El Cap Report 05/30/07

ElCap Report 5/30/07

By Tom Evans

Ok... dig out your rain gear, get that bailers topo out, and hunker down under that rain fly because fresh from the base of the Blast comes all the dirt and delight brought to you by a Peregrine falcon right here from the deck of the Heartbreak Hotels best suite. I have the eyes and ears of an eagle and you can't slide that BS story by me... so here it is straight from the Deck of the Ditch... the epicenter of the center of the big walling scene here in Yosemite... the ElCap Report for today.

The day started off windy and clear but around noon the winds calmed and as a result the weather from the high country was able to slide down slope to the west end of the valley... at first it was a little cloudy and then a little thunder rumbled around echoing off the walls.. then the clouds darkened and 27 drops of rain actually reached the valley floor ... with that huge volume of water pouring into the valley the climbers on the Big Stone went into a panic!!! It is a well known fact that climbers on ElCap are the biggest pussies in the known universe when it comes to the treat of rain... Death wish Dave immediately set up his ledge and crawled inside the protection of the rain fly leaving SEG to face the elements outside... self preservation is very strong up on the Cap especially when it is not your girlfriend you are climbing with... every man for himself I always say!!


Two NIADers on the nose immediately started rappelling from the gray bands... actually a smart move as they had No gear for such a catastrophic flow of water... of course these things happen in the valley in summer conditions and it was soon over but not before an additional 10 drops had fallen... SAR was taken off full alert and things settled into the normal slovenly routine at the Bridge... I had actually thought of covering up my cameras during the deluge but decided to live dangerously and leave them unprotected... pretty rad stuff!!!


Zodiac: A team of three were seen leading on the start of the 5th pitch with the leader braving the elements and leading the bolt ladder even though it appeared that 5 raindrops had hit the wall in his vicinity..


Trip: The Trip is empty and its last conqueror stopped by for a chat this morning... Steven was fresh from his teams recent victory on that route... the lad looked a little thinner than last time and was down to a slim fighting weight of only 240. He had a great time and I got some nice shots of him so he goes home with actual proof that he had mastered the big wall scene.


PO Wall... Well Marc must be sick of the whole process because he is making exceptional progress today and was last seen going a couple pitches above the black tower.. he was unfazed by the torrential rains and may have only suffered a drop or two at his location.


SSPO: I mean Ragan, the man with the plan and the stick, went pretty well this morning reaching the belay at the start of the rubber band man pendulum by 11 when I shot him.. he was lingering around the bags in a rain jacket but only fondled his ledge instead of erecting it. I have a feeling he is going to step it up a little soon as the climb is more direct and not quite so steep... he is on the vertically challenged side.. shorter than I am.... people say I am "stout" or the less afraid use the endearing term....."portly" and the lad is shorter than me but half my weight... so he may have a restricted reach and find it necessary to go to the "stick" when things are a little out of reach... but then again that’s why they put top steps on aiders!! Anyway, the notorious stick was left in the bag today.


Mescalito: Ottawa Doug is still racking up the pitches and will be off tomorrow... talked with the lad today to offer some last minute encouragement and get the word from him.. he finished two pitches from the top today on the bow like slopping ledge.. he said he had a weeks worth of food and water left so the weather was no problem... topping out tomorrow!! The Team of two were at the start of the Molar corner this afternoon and were headed up it as I left they are making good time thus far.. I saw some fixed lines yesterday lower on the route and discovered a solo climber on the 7th pitch this morning... he is well organized and moving fast... might just catch the team of two!!


Nose: The three men from Seattle were seen past the king swing in the morning and moving toward the gray bands at noon.. they are pretty dialed into the 3 man system and are making rapid progress... shot a few of them at the corner of the great roof at 4pm and assume they will stay at camp 5 and them off tomorrow.. Saw a team of two go into the stovelegs around noon but they are pretty slow and I expected them to bail when the wall of water (maybe 7 drops) hit this afternoon... but they seem to be pushing on in spite of the conditions!! The one dayers bailed from the gray bands this afternoon as the clouds got dark and rain threatened.. they retreated in an orderly and rapid manner...


Muir: Rob and Justin were seen on the last pitch of the free Muir today around 3pm... you may recall that the free Muir doesn't actually go up the Muir's last 800 feet of dihedral but traverses over to Chicken head ledge on the shield and finishes up on that route... cant say if they sent it but feel like they most likely did...talked with Justin’s wife and scoped them out for her..


Shield: Solo Dave lead the really "fun" Groove pitch this morning and I was able to get some really nice shots of him at the belay as the sun came around the corner... SEG was seen cleaning the pitch in good order for a big wall newbie.. as reported above Dave set up the ledge when the weather started looking questionable... actually a smart thing to do as it beats trying to put things together in a howling wind with driving rain!! BoBo knows the score.. figure he will lead the triple cracks this evening as the clouds are rapidly vanishing... Closely behind them is a party of two who are moving right along and are about to catch up with DT and SEG...They will most likely make the pass in the morning...


Salathe/ Free Rider... I did see a two person team of people who don’t want to be shot or have names mentioned in this report.. they were making rapid progress past the ear when I left. Stephan... well I saw what I think was the man at the start of the wonderfully refreshing, so called, "sewer pitch". He was with baggage and ropes and alone in a red shirt so I figure it was Stephan.. The 4 person team of 2 and 2 were seen this morning finishing the bivy just above the roof on the headwall.. very cool place to spend the night... Maybe one of them was at long ledge..couldn’t actually tell... they were seen lumbering over the top at around 4pm...into the teeth of the weather where maybe 8 to 10 drops of water lashed and tore at their clothing.


Dihedral... saw the team of two at the Black Cave today and slugging it up the gully toward thanksgiving ledge when I departed.... Strangely enough the Flash and KFC were not there... they were down at the hanging bivy below the roof on 16... lets see... That’s about 32 hours into the "push" with 8 more pitches to go... hopefully they took a nap at "The Ledge" and aren’t reduced to that stupor of those who have been awake too long ... that is a very dangerous condition to allow yourself to drift into and should be corrected when you realize that things aren't going as fast as planned... the record is 15 hours so this is the time for the lads to man up and admit that they need some sleep so they can safely continue with brains capable of making good decisions... I am glad to be down here on that one.... be safe guys and I will check you in the morning...


In other news:  You now have the latest dope on the loners, stoners, straight and sobers...we had some good times at the Center today... many heroes of the valley stopped for conversation and good cheer ... always good to meet new people and talk big walls with the greats and the first timers too...


Well that is it for me... the van is packed and the raingear placed in the front seat where I can get to it if another drop should threaten to fall on me... if you are planning on climbing El Captain soon be warned that big doings are about to happen... One "Lincoln", former climbing ranger, without a gun, cruised by and gave us all the word about some filming and what he called "antics" that are about to transpire on the Salathe, Meacalito, and the Nose in the next week or so... I will keep you posted with the real data as the events actually unfold.. I could tell you what I know but I don't want to blow the suspense... So I am putting up my feet on the railing of the deck here at the Heartbreak Hotel and rocking back and forth watching the clouds dissipate and the Brothers and Sisters settle in for the night on the wall off to the east and west.... Remember to keep that rain gear handy and not in the very bottom of the haul bags when you are up here on The Rock!

Later... ElCap-pics