ElCap Report 5/24/09

ElCap Report 5/24/09
By Tom Evans
Yo… well here I sit in my van at the Bridge.  The great shadow of the South Buttress has worked its way across the magnificent South East Face of El Capitan as it has done for all of recorded history.  The climbers on Zodiac have finally gotten the shade they’ve sought all day long.  Various teams are just a few minutes from the top and the end of a journey that will remain in their lives for as long as they live.  The ElCap meadow is awash in the warm light of the evening and a cooling breeze is sweeping the grasses from the west.  I would be gone by now but the traffic in the east end of the valley is jammed, so I thought I would just sit here and write the report at the bridge.  Ivo, Ammon, and Corbin just wandered past seeking a sunny spot to watch the evening unfold. 

Today’s report is brought to you by the Bridge.  Although it is short in span and long in the tooth, it is a place dear to climbers here in the Valley.  It is “our bridge”, our iconic meeting place, that means nothing to the visitors who wander across it in their multitudes.  It is a safe haven for the weary climber and a spot for those of us seeking the friendship of our fellow adventurers.  Here, great plans are made, advice sought and given, stories are told and embellished, but mostly we sit and watch the Great Rock that dominates so many of our lives.
So here’s to you, The ElCap Bridge, our place of rest and rejuvenation and though your span is slight, your influence is great… stand long and proud dear friend!
Today’ ElCap Report…

Zodiac:  The sharp dressed duo, of Chris and Justin,moved along smartly into the Great White Circle this afternoon.  The classic Nipple pitch has taken them a bit longer than intended but as I glance up, I see them hauling and cleaning the great pitch.  Perhaps they will climb on to the Mark of Zorro pitch, or maybe just call it a day and let the evening pass atop the great circle with the world spread below them.  This team could climb off tomorrow late in the day or maybe savor another bivy, at the famous Peanut Ledge.  Most likely they will never be there again so I would vote to quit early tomorrow and enjoy the solitude of that great spot.  Update… they are going higher now to bivy by the Devils Eyebrow, I suppose.
1)  Switching cracks, white circle, Zodiac.




























2)  What the hell goes in here?!?  Nipple pitch, Great White circle, Zodiac.



























3)  Last light, Nipple Pitch, Zodic.


























Lower down a team climbed to the top of two and set the bag.

Trip:  These guys have put on a clinic and …wait…. Yes! I see them, right now, hauling their white bag up the final slab to the top, with daylight to spare.  Nice climbing guys!!  Enjoy a great evening up on top of the Captain and linger in the glow of your accomplishment! 

Mescalito:  I heard from a friend of this team that they are not trying to speed along the route and get off as soon as possible.  They are taking their time to enjoy the pitches and the passing of the days on the great wall.  They are will stocked with food and water and are moving along as they wish.  But yesterday, late in the afternoon they lit the afterburners for a while and threw down 5 pitches to reach the ultra classic Bismarck ledge for the bivy.  I saw them climb the famous pitch above it this morning, in good form and now, as I look up to them high on the wall, I see them a couple of pitches higher with tomorrow bringing an end to their adventure.  Nice stuff guys… doing it in your own way and in your own time…  Sweet!!
4)  On the Bismarck, Mescalito.




























New Dawn:  I hear that Pete and Scott have blasted today but have not seen them above the trees yet.

The Nose:  I did see a couple of teams above the great roof this morning as I arrived, one was the 3D team that came across yesterday.  I picked up a team on a NIAD as they climbed Texas Flake and moved onto the King Swing.  Late in the day I saw them pass over the Great Roof and head upward with still a lot of climbing to do…. I will check right now….ok I’m back… there they are with the leader at the Glowering spot and the 2nd just leaving C5.
Lower down a team was seen to climb into the Legs and then bail.  Another team was spotted a couple below Dolt late in the day.  Some activity was spotted at sickle but the rest of the route will be mostly empty tomorrow morning.
5)  NIAD team climbing Pancake Flake, Nose route.



























The Shield:  The Aussies pushed on to and over Chickenhead ledge this morning and right now…. I see them at the start of the last pitch!  Impressive ascent of this great route.

Golden Gate:  Picked up Clay and Mason climbing the last pitch this afternoon.  Corbyn, Clay’s brother, showed up today and got to watch them go over the top.  Did they send it?  They will tell the story far better than I.
6)  Last pitch, Golden Gate.



























Salathe:  I did see a team head up to the roof pitch this morning and caught sight of them later in the day advancing up the headwall.  Long ledge tonight I think.

Out West?  Sorry but I never got out there today…

In other news:  Lots of Tourons today and much good information passed to them so they know the real deal about climbing and not that Hollywood crap they get fed in the movies!  Our climbing ranger, Jesse, came by and hung out for a time and we had a nice talk about things in general and what is going on at camp 6 on the Nose, specifically.  Folks, the place is not a toilet!!  If some climbers do not stop this reprehensible behavior then the NPS will have to take action to change it and that can never be a good thing.  We have to act ourselves to fix this situation.  I see too many teams going up without poop tubes or bags and we all know what that means.  Talk to our visiting climbers and tell them how things are done here.  We can take charge of the situation, for if we don’t then someone will and that will not be nice.
Several teams are getting ready to start on climbs like South Seas, NA Wall, Tribal Rite and some free climbing on the Salathe and Freerider, not to mention the usual Trades.  So come on out and be a part of the scene.  We welcome you all here at the bridge.

So that’s the way it is here at the bridge on this the 24th day of May 2009 a day well spent… was yours?
Later Ansel Evans

Thanks for the encouragement on Camp 6 Tom.

We (Climbing Rangers) will be doing a clean-up climb (Wipe The Nose III 2009) again in late June. I am also scoping the potential for a SAR training with a lower/raise operation with the garbage at Camp 6 being used as the load/patient. We would do this in November after the busy season to be the least interruptive of Nose Climbers.

To the anonymous poster who isn't bothered by folks sh-tting in the Camp 6 crack: I sympathize with your feelings of scale of impacts. Civilization obviously has had profound effect on the Earth in more ways than we can count. Here in Yosemite we are not asking folks to try to to deal with the issues of that scale. In the Climbing Ranger's case we are trying to encourage climbers to help us preserve and protect a Vertical Wilderness "...as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. (Wilderness Act)" In Yosemite Valley Wilderness is designated starting at the 4,200' contour line. Meaning that almost all of El Cap is designated Wilderness. For the non-big wall wilderness it is fine to bury your human waste. With the amount of use on top of El Cap I am encouraging climbers to pack it out from there as well.

I don't know where you live but you probably use waste water treatment plants somewhere. Here in Yosemite the water that is discharged from our plants meets the CA standards for drinking water, and is often cleaner than tap water....in other words you can drink it. Of course this is all beside the point. Why wouldn't we want a crap free Nose, El Capitan, Half Dome, etc...?

Thanks again Tom for bringing up this issue,

Ranger Jesse


Thanks Tom, you are a ledgend, jane


Really enjoyed your prose on the bridge, Tom. The shots are inspiring--as always. Nice work as always.



Awesome stuff as

Awesome stuff as usual!!!

Thanks for posting and archiving this!


Afternoon light on the Captain is

quite spectacular through your lens Tom! Thanks for the pics and story. Now I can leave for work and put up with whatever/whoever it is that bugs me today. I'll be at that service desk dreaming of the bridge and should be able to take whatever comes my way.

And on the $hit side of, I think that Tom is just letting us all know that we ought to pack our own 'stuff' over the top and outa there to try and leave camp 6 as clean as possible. Plus dumping pee out of a pee bottle away from the route would be a help. Anything to keep pee out of cracks where it will never evaporate and disapear.

Thanks again for the pics and report.



camp 6 poo

Camp 6, though sometimes pooey, has never bothered me...in fact, it is one of my favorite places in the universe. How often will any one person(other than Hans), actually be there? Is a natural odor of life really that distracting during such a unique and amazing experience? Camp 6 is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the NPS water treatment plants in El Portal and Tuolumne...which are hideous developments filled with concentrated chemicals far worse than any poo...that ultimately just poison useful resources and pump the stuff right back into the wilds. The only useful solution is to instruct people to poo where the sun shines and the rain rains...then it doesn't fester for decades. POO IS FOOD, FOOD IS POO. Poop tubes are made of plastic etc, and are inevitably a destructive waste of resources...although when available a convenient way to keep poo off routes...but dumping it in a trash can or toilet is no better than somewhere intelligent and discreet on top...away from fresh water, either buried with woody matter or left in the sun. Sending your poo to be poisoned and concentrated in someone else's home is stupid! OWN YOUR SHIT, and if you think there's too much around, don't have too many kids! Having and using this computer right now is far more destructive than shitting in the stovelegs, on the bridge, or in the river.

Beautiful shot of Pancake flake!

I think that's the nicest one I've ever seen! Nice contrast, etc, etc. Makes me wished to be beamed up on it.
Cheers, Michael

great stuff!

Thanks for all the news

great stuff!

Thanks for all the news

Tom, thanks for the pic of

Tom, thanks for the pic of NIAD team. Would give anything to be on that bridge right now! Thanks for the update!



Fab pics, as always, Tom.
Love to be hangin' there, alas.
Thanks Skully