ElCap Report 10/20/2022

ElCap Report 10/20/2022

By Tom Evans

Yo.. The great weather holds and free climbers gather amid clouds of chalk dust.  Weekend weather looks kinda sketchy at this time, but no one knows for sure how it will shake out.  The free climbing mecca, that is the South West face of the Big Stone, is drawing the slim, fit, and motivated to test their resolve and talent.  Fall lighting has made this past month a real shooting pleasure for me… and hopefully for you too!  So, saddle up cubicle pukes, and take the ride with old Tom, for some of the best climbs on the planet!

Today’s ElCap Report.. written just for you… unique in all the world!

1)  Two local women (Anika Ramey, Emily Coffman) did a NIAD on the 19th in not so bad crowding, and Emily is seen here passing that flake that the old topo said not to touch!































2)  Atlantis… The Minions continue to dominate!  Tom and Luke are killing it up there while the old master fondly watches their progress, as he mostly attends to the logistics, without which the endeavor would never have gotten off the deck, and would be impossible without his experience.  This is one of the best teams Pete has gathered in some time and they are meshing like precision gears.  Of course, it would all be for naut without “The Junk Show”… the only one on EC that can be seen, with the naked eye, from the International Space Station.






























3) “The Matts” are nearly done with the Trip after the VA start for the first four.  This shot is at the start of one of the star pitches of the route.  This is the steep, traversing 5th pitch that has seen quite a few plunges in the past but no injuries as the air is the landing zone.






























4)  I always say, “I don’t shoot Lurking Fear as it is not visible from my tree.”  Well, that is not quite true.  I can see a couple of the opening pitches well enough and will take a shot or two every now and then.  This one is from a few days back.






























5) “The Mikes” passed on ND to Tribal a while back, due to excessive gravity and friction on the early slab pitches, and hoofed over to Zodiac where those factors are not of great concern.  Seen here at the end of the MOZ pitch they are moving along well and seemingly without much trouble.































6)  The free climbers have swarmed over to Salathe/Freerider and most will have to deal with the infamous “Monster Crack”. This strenuous, unenjoyable grunt, usually starts out by kicking the leader off the stretch from the under-cling and reach to the crack, seen to the left of the recently departed leader who, fortunately, can just try and try again until success leads to the long, bloody grind upward.  The next several shots are on the Salathe/Freerider.






























7)  Don’t let the benign rating of the chimney above the Hollow Flake lure you into a casual attitude on this tricky, somewhat unpleasant pitch.





























8)  This climber showed up yesterday on the pitch above the Ear and appeared to have done it free without the screaming and struggling so often seen from even the best of climbers.  A warm up perhaps for the coveted free ascent of the “Real” Salathe route.  Who is that guy?!






























9)  The Block… a place many wall style climbers will bivy, does not get much respect from the masses, but is a decent stop-over on the way to the higher environs of the route.  Polish Ghetto this day!






























10)  The belay under the “Headwall Roof” is common to the Salathe and Freerider, and sits at the end of the “Enduro Corner,” a long strenuous pitch, unrelenting in difficulty and effort required.






























11)  You remember the great shot of the Polish team climbing past the “Eyes of ElCap,” on El Corazon, in the last report?  Well after that section, a long and somewhat ill-defined traverse is required to reach the long chimneys that define the center of the route.  I can imagine the dialog here… “Where the hell goes the line go now?”






























12)  The Polish team, of Karolina and, Michat after a time, did indeed find the line and made it to the long chimney pitches this afternoon.  Here they are on a super long shot from way out west.


13)  Cosmos is not stopping Sean Warren on his solo of this historic track. Here he was a couple of days ago at this unusual belay. The route continues straight up a long rivet ladder.






























14)  Drop-ins have infested the crux pitches of Golden Gate of late.  Here a crew is working on the Golden Desert pitch and the cruxy traverse above.  They were gone by noon, jugging out and probably hoofed down with questionable weather on the horizon.






























15)  Haley has suddenly appeared, from a break in the space/time continuum, after a two-week hiatus.  The spry solo climber came loaded with two young men in tow and is now well established on LA.  So far, she has been the only leader I have seen.  Here she is leading off the bivy belay a day or so ago.































16)  I saw some guys milling around the EC Tree ledge yesterday and figured they were up to something… turns out today they climbed over the roof and are on the Atlantic Ocean route.  This well composed crew consists of Mitchell Mabery (blue shirt) , Ryan Rex (red pants), and Alex Abrams( red shirt).  Should be fun to watch, as this is one of the best team of wall climbers here now!































In other news:  We await our fate, dependent on the whims of the weather gods.  Light rain and the season continues, with just a small blip, while a big storm will test the desire of the less inspired.  The Creek and JT are always there to lure away the less determined.  I am out of C4 today and await the end of the weekend, to return.  Seems like the weekends are booked months in advance on rip-off.gov and those here just have to figure out something else for those days.  The system for camp 4 is widely disliked by climbers.  Remember the dedication ceremony for camp 4 as a National Historical site?  They talked about the camp was a mecca for climbers and we would have a system in place that would insure that foreign and local climbers would have a place to stay, at least during the fall climbing season.  That ship sailed with the arrival of the money- grubbing system now inflicted up on us.  There are no campgrounds in the Valley that are walk-in for arriving climbers.  We need to do something before the new system is entrenched in the NPS bureaucracy.  Do we have the will and strength do rise to the occasion?

So that's the way it is on this day, 10/20/2022.

Capt. Tom… waiting and wondering…



These are great pics of the AO wall. Here are some pics of the route from the first ascent, the roof, and that big wide eyebrow pitch where there is a good shot of Barbella making a giant bling hook move over the horizontal flake.