El Cap Report 10/04/07

ElCap Report 10/4/07

 By Tom Evans

Yeah... I know ... you want to know the real deal not some crappy rumor you got from some bus driver who talked to a random dude who was hitching by the bridge this morning.... and you know that ECP will give you the straight shit good or bad, with no favoritism... Right?.... Right! So I am going to get to the Nose news first and cover the rest as usual..

I dragged my carcass out of the rack at 6am and cruised over to the cafe to get a good breakfast, as I was going to be without any food for quite a while today. The place was a wasteland... but my buddy Ted of KFC, Lance, Ted climbing team, showed up and we had a casual breakfast, then departed for the meadow. I picked up a couple of the monkeys who were hitching my way, even though the van was trashed with all my stuff. I got to the bridge around 7am. The line-up was packed with cars and there were all kinds of people there to watch the coming action. Even our sometimes maligned ranger, Jack, was present to see the events unfold. I set up my scope and reached across the distance to get the Hubers in close so I could make sure everything was on the up and up with this whole deal. The Brothers were smoking up the route as I got my merciless eye trained on them and started shooting. They started a little before 7 so I picked them up as Alex climbed into the stovelegs. There was a party on a portaledge half way up the stovelegs who just sat there taking pics as Alex blew by short fixing for Thomas.


I figured they would make Dolt Tower in an hour from the start but turns out they were at the Jardine Traverse cutoff in an hour... sweet!! They raced up to ECtower and in 1 min 38 sec Alex climbed Texas Flake. In no time at all he was on the boot and Thomas was cleaning like a man possessed. Thomas was soon on the toe of the boot, a place where I felt they wasted too much time in the past, using 4 to 5 minutes to change over leaders and shoes and such. Thomas was out of there in less than 2 minutes and they were on record pace. They looked strong and everything was working in their favor. They smoked by a party on camp 4 and soon Thomas was on the great roof. But there things started to unravel. Thomas missed a few reaches and had to re-try a couple of moves and I said to someone.... "ugh oh.. Thomas is having some trouble".... The clock seemed to be running away from them and I started to have my doubts about this attempt. Then one of Thomas's aid slings floated away in the breeze and they were in deep shit. But Thomas redoubled his efforts and managed to make the pitch with just one aider but we all knew what that mistake could cost... They had to jug with only one aider now or the leader had to aid with only one aider and there was no spare. But they charged upward in a somewhat, for them, awkward style that was not the smooth rehearsed style we have become accustomed to. They went out of my view after Alex jugged to the Glowering spot but it still seemed possible.


I knew that they still had to pass the two Croatian women up high in the dihedral... we wondered ... "what if one of these women was hired by Hans to seduce the manly Alex while Thomas was not looking?!!" I just had to wait for Alex to come into view just below the Alcove.... the minutes ticked off.... It was like the astronauts going behind the moon and being out of communication for 20 minutes... I waited and watched... watched and waited... I watched my wrist watch and tried to chat a bit with the people who had chosen to watch from the bridge. I kept looking and just about when I had given up hope there came Alex sprinting into view. A vast roar, peppered with monkey calls arose from the crowd. The lads still had a few minutes but had to bust ass to get it done. Soon they were both on the last pitch with Alex racing up the last few feet to the tree and Thomas flailing at the rope with the Jumars and lunging up the last few feet with Alex reeling him in like a giant fish on a line.. Then it was over... and soon a puzzled look came over Everyone’s face... did they or didn't they??


I had them at around 2:51 but I had NO idea of when they started and just figured it was about 6:45am, which turned out not to be the case in the end. Anyway, Gleason got a call from SAR Greg who was on top and he said they passed him going down and said they had missed it by 35 seconds, having done the thing in 2:48:35.... of course we were just flabbergasted that it could have been so close after such a climb!! They were soon down and then things got more interesting yet...... BUT........................ turns out that they thought that Hans and Yuji had done it in 2:48 FLAT and that is why they felt they had missed it... BUT.....Hans is nothing if not a fanatic about the EXACT time for doing things....So in a rush Alex and Max raced off in the car to the lodge and a YFI connection to get on Hans's site and see if he had some change on his 2:48 time like they did... turns out he did.... 50 seconds... and so it was, that the Huber Brothers, after a long and dedicated effort to climb the Nose in the fastest time, came to be the record holders by a mere 15 seconds!!!


The crowd went wild!!!! Later we all sat around the bridge and chatted and took pictures and had some beers... everyone was pleased... but Alex and Thomas informed me that they would go again in 4 days to do the route and make their best effort to knock a few minutes off the time so as to quell any possible controversy the closeness of the times might incur. My personal belief, from what I saw, and the way the events unfolded was that they did indeed break the record, albeit by the narrowest of margins. Hans is my good friend and a great and generous man and I wanted to make sure that his record was carefully guarded so no one could get it away from him unethically... Remember my friends... I am the guardian of the gate to the El Cap adventure and I am not about to let any BS screw up things here..... IMO it was all on the up and up....and the time is correct...


Zodiac: Andy and the girls were marching to Peanut ledge this afternoon when I left early and could, IMO, get off the route today if they really pushed... Lower down: One two man team was doing the regular start and Michael, vying for the oldest solo of an ElCap route at 56, was on the direct start. Michael won the race to the belay at the start of 3.


Oh yeah.. one pirate, Ammon McNeeley, was seen solo doing the first pitch of the much feared Surgeon General, his defunct partner, KFC did observe a little whipper by the Man, but nothing to fret about... when partners are scarce McNeeley goes it alone...Aaaarrrrrrhhh!!


El Nino: Stanley and Martina were working below the roof pitch this afternoon while the O'Neill flotilla just plowed them under!!!


NA Wall: Yeah Timmy's Battle Star Galactia flotilla is just steaming up the route at the moment sending all nearby parties scurrying for cover... they could be off tomorrow if Solo Dave gets the sharp end of the chord.


PO Wall: The team of seasoned Everest climbers with the magnificent "Bulgarian Flash" in reserve are moving right along the west coast of the NA Wall. I got some sweet shots of them in great early afternoon light....


Mescalito: Mutt and Jeff are well above the Bismarck and are hitting full stride now... they had better be as the weather is looking a little on the cold and sketchy side for the next day or so. The wind has picking up and the forecast is uncertain. Lower down... Did see T2 finish the 5th pitch up to the Stork ledge and go down to clean as I was leaving... he seems to be on the route for good and I will keep loved ones posted while I keep an extra sharp eye on this lad..


Nose: The Croatian girls should be getting off the route later today or early tomorrow... they have a ledge and fly so no worries when for them... There is another party getting into camp 5 now and another of 3 at Eagle ledge and moving upward. I think the party benighted in the stove legs made Dolt as I left.... Around the base? Who knows?...


There are two WDWTBRO parties, ..you know..."We don't want to be reported on" parties on the great rock, one has blasted and the other is just about to go... both are extremely well staffed and we all wish them the best of luck.


In other news... this morning was chilly with the coolest clouds passing by from the south to the north... impressive ... the wind has picked up and the forecast is calling for chance of showers at 30%... just an inconvenience I imagine. Lots of people around with all the action on the stone and all... a memorable day for sure... come on by if you get near here... So that’s the way it is on this 4th day of October 2007 the day that the speed record on the Nose was passed to a new team... will the "old team" reappear? The answer on another great day ....But I bet they will!!!  

 I'm out of here .... ECP's Tom Evans