ElCap Report 5/18/09

ElCap Report 5/18/09
By Tom Evans
Yo… you know how I said there was no way it would rain today?  Well, I was wrong, really wrong!!  It started out nice enough with some high clouds and cooler temperatures.  Then some rumblings were heard from the vicinity of the Dome.  Matt got a cell message, around 1pm, from KFC and Josh as they were coming down from their 6 hr ascent of the RegNWFace of the Dome.  They said to hold on tight because the storm was a wild one and was headed down valley.  Very dark clouds with much lightning and loud thunder were soon upon us here at the Bridge.  Torrential rains burst upon us and we were in the shit for sure!  Immediately Horse Tail Falls, heretofore dry as a bone, was a torrent pouring over the rim.  Even Middle Cathedral Rx had a waterfall coming down it about 100 ft west of the Central Pillar of Frenzy.  Portaledges went up fast for those with them and the rest just suffered.  It was quite a show for those of us here watching from the meadow.  By 4pm it was all over.

So get out the rain gear, crawl into that Bivy Sac, hunker down and come along with me to the great face of the Captain on the 38th anniversary of the storm that hit Paul Sibley and I when we climbed the Nose in 1971!  Who says lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice?!
Today’s ElCap Report… a little soggy… but still readable!

Zodiac:  The team from yesterday, Ben in red and Stewart, were picking up the pace today and I watched them do the Black Tower in the morning and climb into the White Circle later as the storm broke upon them.  Fortunately the rock above them is so steep that they didn’t even get wet! 
1)  Ben giving the ElCap Salute on the infamous Black Tower pitch.



























Zenyatta Mondatta:  Caught these two Austrian guys heading off the right side of the 9 O’clock roof as I arrived and they were out of it in time for the storm which didn’t seem to bother them on that part of the route.
2)  First light on ZM



























PO Wall:  The Frenchmen are putting on a clinic these days utilizing the 3 man system.  They were in the open during the storm this afternoon and ledged up quickly.  As the weather subsided they were back on the lead.  Also I need to mention here… read the Disclaimer!  I have found in the past that after reporting someone drilling on a route that some folks get a little irritated!  I recall Piton Pete catching some flack while replacing some rotten rivets on Bad Sign and Davito Hammack the same on Reticent last year.  Know this folks… these routes are difficult and in some places barely there.  Sometimes a little hooking feature will depart or a shitty rivet will give way and some fixing up is required.  I have never seen what I would consider “malicious bolting” on harder EC routes.  I always assume the bolting is a last resort and necessary and I feel the same about the French climbers yesterday.   But I do have a bit of fun poking a finger in at them so I report the drilling.  Hey, it is not easy finding things to write about sometimes!  I also consider it smart to carry a cheater stick on the Cap just in case… but it is fun to “catch” someone using one!!  OK??
3)  Three man clinic put on by the French Team on the PO.



























Nose:  Lots of action on this mega classic today.  We had two NIAD’s attempted, one a solo who wisely bailed from Eagle Ledge just before the storm and a team of two who passed Scott Stowe and Michael on the Great Roof as the storm broke.  These boys were climbing into camp 5 when I left at 5pm…. They will suffer tonight!  Mean while the three man New Mexico team, Mike, Tony, and Mark climbed off ECT this morning and I watched them do the King Swing and move up throughout the day to arrive just below camp 4 as the weather caved.  They were in full on conditions totally exposed to the storm and had no rainfly or ledge.  They pressed on anyway and were last seen at camp 4 around 5pm.  Scott Stowe and Michael climbed well all day and when the storm hit they were exposed to the rain too…. Scott was in his shorts and stayed in them.  Which means maybe he had nothing else, or perhaps he has such hard bark on him that it didn’t matter!  Anyway, Lori, his wife came down to watch the storm from the meadow with the rest of us and seemed confident her man would prevail no matter what!
4)  Scott Stowe climbing the Tan Band approaching the Grey Bands Nose route.





























5)  NIAD team passing on the Great Roof.
























Lurking Fear:  Eric and Richie went out to do this fine route in a day, thus had no bags and thus little “extra” stuff.  Dean Potter was watching them from the meadow and reported that they were at the so called “Grand Traverse” at pitch 11 when the sky caved in.  I headed down to the west end of the meadow at my usual turn out spot and caught them bailing from way up.  They were right in the middle of a river of water a foot deep and ten yards wide!  It looked bad over there and we took some comfort that it was them suffering and not us!!  They quickly did two raps and were soon on better rock to continue down.  Still they had a long way to go and the descent has several tricky places.  Hopefully they have head lamps with them.  We aren’t worried about these guys as they are both EC veterans with tons of experience.
6)  Eric and Richie on the BAIL of THE DAY!!!



























In other news:  The storm seems to be coming back as I write these lines from Ken Yager’s palatial estate here in El Portal.  Not good, not good at all.  The thunder and lightning are putting on a show here.  The Bridge is to be finished by Thursday and then the traffic will have all the roads to become jammed up on this coming weekend!  Well it is getting kind of late now so I will close this missive for the time being.
7)  Storm watchers in the EC meadow.  Sean's dog and Lori find a moment to look away from the carnage on the Cap!


























8)  Horse Tail falls on the SE Face of ElCap.  ZM and Zodiac teams can be seen above and entering the White Circle respectively.

























So that’s the way it is for this the 18th day of May 2009
Bye Bye ECP’s


Joe Stern and myself (Alexis Finley) were the team passing Scott Stowe on the great roof pitch when the storm hit. It was craziness! We kept going and finished the Nose in a day, 20 hours. After the storm passed, we were so pysched that we were not in any serious trouble. Joe was the best partner I could have asked for up there!


The Sentinel

Hey Tom, can you tell if the Steck Salathe route on the Sentinel is snow free and dry? I am planning a trip about June 13th to come down and climb that route, trying to get some conditions beta?


rain sounds nice...

Im stuck here in Tuscon for a few days with my bro, its to hot to climb here, but your posts are keeping me entertained and dreaming of my trip to the valley next week.

PO Bolts

Definately a lot of old bolts on the PO. Lets hope the French know what they are doing and just retro-fitting some bad hardware.


Better them than us up there yesterday, is all I got to say about that.

it was booming hard down here in EP in the afternoon- Ollie was cringing until well after dark.

Thanks Tom!



The photos
The wit
The bite
The psyche
The philanthropy
The punctuality
The price

Not the black background. Looks good behind pix; it's painful for text.

Keep up the great work, Tom.



The color/lighting in those pics is awesome. It's crazy how Horse Tail falls starts up so quickly. Good shot. Thanks for the reports Tom, it keeps those of us who cannot be there dreaming!



Ryan-ditto about the math question.

on the bridge

Kind of nice hanging out at the bridge on Sunday avo with the road closed. Was awesome to see the team on ZM.

Thanks for being out there Tom!


ps if that math question was any harder i wouldn't be able to post this comment


Loves it!

Skully says....

Super shizznit!
Love the thunderstorms! Power!
Makes one feel kinda small(like a bug).