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[TR] El Cap - The Nose Abides (AKA Third Times the Charm) 7/1/2015


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Trip: El Cap - The Nose Abides (AKA Third Times the Charm)


Date: 7/1/2015


Trip Report:


been 6 years since i first fucked w/ the nose - the savage beat-down at the hands of a heat-wave was enough to take it off my radar a bit - shit, who am i kidding? i'm the shittiest goddamn rock-climber i know, mayhap its time to take up golf?


anyhow, that didn't' keep me from going back the next summer n' failing for a variety of other reasons - a fascinating trip, over in 72 hrs it seemed, my main memory the belated realization i'd teamed up w/ a recently recovered heroin-addict roiling w/ inner tension - good fella really, as near as i could reckon it when he rose to the occasion and spoke, but not quite what the route required - i particularly enjoy the memory of the 2 of us chain-smoking the entire ride back, windows down the whole way - never did hear how his tale turned out, but i wish him well...


as the years rolled by i managed to make it up el cap a few times by other routes, and some other valley classics to boot, n' when my boy beacon-ben said we should take on the nose a year ago i figured why not give the fat man another chance at fame? ben'd done the nose i few times in the past and i dig him as a road partner too - no 730 a.m. orations on my filthy habits when nursing a camel n' a pbr, no occasionally tender temperament to be wary of, no ability to offend or annoy at all really and how could any human be? old ben's as mild as milk and merry-sober, a shocking display of power, someone should take the bastard apart and suss out what makes him tick - you just need some patience when he's gotta poop, and be prepared to cook him all his meals as some way he busted into the 21st century w/o learning how to boil water :)


we hit the valley like crusading clowns after a high-velocity passage from the outer rings of pluto, rocking led zeppellin the whole way i recollect, n' began acclimatizing ourselves to cruel california - for me that means immersing meself in the merced like a fucking crocodile for a couple days, guzzling equal bits of gatorade n' burgundy, n' burning down the 49 cent burritos by camp iv - ben had family down for the first week n' we intersected w/ them now n' again, suppering at black widow kitchen as i called it, where the stone walls by the road-way were riddled with spiders - gray camping up at crane flats - flinging the flying ring round el cap meadow n' contemplating the crucible to come - for me the valley demands taking it slow, and man have i have sussed out how to do that in style :)


we settled on an unorthodox strategy that still got nods of approval from the old guard by the bridge - tom evans evidently in a bit of a tizzy over piton pete plugging up the nasal pathway by the real nose team - el cap tower taken over by a band of multi-national ninjas - he gave us good advice on conquering the king swing n' a took the chance to rub alex honnold's van for victory-luck


we planned to take 2 days fix up to the base of the stovelegs so we'd have mostly a straight shot up, hauling-wise, then a rest-day and launch - takes 5 ropes to do it n' a buncha jugging, but shit, fat-man can find his way round a jumarn' his joint has bits n' scraps of ropes with vintages based in the clinton era :)


strange days those - early up n' at'ems - college kids n' bavarians - confused plans getting cocked-up more by hordes of heathens making their own el cap attempts - eventually though the bags were high up off the ground and i was in high spirits for the adventure ahead - we dined in el cap meadow that night in kingly-style, done in ever so slightly by a stranger's take on the long term weather forecast, which sent big ben into a tail spin that was ultimately tackled via telephone by the plaidman of all people


on the day of days we departed in the early dawn, and ben was up off the first stove-leg pitch while the shadows were still long


seemed like we were making okay time, but the awful sun scorched down upon us, and i suffered up my 2 pitches to dolt tower, throwing meself n' me weary back down on the ledge as soon as the haul was done - i roused out a can of mandarin oranges n' made orgasmic mouth-sex to the juice as ben waxed enthusiastic about the way left to go


the sun had keeled over far enough to the west to kiss us with cool, n' while i sucked down gatorade n' camels, ben got tot he serious business of getting us to camp on el cap tower


good times lowering off dolt tower as ben'd run the two pitches together leaaving me little slack - only half way down the lower out i was out of cord and had to cast off, rocketing up to interstate speeds it seemed by the time i fetched up on the wall, back first, bitter n' howling


it was dark by the time i'd gotten up to ben just below el cap tower, and blissfully he was cheerful to take the lead up to camp, where we arrived in total darkness to the reality of sharing this famous ledge w/ a fuck-ton of baggage left by pete n' company, all seriously reeking of human refuse in the hot california evening - no matter - this sidewalk in the sky was my refuge, and i slept blissfully there like a babe at the bosom


by 7 a.m. the next morning the sun was back like an angry land-lord on the second of the month, n' seeing his meanness we took the quickest way up to the top of the boot-flake


evan's advice on the king swing was quite right - lower past the boot to a band of rock easily seen from the ground but not so much once up there, take a few momentum building swings than commit like a coward come round to conviction - find the thin fins all nice n' powdered at the highest point in the possible arc, than heel-hook around on an orange bit of rusty rock - do the whole thing w/o a stich of gear or the tag-line, then send it on down the climbing line once safe on eagle ledge - from there it's just the simple pleasure of aiding up 70 feet, not leaving a single piece of gear between you n' the awfulness of sir isaac newton :)


ben had the next pitch, n' paused to tank up for heading out



it was a bitter pitch for us both, broiling in the brilliance of the big bomb in the sky - by the time i was seconding i was baked out, having just broken my belay seat for the second time in as many el cap trips w/ ben, guess we're just too big boys - i got meself tangled in the real nose team's fixed line n' therefore fucked up my lower out, having then to endure mind-boggling bullshit to reverse it and get it right


the long and short of it was we hit camp iv just minutes before darkness, alarmed to see that the appellation of "camp iv" is really bullshit - i made a mantra of "camp iv is neither" in the days ahead and was pleased in hindsight to realize this was my lowest point - for that night we slept w/o pads, shoe-on, piled on top of each other, waiting for the night to pass so we could continue on


in the morning, minding my meager water-intake n' gazing at the great roof just ahead


ben really dug his first pithc that morning, up under the great roof


i got all the prime aid-shenanigan pitches, and naturally that included the great roof, riddled w/ fixed gear and therefore good fun


a thunderstorm hit as i emerged from under the roof, but i was pleased to deal w/ that rather than heat - this was my best day, and ben quickly gamboled on up the pancake flake as i exchanged pleasantries w/ piton-pete n' company as they rapped down their immense fixed line, rightly smiling having just finished thier a5 conquest after week's of effort n' singing home-made songs


all happy grappling w/ awkward aid and the promise of hitting a camp while light's left in the sky


camp v was just what i needed - plenty of flat space for one man to lie down - a view baffling to the mind but in a good way, and wonder of wonders, a free can of modesto, spoiling what would have been my longest period of being alcohol-free in the better part of a decade :)


i didn't know it then and am glad it was so as it woulda ruined my good mood - ben went up to the 1-man ledge just above me and complained of a giant suspected shit streak - i discovered later this was the gory remnants of a fellow who'd fallen to his death unto this ledge just weeks earlier - the blood-trail is clearly evidident between the two ropes - at the time i joked ben was lying down in diarrhea stains - it woulda made for a less tranquil time that evening if i'd known the truth


the morning dawned cool and over-cast-ish - we were very low on water and i wished very much to be on top by that night


i came up past the curious stain and set out on the pitch up to the glowering spot, which i found another inappropriate sobriquet - shit, such a sweet belay spot, i damn near took a nap as ben moved on up


now we were at camp 6 n' seeming to have a prayer at seeing this thing through


i set off up the changing corners and had a look back


changing corners a true classic, though the final bit broke me a smidge - the sudden appearance of thin aiding after so much easy ground, combined w/ the ugly corner the rope cuts around as you inch up micro-brassies, it made sad-clown comments course through my mind in equal parts with heathen prayers to pagan dogs


as ben moved up the next pitch, just 2 more to go afterwards, i first became aware of the world-famous hans florin flashing up towards us like a v2 on fucking fire


early evening was upon us, and as hans and client clearly needed to cruise past us, we conconcted a good story about how groovy it would be if he just towed our line up the next pitch as we stood aside to let him pass :) nice feller really, his buddy too...


me jugging up to the wild stance, summit-fever full upon me, ben beaming


the hours that followed i'd rather forget, and god-bless the bitter poisons i've consumed twixt now and then that have rendered it so - couldn't haul until the anchor was clear, and then it was an awkward one - by the time ben was up darkness was moments away - the bolt ladder somehow ended up being not so easy as you'd think, and the confusion attached w/ hauling up past it ultimatly found us not emerging onto the summit until well past mid-night, me totally broken in spirit, feet reeking of zombie-stench, virtually out of water, and caring about nothing more than sleep


so be it - we were on top and i'd finished my third el cap route - i threw meself down by the famous tree and slept blissfully in a cool breeze


mornign came n' we crapped on flat ground n' got all the shit we'd cast off in every direction in darkness in good order - the plan was to cruise by the top of zodiac and find water as we had only a cup each - baring that, we hoped horsetail creek would have the goods, n' we could get down the east ledges without feeling like denizens of the desert


ultimately we found ourselves in a sweet little cave above the creek, sucking in shade and stagnant water treated w/ pills that take great care to proclaim their worthlessness :)


we were in no hurry w/ plenty of food since i couldn't hardly eat anythign the whole clibm since i didn't have the water to chase it down - we settled in for a long stay, intending to descend the east ledges in the afternoon shade


rumblings of thunder and rumors of war ultimately got us back on our feet and heading down


wylde dyke



the east ledges fast enough, the final walk particularity more pleasant now that i knew what to expect - the crushing final walk will end soon, just smile n' day-dream of wine n' flip-flops


we had a few days before ben had to leave and we spent them as best we could - a rest day was needed of course, and we still had to recover 4 fixed ropes from the wall


the next day had 2 amazing thunderstorms and i wrecked my good karma by running threw a huge puddle by a poor family at 88 mph n' cackling like a fool to ben's uncomprehending horror - i wish i was a better person, but i also have to face facts...


we had just time enough to climb the nutcracker and the east buttress of middle cathedral






then it was phase 1 complete - ben dumped at the airport n' soon therefter i'd fetched my lawyer in oakland fresh off his sub-sonic transport and we boomed back into the valley


thought he'd like leaning tower - he did too - for his sins he was granted his wish :)








had a good bit of poetry to conclude this little tale but the good servers on cc.com somehow just took a giant shit on my and i havne't the heart to begin the battery again - i'll settle for a simple conclusion as its 45 minutes till the family arrives at pdx and depends upon me to port them back off :)

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Poetry? A request for Poetry?


Reserved, for the most auspicious occasions...


Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.


Congrats to you and ben. Well done men!

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Well done! Sounds like you put in your time. My friend and I climbed the nose a few days after that accident and saw the same grisly blood streaks.


What a great climb. It's so much harder than you thought. But in many ways, easier too. For us the crux was the heat as well. And not enough water. And crowds. Other than that, good fun!









Edited by telemarker
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Nice work gentlemen. No obligatory shot of beer drinking in El Cap meadow after the send?


Don't you mean the obligatory shot of Ivan in a drunken coma underneath a boulder?

kinda hard to top this one :)


it was actually a magical evening spent in the meadow that night - full moon, not a soul on the wall it seemed - my camera way to shitty to capture the occasion, my cockney tales doubly so- many beers n' a decent dinner - i recall big ben got to drive us to el portal from there :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

ben rocked the circa 1998 disposable camera n' his ship finally came in :)


the captain from middle cathedral on el cuatro de julio



some famous guy, 4 days into our climb and just a couple hours into his :)


the last pitch done in true "crack o'noon" conditions


near the beer


meter 33 of a 70 meter rope, post nasal condition :(




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