ElCap Report 10/26/09

ElCap Report 10/26/09
By Tom Evans
Yo… today was the last day of Indian Summer, here in the Valley.  It was so nice I set up in the ElCap Meadow to shoot today, as the air was still and the view of the Captain unrestricted.  Several folks stopped by to chat and look and I got to say good-bye to Ivo and Julia who will be moving out of the country soon.  It was a sweet day and I enjoyed it to the fullest.  The wall is pretty empty now and I have done what I can for this season.  I have tried to call them as I saw them and if I made some mistakes …then …well….. Read the disclaimer, Puke!  I never promised accuracy, only entertainment!
Today, I am closing out the ElCap Report for this Fall season, of 2009.  Read it and weep!!  Also I will be around a couple more days and will do some shooting so if you are on the wall contact me about pics of your climb.

The Season was marked by some strange weather that, in the end, was instrumental in making the so called “Spring in Fall” happen and turn this into such a beautiful Fall.  The climbing on ElCap was mostly undistinguished, save for a few solo climbs that were the highlights of the season.  Mostly, it was about the average ElCap climber, who came here on a mission to get this or that route done and have a great adventure too.  They did what they set out to do… some in great style and others succeeding in spite of themselves!  Many climbers were crushed by the Captain and went home licking their wounds.  Others will have learned from their efforts and will be back to re-ignite the flame and go again.  For me, it is as it has always been.  I am humbled by the opportunity to share whatever talents I have with climbers of ElCap.  Every ascent is a great story that I can, unfortunately, only write a few lines about, and maybe post a picture.  I certainly can not do the events anything near justice, but I can, in my small way, make it possible for people everywhere, to know that there is a vibrant community of climbers here, who go forth with hope and optimism and give their all to a seemingly meaningless task.  A task that “we” know is far from such!
Now, those assembled here for so long, are going off to the great ranges of the world, seeking to use those hard learned lessons from El Capitan, to expand their horizons and keep them safe in their new adventures.  The long Winter will pass, and as sure as the Spring will follow, we will once again see them coming back, from Europe and Japan, from Australia and Korea, from the far reaches of the globe, to once again seek their dreams on the grandest of cliffs, our own, El Capitan.

Today’s ElCap Report…written just for you, one last time… unique in all the world!
Last Fall shot of the Day.


















Zodiac:  The great route sits mostly empty as the big teams of the last couple of weeks have cleared the route.  We have only Ben Doyle, a solo climber, representing on the climb now.  He has shown himself to be a strong climber, making his way up the route with confidence and competence.  He climbed into the Circle this morning and will climb out this evening.  Good on you Ben!
Ben, representing on Zodiac‘s Nipple pitch.


























NA Wall:  Kevin and Cooney didn’t quite make the progress I had thought they would yesterday, but none the less, they are at the Cyclops Eye bivy this evening.  I got some nice shots of them above the Black Cave Roof this afternoon.
Cooney with the freight above the Roof on the NA Wall.
























Kevin on the pitch into the Cyclops Eye.



























Below them is a team of three who I finally spotted this morning at the top of the 3rd.  They spent most of the day on the next pitch, to Mazatlan ledge.  Boys, you have to go faster now… the weather is getting sketchy and the nights, long and cold. 

The Nose;  I saw a team going over the top in the early afternoon but didn’t get out west to check on the upper dihedral.
Big Wall, Dave Turner and Alpine star, Colin Haley, did a NIAD today and were already in the Gray Bands by the time I got there a bit after 10am.  They threw down a 4am start too!  I put them at a bit less than 12 hours for the climb.
Mash and Hayden climbed from ECT past C4 and were headed to C5 when I departed around 3pm.
Mash coming across the King Swing.






















If I could do this I would never leave the house!
























Hayden doing the Grey Bands Iron Cross.





















Lower down a team of two looked like they were making a run to Dolt.  The leader looked a lot like my friend, Mason, but was having some trouble on the pitch to Dolt, which would be way lower than Mason’s skill level… so …. not Mason!?

Salathe:  I undertook to solve, one of the last great mysteries of climbing, this day.  And that is… What the hell is going on over on the Salathe??  Within a pitch and a half, above Hollow Flake ledge, were 9 climbers and 43 haulbags!  The belays were a static clusterfuck all afternoon.  Those parties are going nowhere fast.  They will spend the night far from the relative comforts of the Alcove or ECS.  Jesus guys, the route has been open for days and you all show up the same morning!?  Hello?!
4 man cluster fuck on the Salathe Wall.


























Further West I spotted Erik Sloan and partner Tim, who are doing some rehab on Octopussy.
Erik Sloan leading across the Half Dome on ElCap traverse as Tim belays.


























Feature of the Day for yesterday was the 9 O’clock Roof in the Great White Circle, parts of which lie on several routes including ZM.

In other news:  There is not a lot of other news now.
On a personal note, if you have enjoyed the Reports and the hundreds of photos I have posted with them … then I hope you will take the time to send whatever donation you can afford to the site.  What I do is costly, in both time and money.  Your contributions, and my savings, have allowed me to upgrade some of my photographic equipment this past year, and to start saving for a new computer to work with.  If you are not able to contribute at this time, then no worries… enjoy the Report as my gift to you.
I want to thank all of those who have been so kind and helpful to me this past year, both here, in Yosemite, and elsewhere.  Special thanks to “The Boss”(Ken Yager), to Climbing Ranger Jesse McGahey, and to my working buddy, Erik Sloan.  Special mention goes out to Jerry Miller, fellow photographer, and I hear “my competition” at the bridge.  Jerry has been a good friend and is as enthusiastic about climbing photography as I am.
I hope to be here once again, in the Spring, to be your eyes and ears …and your man on the scene to relate all the drama, adventure and spectacle of climbing on the greatest cliff in the world. 
So that’s the way it is for this the 26th day of October, 2009.
I go quietly now ….back into the World.
Signing off….
Tom Evans

The adventure without leaving home

Thank you for the great pictures and coments. These are places I would never go in real life but enjoyed the trip in pictures. In my younger years would have maybe done it. Will pass this along to my boys. I am fear ful they would want to do more than view the pictures. They were introduced to climbing rock walls in High school. We have High Rocks in Tinicum Pa. They freguented it . A fairly dangerous place,every year there are climbers who are helicopter to the hospital. Keep up the interesting reporting in the spring. Will look forward to it. Wakefield High School, where we both attended, had so many interesting and unique people who have left their mark on the world. Thanks---Barbara

Better than beer for an escape from grad school!

Hi Tom-

Thanks for the daily news. Your report has become every morning's distraction while making my way through grad school. The El Cap psyche has me jonesin' for a trip in the spring when I am out of class!

Much appreciation!

- Kellen

Thanks from Colorado!

Your reports really help me dream of the Valley while I'm stuck in Colorado for the moment.

Sometime in July/August you should snap a few shots of the Diamond!


Thanks, Tom!

It was a pleasure to meet you this fall, Tom. I don't expect I'll wait another 30 years before my next El Cap route, in fact, I already have some plans, maybe I'll see you this spring, I've always wanted to free climb El Cap...

Thanks for the photos and when I get home I'll be making a donation. Too bad you don't drink coffee, I could set you up.

Thanks again,

Mark Hudon



Just one more thank you. I've been sitting here for the last hour, going through the old posts and admiring the beauty of all the changing fall colors. Have a good winter. Peace!


Rad reading your report

Rad reading your report everyday while at work at the front desk! You made the monotony of hotel check-ins bearable!


Let me know your spring schedule.

As early as possible so we can work out camping etc. for you. Thanks for providing your services to the tourists and climbers. Think about any particular issues that you have had with the El Cap meadow area and then write them down!

See you next spring,

Jesse M.

Until Next Year...


Thank you for the excellent work that you have put in this season. I am sure that all of the armchair pundants climbers have enjoyed living vicariously through those who have the time to ascend the El Cap.

Looking forward to another wonderful winter and the arrival of the hordes in the spring.



Thanks Tom!

Tom you do a great service and provide a great source of entertainment. It was sure nice to have your updates on my climb posted for the world (all two people who care to look at me) and it's been great keep track of many others. Look foward to next season, have a great winter!


Armchair Climbing

After a great summer in the Valley, it's nice to now live vicariously through these posts. Tom, you'll be missed over here in North Carolina! Also, nice job, Ben! So exciting to tune back in and see someone I've met.

Thanks for sharing the fall '09 climbing season with us.

I can't thank you enough Tom for the great reporting and pics. It's one way to get a 'fix' when I'm not in the valley to enjoy it in person. Also, there is no greater thrill than entering the cafeteria for a coffee in the morning and seeing a familiar face parked in the corner. Your skills as story teller, comedian, climber and photographer make the trip to the valley complete for so many people. Have a great winter.


Doug (Ottawa)

Thanks for all your great photos and hard work, eh?

Hey Tom,

Thanks again for everything you do all season long. I've only been home for a couple days, and of course the first place I want to check out is the Captain. Superb clusterfuck shots, just gotta love that!

"Pass the Pitons" Pete Zabrok

Have a wonderful winter

Tom, your reports and pictures will be so missed. You have been an inspiration to Michael to get back up on the wall...and he did! I saw he posted earlier and he does have some bugs to work out, but tears were in his eyes as he revisited the Salathe and the stirrings of the Rock embraced him as an old friend. We don't scrambe up and down to the approaches as we used to, but once on the rock, the moves look smooth, the spirit looks refreshed and so glad to be dusted off. We are off to Moab later this week and he'll be scrambling up the cracks of Indian Creek! See you in the Spring, Susan

What will I do now?

Your reports are the highlight of my day..Going to donate some $$ now and look forward to your return.

Thanks and have a good winter

Many thanks for all the pics and reports on your site this season, there have been some magnificent shots of the valley these past few weeks in particular! Thanks also for sending the shots you took of Clint and myself a month or so ago.

I'm looking forward to getting some vicarious El Cap action back in Australia next year via your lens, it will keep me motivated to come back over and get back on the rock.



Great Photos, Great Commentary

Thoroughly enjoyed your reports Tom from the mountains of Colorado. Keep up the great work - it's always inspiring.


Your Awesome Tom!

Thanks for some beautiful photography, great writing and keeping the dream alive! Have a peaceful winter.


Atta boy, Tom!

Well done, my friend! Well done! You have shared your talents with so many people, and have helped to stoke our fires when they were becoming but embers. See you in the Spring, both in your report, and on El Cap!


Tom, Many thanks for your

Many thanks for your reports and wonderful pictures, which are viewed and appreciated across the world.

Best wishes,
A cubicle somewhere in Europe.

See you Tom

Thanks for all your reports, pictures, mornings and evenings in the caf and days on the bridge. The Valley is empty without you...
See you in the next season.

na wall

those guys on the na got chongos big wall book in their haul bags?

On the Waterfront

I'd like to nominate Steve Gerberdings second ascent (solo) of On the Waterfront as the baddass 'send of the season!

Thanks for everything Tom! You rule!


was that really the second

was that really the second ascent of that route? i swore it had a repeat or three

Thanks for the great pics

Looking forward to more next Spring!

Thanks for everything

Thanks so much for all you do for the climbing community. I was very glad to finally get to the bridge and to meet you this year. You have brought back to me many fond memories of life on the edge, finding deeper meaning in the Temple of the Great Stone. I appreciate your advice and encouragement to get my ass back on a wall. My first solo aid lead (in 41 years of climbing!) went very well thanks to your information as to latest techniques. I have a lot of bugs to work out to get the efficiency up, but maybe this spring you will see me on a wall. In any case, my life has been enriched by your photos and the memories they dredge up. Have a great winter, and I hope to see you in the spring.

Michael Jefferson, the old Ferretlegger


tom, fyi, these reports are a link to sanity in an insane world. when all else in life is turmoil and unrest, these reports are a link to better times, in a better place!

Big thanks Tom

Definitely donate to Tom if you have the means, what an incredible service he does. See you in the spring Tom?

Tom Evans

Our man on the scene in the world's greatest Valley, reporting on all events, big and small (not that it's ever a small undertaking on The Captain!) Always quick to celebrate the achievements, denigrate the bailers and the pukes, and pass judgement on the fashion faux-pas, all played out on that beautiful granite stage.

Thanks for the entertainment and inspiration to all of us on temporary leave from the big Ditch, I'll see you on the bridge in the spring.

Peace, and climb safe,

Happy Trails, Tom........

Thanks for the great pics & stories, Tom.
(it is a largely meaningless pursuit, though, that's what some of us like about it.)
See ya!

You will be missed.

Thats right Tom, and so will your report!