ElCap Report 10/11/10

ElCap Report 10/11/10
By Tom Evans
Yo… Beautiful day today, perfect conditions for climbing on the Captain.  However, around 11:30 this morning a big chunk of rock fell from half height, on the upper east side of the Cap, near the Waterfall route.  Read more about it below.

Today’s ElCap Report…written just for you… unique in all the world!

Rock fall:  A small rock fall preceded the “big one” by a few minutes and we all yelled and hooted at the teams on the face near the avalanche, thinking it was nothing much.....  A few minutes later the “big one” ripped off with a sharp cracking sound followed by a thunderous roar.  The face was soon obscured by rock dust.  A short time later the authorities arrived to see what was up and if anyone had been in the falls path.  Fortunately, from what we could tell, there was no one in the direct path of the avalanche.  There was a team pushing on Bad to the Bone and another on Bad Seed and Regan is on Surgeon General, which was a long way from the fall.  Anyone walking over to the East Buttress, along the base, would have been pulverized… so a word to the wise….. STAY AWAY FROM THIS AREA, as there are huge loose blocks, ready to release at a feathers touch.  Some time later a small fall occurred from the same area and was perhaps some of the debris left on various ledges coming off.  Greg Stock, the park geologist, came by the bridge and spent some time talking with witnesses and scoping the scars out.  I just had a meeting with him in the Mt. Room Bar and we looked at the shots I got …. He said this avalanche fits into the category of a …. kind of technical here but stay with me…..  BIG FRICKING ROCK FALL.






















                                                                                                     Rockfall area after the fall.                                                                            



Rockfall area just after small one.























Dust cloud from rockfall.





















Bad to the Bone:   Skiy Detray and big Andy Hoechels are pushing this route.  They continued climbing right through the rock fall!  Skiy lead the free pitch that I photographed Leo Houlding on the other day.  It was hard A4, but Leo, who happened by, said it was 5.9R and would be horrible to have to aid, as the rock was shit.  Anyway the lads are making good time thus far and have kit necessary to extend if the push turns into a shove.

























Andy leading low on the route, before the rockfall.

























A4 or 5.9R, Skiy would rather do the A4!


Bad Seed:  A mixed party is low on this route and were also out of the rock fall zone.  They are wall style and resumed climbing a couple of hours after the fall.

Surgeon General:  I spotted Regan lounging on his portaledge this morning.  After the rock fall, he was still lounging but had his helmet on!  He hadn’t  gotten out to climb by the time I departed around 3pm.


Zodiac:  The team of Herb and Joe topped out this morning just before the rock fall.  The route is now empty.


Trip:  Eli and Dave made it to the bolt ladders by the time I departed and should be off tomorrow.

Lower down T2 climbed the slab pitch and was headed to the corners in the center of the route as I departed.

NA Wall:  The team of three climbed out of the Cyclops Eye and up to the top of the corner this afternoon.  Igloo bivy for them… off tomorrow.























Cyclops Eye on the NA Wall.

South Seas to PO:  I spotted the three guys climbing the fourth pitch this morning and they were moving along well enough by afternoon.  

























Afternoon on South Seas to PO.

Mescalito:  Chantel is moving up smartly, having done the Molar Pendulum before I arrived this morning.  She traversed to the start of the wide chimney pitch and will most likely do another before dark.  She is looking strong and in command up there!  

























Chantel climbing after the Molar Traverse on Mescalito.


Higher up Tommy, and his wife Becca, Kevin Jorgeson and another climber dropped in from the top today and landed at Wino Tower.   They set up camp for the renewed effort on freeing this Mescalito  variation.  His parents were on the Bridge this afternoon and watched with interest.  Nice people!
























Camp Caldwell on Wine Tower.

Nose:  The multitudes from yesterday continued climbing and were strung out from Camp 4 to 5 and higher today.  Lower down the team that climbed to ECT yesterday did the King Swing and had a mini epic as the bag got stuck being lowered to Eagle Ledge (always a bad plan) and the second was short ropped.  The second had to go back and forth from near Eagle to the top of the Boot a couple of times before the lines could be untangled, costing them a couple of hours.  If you haven’t got the King Swing dialed, please stop by the Bridge and see me before you go up!  There were a couple of teams in the Legs and one did cross over Dolt and head to the Jardine as I left.























More hard times on the King Swing.


Shield:  The Missouri boys are kicking it good… they were climbing above Chickenhead Ledge as I departed and are probably off by now.

El Corazon: There has been a set of bags and a fixed line across from the Shield Roof for some time now and a party of two showed up today to push higher up the route, whatever it is.  It might be the team of Nicolas Potard and Martina Cufar, who I talked to some time ago, before the rains came.
























Martina hauling freight.



Mason and Brads Project:  The boys pushed up a couple of pitches above their camp today and may be about to reach Golden Gate.  Hard to tell if they sent everything thus far, but it looks like maybe they did!
























Mason looking good as Brad watches with a close belay.



Salathe:  The large mob of climbers who have been seen jammed up all the way up the route reached the Headwall this afternoon and were jammed there too.  They climbed the Headwall and will be jammed up on Long Ledge too… some things never change!























Salathe Headwall jam.



Lower down, a team of two climbed from Hollow Flake to the top of the Ear before I departed.  Lower down yet, a couple of climbers were seen close to Hollow Flake ledge and I don’t think they can make a bivy ledge higher tonight.

Out west:  Pete and Kate are now on Aquarian as Sonya gracefully bowed out of the team.

In other news:  The avalanche on the Cap is getting a lot of attention and our climbing ranger, Jesse McGahey, has posted warnings, at strategic locations, to keep climbers out of the fall zone.  Trust me…you don’t want to go over there for any reason.  Forget about the East Butt if you’re not prepared to climb the Moratorium to get to it.  Don’t even consider walking through the fall zone.

So that’s the way it is, on ElCap, for this Monday, the 11th day of October, 2010.
Wear a helmet when walking the base.  Leo Houlding’s wife took a rock to the face the other day and was lucky to escape serious injury.
So long… Tom

Holy Rockfall

Holy Rockfall Batman!



Tom - are the first two

Tom - are the first two pictures a test quiz?

QUITE the slab of rock gave way to gravitational forces it would seem. Glad that this didn't occur when we were doing our constitutional walks along the trail at the base of El Cap!

Greetings from Montreal, always good to check-in to your site and see how the climbers are progressing.

All the best - one of your bridge visitors from the spring.


I believe 2 members of the SS

I believe 2 members of the SS to PO team are Dave Allfrey and Adam Long.

Thanks Tom! Missing the

Thanks Tom! Missing the Valley already. And can't wait to hear from the boys! Go Brad and Mason!!!

And yes, that was Martina and Nico heading up El Corazon. They woke me up en route and we had a quick mate session.

Enjoy that sunshine. See you in May!



Feeling ignorant here: How

Feeling ignorant here: How far is the rockfall from Zodiac? It looks like the fall was several hundred feet to the right. Is my geography correct?
Yes you are right...not close to Zodiac.  Tom Evans

Great report and photos. P.S.

Great report and photos. P.S. Tommy's wife is Beth, not Becca. - Clint
New wife Clint :)   Tom

Thanks for the correction,

Thanks for the correction, Tom. I was puzzled because I knew you were careful with names. - Clint

Nuts. Thanks for the report!

Nuts. Thanks for the report!

Glad no one was hurt Wild day

Glad no one was hurt Wild day for sure on El Cap

Great Report for the Man on the scene


Yikes giant rock fall!

Yikes giant rock fall! Everyone stay safe up there.

loving all these salathe

loving all these salathe traffic jam shots!!!

Thanks for another great

Thanks for another great report!