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|Submitted by Tom Evans on Wed, 12/31/2014 - 02:56|
ElCap Report 12/28/14 SPECIAL DAWN WALL EDITION
Brought to you by Adidas Outdoor.
By Tom Evans
Yo… Split weather here … On the Cap it is springtime.. in the meadow it is winter! The Free Dawn Wall, 7 years in the making, is in day 2 of the continuous push to complete the route. I spend most of my days here standing in the environs of the EC meadow waiting for something to happen! No other climbers are on EC now, so mostly I wait, and fight off the cold. The meadow does get sun from about 10am until 12 noon and actually it is quite pleasant… but the moment the Middle Cathedral Rock shadow arrives the temperature drops 40 degrees… amazing really. By dark… around 5pm, the cold is intense and I get the hell out of there! With the temperature inversion, common in the winter, it is much warmer just 500ft above the valley floor than in the meadow.
Today’s ElCap Report… written just for you..unique in all the world!
You gotta understand something folks… this climb is not a 10 hour affair like some Honnold and Allfrey outing! Or a speed record climb like Libby and Mayan do. Tommy and Kevin are planning on a 12 day or more climb, with all the logistics that entails. If they get a few of hard pitches climbed, they have had a good day! So on this day they climbed 4 pitches, two in the dark, in the cold and dark! 13.c, 13.d, 13.d, 13.c. If you are a non-climber, just know that anything over 11 is really hard!
1) They have a base of operations at a small ledge 1,200 ft off the ground. They previously set ropes from the top of the cliff to the bottom. So when they finish for the day, they climb up, or go down their ropes (called “fixed lines” because they are left in place until the climb is completed) back to their camp, where they have all their sleeping gear, food, and other equipment. Tommy, doing some house keeping!
2) Here is Tommy going down a fixed line to the part of the face they want to climb on this day. Tommy has a “haul bag” with some gear, food and water to last the day. At times they have to swing around and traverse to anchor points on the route.
3) Here Kevin is coming down to where Tommy is and stopped for a moment to work on a move or two that he wants to get “wired” or figured out, so he can do it when the time comes.
4) Here they have gone down some 400ft to a ledge that marks the high point of yesterday’s efforts. They are on “Stork Ledge.” If you look behind Tommy, in yellow, you can see the big rock feature that looks like a profile view of a storks head… yeah! This is the start of the 6th pitch, 190ft long, rated 13.c.
5) After they climbrd the 6th pitch, without much problem, Kevin got to lead the 7th pitch. As you can see, by the time they got on this one, the sunlight had gone and they were in deep shade, on cold rock. Here he is climbing strongly in the middle of the pitch, while Tommy belays him, while sitting on his portaledge.
6) Kevin climbed all the way up the 100ft pitch until he fell off on the last 10 feet! No! When that happens, you have to lower down to the start, pull your rope out of the gear and climb it again, without falling, or grabbing any gear, to have considered it done properly! I departed, as it was almost dark. They continued working on the pitch until they got it done. Here is Kevin falling on that last part, rated 13.d.
They continued on in the darkness and did two more pitches, finishing late in the night.
7) Earlier in the day I moved down to the Devil’s Elbow, where I set up to get a good angle on the climbers, in excellent lighting. Here the camera is aimed at their camp… the two dots, side by side, in the center of the face, 1,200 ft up.
8) My buddy, “Tow Truck Joe” Marlay, hoofed out to see me and got this shot while there was a bit of sunlight.
9) Since I am not continuously shooting, I get a little bored and look around for things to shoot. This is the shoreline across from my shooting spot for the morning.
The guys put in another long day and had scheduled a day off for tomorrow… but the weather is good so they decided to climb tomorrow too.
So that’s the way it is, on this 28th day of December, 2014.
Capt. Tom… staying warm!