El Cap Report 06/04/08

ELCap Report 6/4/08

 By Tom Evans

Yo… got up to partly cloudy skies and very cool temps with a strong west wind this morning. Low clouds were hanging off the Dome and Cathedrals. Went down to the bridge and of course found that “MY SPOT” was taken once again… I hate it when that happens. One would think that the head bridge rat could at least keep his parking place! Anyway a stiff wind was blowing across the deck, and it was all I could do to take a few shots against its tug. Wind is the dreaded enemy of the telephoto lens. The slightest push and the pic is trash. So I fought it all day. The place was empty and would stay that way for most of the day. It was cold and the Captain was marshalling its forces against the climbers who would dare. There were people in retreat, two parties from the Nose route. So I did what I could and hung in there until around 2:30pm when I had just had enough of the jostling about. Most of the teams were bundled up but moving upward.

So here is today’s report brought to you by one Cedar Wright who has made an appearance in the Valley after some time absent. Today’s report:

Zodiac: They are all gone, with the exception of Matt Thomsen who cleaned the Black Tower pitch that I assume he lead late yesterday. I last saw him at the belay at the start of the long corner pitch in the circle. He is getting it done and sends a kiss to a certain sweet girl… he said she will know who she is! Keep going Matt you have it busted Bro.. Just finish it off.

You can see, highly endowed, Matt’s green penis protector in place for climbing.

Matt takes a long look into the White Circle as it will be home for the next few days

Aurora: Ken was up early and on the pitches this morning. He looked cold and in a nice royal blue jacket and soon enough was probably warmed up by the leading. This is no cake walk and he continues to climb with determination. He is looking smooth and at this point I would guess he is not coming down. The wall is steep and if rain should fall he should be out of it for a considerable distance upward.

Ken Bokelund leading above the roof on Aurora

El Nino: The Spaz crew spent the night in the shelter of the Black Dihedral and I got a few shots of them early as the sun gets in there before 10am. They looked cold. After the shadows came in it was difficult to see much but it was kind of interesting to see one of the lads jugging the famous Roof Pitch with a portaledge hanging off a rope tied to his harness. Big mistake! The wind gusted and just threw it all over the place, in what I would say was a 15 ft arc. It smashed against the wall many times and looked like it would be scrap metal soon. After some time he was able to get it under control and it appeared none the worse for the encounter. Spaz… my man… you know better than that!! Always case them up when you are hauling them… trust me on that one!

SSPO: Well Pete tricked me yesterday. I didn’t see much going on at the Island in the sky but when I arrived today he had somehow fixed 3 pitch above it. Nice day off Pete! He was last seen moving the train up.

Mescalito: The Lambone, Shipman team topped out this afternoon around 1pm. They have to leave tomorrow so the timing was right. Nice ascent of a super good route lads!

Grover Shipman leads them home on Mescalito.

The speedy team of two just below them never did catch up but are themselves within reach of the top late today if they push it. It is cold up there now and I think they would rather be off that spend a night in the wind and cold. Who are these guys?

Cold shadows and a long day await this team high on Mescalito

Lower down the team of Ollie and Chris did the Molar traverse this afternoon. Ollie lead it and had some trouble making the various reaches to bolts on the traverse. He did get the pendulum done just before I left. They are making good time so far in their attempt to do an all clean attempt.

Ollie sticks the Molar Traverse Pendulum on Mescalito

The Aussie solo is moving up the right leaning corner to the start of the Molar with steady climbing. He is busy all day and is not one to take a rest on the portaledge between pitches.

Nose: The two man team that came over yesterday on the 3D was seen climbing into and out of camp 5 this morning. Their dark colors were difficult to reach with the low light. Hope they are having a nice climb.

The Nose did shove a couple of parties off it from ECT no less! I suspect the threatening looking clouds had something to do with it as just the mere mention to the word, cloud, send climbers scurrying for cover!


Salathe: Once again this route is getting all the attention as other routes languish in disuse. I saw a team of two go to long ledge this morning and a couple others, including the one with Mook in it head to Sus Le Toit in the afternoon. A cell phone contact to Mooks partner revealed that he is doing it free so far. This is via the Monster crack. He has the headwall tomorrow I imagine. Best of luck Mook!!! Below him a couple of other teams were in the vicinity of the Block and mostly out of my view. Below the Ear the masses are assembled . A team of two, sharply dressed lads lead the charge in the early morning and they were closely followed by Lucho and Chilli who made short work of the Hollow flake pitch. Behind them was a team of two and another team of two. Left sitting on Lung ledge was the “Gang of four” Who were still sitting there when I left ar 2:30pm. One of their members is wearing a suit and tie for the climb, of course with a pink shirt. They seemed to be ok just waiting for the traffic to clear. Actually I suppose they most have let the others pass, as they had bags up there yesterday. So the Salathe is loaded and the Nose is empty again, assuming the 3D guys top out late today.

Second juggs the chimney above Hollow Flake, Salathe Wall

Chilli runs out the unprotected infamous Hollow Flake pitch, Salathe Wall

A team finishes the Headwall, Salathe Wall

In other news: I had breakfast in the Café today with Cedar Wright, famed equipment spokesperson and media lackey. He is back from the Czech Republic and had some interesting comments on the climbing there. Very stern and way old school! Plus they have a great climbing community and social situation that we seem to lack here in the Valley. Of course, when we, in the Valley, try to have a place that climbers can hang together in good fellowship the park service seems to step in and scatter everyone. Camp 4 used to be that place but now is so regulated that most climbers just avoid it due to the unfriendly attitude toward climbers and a 7 day camping limit most of the year. Then we had the parking lot at the Lodge for a time … until they put in the so called “Train Wreck” which, for those not in the know, is an ugly trailer park that is poorly maintained, an eyesore and disgrace to the National Park System. There was the Deli too… but they changed the hours so instead of closing at 10pm it now closes at 5pm. Well, we do have the pizza deck in Curry Village but the place is awash in Tourons all the time and climbers, being easy targets, are continuously rousted. So now the few climbers who do want to hang together are relegated to the Café in the morning, or the ElCap Bridge. The Bridge is a Spartan place with no amenities, save a few bear boxes. There are no restrooms, and not even a trash can to put refuse in. We hang there in the shade of the tall pines to view the great rock and have some semblance of comradattery. So far that is it. I think the NPS likes the idea of having us far, far from the more “civilized” parts of the valley.

Miles Smart and his wife Liz were in the Café too as was our Queen Jean. Most of the climbers are out and about. Dave is off to the NW face of Half Dome to climb and check on Nicki who is on Queen of Spades there. KFC is working. Lance is working. Matt is on Zodiac. Chilli and Lucho are off to the Free Rider. Many of the international climbers have gone. Some of the regulars are lurking, staying out of sight. So we hang on, because we love the place and hold tight to our tenuous existence here. It was great to talk to Miles, and Cedar again, as we were here years ago together. Now there are new faces. Not that that is a bad thing, because climbing always needs new blood coming up and pushing the standards and expanding horizons. It just seems a little sad that for all we have done for the sport of climbing, we are still regarded as something less than desirable here in the Yosemite Valley.

So that’s the way it is here for this the 4th day of June 2008.

Later Tom Evans