El Cap Report 06/26/08

ElCap Report 6/26/08

 By Tom Evans

Yo! Still very nasty air here in the valley. The smoke was as thick as Stews skull today. The photography was nearly impossible and few good shots were taken. However, early in the day, when Hans and Yuji went for the record on the Nose, the air was much better but that usually welcome west wind was the agent of doom today. There is a lot to write and I will have to include pics later as I have 300 images to do and not enough time to do it all tonight. So you get the report now and the pics inserted when I can… live with it pukes! Today’s report is brought to you by Jannett, or it might be Janice, you know how bad my memory can be especially in the company of a beautiful woman! She came up to me, as I was about to leave this afternoon, with a pile of home made cookies and a box of beers to share with the bridge rats. She was just so sweet and nice that I stayed a while to chat with her, as we looked at the great rock. She explained that she and her husband are climbers who are mostly weekenders on the cliffs but that does not diminish their love of climbing and this place. She reads the Report every day and enjoys knowing all that is going on here. Very refreshing to talk to such an enthusiastic woman. Thank you so much Jannett for brightening my long day here at the bridge. It is for people like you that I come out here day after day and do the photos and the report, sometimes working late into the night to get it all done.

Todays ElCap Report….

Zodiac: Team Cane is alone on this great route now and are stepping it up a bit. They did the Black Tower this morning and were climbing into the Circle when I left around 4. Who knows they might even fix the next pitch. They seem to have the freight under control now and are not looking down.

Zenyatta Mondatta: Andy and Skyler are moving right along. Andy lead the Lightening Bolt Roofs this afternoon after Skyler got the previous pitch done earlier in the day. It is going well for the men and they may fix one higher too. They are right across from the Zodiac Four and most likely are chatting them up from time to time.

3D: The three women, Holly, Lorna, and Sako did make the big ledge just below Camp 4 last night sometime and were seen climbing onto Camp 4 early this morning. They continued to the Great Roof in time to have Hans and Yuji pass them in mid pitch. The pass seemed to go smoothly and Hans verified that fact when he got down later in the morning. I last saw them from out west as they were climbing onto the ledge of Camp 6 in mid afternoon. They most likely will make the top around dark today having done a long climb in just one bivy. I imagine the bivy was a short one. Nice going on the route by a local team of women!! What else? What else? Lets see… well … oh yeah…. Now I remember.


 I got up at frigging 5 am to be down at the bridge when Hans and Yuji went for the record on the Nose route. The café was closed that early so I went down without anything to eat or drink. I pulled in around 5:50 and there were already people there to watch the great climb. Hans and Yuji were over at the car getting stuff out and racking up while giving an interview to some reporters there. The SF Chronicle has the story on the front page today so look it up if you haven’t by now. I strolled over and chatted with the lads for a short time and then left them to their work. I returned to the Bridge and set up my camera and the telescope so the viewers could have a close up look at the climbing and thus leave me alone to do my shooting.

The place rapidly filled with all kinds of people who came to watch the unfolding spectacle. My good friend Leo Burke even showed up from SF to take in the event. A crowd gathered off to the west in the meadow to get an unobstructed view of the entire climb. I was pretty happy to stay at the Bridge myself. As 6:30 came and went there was some concern that the men were not spotted climbing yet and anticipation was running high. By 7 a rather large crowd had assembled at the bridge with many of my friends and fellow bridge rats in evidence. Even Tourons, who had heard about the climb from us in the past few days, were here in force to see what all the fuss was about.

At a few minutes past 7 a large roar of monkey calls and various hoots and whoops came from the meadow to the west signaling that the climb had indeed started. I picked up Yuji as he went up the 4th pitch to Sickle ledge were he was photographed by a few camera men in place waiting for the teams arrival. The men climbed more rapidly this day than they did on Monday and looked to be somewhat rushed. The camera man for the SFC had a wonderful, very expensive telephoto lens set up next to my cheapy, all I can afford right now lens. Several other photographers with very nice equipment were also in place in my general area. I felt like the poor stepchild but did what I could to record the event. Yuji disappeared onto the trees below the top of Sickle and it took me a time to find him again. Hans was coming along in good order. I picked Yuji up again in the Stove Legs and he zipped up the 5.8 and 5.9 climbing pretty fast but not as fast as I had thought he would do it. He had to fish around just a bit for the proper piece of pro from time to time. Hans came up behind managing the system smoothly and simul-climbing at the same rate the Yuji was leading. They were deceptively fast and were on Dolt Tower in faster time than Alex and Thomas.

As various landmarks were passed monkey calls and cheers of encouragement rang out from the crowd. Yuji was fast to ECT and was soon doing the chimney behind Texas Flake. Right on schedule Hans appeared at the base of the flake and was short fixed to the top while Yuji climbed off on the bolts toward the Boot. His technique was like that of Alex Huber when he did that section. Both just hooked the bolts with a biner on a sling and arm over armed the bolts with feet just plastered flat on the rock. Yuji then arrived at the place the piece had come out on him last time and burned some extra time trying to make a better placement. For a short time they had come to a stop with neither climbing. Hans had already moved up to the highest bolt and was waiting while Yuji lead the Boot Flake. Yuji regained his form and liebacked smartly up the right side of the fabled flake. He was up in very short order. He clipped the top and was lowered down rapidly by Hans, stopping for just a moment at each of the three pieces he had placed so he could quickly remove them. As he arrived at the same level as Hans he immediately reached down and Hans handed him the rack of gear he had been collecting up to that point. A mummer swept through the crowd… “did you see that?” Man that was the quickest exchange of gear I ever saw!” Yuji slung the gear over his shoulder and was gone off to the left in an instant, nailing the King Swing straight away. Hans then swung out but had to come back as he had inadvertently left a draw clipped to the bolt. It cost maybe 15 seconds but I’m sure was a “Duh” moment for the usually meticulous Hans. Hans made the swing and then they were immobile for a couple of minutes as the rope was pulled and they dealt with some of the gear. It was not the smoothest transition I have seen.

Soon Yuji was back on point moving rapidly up the next two pitches running it way out all the way to the belay at the start of the Gray Bands Traverse. Hans was soon behind him and quickly up to the belay. Yuji lead up to Camp 4 back cleaning with a vengeance. He soon arrived at the stance below the Great Roof just below where the three woman team were belayed. He short fixed Hans to the stance as the girls were at the slightly higher belay and he planned to just blow by them onto the pitch above. However Holly was in the middle of leading the pitch and continued to climb as the distance between them narrowed. I expected her to swing off to the side right away but she continue to place gear and move up in her aiders. Soon Yuji was upon her and it looked like she might have some problem getting out of the way in time. At the last moment she leaned off to the right and he was able to climb past her. All this time Hans was jugging like a madman trying to get to the belay as quickly as possible. Then Yuji seemed to falter and ground to a halt about 20 ft. above Holly. He began fiddling with gear trying to make the very placement that had slowed him down last time. For what seemed like a long time the team was once again static. We started looking at our watches and doing the math… it was becoming apparent that they had lost the time advantage they had accumulated lower down and time was running out fast… the record was slipping ever so slowly out of their grasp. Yuji re-ignited and was soon around the corner and short fixed Hans who was once again able to get moving. Yuji cruised the classic Pancake Flake and Hans was hitting the Jumars hard again. They were into and out of Camp 5 nicely but it was now apparent to all that they were out of time and it finally ran out as they climbed past Camp 6.

Time was up and they weren’t. They knew it better than we viewers and still climbed onward but more cautiously so as not to ruin the next chance on Sunday. No need to pull a muscle or take an unwanted whipper. They topped out and the time was a smart 3:28. Almost the exact time Yuji had predicted and set as a goal today. We were disappointed of course but they had done just what they had planned to do… a tune up for the maximum effort on Sunday. They came down and hung out for a time at the edge of the river. The whole entourage lounged around and Hans came over and talked to any and every body. He looked good and there was a positive vibe in the air. So that is the way it went down here and we aren’t too sad about it either… because we get to see it all over again on Sunday. Two of the best in the business giving it a maximum push… be there or be square!!! Sunday 6 am.

Muir: Well I was once again mistaken. I thought the Team Celtics had left the court as I had not seen them in a while. But I went out west this afternoon and there they were high in the upper part of the route, climbing strongly for the top!! Sweet!! The men were out there getting the job done! I had failed to see them due to the heavy smoke for the past days but it thinned a bit this afternoon and they came into view… nice going guys.

Magic Mushroom: This team of three was seen a pitch or two below the thick tan band that separated the lower and upper parts of this steep wall. I didn’t see them for long but they had a leader out and he was climbing upward. I will get back out west again tomorrow for sure, smoke or no smoke.

In other news: A nice crowd was on hand for the record attempt today and the vibe was very positive. Much cheering and appreciation was sent upward toward the team as they climbed. After the climb a large group stayed around to help us celebrate the successful return of Ottawa Doug from Tribal Rite. Doug was the man of the day and got to meet all the important celebrities at the bridge. Our climbing rangers even happened by to check on the news here and just hang out for a time. Eric is the new ranger sharing duties with Jessie. He showed his abilities with the 9mm by shooting two ducks right out of the sky above the bridge as a flock of 6 did a low fly over! Sweet!! Jessie is talking about another stab at the Cap, having gained inspiration by my dismal failure on LF a month ago. The man is psyched! All in all it was a really nice day here… we got a pile of good food via Mara and Doug… we got to talk endlessly about nothing in particular… we got to see famous climbers… we even got photographed by the SFC photographer and just might make the papers!! The roasted Duck was delicious!

So that’s the way it is on this the 26th day of June 2008.

I will try to get the pics in later… Bye ECP’s

PS  Well I stayed so busy that I never got back to post the photos... sorry but time marches on and I with it.