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Topics - Didder

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Big Wall Trip Reports / Virginia to T Trip Solo 6/21/12-6/28/112
« on: July 08, 2012, 09:29:06 am »
Video link:

This was much harder and way more involved than the Zodiac solo that I did last Summer but also a break through for me in so many ways.... Kind of a goofy video but since we are so starved for content on this site I thought it worth posting.

Big Wall Forum / Weather is kickin'
« on: February 12, 2012, 03:07:15 am »
Just got back from the valley and the weather was INSANE!!! Is this really Winter? Climbing in a t-shirt in the sun on Thurs & Fri. Full moon rise over Half Dome was the icing on the cake. No one on the Column save for one other dude who went up around towards dinner ledge Fri morning assuming to solo either the South Face or Skull Queen. So stoked to have rapped down just in time to bump into Jamie and Jason heading down with empty packs for another carry. They stoked me out by carrying down my ropes....THANK YOU GUYS!

If you have ever wanted to bust a wall in Winter (even though our Winters are not true Winters), now is the time so get up there and get after it before you wake up and it's March 22nd and you tell yourself "Doh! another Winter with no ascent!! There was a party about 3/4'ers of the way up the Trip.... Right on whoever you are, the only team on the entire right side of El Cap... stoked for you!! Wish I had had more time to spend up there.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Leaning Tower late season solo.
« on: December 17, 2011, 07:07:05 am »
Well Wet Denim did not go. I got up on the 5.7R above Ahwahnee and had a strange sensation that something bad was brewing. I must have gone up and started the exposed run out moves 7 or 8 times. Each time I got ready to commit I kept seeing my kids faces and I eventually decided it just wasn't worth it. I even tried aiding up where the 5.11 variation goes and just could not make it happen. So after a seemingly endless stretch of psychological self criticism I decided fuck it... To the West Face!

Clouds were brewing, temps were plummeting  and I was whooped but there was no way I was bailing. I re-focused and pushed on.

I don't know where all the trip reports are given the massive amount of walling that went on this season one point in Oct I think I counted over 20 teams on the captain ....

So in an effort to not have everyone starving for content through the rest of 2011.... Here you go.... Now post up you slackers....

Big Wall Trip Reports / NEW DAWN
« on: September 28, 2011, 09:53:49 am »
Steve and I had an awesome climb up this classic route last week. It was amazing to only have a few other parties on the whole right side. Here is the video from our climb... Enjoy!

Big Wall Trip Reports / Zodiac Solo Aug 9-13
« on: August 16, 2011, 11:27:51 pm »
I have put together a 10 min or so video of the climb which you can view at the following link, I have also included a trip report below...

Zodiac Solo:

First seeing El Cap as a climber years ago I thought there was no way that I would ever climb it .Then after a few ascents I remember thinking there is no way in hell I would ever try soloing it. Then after 10 or so ascents I started to get a weird twisted sort of itch... It was three years ago that I got the idea that I would like to solo a route on El Cap. The Zodiac seemed the logical choice for many reasons. I actually bought 2 #5 camalots for the pitch above Peanut ledge and they have basically been sitting there waiting for this climb ever since. After many schedule conflicts, weather shut downs, shoulder issues and simple life getting in the way type stuff I decided earlier this year that it was now or never.

I had been washed off low on the route on a solo attempt earlier this year and decided summer would be a good time to go as there would most likely be no other parties on the wall and I could use my night climbing fetish to help battle the high day time temps. As it turned out this is one of the mildest summers on record temperature-wise so I was able to climb day or not or both at my discretion.

I had been packed for a month or more and made a last minute schedule change a few weeks ago to coordinate topping out on the full moon. Full moon climbing has always been a favorite of mine and the days before a full moon always give such great nighttime illumination with those amazing moon rays.

Originally I told my wife I would leave Tuesday night and be off Saturday and home Sunday. But Tuesday morning at 4am I rolled over in bed and sheepishly told her ?I think I?ll just get a little head start?. I gave my wife a quick kiss, grabbed my keys and slipped out the door.

I was in the valley by 10am and started fixing just after noon. By evening I had fixed the first two pitches and with some help had all my gear to the base and was blasting off? My first El Cap solo mission? I was fully amped. By around 10pm I had climbed and hauled all my gear to the top of pitch 3 and was officially on the wall to stay.

Wed morning I woke up early and was climbing by 6am and got a couple pitches done before the heat really slowed me down. It ended up being around 11pm by the time I had cleaned and hauled all my gear to the ledge above the Black Tower pitch which had been my goal for the day. There was a fire burning off the Glacier Point road and the valley was filled with smoke casting an eerie haze across the valley. Not only the haze but also the fact that I was the only climber on the entire right side of El Cap, the lack of sleep and minimal food and water intake gave the whole scene a very ominous feeling. I began feeling some serious anxiety and wasn?t 100% sure I should continue.

By 6 am Thursday morning I could feel my whole body starting to shut down. I needed sleep, I needed to eat more food, I needed to drink more water and I also needed to get my head sorted out so that I felt confident enough to continue. Basically the physical drain was causing me mental drain as well and the feeling really rattled me.  I called Steve ?Habanero? Canavero, I called my wife and they both talked me through my mental funk that had me questioning whether or not I should continue. My wife really was amazing and when I asked her if she thought I should bail she told me ?don?t bail you can do this ? you ARE doing this?. For the rest of the morning I just lounged around, ate, drank and slept and by 11 am had decided I had come too far to turn around and whatever it took I was going to keep going. I had to get moving again though because I wanted to make it to the top of the Nipple pitch this day and I was now in the ?business? section of the route. The next 3 pitches are pretty much a blur since at this point I was just totally focused on the task at hand. Somehow the day wore on in a haze and it was getting dark as I started leading the nipple pitch.

Time sort of stood still but was also flying by. The traverse section to the Nipple took me FOREVER as it was getting dark and three days of climbing were starting to wear on me. Eventually I surmounted the Nipple and was in the very thin section above about 30 feet or so from the anchor when all of a sudden I went to pull lead rope and the thing would just not budge. A wave of sheer and utter defeat washed across me as I thought I had somehow forgot to unclip the end of the lead line before I left the anchor or made some stupid mistake that was now going to leave me stranded on one of the most exposed and difficult to reach spots on the entire route. I calmly thought about how I would or even if I could get back to the anchor from where I was and I was just going to have to hang there until it got light to figure out what the hell I was going to do.

I ran through everything I had done at the anchor before leading off on the pitch in my head and convinced myself that there was nothing I had done wrong but something just wasn?t right. For all intensive purposes I should have been able to pull more rope but it simply would not budge. As I started to get slightly desperate I decided I just had to get the rope, there simply was no other option. I began yanking as hard as I could for almost a full minute. Then just as I was about to give into defeat and start trying to figure out a plan I gave one more hard pull and the rope began feeding out. IT WAS A MIRACLE! I have no idea what had happened to prevent the rope from feeding and it didn?t really matter? all I knew is I had rope and I was going to make it to the anchor. It was after 2 am by the time I had fixed the pitch, lowered, cleaned the pitch, hauled and had the portaledge set up. Even though I was exhausted I was filled with a feeling of deep commitment and satisfaction.

The next morning I slept in and decided even if I only did two pitches this day it was fine and so spent the first part of the morning getting things sorted, napping, eating and drinking. By 10 am I was moving again and made it through the Mark of Zorro pitch in good time and stopped for lunch. Again time sort of slipped away and it was dark by the time I lead, cleaned and hauled the Devil?s Brow pitch. Even though I REALLY had wanted to make peanut ledge I knew it would be better to stop, get some rest and fire to the top the next day. The moonrise was insane as it had been the previous three nights.

I enjoyed a beer, plenty of food and just really soaked up the whole setting. I felt a bit like Major Tom completely enclosed in my own little space pod just drifting through deep space. The entire right side of El Cap was my playground and it was one of those magical moments where I felt I was  exactly where I was supposed to be in the universe. It made me smile thinking of how only a few people knew about where I was and no one in the world except me knew exactly how I felt at that exact moment in time? it was a very powerful experience, one that I found myself wishing would continue for another 5 days.

The next morning I was up and moving early as it was top out day no matter what and even though it was just three pitches to the top I knew it was going to be a full day. Around 8am while in the middle of the next pitch I saw something out of the corner of my eye that I thought might be a hawk, when I turned and looked out away from the wall I saw a hang glider cruising maybe 300 yds. out off the wall and almost at eye level. I couldn?t believe my eyes it was such a surreal scene. I gave a holler and a wave, the pilot tilted his wings twice banked a turn and headed east. I have never seen a hang glider so far up so far west from Glacier Point?. The thermals must have been amazing that day!? It was awesome seeing a human flying around up there and just such a cool thing to experience. About a half an hour later a Peregrine Falcon landed on a ledge about 50 feet below me and maybe 100 feet to the East. He just sat there squawking at me and we talked back and forth for a good 3 minutes before he stepped off the ledge folded his wings and was out of sight... The wall gods were definitely smiling on me this day. The falcon came back on and off all day checking me out and chatting it up.

I made Peanut Ledge in good time and could not help but stop and enjoy a full hour of lunching, lounging and laughter. I got out the video camera and shot some silly footage and basically just had a blast. The El Cap wind was blowing and I was soaring. At that moment I felt I could have gone on for another week no problem.

I was halfway through the pitch above Peanut when I heard a hoot from above and looked up to see the Mungeclimber who had come up to help me carry my gear down. It was the first close up encounter with another person for almost 5 full days and although it felt great to see him there urging me on it also made me realize that my solo experience would soon be coming to an end. By the time I fixed, cleaned and hauled that flake pitch and was starting the last 2 pitches it was 6:30 and I realized that once again I would be climbing at night. I was tired, I was thirsty, I was hungry but I was not about to rush things and make a mistake on that final pitch. I zigzagged around past the first anchor and got a bit off route. I nailed some shit (a beak and an angle). I cursed, I laughed and was just hell bent to get to the top but again all the while telling myself not to rush. Finally around 11 pm or so I pulled over the top and Rob was there to greet me. The Bud Light Lime he handed me was one of the best beers of my life and I spent a good while fixing everything and getting ready to rap back down to clean the pitch. I offered Rob the opportunity to clean the pitch but he explained that then it wouldn?t count as a solo, he even declined my offer to let him haul my bags.... a true purist. I spent another hour or so cleaning and hauling and pulled my entire junk show over the top some time after midnight.

I was so amped I just couldn?t sleep. Rob and I enjoyed another beer and some saki, we ate a bunch of food and just chatted it up for a while. Then after Rob passed out I stayed up till 3 am sorting gear and bumbling around so as to be able to get an early start the next morning.

The sun rose way too soon, we packed all the gear and started down. It was HOT!!! We rapped the East raps on our own ropes and in the gulley at the bottom of the raps got cooked! I was carrying a bag and dragging a bag. I ran out of water and found a small little spring in the boulders below the Manure Pile and drank out of a little rivlet in the pine needles and when we finally hit the Manure pile parking lot I could not have felt more fulfilled. We ( actually I) drank all of Rob?s beers, we lounged a bit then loaded everything in his truck and headed to the bridge. Even though Rob and I had never met he had answered my call to help carry my gear off the top like a true brother in arms. I can't thank Rob enough for not only his help but his companionship and for being there when I topped out. Soloing can be a lonely experience and to be able to share in my achievement with another climber was really a very cool thing.

Back at the bridge I jumped in the river and felt like I had been re-born. Erik Sloan, Ammon and a few others were milling around and everyone offered sincere congratulations. It felt really good to get props from these guys, especially Ammon. Essentially I was a lightweight.. just a padawan learner next to this Jedi master and he was still super stoked for me. It meant a lot coming from someone who I had never met but so admire.

I spent another ? hour or so hanging out, then I packed up, said goodbye to Rob and hit the road. I had to pull over once to pass out for a bit and rolled into Malibu around 8 pm utterly exhausted. I had to sleep with my hands in a bucket of ice water that night and typing these words is still very painful.

My biggest realization (one I knew already from before but seemed to have forgotten) is try not to do a major climb under any time constraints. Having to be off by Saturday forced me to really push myself much harder than if I had had no time constraints and been able to go at a leisurely pace stopping if I felt tired or exhausted. I did however prove again to myself that if I need to push I can grind it out and as long as I just keep moving I know that eventually I will top out.

It feels good to have accomplished a challenge I set out for myself over three years ago and even though I have now completed this goal I know it is merely one more small step in that journey that will continue far into the future?. Of course there will be another solo? some other route, some other time but of course it will have to be on El Cap.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Early Season Prow Solo
« on: April 04, 2011, 11:02:33 pm »
Here is a link to a video story of this last weekend's escapades on the Prow...

Big Wall Trip Reports / MESCALITO
« on: March 09, 2011, 02:15:14 am »
Well it took a few months (5 to be exact) but here are pix and video from our trip up Mescalito last September.... Hopefully you have nothing to do for the next 30 min before you click this link below and you don't mind some shaky footage.... there it is.... consider yourself warned....

Big Wall Trip Reports / Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« on: March 30, 2010, 03:04:19 pm »
Not being able to commit to dates for a climb can be frustrating especially when your partners are depending on you. In this case when I showed signs of wavering Steve enlisted the support of a fledgling free climber from Reno looking to get out and do a wall? uh oh. They planned on doing Skull Queen but switching to Mideast Crisis if I would be able to join at the last minute. After it eating away at me for several weeks I just could not take it anymore?I had to step up come hell or high water.

Upon announcing my intention to join the trip we quickly re-focused our efforts on doing Mideast Crisis in a semi push. We organized responsibilities, set-out and packed gear and starting watching the weather daily. As the dates approached we saw a window of weather shaping up that looked like it would be cold but fairly clear with a 30% chance of showers the second night?30% we were willing to risk?. It was on! Only one problem, two days before the trip the neophyte decided to finally look at the topo and after being horrified by what he saw on the Mideast Crisis topo, especially the upper pitches being described as ?outrageously steep? quickly fired off an email announcing his departure from the climb while wishing us luck.

No worries, big wall climbers can adapt and Steve and I are used to climbing as a team of two together? better to loose the dude now than have to bail high on the route. The plan was for me to arrive in the valley Wed evening, hike to the base, retrieve a stash of a lead line, food and Gatorade left over from a few weeks before and fix the first pitch. Steve would arrive around midnight with the rest of the food, some large cams, the ledge fly and assorted other bits and pieces. We would either start climbing right away or sleep for a few hours and start up early Thurs morning.

As I drove into the Valley at dusk Wed night I was instantly transformed from a working stiff to a bigwall climber?. What a transformation it can be and man did I need it. I had been working unabated for the better part of the last 6 weeks and needed this outing more than I knew. I parked at the Awahnee, grabbed the haulbag that was already pre-packed and hoofed it up to the base. The moon had been waxing all week and the ? sphere gave great light. I quickly located my stash, ate a quick snack and geared up for the first pitch.

Having just climbed this pitch last month on an attempt of the Horney Johnson Route I knew the top portion was going to be a sludge fest. The only difference was this time I was climbing solo, at night and it was a lot wetter than last time? damn me for always wanting to get a head start.

As I climbed my way up the wondering 5.6 I finally got to the extremely wet 5.7 section towards the top when the wind started to really kick up. As I pulled over the bulge covered in moss and soaking wet I felt a deep chill settling in. I could see by moonlight that the first few pitches above were going to be really wet. As I started fixing the anchor I looked down and I could see Steve?s headlamp coming up along the base. A familiar hoot let me know he was psyched and as I rapped the wind really started cranking.

 We quickly dumped our ropes and gear at the bottom the fixed line and headed over to a favorite bivy spot somewhat sheltered and out of the wind. After a quick meal it was lights out. It was 1:30 am. Unable to sleep because I was trying to save weight and had not brought a ground pad, I tossed and turned and gazed at the stars. The wind started to absolutely sound as if it was going to rip the trees out of the ground. Gradually after a couple hours of freight train gusts the wind died off and the stars got clouded over. Just after 4am (maybe 15 minutes after I finally fell asleep) I felt the first raindrops.

?Steve get up man it?s raining?. ?Oh man he says, I?m really not equipped for rain?. ?Well we might as well gear up and get going vs. sit here and get wet?. We shuttled our stuff to the base and as we put our harnesses on and grabbed our jugs the rain stopped and the stars came back out.

By the time we got the gear and ourselves hauled up the first pitch it was dawn and things were looking up. Steve drew the first block and headed up towards the munge. To say I was thankful that Steve got the first three pitches in an understatement. For the next 5 hours he steadily pushed upwards through snot, slime, munge and deluges that would make most mortals turn tail and run. At one point while stepping up on a fixed pin, the pin popped and Steve took a ride. Luckily he had clipped a screamer to a bolt below and it was the softest landing either of us ever remembered. The screamer did exactly what it was supposed to blowing all the stitches giving Steve a cushy stop that I barely felt at the belay. By 2pm or so we were at the top of pitch 4 and the sun was out. We were out of the munge, the tunes were crankin and the mountain gods were smiling.

We switched positions and I took over to begin my block. Fast I am not, steady I am. As we clawed our way upwards the climbing became more difficult and much more strenuous as the angle kicked up to way beyond vertical. Having not slept and climbing all day without stopping to eat anything finally started to take its toll The rock was coarse and loose in some spots. At one point I reached a C2 loose blocky section and could not help but take the much more solid thin seam on the right vs. the ugly loose crap to the left. Two beaks and a Tamahawk got me through this section and back to the more solid crack above (these were the only pins we placed on the route). Two fixed pins did pull on us higher up and we were able to tap out one other along the way. There was very little fixed gear overall on the route. We did end up having to leave a pink Tricam that shifted and became too lodged to pull out. Overall the climbing was enjoyable and the setting surreal. There was absolutely no one else on the entire Column. By the time I reached the top of pitch 6 the sun was starting to go down.

As I stared up at the next pitch I pulled out the one topo we had remembered to bring and at that very moment while simultaneously reaching for a piece of beef jerky a big gust ripped the topo right out of my hand a sent it straight out towards Half Dome. Damn I hate it when you loose your only topo. I started up pitch 7 as Steve continued cleaning the previous pitch far below. By the time Steve reached the belay the wind was once again howling and it was getting dark. Steve sent up a headlamp and food and water on the tag line and we discussed from memory where we thought the next pitch would go. All we knew was that somewhere about 150 feet above us was Hotel California ledge, hopefully as it had been described a ?good bivy for two? since we had decided to leave the portaledge behind to save weight. Luckily we had decided to bring the rain-fly just in case. By now I was down to a crawl. My hands had begun to go numb and the demons were working overtime.

Somewhere about a hundred feet up the pitch I felt the first flakes. As I stood on a small stance looking into an overhanging V-slot I took a sling of cams to give my shoulders a rest and hung it on a five-foot fin of a flake sticking out of the base of the ledge. As I hung the gear on the flake the entire thing shifted and started sliding outwards. I pulled the sling off just in the nick of time and used my foot to gently push the flake back into position. As I aided around and above the flake it took everything I had to be able to get around it without touching it. The thing would certainly have severed our rope had it cut loose.

By now below me at the anchor Steve was really starting to get cold. I knew I had to hurry but no matter what I did I just could not move quickly. As I aided out a small roof and made the first of two blind RP placements the clouds swirled in and giant snowflakes started to fall. For a moment I could see the lip of the ledge 20 or so feet above me until I was enveloped in a complete whiteout. Even though it was a bit nerve racking for a moment I actually started laughing.  How insane it felt being out on lead at night in the wind with a full on whiteout going on knowing we were so close to a big flat ledge and shelter. I knew I was going to make it to the ledge and be fine and for a moment I pretended I was on some 7,000 meter wall in the Himalaya pushing a new route?a true hardman. Then I returned to reality and realized what sloths we were just trying to get up this tiny grade V in Yosemite Valley at such a slow crawl.  Still it was one of those pure moments out there in the elements when you feel totally at home and alive and know that this is exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

I gingerly made my way up to the ledge and by the time I pulled over the edge everything was soaked and there was a good inch of new snow covering everything. I quickly fixed the lead line, hauled the bag and got the ledge fly clipped into a couple of bolts and got our gear out of the snow. Everything was wet but I knew that under the fly at least it wouldn?t get any wetter and we would be fine.

Steve eventually made it up and by the time we ate our bagels, alloette and tuna, had sorted all the gear and were ready to crash it was 1:30 am again and the snow had stopped. Once again not having a ground pad made sleeping just about impossible and I listened jealously as Steve snored the night away.

By 5 am I could not stand it any more and had to get up and move around. We ate a leisurely breakfast and shuttled out gear back over to the anchor from the night before. I led the enjoyable free pitch off the ledge up to the top of pitch 8. Steve got the first block and by now we had been able to pull up the topo off the Big Wall Forum site on my I-phone and were back in business. Mike emailed us the topo upon request as well?.. Thanks Mike? redundancy is key.

This is where the angle really starts to kick out. Steve led the next two pitches and belayed just above the first large roof. The next pitch was way steep, loose towards the top and took me what felt like a lifetime. The angle was ridiculous and bag swung way out into space?we were definitely past the point of no return. God help anyone wanted to bail from where we were. I just don?t see how it could even be possible from above pitch 9. What a great moment of clarity on a climb when you realize going down is no longer an option? You have no choice but to go up.

As I reached the top of pitch 12 I made the executive decision to let Steve take us up from there. I hauled the bag, put on all my clothes, ate a bunch of food, drank tons of Gatorade and waited patiently for Steve to get there having already decided that he was getting the final aid pitch. By the time Steve started up the lat pitch it was dark yet again. Steve made the best of the situation and managed to find his way to the tree anchor at the top of 13. Many minutes, hours, who knows later I reached the true summit, set up a haul and fixed the lead line for Steve to jug. We definitely did not follow the topo and by the time we hauled the bags and ourselves over the top it was 1:30 am yet again. We were wrecked. We stumbled around the flat bivy spot, sort of organized gear, starting eating food, taking off our harnesses and simply bumbled around until we just sat blankly staring into space. For a minute we actually contemplated hiking down as Steve had to be back in Reno by 2pm on Sat to take over kid duty but we quickly decided against it.

Around 5am we decided it was time to pack up and get the hell down. I have to say of all the times I have been down North Dome Gulley I have never nailed it like we did on this trip. I think we were so aware of how physically wrecked we were that we were just on super over-focused mode determined not to make a mistake. By 7am we had found everything we had dropped minus the topo (1 Gatorade bottle (top missing), one screamer with #9 tapered nut attached and 1 ATC (Steve said he was wondering what happened to his ATC). We picked up our extra gear that we had left at the base and by 8:30 had separated our gear and were on the road home.

Steve made it home around 2:45, I pulled in to a beautiful day at the beach with the family and all was right in the world once again?. Until next time that is.

Big Wall Trip Reports / A trip to the Tree... Yosemite style
« on: December 11, 2009, 02:54:02 pm »
The first thing that goes out the window is the plan! We had been planning on doing Iron/Son but with dates fixed we were at the mercy of the weather. It had been too good for too long....We were bound to get a good pounding. By Tues afternoon the forecast was for the first big Winter storm. They were calling for 5-6 feet of snow in Mammoth in just the first wave. That settled it we set our sights on Zodiac. If we fixed, pushed and were lucky we should be able to be off late Sat or early Sun just in time to make it down before the storm.

Laying there in bed Wed night I just could not stand it anymore. Instead of tossing and turning all night I hopped in the car at midnight and punched it towards the Valley. Many frapachinos and no-doze later I was coming through the tunnel at first light with it showing 34 on the thermometer.

El Cap meadow was cold and covered in frost so I quickly loaded my bag and set off for the base. Joe (who had no previous wall experience but lots of character and determination) was supposed to arrive around 2pm, Steve (Hananero) my regular partner was going to get to the base around midnight. The new plan was to solo the first 3 or 4 pitches, rap, then hike down, carry another load up with Joe, eat dinner then haul all our shit up and wait for Steve who would show up fresh and push us to pitch 10 by Fri night.

As I hiked along the base it was just incredible to be getting on El Cap with absolutely no one else around. Steve Schneider was up on Genesis after having been up there soloing for the better part of a week but other than that there was just no one around.

As I geared up for the first pitch on Zodiac, I was just soo damn psyched that I think my adrenaline was overpowering my lack of sleep.

I had climbed the direct start to Zodiac before so opted for the original start. After a leisurley start I got into a groove and felt no reason to hurry even though in reality we were "racing the storm". Not setting any speed records by 2pm I had fixed to the top of the second pitch and was rapping to go meet Joe.

As I got to the meadow Joe was on his way up with his load. Unreal, the guy had never been on a wall before, I had told him what to bring and said start up if I wasn't down yet and sure as shit there he was. Joe waited for me to grab my bag and we started up the trail together.

As we got to the base of the Nose Joe said "well this approach is not bad at all". Yeah, I said, "if we were climbing the Nose". As we started up the hill Joe went into low gear. With the days being short we got caught in the dark about 20 min below the base with one headlamp. " Hey man why don't you give me the headlamp since I know where we are going, plus you know about Yosemite rules right?" "Yosemite rules? what's that> "Oh well you know, the new guy always gets the short end of the stick". Anyway, Joe hands over his headlamp like a true neophyte champ and stumbles his way behind me till we reach the base.

We cook up a killer dinner, talk to Steve on the phone, it's all systems go. We pack the bags, jug up and begin the haul. OH MAN, food, water and full Winter gear weigh a ton!!!

Joe jugs while I haul and we get everything docked and settled and I start up pitch 3. By now the adrenaline has long since worn off and the fact that I have not slept since Tues night starts kicking in. Even though the first bit is C2 I am literally crawling my way up the pitch. Right about then we see a headlamp coming up the trail... it's the cavalry...Steve is here and I am saved. Then we hear Steve give us the news that his daughter is sick and he needs to hightail it back to Reno! I start doing the math and realize that at the rate we are going with a big wall newby we would be lucky to top out by Sun night... too close with the size of the storm predicted. DEFEATED!!!

We decide to bivy then go down the next day.

Joe is in heaven, his first night in a portaledge, eating gourmet food and watching the full moon light up the valley. It gets me psyched just seeing how friggin excited he is.

I wake up feeling like I've been run over by a truck. We sleep in, have a leisurley breakfast

lower the bags

and make a plan.

On our way down we see Martin (Euro hardman coming down after fixing the first 2 pitches of ZM, we tell him how rad he is and then give him some of our extra water. He says he has 2 weeks, will fix, sit out the weather, then blast...  I wait around a bit hoping he will ask me to join him then think twice considering the weather predicted to come in.

We carry a load down to the car, hike back up and fix the first pitch of the El Cap Tree route.

As we settle in that night we see Steve high on Genesis, the only headlamp on the entire wall, one man in harmony with the great stone. The true magic was sitting there thinking what balls it takes to be up there on his own while we mere mortals sat there at the base drinking whiskey... We are then treated to one of the all time most classic displays I have ever experienced in the Valley, I can not divulge anymore here but needless to say we were laughing so hard we wet ourselves... thanks SS.

The next day we slept in, then casualy walked to the fixed line from the day before and started up the Tree Route.

I had always thought it was a route to be skipped but after the cam hooking on pitch 2,

the sheer fact that you are on El Cap

and the free climbing on pitch 5 I would say it was one of my more memorable outings.

As I topped out in the right facing corner that leads to the tree ledge I look West and see dark clouds and get hit by a freight train gust that lets me know we need to move. I yell down at Joe and tell him to hurry even though I know it's futile. Sometime later as I am starting down the fisrt of the two 190' raps all I can think of is I hope the next anchor is where they say it is.

The raps go without a hitch and we are on the ground by 3:30. By now the wind has died, the clouds have dispersed and the weather is perfect again. Nothng else to do but head down and have dinner and cocktails at the Ahwahnee. With no collared shirts to speak of and no reservations we are demoted to the bar. I must say that could have been the best soup, salad and crab dip I had ever had. We saunter into the great room and lounge/ doze for a couple hours then hit the bar on our way out. Hot spiced rum and ciders leave us sweating as we stumble out of the Ahwahnee to the freezing valley night air. The hike back to the base is actually pretty fun and we fall asleep to the silence of the valley in Winter.

Up early, and Martin and Steve are nowhere to be seen. It seems everyone is turning tail and running and we are no exception. We hike down to the cars which are plastered in ice. We have to jump Joe's car. We load up and then say a quick goodbye. Leaving the Valley I pull over and look back as dark clouds engulf the Valley, a stiff breeze is blowing and it is clear we are getting out just in time... soon the storm will be in full force and in command.... I have a smile on my face the entire way out of the park.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Ten Days After
« on: October 21, 2009, 10:42:56 pm »
After getting our asses handed to us six pitches up a couple weeks earlier on The Re-Animator we were keen to step back up to the plate. Unfortunately with little time to spare we had to lower our sights and pick something that we thought we could do in a 24-hour push. After some debate we set our sights on Ten Days After as our first choice. Neither of us had done the route and it looked like a fun line.

Leaving LA pre-dawn with a planned stop in Bass Lake I arrived in the Valley a few minutes after 12 and stopped at Bishop?s Terrace to gear up. Steve pulled up a few minutes later straight from Reno and we felt like we had entered the Twighlight Zone. We had been here doing the exact same thing just two weeks before.

It always amazes me that even on a planned ?lightweight? push ascent you can have what seems like enough gear to get up a weeklong El Cap route. As we headed out of the Ahwahnee parking lot around 1pm we had a spring in our step and climbing on our mind. Of course starting up the hill the bags seemed to get heavier and our pace slower. An hour and a half later found us by ourselves at the start of the Prow with one party 5 pitches up. We had decided to do the first two pitches of the Prow to save time and stay out of the slime. Neither of these was accomplished. As Steve began his block I cranked up the tunes and made ready to clean like a mad man. At the top of the first pitch sitting at the belay I was covered by spray from the cracks to the right as there had been a ton of rain just the day before. By the time I was cleaning the second pitch I was good and wet.

It took us a couple pitches to shake out the cobwebs but by 8pm we were at the top of the third pitch, Half Dome was glowing orange and we were hitting our stride. As Steve led out the 4th pitch I heard a strange sound and looked up to see what must have been several hundred Swifts darting into the crack just above the belay. They let out high-pitched whistles as they jockeyed for position to see who would get the choicest bivy spot inside the crack. Then just as quickly as it had started the commotion ended and I was once again left to myself while Steve continued up into the darkness. The call of ?off belay, line fixed? came a while later as I realized that after cleaning this pitch my block was about to begin. The pitch was steep and slightly traversing and I did not clean it as quickly as I had hoped. Finally after a snack, some fluids and a gear swap I was on my way.

As I made my way up the ? inch crack on the 5th pitch I was amazed at how irregular the crack was compared to the ones found on El Cap. Washington Column seems like the bastard little brother with each placement taking much more creativity and finesse as the crack, even though similar in width has so many different nuances making each placement feel completely different than the last.

I fixed the line on the 5th pitch, hauled our pack and began the traverse pitch. The entire pitch was basically fixed with the exception of a yellow alien placement and one hook move. Just as I got to the end of the pitch Steve reached the previous anchor so he lowered out the bag and began following the completely horizontal pitch. I was glad to have clipped all the fixed circle heads on lead rather than while back cleaning. A few of them don?t look as if they will be there much longer. In fact there is quite a bit of fixed mank throughout the route which would prove exciting higher up. I gave Steve a belay as he made his way across and soon we were at the beginning of the 7th pitch that starts up a super cool thin feature next to an awesome looking steep ramp.

As Steve caught up to me at the 6th belay we looked over about 30 feet to our left and slightly lower and saw the party that had been above us on the Prow bivied out in their ledge. We turned up the tunes and they asked if we were on Ten Days After?. You never know what you might encounter while on a wall and these two Brits seemed amused to see us climbing straight through the night. As I cam hooked my way up the first few moves I then encountered some very nasty heads and tried not to breath as I moved past them and eventually clipped a nice bolt that had been recently replaced (thank God). From the bolt I clipped an old head and then a #3 LA that someone had only managed to get in about half way. It was a classic example of choosing a pin that was too fat instead of one the right size that could have been much more bomber. I thought about making a swap for a #2 LA or some other piece of gear but could see another fixed piece out left heading up what seemed to be a possibly expanding feature and decided to keep moving (bad mistake). As I got on the next piece I saw that it was an old RP but could not see the head to judge the condition even though the wire looked to be in OK shape. Not wanting to test the piece too fiercely for fear that I would wreck the placement or rip the cable I decided to move past it and place the next piece. I got all set and began trying to make an inverted cam hook placement but could not get the thing to hold so opted for a Lost Arrow a bit further out. With luck I could make just this one more placement before being able to reach a rivet on the face up and to the left. This is when I made a very rookie mistake that cost me some skin. As I began banging in the LA I did not clip my daisy into the pin but started to just hammer in it a ways thinking I would then clip it after I got it set. It was a long reach and I was leaning way out sideways off the RP. On my third swing the RP I was on literally disintegrated and before I knew what hit me I was airborne. The force of the fall was big and getting bigger with every foot. I heard the fixed pin below the piece that ripped go next as I was going by and then heard the head pop out above me as well.

You know it is a long fall when you have enough time to think, ?wow I?m falling and nothing is stopping me?. As I rocketed through the darkness all I could think of was ?Am I ever going to stop?. Steve had been lounging at the belay or doing something and was now slammed upwards as he tried to figure out just what had happened. Finally after maybe 40 -45 feet I came to a stop about 5 feet below Steve and off to the side. Steve said all he heard was some hammering, then a pop and then ?Oh Fuckkkkkkkkk? as he grabbed for the grigri. By this time the Brit?s were wide awake, laughing and screaming stuff like ?Oh yeh mate good go at it eh?. Right, bloody bugger of a fall eh. And Ten points for effort for sure capin.?!. For a minute we all just sort of sat there not really sure what had actually happened and then started laughing and shaking our heads all at the same time. When I looked at the head of the RP I saw several large cracks in it with the wire exposed. The head of the RP had literally exploded which in turn sent me flying. The pin that had ripped was still clipped through the rope as was the cable of the head that had pulled with no sign of the head.

After shaking it off and checking to make sure everything was still where it was supposed to be I headed back up and managed to get through the rest of the pitch all be it a bit slower and much more gingerly.

By 9 am we had reached Tapir with no further escapades and we were starting to feel the effects of the all night push. We drank some coffee, ate some food and Steve led off on the next pitch. By now the Brits were getting close and we had some laughs about the follies of the previous few hours. As we sat on Tapir the sun hit us and started to heat things up. Finally we all decided it might go quicker if we joined forces to the top (we were wrong) but it was fun sharing the final few hours together as well as the North Dome Decent. We topped out 25 hours after starting and given the situation were pretty happy with our performance.  By 6pm we were in the Ahwahnee parking lot and feeling pretty hammered. We did a quick gear sort and with only one 1-hour rest stop/ snooze and a stop at Carl?s Jr. I pulled into my driveway at 1:30 am less than 45 hours after leaving Thursday morning. Of course I was useless the rest of the weekend but it was worth it.

Here's a link to just photos if you don't want to read the whole TR

Otherwise... ENJOY!!!

Many thoughts go through my head as I am hanging there 1,700 feet off the ground looking into swirling mist and rain wondering how much longer it will be before the clouds clear and the rock dries out so we can climb the last 200 feet and get off this chunk of granite, most importantly is this really August and how the heck did we end up here?

The answer although foggy at the time was a pretty straight forward one. We were three buddies looking for a quick fix of adventure over a long weekend. We certainly got what we bargained for and a heck of a lot more.

The plan was simple, meet up Friday at 11am, drive the 5 ? hours to Yosemite, hike our gear to the base of El Cap, sleep, get up early and climb straight through until we topped out hopefully sometime Sunday morning.

Our trip was going along according to plan. We arrived in Yosemite to a beautiful hot summer afternoon.  The weather forecast was for temperatures in the mid 90?s with a 20 % chance of rain. As we sat there sorting gear we told ourselves confidently that we didn?t need a lot of clothes since it was going to be hot, if anything we should go light on clothes and heavy on water. Zak proudly announced that he would be climbing in shorts since ?it never really rains this time of year?. As I look at my heavy synthetic jacket and rain shell I also tell myself that we should go light and casually throw them both in the pile of gear destined to stay in the car.

Big wall climbing is always a logistical juggling act. The concept seems simple, bring only what you will need and nothing you won?t. The problem is that Murphy?s Law is alive and well. If you bring the gear then you won?t need it, if you don?t bring the gear you definitely will need it. As Zak and I jockey for the position of who will go the lightest on clothing Jeff decides not only to bring a mid weight layer and rain shell but a $2 emergency blanket as well, Zak laughs when he sees Jeff throwing it in the ?to go? pile and says ?what the heck are you bringing that for yo!? Little did we know at time that Jeff?s mantra is to always be more comfortable than the other guy... on this trip that mantra would serve him well.

We spent an hour, packing, lounging, swimming in the river and visiting with Jeff?s friend Lorna who works for Yosemite Search and Rescue. She was excited for us and made sure she asked if we were well equipped. ?You know it might rain up there you guys, do you have rain jackets?? ?Yeah we have one? I replied with a grin. Lorna told us it had been a slow summer for rescues and that she would like to have had more work. A stiff neck injury from a recent climb had also kept her close to the ground for the last two weeks.

Around 6 pm we say goodbye to Lorna and the cool waters of the Merced River, drink a Foster?s each and began our hike up to the base of El Cap. Jeff abstains as he has just got off the plane from Romania the night before and has been sick the whole 10 days he was there filming the off road motocross race dubbed ?Romaniacs?. True to form Jeff had drank wine the whole flight back and was not feeling 100% by the time we arrived in the Valley less than 24 hours after his return from overseas. But what else was he gonna do, not climb El Cap?

As we sweat our way up along the base we feel confident in our plan of less clothing and more water. We are lugging 8 gallons plus plenty of food, Red Bull and Coffee? we are very impressed with ourselves at having this whole big wall-climbing thing totally figured out.

As we arrive at the base we are shocked to find a pile of ropes and climbing gear neatly stacked at the base of the Zodiac, our intended route. Fortunately there are no other climbers in sight so we decide maybe some climbers have left their gear and planned to come up at a later date.

As we make dinner and drink another beer we are treated to one of those classic Yosemite summer evenings with cliff swallows, bats and Peregrine Falcons soaring above and the silence of the valley enveloping us as the twilight turns to darkness. With no moon the stars were already shinning bright and every once in a while a shooting star would streak across the sky making the whole scene seem all the more surreal. Needless to say we were chomping at the bit to get going.

A few minutes later we see a headlamp come over the boulder and watch as an aspiring solo big wall climber dumps his haul bag and introduces himself. He had just made his second and final carry and was getting ready for his first El Cap solo attempt. ?Right on man your are gonna love it? we tell him as we drink our beers. Of course we are all silently happy that for this climb at least we have the three of us to keep ourselves company. All of us having some level of exp solo climbing experience , we knew all too well the satisfaction but also the loneliness that he will be feeing over the next 5 days or so should he succeed. As we talk with ?Solo-man? as we nickname him he tells us his plan is to do the route in 4 days so he can meet up with 3 girls he knows and accompany them on a backpacking trip. 4 days for his first El Cap solo seems overly ambitious but we let him know that we were genuinely excited for him and hope it would go well.

By 9:30 pm we are packed and ready to bed down for the night. Only one last thing to do, climb up 30 feet to a pre-placed bolt and clip our food bag in so as not to be woken in the middle of the night by a well educated bear who makes his living off unsuspecting climbers. But rather than climb just the 30 feet Zak and Jeff decide I should fix the first pitch so as to get a jump start in the morning. 70 feet up strung out on a line of thin copperheads and having to commit to blind hook placement due to a couple blown heads with only one bolt clipped between me and the ground I decide maybe I should have taken the original start and probably should not have had that second Foster?s before starting up.

At 11pm in a foggy haze I set up the anchor at the top of the first pitch and rappel back to the ground. By now our new buddy Solo-man must have thought we were some kind of mutants as we had been making all sorts of commotion for the last couple hours and had our radio tuned into the HAWK on maximum volume. As Zak and I settle in for the night to the sound of Jeff?s snoring we decide to set our alarms for 6:30.

I never sleep well in the mountains the first few nights and this night was no different. After a full dose of adrenaline from my lead I am nowhere near ready to go to sleep so I lay there looking up at the silhouette of the Captain thinking about the adventure to come. After laying there for what seems like a few hours and having to get up several times to relieve myself I hear a commotion 50 yards away over towards where Jeff is sleeping. I sit up and can see his headlamp so I casually ask if he is thinking of getting started. In fact he had been sitting up for a while thinking that if he can get the first block and start early he just might avoid having to climb in the sun. ?Yeah man I can?t sleep and I?m thinking about getting started,? he says to me from his bivy.

I sit up quickly, crank up the HAWK and glance at my watch, 2:30 am. ?What time is it?? Jeff asks, ?Almost 3:30 I reply as I am the only one with a watch. ?Are we climbing or what man?? I ask after several minutes of no response. Without consulting Zak who by now was sawing his own logs we decide it sounds like a good plan and start packing up. We figure we can wake up Zak when we get to the top of the second pitch and he can deal with the haul bag. Just at that moment Solo-man jumps up and starts gearing up. He must have thought it was getting towards first light since we were getting up too. A few minutes later after realizing what time it is Solo-man buries his head back in his bag but I?m doubtful with the racket we are making that he will gett any semblance of sleep the rest of the night.

By 3:10 we are packed up, racked up and climbing. Jeff makes quick work of his block and by 9 am we are at the top of pitch 6and it's time for a quick breakfast. .

By now ?Solo-man? is now awake and leading his first pitch. It is at this point I look over towards the Nose and see a big black bear sauntering along the base headed in Solo-man?s direction. ?Hey man there?s a bear headed your way? we yell down but get no response. About 10 minutes later I glance down again hoping to get a bead on the bear but can?t see him anywhere. The wall is severely overhanging where we are and the reason we don?t see the bear is because he is right at the base getting busy with Solo-man?s haul bag. Right then we hear Solo-man screaming, ?oh no! Hey, get away from there? hey, get lost?. No. oh no. Oh man that damn bear has my haul bag?! We look down only to see the bear dragging Solo-man?s haul bag down towards the talus. Solo-man is about ??s of the way up the first pitch and totally helpless as the bear tears open the haul bag and grabs a big yellow bag, which it turns out is Solo-man?s food bag.

The bear slowly struts across the boulders looking very proud of himself with his prize hanging out of his mouth while Solo-man curses him at every step. We are beside ourselves and although we feel terrible for Solo-man we just can not contain our laughter, which fills the amphitheater of the Southeast Face. About 15 minutes later we see Solo-man charging across the boulder field towards the bear, hurling rocks and yelling at the surprised bear, ?drop my food and get the hell out of here?. Amazingly, the bear drops the food bag and slowly moves off down the talus field. ?Alright got my food bag? we hear Solo-man celebrating as he picks up his bag. Then immediately upon closer inspection Solo-man is cursing again, ?that frikking bear ate all my food!?. Poor Solo-man. He looks up at us and yells, ?Man you guys are cruising that thing?. We immediately start taking odds on whether Solo-man has enough steel to stay the course and give him a 50/50 chance of still pulling off his first El Cap solo climb.

Zak takes over and charges up into the fabled grey circle. Jeff and I blast the Hawk and take in the incredible scenery and magic of  being on the face of El Cap. The weather actually improves as clouds start to spill into the Valley and we are relieved that the heat is not nearly as bad as we had hoped. We even get a nice breeze and can?t believe our luck. As Zak flies up pitch after pitch Jeff gets lowered out each time into space with the haul bags while I clean each pitch. By about 4:30 we are at the start of the Mark of Zorro and we are all feeling a bit tired but also totally excited about our progress.

I take my turn out in front and head up off the anchor as Jeff and Zak joke and laugh and soak up the beauty of our hanging perch in the sky. Certainly the slowest of the three of us it takes me till well after dark to reach Peanut ledge a relatively good sized ledge only 300 feet from the top. By now the sleep deprivation and physical effort is starting to take its toll. Zak and I sit and eat and drink and organize gear as Jeff cleans the pitch up to Peanut ledge. Just then out of the corner of my eye I see the huge head of a rat poking out of the crack on the side of the ledge. Zak and I are stunned trying to figure out how in the world this ?super rodent? got up here and even more incredibly how it can survive. Then we realize the answer to the second question is obvious ?Climbers?. How many unsuspecting victims have been spending the night on Peanut ledge only to wake up and find that their food has been ravaged. Still we can?t believe that this rat is not only surviving up here but also thriving from the looks of him.

By the time Jeff arrives I have already decided to keep going and I head off up the next pitch hesitantly as ever as Zak describes what is in store. ?Basically the flake takes 4 inch gear for 50 feet where you clip a rivet and then for another 30 feet until you reach a smaller crack where you can get a good cam in. The problem is we only have 2 4 inch pieces and a 4.5 inch piece, which Zak assures me is plenty of gear and tells me I can leave the 4.5 after I clip the rivet. And so at 10 pm I begin what is one of the scariest pitches I can ever remember having to lead at night. I inch my way up the first 15 feet trying to get into a rhythm but just can?t find my stride. All of a sudden I hear the boys going nuts and screaming, ?there he is and he?s coming at you!?. I look down to see ?Super-rat? running up the blank face next to the flake as if he is on a mission to attack. We all look in unison with our headlamps lighting the stage to watch the most incredible display of rock climbing I have ever seen. As the rodent charges up he reaches a spot about 10 feet up where the wall is totally blank and begins to go inverted. On this seemingly blank overhanging wall the rat is somehow managing to hang on. ?What is he even holding on to yo?? shouts Zak. Then after another instant Super-rat turns his head, looks into the void and launches into a full free fall zipping through the air with legs spread wide like only the most experienced skydiver can do. Only Super rat has taken it to the extreme; rodent base jumping without a parachute. We all three explode with laughter in astonishment as we think we are about to witness the first ever suicide by chutless base jumping rodent off El Cap. Then just before zipping past the ledge into a 2,000 foot free fall, Super-rat reaches out, grabs hold of the edge of the ledge steadies himself then disappears into the crack. ?Oh my god, that was insane!? we scream, as we are laughing so hard we literally have tears running down our faces. It takes us a few minutes to wind down after witnessing such an amazing display of skill and boldness that none of us could ever hope to repeat.

I continue slowly up my pitch and curse Zak for not bringing more wide cams. I would have been happy with a few more 4 inch pieces but have to make due and after what seems like an eternity I reach the rivet that I sling a wired nut over and breath a sigh of relief. After another hour or so I finally reach a fixed pin under a huge roof just below the bolted anchor out around the corner at the base of the last steep section. As I turn the roof to clip the belay I instantly feel a stiff breeze and rain drops hit me.

By now its around 1 am and we are all feeling pretty trashed. After my last pitch I am in not mood to keep going and try and interest Zak or Jeff in taking over to the top. As we discuss the plan the rain gets heavier and pretty soon small waterfalls start pouring over the top of El Cap. Peanut ledge is fairly sheltered and Zak and Jeff decide we should stay put. Good plan only I have the lightest cotton pants known to man, a silk weight polypro top and a soft shell as my only clothing. By now Zak and Jeff have their fleece tops and rains shell on and are hunkering under Jeff?s $2 emergency blanket. It is obvious that if I go back down to Peanut Ledge I will be wet and cold so I decide that my only option is to clip into the fixed pin under the roof and ?hang out? until the storm passes. At least I will be dry and sheltered unlike on Peanut where I can hear the foil blanket getting whipped around by the wind.

And so at 1:30 am I begin what for me is one of the most uncomfortable bivies I have ever had to endure. Luckily I have a rigid belay seat and rig up a shoulder holder with my aiders so at least I can take the weight off my harness. Within in a few minutes I start shivering and realize it is going to be a long night. I can hear Zak and Jeff 100 feet below me laughing and listening to music but can?t see them as the mist has turned to soup.

Over the next 5 hours I have to continually swing my arms, kick my feet and move my legs around to stay warm. I realize I will most likely not be in danger of freezing but know that if I get wet I could very well develop mild hypothermia. Reinhold Messner would think we are soft but all the same I feel as if we are hard men if even for just a moment. A few times I manage to just barely drift off to sleep only to be jolted awake by the sensation that I am falling.

By 7am I have not slept a wink but can hear to the boys snoring on and off down below.
The rain has gotten a bit lighter and now the clouds are swirling in all around us. The boys go in and out of view as clouds sweep up from the Valley and swallow us whole while the waterfalls continue to pour off the top.

We discuss our options. Zak suggests waiting another hour and then going for it hell or high water. Knowing that this is not a major storm and also that this time of year once it dumps a good amount things usually clear up for another couple days we decide to wait it out and then go for it once the rock has dried out a bit. At 11 am I peak around the corner and can see a bit of blue sky to the West, the rain has let up, the waterfalls have eased off and most importantly the next stretch of rock seems to be drying out.
[/img]By 12 we are together at the upper belay and Zak leads the last two pitches to the top.

At 1:30 we haul the bag up over the top and revel in our successful climb. We drink water, eat some food, pack up our gear and begin the descent.. Even though we are worked we can't keep in the feeling of pure joy of having just shared in such an awesome experience.... we are already talking about the next climb .

At the car we dump our gear, jump in the river and head to the store to buy supplies for dinner. We hike back up to the base now giving Solo-man 8 to 1 odds that he is even still anywhere in the valley. We reach the base of the route and our gear just before dark with no sign of Solo-man except for 3 Simple Times Lager beers that he has left for us next to our gear, one of them has a bite mark and has drained out empty?. Damned bears!!!

Big Wall Forum / Post Wall Disorder
« on: May 29, 2009, 03:51:33 am »
After going up El Cap a week and a half ago I came home suffering from what I can only suspect is P.W.D. (Post Wall Disorder).

I've been in a total haze for a week. I finally got around to dumping out and sorting gear yesterday..... Been drinking tons of beer and eating everything in sight (especially junk food)... Memorial Day BBQ's didn't help in that regard.

I've been taking lots of naps and and catch myself starring into space a lot. It took me a week before I could even make a fist. All I can think about is the next wall (June 12-14). I am carrying the Big Wall Supertopo book around with me wherever I go. I almost crapped in a paper bag this morning just cause it felt like the normal thing to do. I find myself on the Big Wall Forum at 3 in the morning.

The symptoms seem to be worse from April-Oct and after longer and more extended days in the vertical.

Anyone else ever suffer from PWD or care to add to the list of symptoms?

Big Wall Trip Reports / Tangerine Trip
« on: May 29, 2009, 03:09:21 am »
We climbed Tangerine Trip a couple weeks ago and finally got some pics up at the link below...

Will get around to telling the story soon. We basically had the whole SE Face to ourselves which was pretty cool.... the full moon didn't hurt either....  We did the 1st pitch of L.I.A. then pitches 2 & 3 of Virginia to hook up to the Trip.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Winter Wet Denim
« on: April 15, 2009, 04:01:16 am »
So I managed to get up to the Valley twice this Winter, got on three routes and topped out on one. But seeing as I had never seriously considered climbing in the Valley in the Winter all in all I was pretty psyched for my first Winter Yosemite climbing season...Thanks Mike for opening my eyes to the "year-round" climbing potential. So after our "secret mission" bail we managed to take the South Face as a consolation prize over a full moon night in January in just around 12 hours. Determined to make another Winter ascent but having missed that insane high pressure period in February I had no choice but to make a last attempt just days before March 21st. The only partner I could recruit was a long time buddy who has never done a wall let alone done any aid climbing.... But Bill was game so I sold him on Wet Denim explaining how it is the ideal first time wall. I casually mentioned to him on the way up that I had tried it two other times in Winter-type conditions and had my ass handed to me.

We drive all day and pull into the Bridelvail parking lot around 4pm, pack up and are on the trail by 5:30.

It all looked good and I was even in shorts. The first 1/2 hour was smooth sailing and we felt great. The wall started to get that killer afternoon sun and it was amazing to be only 30 minutes from the car but feel as if we were in Patagonia.

We began to hear the ice and snow avalanching off the right side of the decent gully and quickly realized it was definately still Winter. The walls below the Widow's Tears were caked in ice and as the sun started to get low on the horizon the temperature began dropping quickly.

Then as we got through the lower boulder field we hit the first solid bit of snow and realized we were in for a slog. It had dumped up until two days before and being as most of the approach is almost always in the shade there had been very little melt. Our bags were huge and our progress slowed to a crawl. Two hours later we reached the bivy site to the right of the approach ramp.

We spent 1/2 and hour stomping down the snow for a spot for the tent, set up camp and discussed our next move. Bill offered to go down for another load and I decided to fix to Ahwahnee so we could get a jump on things in the morning. I had a quick snack geared up and slogged through knee deep+ snow and across iced up ledges to get to the start of the first pitch as it got dark. 4 hours later I climbed on to Ahwahnee Ledge, dozed for a bit then fixed my second line and rapped into the darkness. By the time I managed to get back across the approach ledge and fix a rope down the iced up section to camp it was 3 in the morning and I was glad to be done with a day that had started at 9am in LA.

We woke the next moring, and Bill goes, "Dude you are not going to believe this but I just had a Wet Denim Daydream only it was in my sleep and I wasn't wearing denim..." You gotta be kidding.... how come that never happens to me? I wonder if the first ascent party had a similar experience thus the namesake. The laughter is uncontrollable for at least 5 minutes. Finally we mange to get moving, brew coffee and began to shuttle our gear up the fixed line then across the ledge to the start of the first pitch. Due to the snow and ice, the size of our bags and the condition on some of the fixed lines on the ledge it took us till noon to get climbing. Bill watched in horror as he realized his first task was to lower out 30 feet and jug a free hanging line 200ft. straight up. I have to say despite a few screams and some profanity the dude seriously stepped up. Even though it took us 4 hours we got Bill and all the bags to Ahwahnee.

By now I was realizing that maybe Wet Denim was a bit much for Bill's first wall and at our slow pace I decided to look to the West Face. The avalanches had been pretty steady all day and I was seriously wondering if the decent gully was even a possible route of decent. The idea of rapping the route started seeming like a much safer although more involved alternative.

We had a rest on Ahwahnee and then soaked up the remaining sunlight. I didn't start the traverse pitch until about 1/2 an hour before dark. Luckily I got through the awkward bit just as it got dark. Then the drips started. It seemed like 50 different faucets all started dripping from above at the same time. Every 5 or 10 feet I would traverse into another drip and Bill made it very clear he was starting to get soaked at the belay. I have no idea how this is possible as the wall is so overhanging but needless to say we were dodging drips the whole time till I fixed the lead line at the top of the 6th pitch and rapped back down to Guano ledge.

By now it was close to midnight and we enjoyed some Sapporo's and tuned in the HAWK and were lulled to sleep by classic rock. My bivy tent fit perfectly on Ahwahnee and I actually managed to get a few hours of sleep. By 5 am I was up, brewing coffee, packed my haul bag and had shuttled it over to the anchor on Guano. Bill had not stirred. I started cleaning the two pitches I had fixed the night before and Bill was still asleep. Finally I yelled down for him to get up and get moving. In pure first time big wall style Bill decides to call his wife to check the weather. "Oh hi honey are you guys off yet? You know it's supposed to snow up there tonight." Then I hear it in his voice, "Um dude, do you think we will top out today?" Well I say, at the rate we are going I doubt it so let's get moving." "Um dude I'm feeling pretty worked, I'm pretty happy with how far we got so far but don't think I can take another 2 days of this."

And as if on cue the biggest avalanche yet comes pouring over the wall where the bottom two raps of the gully decent are. It seems like a sign. I look to the West and convince myself that the high Cirrus are threatening and decide we have had a good adventure and it is time to bail. Then starts the whole day of down aiding, lowering the bags, pulling the ropes and more down aiding, etc... you know the drill.

We make it back to our ABC at the start of the approach ledge and down the 4 Foster's Oilcans we had stashed and begin our hike down. About 20 minutes along the base we find the bag we had jetisoned on our decent and it looks like a tube of toothpaste that has been stomped on with gear strewn everywhere.

After cleaning up our yard sale, several more beers and a couple hours of slogging later we shuffle up to the van, dig the other 4 beers out of the bear box hat we had stashed, sort gear, drive to Oakhurst, make it just in time for a HUGE Chinessee food dinner, pop the top and pass out.   

Needless to say I am heading back up in a few weeks with an experienced partner and we are going for WDD in a push....Stay tuned...

Big Wall Forum / "The Sharp End" Trailer
« on: December 30, 2008, 05:34:04 am »
If you guys have not already seen this you gotta check it out.... I especially like the part where A.M. takes a HUGE whipper while drinking a king cobra!

Big Wall Trip Reports / Prodigal Son Zion Solo TR
« on: December 17, 2008, 12:24:13 am »
So it's Monday evening and I have been itching to get out and solo something. I check the weather report and it looks good for Zion. I turn to my wife, "Honey, I love you".... "Oh God (she replies), here it comes, what are you going to climb?" "OK well don't forget the Christmas Party Thurs night"....Thursday night? Hmm... a few quick calculations, if I leave mid morning and get right on the route and climb straight through I should just make it..."Thanks honey, see you Thursday night". The rest of the evening was spent in the garage sorting gear and getting psyched.

I manage to sneak out of LA just after 10am Tues morning and am through Vegas by 2pm and totally amped. I pick up a couple Subway footlongs in St. George, one for dinner and one for the wall and make it to Big Bend just after dark. As I jump out of the car this nice Canadian guy wanders up. "So you gearing up for something tomorrow". "Actually, no man I'm starting right now". I ask if he wants to join me but he says he prefers climbing during the day and then proceeds to ask me all sorts of questions as I try and pack up my gear by headlamp.

Just as I am about to head out a couple guys come down from the Lowe Route. I make a quick assesment and offer them a beer and ask if they would mind taking my car and parking it at the trailhead to Angel's Landing. Perfect. As I watch the headlights go down the road and am standing totally alone I realize I just gave some guy I had never met the green light to drink and drive in my car...Good move... Only climbers do shit like that and get away with it.

As I cross the river it begins to drizzle ever so slightly. Now I gasp at the thought of having to hike back two miles in the dark and rain with all my gear.... What have I gotten myself into? I think. But I look up and the stars are out and I'm committed. Then I somehow get off the trail and wander back and forth along the base for the better part of an hour trying to find the base. Finally I go back down, find the trail and follow it to the base. I don't have a watch but figure it's about 10pm when I finally start climbing.

The climbing goes by in a blur as sleepiness sets in. I had wanted to get to the top of pitch 4 by daybreak and as I fix my lead line at the 4th belay the Eastern sky is ablaze! I look down and get my first look at where I have put myself. 600 feet up this vertical sandstone wall and I am realize it wasn't all just a dream.

As the day wears on I only stop once and it's to eat my Subway footlong Chicken sub. It's only for about 15 minutes but its long enough to take in the beauty of Zion and stare out at the awesome sandstone formations. The desert is really an incredible landscape especially when you are totally a part of it.

A couple more pitches go by in a blur and a party of two come up below me. Probably foggy from not having slept in a couple of days I make the poor decsion to let them pass and end up having to crawl up behind them to the bottom of the last aid pitch.
Getting sleepy...

By now it's getting late again and I am freezing having to sit at the second to last belay. It's hovering around 30 degrees but the wind makes it feel more like 15 degrees.

They fix my rope for me on the last pitch which ends way up out and left. I choose to forego lowering out just so I can get moving...afterall the swing doesn't look that bad.... Whooooooooooahhhhhh! I cut loose riding my bag and zip across the perfectly smooth vertical face and instantly realize I am going for a longer ride than I thought. You know its a long way when you have time to think , wow I'm still swinging. Finally I stop and jug up to the belay at the bottom of a very loose ledge/gulley.

"Hey would you mind leading the last 5.5 chimney/loose ledge grovel fest?" they ask. Anything to keep moving. By now someone must have heard my scream on the swing below cause right as I am getting into the squeeze chimney business some guy down below starts yelling that old favorite.... "climber's on Angel's Landing, do you need a rescue"...WTF I'm trying to climb some squeeze chimney with no pro by headlamp and this guy is telling us to turn off our lights if we don't need a rescue. So I keep climbing and he starts going on about how OK we will rescue you.... "GO AWAY we all yell" "OH so you do need a rescue?" he yells up again. "GO AWAY" we yell again. "Oh OK so if you want me to go away turn your headlamps off and then on again in 5 seconds" We comply.... "OK I'm going away" "GOOD and THANK YOU".

We get to the car aroud 1am Thurs after having been on the go since 10am Tues. Luckily my new friends live right outside the park and let me grab a shower and crash on their couch. It would have been COLD bivying out side.... Isn't it great how climbers always take care of other climbers in need...I think as I drift off to a dreamless sleep.

I wake up at 5am and start the 7 hour drive home. I pull into the office at 1pm on Thursday in a blur but no worse for wear. Not sure I really accomplished much at work that day but at least I showed up. Let's just say beers, cocktails, wine, appetizers and a killer dinner at the company xmas party that night were the perfect way to finish up the day. I slept really well that night!

Big Wall Forum / What's your worst bivy?
« on: November 26, 2008, 03:48:30 am »
Would love to hear some hair-raising epic tales of woe..... or see some classic photos... Also a good excuse to figure out how to post pics.

What's your worst bivy?

Big Wall Forum / Name that Pitch...
« on: November 25, 2008, 09:08:50 pm »

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