ElCap report 10/22/22

ElCap Report 10/22/22 Special Edition:  The Big Lie is back, starting soon on ElCap.

By Tom Evans

Yo…The pre-spray is already on social media.  A few years back a couple, the Schnieter's, claimed their daughter was the youngest person to “climb” ElCap at the age of ten. These people, and others, with the help of climbing writer Chris Van Leuven and Outside Magazine, have perpetrated this hoax on the general media.  Van Leuven has promoted the kiddie age wars, on ElCap, by writing articles for, Outside, promoting these contests.  They got world-wide attention even though the children didn’t actually “climb” the rock but climbed a rope set by guides.  Imagine if I, at 78 years of age, went up to the famous boulder problem, Midnight Lightning, and set up a rope that I jugged up, instead of actually climbing the rock.  Then I came back to camp and claimed to be the oldest person to climb Midnight Lightning!!  What would actual climbers say?  I will tell you… “No man… you didn’t actually climb it… it takes skill to do that  climb, and you didn’t have or demonstrate any skill, other than climbing up a rope. You never actually had to deal with the rock itself.  It was not any kind of a "climb or record!”

Ok.. let’s think bigger… Tommy and Alex climb Father Time and I go along and jug it, hanging with the bros at the belays after they set the rope for me to jug up.  Am I the oldest person to climb Father Time?  No way!  The point is that these parents, who have this greed for publicity, actually want you to believe that climbing a rope is the same as actually climbing the rock.  They are, in reality, trying to steal a record from a “real climber,” probably a young teen, who ACTUALLY CLIMBED THE ROCK ITSELF.

Now, we have another parent who is trying to make his child and himself “famous” on social media for something they are not really going to do.  The pre-spray that Joe Baker is spreading is that his 8 year old son, Sam, is a "world class climber" and is going to "set a world record" by being the youngest person to “climb” (all his words) ElCap.  This child, is NOT going to climb the rock, but is just going to jumar up a rope that guides are going to set for him.  This is what I call a GRA.. Guided Rope Ascent.  It is just what it says… you had a guide to do the actual climbing.. you went up the rope the guide set… you used ascenders to go up the rope.  No where in that term is the word “climb” or “climbing”… why? Because you don't “climb” the rock.  So, this kind of event is not “climbing” as we climbers know climbing to be. It is not a world climbing record at all. It is just hoax to make someone famous and to raise money. The fact that they are going to such lengths to have guides and fixed ropes is a direct admission that they know the child, and his father, are not capable of doing this climb, as climbers.  This is how you do it when you DON'T want the person to actually climb the rock!  This method avoids all the climbing for the client.  They just want to fool you into thinking differently.  Also, I hear, but haven't checked, that the McNamara brothers climbed the Nose together at ages 13 and 15... so the younger one is probably the "real youngest" ever, if that is true and important.

It is also a very bad idea to take a child up on a huge cliff where able bodied, highly experienced climbers, have been seriously injured or killed.  Children have no place up there and are being exploiated and endangered for no legitimate reason other than the parents are seeking fame and glory.  There are objective dangers up there that no one can control.  Ask Mash Alexander.  The best idea is to train up your child so that when the day arrives when they have the skill, experience, body, and their "own desire", then they can actually climb the route, as a climber would.  They would most likely be teenagers by then. 

Now that does not mean that GRA’s are not a legitimate endeavor.  Guides take people up ElCap all the time just so the client can do what I call… “experience the cliff environment”.   It is a beautiful place to visit and can be a really great experience, and is a strenuous physical challenge for most.  But to do a GRA and present it as “climbing” and some kind of a world record is a fraud and should be recognized as such.  Unfortunately, the general public is clueless about most climbing and are willing to believe whatever they see in the media, as fact. So, this lie will spread throughout the non-climbing world as some great accomplishment and fame and fortune await those spreading the lie. A sad state of affairs.  It is allready a story on CNN....

We also have had a number of adults who have done the same thing and consider themselves record holders even though they too, didn’t actually climb a single pitch!  We need to call these fabrications out for what they really are .. a Hoax, a Lie.

Don’t fall for this crap.  Climbing records are set by CLIMBERS not juggers!!

So that’s the way it is on the morning of Oct 22nd 2022.  Get ready for the big spray down… Resist the lies!

Capt. Tom