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|Submitted by Tom Evans on Wed, 01/14/2015 - 15:13|
ElCap Report 1/13/15 Special Dawn Wall Edition Day 18
Brought to you by Adidas Outdoor
By Tom Evans
Yo..Unprecedented good weather continues to bless this climb. We had another blue bird day, that was a bit cold at the start but warmed nicely in the morning sun. Today was moving day. The men need to get 7 pitches climbed to make it to their chosen bivy spot, the Ship’s Bow, high above. They haven’t climbed that many pitches in a day before and it would be interesting to see if, after all the two day pitches, they could saddle up and ride fast. It started with the ascent of the photographer’s lines to Wino Tower, which took a long time.
Today’s ElCap Report..written just for you..unique in all the world!
1) The media showed up in force. The major networks had the big trucks ready to flash any and all news around the world as it happened.
2) It was colder than the recent mornings in the meadow and these guys were loving it, when the sunlight started warming things up.
3) The men jugged 800ft. up to Wino Tower and I can tell you they were not feeling cold after that! Here they are on Wino Tower, way above us and viewers had difficulty finding them.
4) Tommy led off on the 21st pitch, and he didn’t cruise up the 12c thin crack and slippery face. He took a long time on it and appeared to be having some difficulty on what looked to be sandy, slippery foot holds. There was some conversation as to why that pitch went so slowly. John Long was watching and suggested that since they had been climbing crimpers for 2 weeks and had to go slower, they were perhaps a bit rusty on cracks and climbing fast. Sounded good to me!
5) Kevin lead the next pitch rated 5.9 and by the time it was over, the team seemed to take longer than we expected. What was going on here? Even the relatively easy pitches were causing some difficulties.
6) By the time the 22nd pitch was behind them, it was past noon. Tommy led the next pitch which was rated 5.11 off width but only toward the end. Strangely enough Tommy lost the line on the relatively easy traverse section and burned a half hour trying to find it again! We were wondering just what was going on with these guys?!
7) After another long span of time Kevin was finally at the belay. You will notice that the rock in that area is not so monolithic, as lower down, and there are many ways to proceed, but no obvious line. They hadn’t been on this part of the route in 4 years, thinking it was not nearly as difficult as the crusher pitches below, and thus didn’t need much attention. Well, it was kicking their butts at the moment! Yeah, the Old ElCap was putting up a defense of confusion, instead of difficulty and it was working a bit!
8) The afternoon was slipping into “late afternoon” and the boys were far from their chosen bivy site, the Ship’s Bow, far above. The lads rallied and Kevin quickly dispatched the 5.11 traverse over to the start of Mescalito’s long corner pitches, leading to the top.
9) Tommy came along and that pitch went fast for a change. Yeah, that was more like it and the crowd returned to a more festive mood because we knew they were going to make their bivy, albeit in the dark.
10) Not to be outdone, Tommy crushed the next pitch, 145ft of 11d, as the shade came on the route and the temperature dropped. Unfortunately the light was in transition and I didn’t get very good shots of that pitch. But the team was in full stride now and moving like the Lone Ranger and Tonto going after the bad guys! Kevin smoked the next pitch, number 26, and looked to be having some fun on that 511c crack and face, corner.
11) Kevin climbed past two big flakes with some nice footwork and liebacking, the first one seen here.
12) Above he climbed a pillar that didn’t look all that stable but must have been, since climbers on Mescalito, the route their climb uses through this area, had passed it many times.
13) Kevin made the belay, where the camera man, Brett Lowell, was waiting, after ascending the photographer’s lines. From the meadow arose a great cheer, as we knew that the team had things under control now! Kevin responded with a raised fist and the tension of the day dissolved from the crowd. Look above Kevin and you will see the huge, Ship’s Bow, were they were to spend the night. Those corners provided some cool climbing for the team and an obvious road to the top.
14) Twilight was upon us, down in the meadow, and as the light went Tommy climbed the difficult 5.12c pitch to the bivy ledge. The crowd dispersed, leaving the men to themselves, knowing they had gotten their 7 pitches done this day, and were poised for the summit in the morning. But not so fast, breath of a thousand swine! Tomorrow is no cake walk! The Old Captain has 4 pitches of 12b, 12b, 13a and finishes with a pitch of 12b, waiting to pester their efforts, just in case they get a little over confident! Yogi said it… “it ain’t over, until it’s over.”
Tomorrow will see the end of this 7 year odyssey. Their reward is the satisfaction of the completion of a hard fought contest. The lessons of character, integrity, tenacity and determination were demonstrated, not only during these last 19 days, but when no one was looking and there was no crowd down in the meadow cheering. In those previous years of struggle, the TEAM sustained themselves just on their dreams, while the world thought it couldn’t be done. Well, tomorrow it will be done, and they will pack up their gear and head home, once again alone, but with a satisfaction only gained through struggle, both mental and physical. The summit awaits, as does future dreams of the impossible.
So that’s the way it is, for this 13th day of January, 2015.
Capt. Tom… here to the end… just for you.