El Cap Report 05/28/08

Yo....Ok... it poured buckets last night, washing out the dreams and aspirations of many a climbing team. Still unstable weather in the Valley of Light. In spite of all the rain several teams hit the wall climbing and are continuing in the rain. The SE Face is seeing all the action at the moment. Around 2 pm today a big cell burst upon the ElCap area and the bridge rats blew out of here like shit from a goose. So be warned... if you have plans then make adjustments... be sure to bring some bubble bath, rubber duckies, and a shower cap cause you will need them


Today’s report is brought to you by the three doctors from Phoenix who were surfed off the free blast on pitch three this afternoon and stopped by the bridge to seek and give advice. Thanks men, you may have saved a life or two in the process. So plop down, wiggle in, send the kids outside, and take a moment to travel to the Valley of your dreams and dreads because here it is just for you fresh from the front lines in the war of adventure....

Today's ElCap report.

Zodiac: Well the plan is hatched and the players are in place. T squared, Dave Lane, and Steve Muse are set up on the first few of Zodiac and ready to get going on the route. Steve as you may have read is an avid outdoorsman who is not letting the loss of the use of his legs cramp his fun. A large party of friends was on hand to help Steve to the start of this route in hopes of seeing him make an ascent of this high quality route on the SE face of ElCap. The rain shouldn't be too much of a problem initially but if it continues for many more days it could cause concerns when the team is high on the route. All the logistics have not been worked out but are in the capable hands of T squared who will direct the ascent as the conditions change from day to day. Best of luck lads.

The parallel party who were fixing have given up and gone down.

ZM: I was looking forward to shooting this ascent as ZM is super for the pictures and the climbers were dressed properly for an ElCap ascent. However some technical difficulties on the second pitch (a couple of blown heads) have made the lads decide the effort was to be abandoned and they bailed in the early afternoon.

Lost In America: This team of what I hear is good old Americans is making rapid progress of this now popular SE face climb. They were above the free climbing pitch and moving upward when the sky opened up early this afternoon. They are still in the dry region of the wall and are moving right along.

Trip: A team of three Italians have fixed to the top of 4 and are ready to go on this steep but technically easy route. I talked to one of the young women watching her friends and she verified their nationality.

NA Wall: I did see a team at the top of the 4th pitch this morning late and they were moving right along on this classic SE face route. Some say they are Spanish.

El Nino: There was supposed to be a team on this route but I surmise that they would have delayed starting as they would be in the wet zone low down.

SSPO: Did have a conversation with one, Piton Pete, this afternoon on the radio... the lad just droned on and on... he wouldn't shut up!!! Anyway his buddy Mark was doing his first ElCap lead up to the Sharks Fin and was doing a good job of it. Pete says they have had no direct rain but that they have gotten cold these past few days. As a result they are sleeping in late and climbing in the afternoon... doesn't he always to that? The big news was that gone was the huge clusterfuck that normally accompanies the man... the belays were perfectly organized... I had to check twice to see if I was viewing the correct party. Maybe Kate has had a good influence on him! He sang the praises of the rock quality and the route thus far. Brenda was here on the bridge talking with him for much longer than he deserved!

Mescalito: Lambone and Shipman went up this morning to fix to the top of 4 today. I didn't see how it was going for them but surely they got a bath this afternoon... They are on a limited time schedule.. never a very good idea if it can be avoided... so we will see what happens in the next few days.

New Dawn to Tribal: These guys were supposed to be there but I didn't see them... they too would be in the wet zone so I guess are holed up somewhere waiting like the rest of the rain zone teams.

Nose: It was reported to me by my man, KFC, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury, that there was activity on the lower portions of this route but any rain would spell Doom for anyone foolish enough to stay on the face in these conditions.

Salathe: I already mentioned about the Doctor's climbing team getting the boot on the third in hard conditions. In other news: I did talk to John and Rob in the cafe this morning after the rescue yesterday from high on the Salathe. The morning of the start of the bad weather John led off from long ledge in hopes of beating the worst of the weather to the top. Unfortunately he had finished the C2 section and was on the wet free climbing when he wheeled off into space. What followed was a 100 foot, head first fall (no helmet) that pulled all 9 pieces of his protection. He went sailing past his partner, Rob, and out into the abyss of the headwall. The static haul line tangled around his left foot and came tight breaking his ankle. He fell out of that and down further was held by the lead line. You've got to be kidding me!! But true it was!! He managed to jug to long ledge where they were trapped by the conditions for the next 3 days. They took a tarp they had with them and using athletic tape made an SOS on it and hung it up for all to see. Unfortunately for them, no one saw it! In a stroke of bad luck I was gone for those 3 days (read previous reports on this) and thus was not able to send for help. Some random Touron spotted the message and the alarm as sounded. Gleason, Andy, Lorna and two rangers were dispatched to the top early the next morning and John was short hauled off the top. Rob came down with the SAR folks but had to leave a bag up there which he will retrieve tomorrow. Earlier on long ledge John dropped his passport and some other things in calm conditions... so if you are over that way walking the base keep an eye out for it. He is going to SF tomorrow for surgery, so let SAR know if you find these important papers. John Dill made sure to let them know that they were not in a "Storm" but merely in showers. They had good synthetic bags, waterproof bivy sacks and actually were not in any real danger due to the conditions, but were running short on food and water at the end. They were quite impressed with the YOSAR efforts and John said the short haul was the ride of his life. Quite cheerful they were this morning. YOSAR regulars were impressed with the lads toughness and tenacity. But lets not let this kind of thing become habitual... bring a cell phone and make arrangements to be checked on and have a due to the ground date that someone else knows. Alls well that ends well....

This has been a screwy spring season so be ready to freeze or fry on the Captain. So that’s the way it is on this the 28th day of May 2008 here in the best little valley on the planet.

Be safe, stay dry.. Bye Bye... ElCap-pics