactly speed climbing but enjoyable as hell. The white circle must contain some of the coolest climbing ever and I lead through these pitches in total bliss.
At the nipple I handed the lead back over to Lance, hey i can't have all the money pitches right? All the while Matt had the terrible task of riding the pigs each pitch which personally is more terrifying than any lead. I hate bouncing with the bags over what in my mind are always razor blade edges. Actually last year when climbing this route with some wall-gumby friends of mine we almost lost a member to a cut rope on pitch 8. My then partner Jason went against my advice and just hucked off the ledge above the black tower without lowering out. His 9 mm static rope ran across edges and became lodged behind a flake with a huge core-shot visible only to me. I told him to keep jugging and with more than a whimper he passed the spot. The rope was cut more than half way through. Lower out if you have any doubt.
Well after getting to Peanut ledge, we were all kinda pooped and darkness began to fall. So in our "shove" (as opposed to a push, coined by Tom Evans) style we settled in for another bagless night on a ledge. One of many this year for me! I had the unwelcome honor of leading the next pitch with 2 number 4's. nothing like C1x for breakfast. Another two pitches gained us the summit and our summit beer. Nothing like a little can of luxury after a hard 28 hrs work right?

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