ElCap Report 10/27/10

ElCap Report 10/27/10
By Tom Evans
Yo… Hate to tell you but… today is the last day of the Report for the year 2010.  You knew it was coming…I warned you… so the day has come.  It has been a strange climbing season this Fall.  The weather was awful, but we saw some great climbing and some not so great climbing, but mostly we saw people up there battling it out on the greatest climbing rock in the world.  They were stretching their limits and many reached their goals.  We had a new free route climbed on the Cap…read about it below.  We had people from all over the world come to test their skills… they came from England, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, Italy, Germany, Austria, and other countries too.  A Swiss team of brothers, Simon and Samuel Anthamatten were easily the team of the season, for all the ElCap climbs they did, and in the best of style too.  

Of course, a large number of climbers came from the good old USA!  Yeah!!
Anyway, while it seems much more like a job these days than a hobby, I feel fortunate to have been able, once again, to be your man at the center of the action, here at the ElCap Bridge.  I have assuaged the fears of husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and friends in general.  I have talked to thousands of Tourons during my time here and tried to present our sport in the best possible light, while giving them the “real deal” about how climbing is done and what it means to us.  Thanks to our man Ken Yager for all he does, and has done, to keep our voice heard here in the Park.  Thanks go out to our climbing rangers for all they have done to help keep us informed and represented.  So another season closes out … but not so fast, breath of a thousand swine!  Tommy and Kevin are still here, getting ready to have a go at what just might be the most difficult pure rock climb on the planet!  Our local team of speed climbers is here too and working toward a record send.  Some other climbers are staying on through November, hoping for a good spell of weather.  But for me, and the Report, it is time to shut down and head for the barn.  I have done the best I could,  with just a few words, and some pictures, each day, to convey to you the trials and tribulations, joy and humor, of climbers as they have put forth their best efforts to climb ElCap.  My efforts were, of course, inadequate, but better than nothing.  So I close out the season with one last Report…

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

The Prophet:  I got down to the meadow a little late today but saw that the boys were still ledged up.  So I shot some other climbs, until about 12:30pm when Leo started from the portaledge, sporting a blue shirt, for a change.  Jason was out of the ledge and focused on belaying.  So it was show time for Leo Houlding.  How many days and nights has he spent, over the years, working on this climb?  He was down to his last day, flying out tomorrow.  This was it.  They had just endured one on the worst storms in memory and spent two nights with water pouring down upon them…they were soaked, cold, buffeted by strong updrafts and yet they stayed in the fight.  No going down for the lads…not this time.  
Yesterday, the climb dried out enough for them to give it a try. See yesterday's Report.   Leo climbed well but fell and fell again at the crux section.  He must have really been disappointed, to say the least.  Would it be different today?
He started well, moving in his smooth, measured style.  He squeezed his finger tips into the narrow crack, the so called, A1 Beauty.  He stemmed and liebacked, crimped and stepped high with his great footwork.  Soon he was at the spot he used to rest, for some time yesterday, before trying the hardest part.  This time he chalked a couple of times and went to meet his fate.  He rose to the challenge and moved smoothly past the rounded arete that had sent him flying yesterday.  He made an outrageous dead point lunge and just grabbed a key hold that allowed him to move left, off the arete and onto some more positive holds.  Another wild move left and soon he was at the belay.  Tommy, Kevin, Becca, and others in the meadow, sent up a loud roar of approval and Leo called back.  It couldn’t have been sweeter!  But not so fast... there was another hard, 5.13a, section that stood in the way to total success.

























 Leo throwing down a  "DaVinci Rest" on the Prophet!

























Leo looking to lunge!




























Difficult climbing off the Arete.


























Outrageous crux move, away from the arete.


























Leo, relaxing after sending the crux pitch.

After Pickles came up, Leo put on, of all things, a black shirt!  Well, it was getting cold and he earned it, I guess!  There was that one tricky section, of 5.13a, left and it came after he and Jason dusted off a short pitch.  Leo rested a bit and then went off to finish the job…. But somehow, he looked a little awkward to me… his feet weren’t looking so positive and he was jerking around a bit and obviously having some difficulty.  Ten feet above the belay he came flying off and just missed Jason on the way by.  Suddenly it wasn’t in the bag anymore, and Pickles put a hand on Leo’s shoulder and had a few words with him to settle him down.  Shortly Leo returned to the fight but the result was the same… off he came again.  Well, it started to look a little grim, as a determined Leo shook out and took some deep breaths.  I guess he was getting real tired of this shit and jacked up his energy level and gave it another go….. This time he was way smoother and back in form.  It was only a matter of a few minutes before he reached the top!  It was finally done!  I’m sure he will never want to go back to that route again!  The unsung hero here is Jason Pickles.  He was there with Leo every step of the way, a solid climbing partner and friend to share the hardships as well as the success.  Congratulations are in order for Leo Houlding, and Jason Pickles, for putting up our newest ElCap free route.  The Prophet!


























Leo with bad feet, bad balance, and really bad colors!


























Look out below!  Leo is off!  Must be that damned black shirt!!



























Like a manager in a prize fighters corner, Jason calms his man down and instills confidence for the next attempt.

























Leo, happily on top!

Zodiac:  As advertised, Logan and Dave showed up, on this great climb, to push it in a day.  Logan lead to the top of the Black Tower pitch, which was reached about noon.  Then Dave Allfrey took over the leading.  They climbed well into the Circle and were finishing the Nipple pitch as I departed around 3pm.





















Logan Talbot on the Black Tower.





























Logan and Dave on the Nipple pitch.

Salathe:  The two guys from yesterday, Russians I hear,  have a little harder bark on them than I thought, and didn’t bail.  They bivied on top of the Ear and continued upward today.

Below them, Casey and Todd climbed from Hollow Flake to the Alcove as I watched.  So there are two wall style teams on the route at present.  The weather forecast has improved and they just might not get wet!
























Casey climbing, while Todd belays atop the Ear .



Air Force One did a fly over today to officially close the climbing season!  I tried to get the Blue Angles but they weren't available, so the Prez said he would be their subie.   Air Force One really did fly over the Captain today and I saw it coming way off to the east..... so I got the shot!

























In other news:  The leaves are far from done turning here in the Valley, so fall continues.  The waterfalls are a real treat too.  Last night was the first night that produced frost in the meadows and ice plastered on the Falls Wall.  Still some nice days left here, so if you can, come on out and enjoy the extended fall.  If you have not donated to the site and feel that you would like to… then by all means… donate.  All donations are appreciated and put to good use.


























Frost in the ElCap meadow this morning.

So that’s the way it is for this beautiful Fall day, the 27th day of October, 2010.
This is Tom Evans, signing off and hoping to make it through the winter, to return when the leaves are starting to pop and the falls are booming again.  Go safely my friends and make the most of your life… a precious thing it is too!   I'm out of here... back into the World!

PS  Arrived home 6pm 10/28/10