El Cap Report 10/27/08

ElCap Report 10/27/08
by Tom Evans

Yo... well... the day has come folks. I drove down to the Cap today, climbed out of the van, looked and looked and saw an almost empty wall. The monkey's in my posse and I decided we needed some meadow time and with so little action to shoot I decided that the time had come to close up operations for the season and take a few days to hang with my friends and get some of the last rays of Fall color on my sensor. I didn't take a single photo today but from the meadow we tracked a couple of parties throughout the day so I do have information on them ...but there are no pics.


Today's report is brought to you by "Today". "Today" was as beautiful a day as I have ever seen here in the Valley. There were some fantastic high cirrus clouds, marching west to east in an endless stream of variety, across a cobalt blue sky. It was hard to decide which to look at, ElCap or the sky. ElCap won out but the sky was wonderful. Also, the yellow leaves of the black oaks, framed the bottom of the Cap with radiant color as the sun beamed down through them later in the day. The air was crisp and clear and the Captain showed all its wonderful features for us to admire and reflect upon our days spent among them. The temperature was perfect and the sun warming, but not hot. There were a legion of climbers who hung out here today... they sure weren't on the Captain!!
So thanks, "Today", for holding us close, with your warmth and beauty, here in the ElCap meadow. These are the best of days folks, the best of days.
So here it is ... the last ElCap Report for 2008.. so wipe away the tears and share the last of the climbing I will recount to you...


Zodiac: The three man team sailed up the route and reached the top today around noon. These guys had their ducks in a row and I would bet they had the time of their lives.
Lower down the team of two, who blasted right off the deck yesterday, are doing very well and I last saw them in the middle of the Great White Circle when I left around 5pm.
Althea made it down from the top and out to the meadow this afternoon after her solo of this route. She looked none the worse for wear and received the heart felt congratulations of the climbers in the meadow.


Trip: Alik cruised into the cafe this morning looking pretty dirty but had that casual gait and easy smile that he is noted for. His solo of this route went almost exactly as planned. He broke the route into 5 big pitches and was able to execute that plan save for one pitch he had to do in the normal style. He threw down a 22:02:02 for this strenuous, steep route.
I forgot to add "Lost World", with Erik Sloan, to the list of climbs he has done this season. He is soon to return to his home in Alberta and we hope he will be back next season to display his talents on the Big Stone, and hang with the Bros. Alik Berg, "Climber of the Season" for sure.


Mescalito: We watched Skyler and Emily climb up the great right leaning corner on this SE Face classic. They were at the top of 9 when I left and climbed steadily all day with each leading their pitches in order. I may break out the Big Gun and get a shot or two of them tomorrow just for the memories.


Nose: The mixed team of Scott and Amanda climbed over the top this afternoon. They looked like they had it all together and will have a fun story to tell.
Mash was down today from his and his partner's ascent. They both had a good time in warm but good climbing conditions. His gray colors were not well received by my sensors but he expressed some interest in photoshopping a red shirt on to himself!

The two man German NIAD made it to the top last night and Mash said they were pretty worked! They had no bags of any kind... do or die boys, do or die!!
Several teams were working up to Sickle today, including Erik and Kevin, out for some fun.


Muir to the Nose: Nicki reported that he hauled out a rope for the three Italians who are above Mammoth Terrace now. I didn't see them come across the traverse to the Nose this afternoon but they may have slipped under the radar.


Albatross: Well it turned out that my estimation of the time this SAR team of Ben, Jon and Nate would post was right on the $$$. The lads were in the Cafe this morning and looked pretty hammered. They hung in the meadow with us all afternoon and recounted the following tale.
They made excellent time all the way to the Canoe and then the wheels came off and they had to dig deep to pull it out of the fire. Nate had the pitch off the Canoe, rated A3 in the guide, and got spanked hard. After some heads and beaks right off the east end of the Canoe he took a head first plunge as the gear ripped out in the black of the night. The lads were tired and shaken after 24 hours of climbing, so called a halt to operations for some sleep on the Canoe itself. After nearly 6 hours of fitful "rest" dawn came and they had a tag team match with the pitch again. After some time and some discussion of the possibility of being shut down and having to rap off from way up high, Ben maned up and pushed through a bold lead on heads and beaks to finish the pitch, which he called one of the hardest he had done to date. The route went without incident after that and I heard them making plans, in the meadow this afternoon, for a push on Tribal, ... yeah right!! They did a 36 hour ascent with 30 spent climbing. Nice effort guys and I love that you got to eat some humble pie at the Captains Table!!


In other news: I want to thank my readers for their interest and support of this silly little report over the many days of this season. For me it was a pleasure to take you along with all the people who were climbing toward their dreams on this Great Rock. Their stories were as varied as they are and each was a study in tenacity and determination and perhaps even more importantly the character of the climbers themselves. No doubt that climbing on ElCap builds character and confidence like no other activity one can do. Together we were there with Hans and Yuji as they stepped up and threw down their best effort to record a 2:37:05 on the Nose. We felt the sting of defeat with bailers who had miscalculated the tasks at hand. We watched various leaders plunge off pitches and scramble right back up to try them again. We saw rapid and slow ascents. We saw military like organization and huge clusterfucks. But mostly we saw people making stretches beyond what even they thought they could do. Lessons were learned and plans revised. All in the name of adventure and fun in a sport that can bring out the best in us and sometimes the worst.

So I say "thank you" for all your efforts and for the opportunity to share your adventures in the small way that I do.
I close with a line from a favorite song, as I remember it.


"If the good times are all gone
Then I am bound for movin on,
I'll look for you if I'm ever back this way."