Author Topic: Muir to Nose TR  (Read 1821 times)

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Offline smack

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Muir to Nose TR
« on: June 09, 2010, 09:25:58 pm »
El Cap has been a part of my daydreams for many years now. I often imagine myself on a big wall,
stretching far out for a small delicate placement way off the deck, the warm wind blowing, with
the sun setting an hour too quickly.
 The muir wall was an obvious choice; a long line with challenging esthetic aid climbing, beautiful
features, and few crowds. 
Originally I had difficulty finding a partner. People seemed interested, but really weren?t into 30 pitches
 of aid climbing. I decided to invite one of my best friends, Tim, with whom I?d shared many canyoneering,
climbing, backpacking, and traveling adventures. He has previously done two short walls in Zion with me.
 His key characteristics were a passion for pursuing adventure, an engineer?s mind, and a firm believer that
suffering only enhanced the experience (and made the beer taste better).

We were only able to get 7 days off from our typical lives (wind power engineer and grad student), so we
planned to start climbing once we got to the valley.

On Day 1 we got up early and climbed the first 6 of the muir. Well truth be told, we cheated by climbing
the moby dick start instead of the dirty 9+ squeeze.  All the pitches were fantastic, but pitch 6 was the
most memorable; a 100 foot horizontal traverse crossing the open slab. We fixed from the top of 6 to the
ground using all of our two 60m ropes. 

(p5 up)

(end of p5 down)
Upon returning to the car and rehydrating, Tim discovered that his tonsils had become extremely swollen
and were causing him great discomfort and worry.

Day 2 was spent touring the medical facilities of the small town of Sonora. The urgent care facility gave very
limited and mostly useless consul. A visit to the Sonora ER however gave Tim more confidence that his tonsils
 would not swell and choke him to death on the wall. The ER doc was a climber which helped the situation.
In fact the swelling was not in his tonsils but in his uvula which was unlikely to cause anything more than personal discomfort.

My wall psyche was getting knocked down quite a bit by the delay, as well as the realization that we now had to
climb much faster to account for the missing day. As we sorted gear, reviewed strategy, and studied the topo, both of
us were convinced that we would bail. Thankfully however we drank beer instead of telling each other what we were thinking.

Day 3. A big push. We were up bright and early with the plan to drive back into the valley, hike in our gear, pack the bags,
 haul up to pitch 6 in one go, and climb to at least mammoth terraces.  We were able to easily and efficiently haul the bags
400ft with one of us on the haul line counterweighting. We had never passed a knot while hauling or body-counter weighted,
 but it went smoothly. Turning theory into practice was a continuing theme throughout the climb.

The climbing up to heart ledges was fun with some really wet, vegetated, and alive cracks.  The swallows were darting in and out
of the cracks all around us and our placements. More amusingly, a small grey frog came out of pod that I was about to cam!  The view
up toward the shield and out left over towards the salathe was mind-blowing as well. Upon reaching mammoth terraces we bivied,
with some music and brews to round out the night.

The real success was avoiding the temptation of the fixed lines and the easy bail to the ground. Bailing was never considered after this day.

Day 4. Push towards the grey bands. Again we were up predawn, shuttling gear to the opposite side of mammoth. Tim lead the easy
pitch off of mammoth. The next pitch, pitch 13 (per Supertopo), was an absolute thrill to lead. Top stepping every sinker cam and nut
placement for 130ish feet in solid granite. Wow.  Tim linked pitch 14 and 15, taking a 30 ft fall when a WC zero torque out. I noticed
he was falling when the haul line began to neatly stack itself next to me at the belay. No worries the fall was clean.

At this point we ran into another party that was on the muir as well. They planned to bivy at the same place as us, at the end of the
bolt ladder pitch. We fixed up to the start of the bolt ladder and bivyed a pitch beneath.

Sometime during the day we decided to finish on the nose instead of follow the other party up the muir. The reasons were many;
running out of time, the other party, loss of confidence?, desire to tour a bunch of el cap, and such. Tim would also be more likely
to lead pitches on the nose than on the muir as well.

Day 5. We hoped to make it to camp 5 today. The traverse pitches across to the nose were both amazing and terrifying. The pendulums
were superfun to clean and climb, but the 3rd class section was a nightmare with our large bags.



(p17 cleaning with a grin (or grimace?)

We considered bivying at the end of the great roof, but the bolt set up and high winds convinved us otherwise.  I led pancake flake by
 headlamp and was glad to find a decent bolt set up for a portaledge at the belay.

(camp IV)

Sadly, I was unable to finish my beer this night. The beer was Gubna, a 10% imperial IPA from Oskar Blues brewery that comes
in a can. I was nodding off halfway through the beer.   

Day6. I guess we decided at some point to climb to the top.

(yikes how many pitches today?)
 I slipped off a 5.5 slab on the pitch to camp V. That was embarrassing. A NIAD party cruised past us. They were friendly guys who
 did the NIAD twice that day! Very inspiring to see them cruise the pitches and to see their system in work.

Up higher, when cleaning the changing corners pitch, two buddies from boulder cruised up doing a NIAD also. Amazing how small this world is?

Our anchoring materials had slowly disappeared over the course of the climb. My standard anchor was now 2 shoulder length slings,
4 normal biners, and 1 locker. This was adequate for most belays, but at that final uber exposed belay I was concerned?there were
2 people jugging on the anchor, 1 person hauling, and 1 person short fixed?ahh c?est la vie!

We topped out as the last light left the valley. The summit bivy was awesome, a perfectly clear night, plenty of leftover whiskey,
and no goals for the next day. 

Day7. We hiked to the true summit, ate some bacon, soaked up the view, and ignored the suffering to come. The descent took
us awhile. Our minds were wandering towards future adventures, river trips, alpine climbing,  and world traveling: our thoughts were
not focused. I?m shocked that we didn?t break any ankles with the number of spills we took.

We ran into who I presume to be GoMZ at the top of the east ledge raps. Thanks for the beta and stoke!

My wandering mind however managed to tangle myself and the bags in the fixed lines on the first rap. So I had to remove the bags
from my belay loop, and pass them around the ratty cords. It?s an easy maneuver with the light bags, unless of course you fail to clip
one of the bags back into your belay loop.

It?s hard to describe the terror of watching a haulbag fall down the east ledge raps, especially if the entire rack is in the bag. The bag
managed to hit the wall about 7 times on the way down. I would have killed people if there was anyone beneath us. Bad news!

The haulbag stayed intact with only minor cosmetic damage. Although the haulbag hit the wall, snagged trees, ledges and other protrusions,
 the contents only spilled out at the end. Everything was within a 10 foot radius?The gods must be smiling. Dear metolius?Thank you!

We stopped rushing and moved carefully for the rest of the descent.

Seeing el cap from the manure pile parking lot was a special moment. The cold beer and warm pizza at the pizza deck was remarkable.
The excessive people and bumper to bumper traffic was not. The el cap lieback in the meadow fulfilled something but we still couldn?t
believe that the rock we were staring at was the same one we spent 5 days on. Cruising along tioga pass in the sunset was lovely.
Sleeping in Tonopah Nevada was forgettable. The shower at the motel was not.

I had so many expectations and preconceived notions about El Cap and the climbing. Very few of them were accurate.

I was right about one thing though?what?s next?

Acknowledgments: 2:1 hauling ratchet, gummy worms, pinapple fruit cups, uncle bens ready made rice, Pass the Pitons Pete's continuous banter
on channel 1, oskar blues brewing company, and El Cap for being a bitchin' piece of stone.

Offline GoMZ

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Re: Muir to Nose TR
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2010, 10:52:13 pm »
Nice TR, and congrats on the climb. Yes that was us on our way back up the east ledges for the rest of our gear, it was nice meeting you guys. Glad we didn't lag any more than we did getting up the fixed lines avoiding the haulbag catastrophe;)


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Re: Muir to Nose TR
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2010, 11:00:41 pm »
Sweet. Oh, yes.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Muir to Nose TR
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 11:39:44 pm »
really nice Smack...

we still couldn?t
believe that the rock we were staring at was the same one we spent 5 days on.

so surreal, huh?

Offline Mike.

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Re: Muir to Nose TR
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2010, 08:34:11 am »
Bravo! Well done--the write-up and the climb. You guys put in some big days, but apparently didn't miss out on the critical nuances of being there. You guys cranked so fast you barely got your sea legs on!

Have had that throat swelling before...hydration is key.

Sounds like another testimonial for getting rid of the ridiculous just people call fixed lines on the EL. Thankfully a good outcome. That tat causes more problems than it solves, as you illustrated perfectly.

Cheers to you and your mate. Bask in the glory!
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline Erik Sloan

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Re: Muir to Nose TR
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2010, 06:04:39 pm »
Thanks! Awesome TR!