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AaronOlson

[TR] Yosemite Valley - El Capitan - The Nose 5.9C2 6/5/2014

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Trip: Yosemite Valley - El Capitan - The Nose 5.9C2

 

Date: 6/5/2014

 

Trip Report:

Climbing the Nose of El Capitan 5/31/14 – 6/5/14

 

There was a Nose TR posted a couple of days ago, and we were the party directly ahead of them.

The Nose is a climb Trevor and I have trained for almost 3 years. Previous attempts were thwarted by my knee injuries or Trevor’s med school schedule, however, this year the stars aligned during the perfect time of the season. This would be our first big wall, so we put in a lot of time in the gym and outdoors to figure out systems and try to simulate what it was like to climb with all of that gear, and of course the pig.

On the drive down we started seeing that there was a poor forecast in our outlook. NOAA and other reputable weather sources were forecasting 20% chance of thunder and lightning storms for the first two days and 30% chance on the third day of our planned ascent. We called every big wall and Yosemite climber we knew to get some input on whether we should be worried about the forecast at all. As it turned out, we really couldn’t have had better weather.

 

THE CLIMB

We arrived in the Valley and after some interesting shenanigans on the first two pitches we started to get into our stride on the next two and finished at Sickle Ledge at around 2:00 PM on Sunday.

 

5_-_Hiking_to_the_Base.JPG

 

7_-_Trevor_First_Pitches.JPG

 

9_-_Sickle_Ledge.JPG

 

We wrapped to the ground, hauled our bags back to sickle, and were down in the meadow by the Merced drinking a beer by 5:00 PM. This helped calm our nerves for a short time before firing off in the morning!

 

10_-_Rapping_from_Sickle.JPG

 

Monday morning (6/2) we got to the base of the route to jug our fixed lines. Trevor led this block and had to do a series of pendulums to get into the neighboring cracks around the start of the stovelegs. After these shenanigans, Trevor was at the optional belay (per Supertopo) for the start of the Stoveleg crack. Trevor got the next two pitches through the glorious “legs” to finish out his block for the day.

 

I started leading my block (Aaron), which started at the base of the wide part of the Stove Legs. I was able to get a pretty good technique going with one foot in the crack and one in the aider. The belay was a very welcome site after bumping #4’s for so long! Before we knew it, we were at Dolt tower and it was about 4:00 PM. We made relatively quick work of the three pitches after Dolt and ended up at El Cap Tower around 7:00 PM with daylight to spare, SWEET! We were too scared to bust out the whiskey though.

 

11_-_Approaching_El_Cap_Tower.JPG

14_-_El_Cap_Tower.JPG

15_-_El_Cap_Tower.JPG

 

Waking up on El Cap Tower was pretty cool, and it was then Trevor’s lead on the Texas Flake pitch, which was also pretty cool (for me!). This pitch turns into a 50’ chimney protected by one bolt. After groveling up the scary bit, he made the exposed exit move to the top of the flake that is about 6” wide. Once here he laid flat on the top of the flake for a few minutes to gather his breath and thoughts. Nice work Trev! He then cruised up the bolt ladder approaching and crack up to the Boot Flake ready for the highlight of the climb.

 

18_-_Boot_Flake.JPG

 

The way to do the King Swing is to lower down to the second to last bolt on the ladder. Trevor started running back and forth on the wall and stuck the King Swing on his second try! One of the coolest parts of being on a big wall in the Valley, is hearing the hoots from the bridge below and from climbers on neighboring routes. Tom Evans got a few really cool shots of Trevor nailing the King Swing.

 

19_-_King_Swing.JPG

22_-_King_Swing.JPG

 

The next few pitches through the grey bands were awesome but nothing too crazy sticks out in my memory. Since Trevor got the King Swing though, I got the Great Roof. This pitch looks so cool from the bottom also very intimidating. I got up through the lower part easy enough and as the roof started turning horizontal I reached a series of tricky placements. I was sitting in my aider fifi’d to a bomber cam trying to figure out my next move. There wasn’t much to work with (my creativity was lacking that late in the day too), so I pulled out a Metolius 00 and finagled it into a decent looking placement. I gave it two good bounce tests and after deciding it was good enough to weight, I stood on it and “POP!” the piece blew and I took a small fall onto my daisy chain ripping the first relief stitch. It was still plenty usable and everything else was okay, so I rallied and finished the pitch relieved to be at the bolts.

 

24_-_Exposure_From_Belay_Below_Great_Roof.JPG

25_-_Great_Roof.JPG

27_-_Great_Roof.JPG

 

The head lamps came out half way through the Pancake Flake pitch. It is a shame to be up on the wall seeing these amazing cracks and not being able to free climb them due to all of the gear and being tired from all of the climbing we had done to that point. The last pitch leading into Camp 5 for the night is a C1+ “awkward” aid pitch, and certainly lives up to its rating. I took my time and was so happy to see the chains at the bivy ledge. Before we knew it we had the portaledge set-up, were fed and in our sleeping bags by about 12:30 AM. A late night!

 

30_-_Pancake_Flake.JPG

31_-_Camp_Five.JPG

 

Trevor started out the leading this morning on the Glowering Spot, a relatively tricky aid pitch mainly because of ankle breaker potential off the deck. He then led the next pitch into Camp 6 where I had to saddle up for Changing Corners.

 

33_-_Leaving_Camp_Five.JPG

35_-_Top_of_Glowering_Spot.JPG

 

Changing Corners is the aid crux of the route if you go into the C2 corner. I was a little shaken from my fall the previous day in the Great Roof and wasn’t feeling too gung-ho about another trick aid pitch. I was able to bypasses the crux using a very reachy bolt ladder. The move between bolts 1 and 2 were the hardest, as I had to top step while fifi’d to the bolt. It was challenging but totally doable for someone a smidge under 6’.

 

36_-_Changing_Corners.JPG

 

Trevor got the last few pitches including the last C2F pitch. He found it would have been easier to wear his free shoes on this pitch rather than approach shoes! He then got to sample one of the more beautiful, though short, cracks on the entire route. The 10c crack on pitch 30 starts thin and widens to hands. Trevor couldn’t help himself and put his climbing shoes back on to free the crack. Before we knew we knew it we were in the last pitch going up an ultra-classic bolt ladder, with wicked exposure below.

 

39_-_View_down_from_pitch_30.JPG

 

Getting to the summit was one of the coolest experiences I have had in climbing career. The sun was setting over the valley with an amazing assortment of orange, yellow and red in the sky to the west, which cast a glow on Half Dome to the east, and I was standing at the summit of a wild adventure with my Best Man. I also think I heard our Dads hollering up to us from the valley floor, which was awesome. It was a moment I will never forget.

 

40_-_Topout_Sunset.JPG

41_-_Finish_Tree.JPG

 

We decided to sleep on top, and finish the whiskey we were too scared to drink the previous nights. That morning we woke up to a group of base jumpers going off of the cliff close to where we just came up. It was nuts to think of getting down that way. I guess I would rather spend 4 days ascending that cliff than 1 minute getting to the ground!

 

46_-_Cooking_Breakfast_on_Top.JPG

48_-_East_Ledges_Descent.JPG

49_-_Manure_Pile_Buttress_Parking_Lot.JPG

 

The moments after finishing a big climb like this are always really nice to take in to the fullest. A buddy texted us Warren Harding’s quote after we finished, “As I hammered in the last bolt and staggered over the rim, it was not all clear to me who was conqueror and who was conquered. I do recall that El Cap seemed to be condition than I was.” Though our ascent was nowhere close to as extreme as Harding’s, it was great to reflect on with a flask of whiskey in our hands!

 

51_-_El_Cap_Meadow_Post_Climb.JPG

 

Gear Notes:

Typical big wall rack...lots of gear!

 

Approach Notes:

10 minutes from road. Nice!

Edited by jon

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Congratulations on your achievement and those are some very nice pictures. Thanks for sharing them with us.

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