El Cap Report 06/13/08

ElCap Report 6/13/08

 By Tom Evans

Ok, rodents stuck in the ever speeding wheel of inflation. You made your measly bones for today, know they will buy less tomorrow than today. So cast away your gloom for a moment and come with me to the Valley of your dreams. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine, if you will, that you are lounging in the shade of the giant pines here on the east end of the ElCap Bridge. A cool wind is blowing across the swiftly moving waters of the Merced river and the Captain, himself, fills your entire view to the North. The company is the best because we are people just like you. Today the rock is almost empty of climbers and the projected heat wave has not materialized. Mara brought a ton of healthy food, enough to feed everyone who shows up. There are too many beers ( an oxymoron, of course) to be consumed. Beautiful women, and studly climbers, are all over the place. The Rangers are waving and smiling as they drive by! And where are you? Lost in a life of endless toil just to make the bills. Well don’t despair, we are having all the fun you are missing out on. So all is not lost! Today’s ElCap report is brought to you by the grossly swollen knee of Brad Barlage, just in yesterday from SLC, with a couple of weeks to waste here. He figured he might as well be here as anywhere else with a bad knee. Today’s ElCap report is right now, in your face, so read it and weep…


Zodiac: I came down to my secret spot, across from Manure Pile Buttress, early this morning to get some deep shade shots of the Cossey brothers working on the Nipple pitch. They were soon on the heart of the route and success was not so easy as lower down. They worked on the moves until the sun got to them and shut down further activity. The friction of the shoes is greatly effected by the temperature of the rock and in the full sun it is too high for the rubber to function at its highest level. So they shaded up for the rest of the day under the cover of their portaledge. They came out late in the afternoon and tried it again and again. I left around 4pm and they had not cracked the problem. Tomorrow’s early morning might hold the right conditions for success.

Ben works on the Nipple pitch while Lee belays.

Ben leads toward the Nipple on Zodiac.

Lee Cossey off the Nipple pitch, Zodiac.

Lower down Emily and Pat were at work on the 5th /6th pitch. Pat polished them off pretty fast and they hauled to the start of the Black Tower pitch. Pat is not an experienced aid climber but I always say that aid is more about nerve and persistence than technical ability. Pat lead the Black Tower with confidence and was not the least slowed down by any reputation or difficulty. Emily, in the mean time, was lying on the ledge trying to keep cool with her pants rolled up and shoes and socks off. She had her head covered with a shirt. In fact, it was a nice powder blue, synthetic, little number that is both attractive and functional. Made to be worn in varying conditions its versatility makes it a bargain at any price. Very stylish, that Emily! I left as the long shadows were reaching across the SE Face of the great rock. They were just about to get the shade as Emily lead out on the pitch into the white circle. This pitch is the gateway to the steep, upper section of this great route and she would soon know what the term, “Big Air” means. They are going well, this mixed team, and we watch with interest and enthusiasm.

Emily Stifler lowering out on the 5th/6th pitch Zodiac

Pat leads the infamous Black Tower pitch while Emily stays cool.

Pat leads off the Black Tower on Zodiac.

Emily leads toward the big air of the white circle.

New Dawn to Tribal Rite: I hauled all my junk over onto the path near this route to get a better view and get some morning shots of Ottawa Doug. OD, as you may recall, is the current holder of the “Oldest Man to Solo ElCap“ record. He is about to add yet another year to that record. Imagine my surprise to find that there were only fixed ropes and no Ottawa Doug to be seen! He is hauling water and food today and not climbing. Later he came by the bridge, see photo below, to hang out and renew old friendships and sit among friends who want only the best for this great guy. He didn’t take any Cobras, as he is holding that treat for a successful return after the route.

Nose: The two women team went over the top today in the early afternoon. I hear that their names are Holly and Sarah. Well Holly and Sarah, come on by the bridge and get some pics of your climb. You did very well and we are all pleased for your success. Lower down, the brothers, Corbin and Clay, classic California surfer dude types, got the award for “BAIL OF THE DAY”. After making a speedy climb to Sickle ledge, their gas tank exploded in the lower Stove Legs and they were soon wreckage, heading down the lines. We all hooted and hollered as they rode by on their bikes, doing the ride of shame! But in the spirit of good friendship, we all had a good laugh and they settled in for some cold ones and a long hang in the rats nest here at the bridge.

Salathe/Free Rider: I did see a team of 4 climbers heading above the Hollow Flake ledge later in the morning. Mass assault coming up. Will the logistics overcome the upward effort? Stay tuned for more information… Higher up the “Kid”, Hayden Kennedy, and partner John(?) were well on their way to a one day climb of the hugely popular Free Rider. It will be the lads 3rd ElCap route in two weeks….. Youth… it’s not fair…

Team of 4 doing the chimney above Hollow Flake Ledge.


Hayden lowering out, heading to Sois Le Toit ledge, Salathe Wall

In other news: The boys in green are out investigating the sad death of a hiker off the top of the Captain yesterday. It appears an accident overtook this young Fresno resident, who had cell phoned his father the night before while on top of the rock. They are still tying to establish a time line. So if you know anything about this event then please contact ranger Steve Yu at (209)372-0215. On a more pleasant note, we were graced with the company of Steve Grossman and friend Mini for most of the day. Steve needs no introduction to any Yosemite wall climber as his routes and efforts are well known. He talked to Ryan Frost for some time before he realized that he was Tom’s son. Steve is working on a book about Tom! Lots of other climbers were here and there all day. Mook came by and chatted about his NIAD where his partner decked onto a ledge but fortunately just sprained his ankle. They are headed down to LA for a few days then back for some more climbing. It was a sweet day and we anticipate a little more action on the Captain in the coming days.

A few Bridge rats hanging this afternoon. Ottawa Doug is third from the right. Thanks Nicki real nice of you.

Come on out if you can find the time or excuse. It doesn’t take much you know… just tell the boss that Mars and Jupiter are aligned now so you have to go out of town for a few days! That one never fails … right Nanook?!

Anyway, that’s the way it is for this the 13day of June 2008.

Bye Bye ECP’s