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[TR] The Cap'n - Mescalito 9/7/2011

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Trip: The Cap'n - Mescalito


Date: 9/7/2011


Trip Report:

So, after chewing on the idea since about this time last year, I was finally able to crawl my way up Mescalito for my first solo on the Big Stone. Total time on the wall was 12 days, with a day hiking loads to the base, and a day and a half getting the loads back down. I was slow, it was scary, there were storms, and soloing 26 pitches was a ton of work, but hands down it was one of the best adventures I've ever had. 'Nuff said, here's some photos:




My dad and I in the meadow pre-climb. My folks were able to come down for a few days while I was gearing up and starting the climb. I was worried this might freak them out, but now my dad wants to do a wall next year! How cool is that?

Mescalito shoots right up the wall between the Nose and North America.





Packing the bags in the meadow and getting ready to hike loads. 5 trips in all to the base, thank god this wasn't the Half Dome approach.





Mmm, wall food. I was worried the spam might get old, but it really just got better and better as the climb went on.





Hauling the first pitch. 3 to 1 hauling sucks, by the way. Won't be doing that in the future.





"Hmm, what the hell am I getting myself into?"





I'm in the bottom left, pondering just how far I have to go.





Lotta rock, lotta air.





This is right after I finally got a piece in following a 20 foot whipper into a pendulum swing when I tried to lower out on the seagull pitch (shoulda penji-ed). Self belays are exciting!





Lounging in the evening, the best part of wall climbing. The East wall of El Cap looms over you (and eventually under you) for the duration of Mescalito.





Mornin' light on the Dawn Wall. Helluva start to every day.





Flagging the ledge is sweet. So is free-hanging hauling. At this point I was back to 1 to 1 hauling for the rest of the climb.





That wall is sheer!





Here it comes. Thunderstorms kept hitting me for my first week up there. It was frustrating to keep having to set up the ledge fly and take shelter, but I sure was glad to have it on several occasions.





Right after the big one hit. The wind was blowing so hard up the face that it lifted the portaledge with me on it several times! Grab the straps and surf it out! The guys on El Cap Tower in this photo got caught out in it and had a wet and cold night as a result, but dried out in the morning and finished the Nose in good style (nice work guys!).





Tom Evans is a stud for taking photos of everyone up there. This is two pitches below the Bismark.





Gotta love it when they're half way out of the wall.





This pretty much sums up how I felt about standing on that and the other ones like it.





The Bismark. This is one of the best places I've ever been to.





Dangling the feet off a ledge like this one just never gets old for me. Three pitches to the top from here.





One of the final bag lower-outs. Gettin' close.





Looking down from the final pitch. Ridiculous drop.





On the headwall, just below the top. Not a bad place to find yourself on a sunny morning.





The view of the East wall is great from here. You can really see just how overhung that thing is. Zodiac this winter anyone?





Dirty. Tired. Sore. Fired up! On top of it all, 26 pitches later.


I hit the unroping spot with all the gear at 2 pm on the 12th day of climbing. Hiked loads down to a bivy spot above the fixed lines on the East Ledges and stayed there. I arrived at the 4Runner (which was thankfully unmolested by any bears after two weeks) in the early afternoon the next day, and spent the rest of the week sunning myself in the meadows and drinking beer (just in time for Facelift week and its refillable beer mug and slideshows in the evenings!), living like a marmot.


Big thanks to all those who lent me gear, especially Tom, Dan E., Brett M., and Ben S. - you guys rock. Also, huge thanks to all my climbing partners and mentors, I could never have dreamed of tackling a project like this without you. Big thanks as well to Remote Medical International for letting me off the leash for a full three week window to get this done - you guys are awesome! Massive respect for the first ascensionists on this one too - Porter, Sutton, Burton, and Nelson putting this rig up in the early 70's, and in the style they did, is bad ass on a level I'll never know.


All in all, it was a hell of a trip. I learned a ton, and was able to enjoy one of the best adventures I've ever had. I couldn't ask for a better way to say farewell to my 20's. Yosemite is such an inspiring and humbling place to climb, and it only seems to grow with every visit. As always, I can't wait to get back, and look forward to the future. Now who's up for the Shield?!




Gear Notes:

I went with the full supertopo recommended rack, but didn't touch the iron once. Don't even take a leader's hammer, just one for the second to clean with. It's a bunch of offset cams, offset nuts, and some hooks. If I can do it clean (I'm no aid master), anyone can.


Approach Notes:

It doesn't get any easier than the Captain. The descent still sucks though, especially if you have to double carry the whole thing.

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Sweet! What a great trip and good clean style! Way to go on your first Cap'n solo!


I might be talked into a winter trip to Zodiac too if you're still feeling it in a few months. ;-)

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great report, and an excellent climb!

the difference in the facial hair is a good proof of the time spent on the wall :)

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Phil, you are my hero! Thanks for the trip report! That is quite an accomplishment. Really nice photos, what camera were you using?


Let's hook up this weekend for sure. Marty is riding with us, we'd love to hear the story first hand on the way over. He said there were a few gals coming over too.

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Definitely, quite a memory you have created for yourself. Thats one of my dream routes.

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Nice Phil, great photos. Bring POPS with you the next time we are meeting up. Tell him he can hang with some of your climbing Buddies, that are his age. We can take him up something that would probably bore you. Could we Talk you into a slide show?

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