ElCap Report 1/13/15  Special Dawn Wall Edition Day 18

Brought to you by Adidas Outdoor

By Tom Evans

Yo..Unprecedented good weather continues to bless this climb.  We had another blue bird day, that was a bit cold at the start but warmed nicely in the morning sun.  Today was moving day. The men need to get 7 pitches climbed to make it to their chosen bivy spot, the Ship’s Bow, high above.  They haven’t climbed that many pitches in a day before and it would be interesting to see if, after all the two pitches a day climbing, they could saddle up and ride fast.  It started with the ascent of the photographer’s lines to Wino Tower, which took a long time.

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

1)  The media showed up in force.  The major networks had the big trucks ready to flash any and all news around the world as it happened.





























 2)  It was colder than the recent mornings in the meadow and these guys were loving it, when the sunlight started warming things up.


























3)  The men jugged 800ft. up to Wino Tower and I can tell you they were not feeling cold after that!  Here they are on Wino Tower, way above us and viewers had difficulty finding them.



























4)  Tommy led off on the 21st pitch, and he didn’t cruise up the 12c thin crack and slippery face.  He took a long time on it and appeared to be having some difficulty on what looked to be sandy, slippery foot holds.  There was some conversation as to why that pitch went so slowly.  John Long was watching and suggested that since they had been climbing crimpers for 2 weeks and had to go slower, they were perhaps a bit rusty on cracks and climbing fast.  Sounded good to me!




























5)  Kevin lead the next pitch rated 5.9 and by the time it was over, the team seemed to take longer than we expected.  What was going on here?  Even the relatively easy pitches were causing some difficulties.
































6)  By the time the 22nd pitch was behind them, it was past noon.  Tommy led the next pitch which was rated 5.11 off width but only toward the end.  Strangely enough Tommy lost the line on the relatively easy traverse section and burned a half hour trying to find it again!  We were wondering just what was going on with these guys?!





























7)  After another long span of time Kevin was finally at the belay.  You will notice that the rock in that area is not so monolithic, as lower down, and there are many ways to proceed, but no obvious line.  They hadn’t been on this part of the route in 4 years, thinking it was not nearly as difficult as the crusher pitches below, and thus didn’t need much attention.  Well, it was kicking their butts at the moment!  Yeah, the Old ElCap was putting up a defense of confusion, instead of difficulty and it was working a bit!



























8)  The afternoon was slipping into “late afternoon” and the boys were far from their chosen bivy site, the Ship’s Bow, far above.  The lads rallied and Kevin quickly dispatched the 5.11 traverse over to the start of Mescalito’s long corner pitches, leading to the top.






























9)  Tommy came along and that pitch went fast for a change.  Yeah, that was more like it and the crowd returned to a more festive mood because we knew they were going to make their bivy, albeit in the dark.





























10)  Not to be outdone, Tommy crushed the next pitch, 145ft of 11d, as the shade came on the route and the temperature dropped.  Unfortunately the light was in transition and I didn’t get very good shots of that pitch.  But the team was in full stride now and moving like the Lone Ranger and Tonto going after the bad guys!  Kevin smoked the next pitch, number 26, and looked to be having some fun on that 511c crack and face, corner.





























11)  Kevin climbed past two big flakes with some nice footwork and liebacking, the first one seen here.





























12)  Above he climbed a pillar that didn’t look all that stable but must have been, since climbers on Mescalito, the route their climb uses through this area, had passed it many times, over the years.






























13)  Kevin made the belay, where the camera man, Brett Lowell, was waiting, after ascending the photographer’s lines.  From the meadow arose a great cheer, as we knew that the team had things under control now!  Kevin responded with a raised fist and the tension of the day dissolved from the crowd.  Look above Kevin and you will see the huge, Ship’s Bow, were they were to spend the night.  Those corners provided some cool climbing for the team and an obvious road to the top.






























14)  Down in the meadow, twilight was upon us, and as the light went Tommy climbed the difficult 5.12c pitch to the bivy ledge.  The crowd dispersed, leaving the men to themselves, knowing they had gotten their 7 pitches done this day, and were poised for the summit in the morning.  But not so fast, breath of a thousand swine!  Tomorrow is no cake walk!  The Old Captain has 4 pitches of 12b, 12b, 13a and finishes with a pitch of 12b, waiting to pester their efforts, just in case they get a little over confident!  Yogi said it… “it ain’t over, until it’s over.”






























Tomorrow will see the end of this 7 year odyssey.  Their reward is the satisfaction of the completion of a hard fought contest.  The lessons of character, integrity, tenacity and determination were demonstrated, not only during these last 19 days, but when no one was looking and there was no crowd down in the meadow cheering them on.  In those previous years of struggle, the TEAM sustained themselves just on their dreams, while the world thought it couldn’t be done.  Well, tomorrow it will be done, and they will pack up their gear and head home, once again alone, but with a satisfaction only gained through struggle, both mental and physical.  The summit awaits, as does future dreams of the impossible.

So that’s the way it is, for this 13th day of January, 2015.

Capt. Tom… here to the end… just for you.




Just wanted to say thanks.

Just wanted to say thanks. I'm not remotely a climber, but I depended on your reports to get real, daily updates. Over and out . . .


Thanks so much Tom-- GREAT reportage---I hope the lads brought the proper McCarver Knobs (tm) as the biv on or near Wino's blade ALWAYS requires extra "Hansens" and cleets for the shale and loose dg. In '01 during my historic first ascent of the widow's nebulizer, Ihad salmon oil on my hands from lunch and nearly dropped a T7 into the meadow below.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway, I love this Country Tom. When the lads are done, I propose to meet them "on-the-top" (tm) with a small Fresca (tm) for each!

Bort Kineely

Gotta Say It!

So PSYCHED for these guys!!!!!!!.....and have been enjoying the daily dispatches Tom. Thanks!

Thank you, Tom

It was hard to leave Yosemite last Friday with our newfound fascination of the climb, but your extraordinary pictures and commentary make us feel as if we are still standing in the meadow, breathless with anticipation and filled with admiration --not only for the climbers, but for the generosity of spirit of those-in-the-know such as you, Corey, and others who have been all too willing to share hard-won expertise with newbies. It has been an incredible addiction.

Many thanks.
Carol Brown

love it

"Yeah, the Old ElCap was putting up a defense of confusion, instead of difficulty and it was working a bit!"

Nice one!

Slow climbing on pitches 22-25

Hi Tom! Thanks for the awesome pictures and report once again. I have a feeling that they were climbing slowly on pitches 22-25 because the route finding is a bit tricky and their topo is a bit off. For example looking at your pics of Kevin's lead on 25 - it looks like he was never even on the pitch that the topo describes. They went too high on pitch 24, so 25 was a completely horizontal traverse. 24 was the one with hard route finding.


Swinging leads?

At some point was there a decision made to swing leads?

To my knowledge they've been

To my knowledge they've been swapping leads the entire time. When Kevin was stuck on 15, he belayed Tommy through 20, but then led some of those pitches himself.

thanks for these posts tom.

thanks for these posts tom. your enthusiasm is infectious

What they are doing is humanly impossible.

Except they are doing it.

Great job by them. Great reports from you.

This is Bret, just another touron way back in Florida loving your reports and growing in respect for the sport of rock climbing every day.

Hope to see you again the next time I'm out that way.

Epic climb

Tom: Again wonderful photographs and running commentary that help us appreciate, just a bit more fully what Tommy and Kevin have accomplished.

Thank you again.


The Shizzle

Awesome report and commentary Tom!!! Been following your reports every morning thank you so much!


Almost crying for them

Wow. Let me know when to start crying; I am beginning to clam up, but it is not quite over yet so I need to save the tears for the end. Epic is not even the word, for the years of effort that went into this homeresque saga to defy the gods of gravity.


Tom you've outdone even yourself with the excellent pictures and writing in today's reports. Bravo!

For us skiers this "unprecedented good weather" is unprecedented horrible weather, but I take consolation in knowing it has facilitated this historic ascent.

-Steve Fettke

Excellent Work!


Your coverage of this historic climb has been excellent! I can not think of a better ambassador from our tribe to work with all the major media outlets.

Thank you,

Tim Niedringhaus


Thanks for the reports Tom! (over the last few years, not just these Dawn Records ;)

Tommy and Kevin are BEASTS!!!

What will I do now :o)

These reports have been amazing! Having never climbed a day in my life, I sit in an office in NYC and read every post and look at every photo.
So psyched for these guys and also a little sad that the adventure is nearing an end.
Thanks for the great story and amazing pics.

Excellent photos and

Excellent photos and commentary, Tom.



Cheering on the monkeys

Thanks Tom for your reports and fantastic photos. The most difficult climb I ever did way back in the 70s was a 5.8. Child's play! I wish I was there to jump and cry when they make it to the top but unfortunately I'm on the east coast.