ElCap Report 9/25/13

ElCap Report 9/25/13

By Tom Evans

Yo… The weather and a mishap on the Nose are the news of the day.  It was unseasonably cold, with high winds today and the forecast rain is yet to appear.  Climbers in the wind prone areas were in expedition puffy’s all day while those in protected areas were comfortable with T-shirts.  We are expecting some nicer weather within the next couple of days.  The Nose is empty of teams wanting to climb to the top.

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

Zodiac:  Three solo climbers are fixing on the route at the present time.  The lead climber is Andrew Barnes, followed by ????, and at the end of the line is Mike Ierien, a climber with much ElCap experience.  I didn’t get anything of them, worth showing, on today’s report.

El Nino:  I heard Ben Lepesant and partner Jorg are on the route but the trees block the view of most of the route and when I looked, past few days, they were out of view.  Today I picked them up at the end of the traverse to the Black Dihedral.  El Nino is the free climb of the NA Wall and I don’t know how these guys have been doing but I did see a fall on the pitch leading to the Black Dihedral and they continued without pulling lines and doing the pitch again.

I later talked to Ben and he said that Jorg freeded every pitch on lead or seconding.  Sweet!

1)    After the fall.





























2)  Here they are climbing out of the dihedral onto the face below the Roof.































3)  It was windy on the exposed face below the Black Cave, as you can see by their wandering red rope.  They continued on past the roof as I was departing.






























NA Wall:  A new team was on the route today, hauling kit to the top of the, formerly fixed, first pitch.  Hopefully they didn’t find the "stick" the previous party used freely.  Names?

4)  Sea of Dreams:  Yep, there is a party of three on this seldom done test piece.  They were a couple up later in the afternoon when I shot this pic…who are those guys?






























3D:  The two teams from yesterday crossed the traverse to Camp 4 while I shot.  That part of the route is one of the windiest parts of the wall and the lads were bundled up.

5)  Mash Alexander at the start of the traverse pitches.





























6)  Thomas and Collen, from Ft. Collins CO, crossed the traverse after Mash and Geoff.  Here you can see one of that team climbing to the belay in harsh conditions.































I didn’t get out west today due to the late hour of my departure and the incident on the Nose.

Stranded on the Nose:  A team of two did a nice job on a Dolt Tower run this morning.  They reached that Tower in early afternoon and became stranded at the end of the first rappel.

7)  They used a climbing rope and a “pull down” rope (a small diameter rope not used for lead climbing) for the rappel.  They then pulled the pull down line and immediately let the climbing line go (big mistake).  The wind took their end of the rope away as they continued to pull the light line.  After a few feet of rope pulled down, the biner and knot jammed at the edge of the Tower and nothing they could do, would loosen it.  Here we see them stranded at the belay.  Notice the end of the climbing line (the blue rope) is actually far below them and had they not let it go, they could have worked both lines and likely gotten the knot unstuck and continued down.  NEVER GIVE UP THE END OF THE ROPE UNTIL YOU KNOW IT WILL PULL THROUGH WITHOUT TROUBLE.      DON'T GIVE UP THE ROPE UNTIL THERE IS NONE LEFT AND YOU MUST LET GO OF IT.






























8)  This shot shows the biner and knot jammed at the edge of Dolt Tower.





























9)  They yelled down for help and someone called YOSAR.  Ranger Ben Doyle and several other rangers came down and assessed the situation.  They communicated with the climbers for a time, to figure out the best course of action.  They could send a team up to the climbers, in fairly short order, but it appeared that the climbers decided to rectify the situation on their own.  One of the climbers reached across to the Stoveleg crack and climbed upward.  He took the end of the pull line with him, leaving his partner at the belay with no rope.  He climbed by leap frogging two or perhaps three pieces of gear.  He attached a mini-traction, or similar device, on the pull line for protection.  This is method is the least desirable to use, but will work if everything goes just right.   Here the climber is climbing up towards Dolt Tower.































10)  He climbed carefully and soon was just below the Tower, as seen here in the shot.  You can see that if he fell, anywhere along the way, his fall would come onto the stuck biner/rope, possibly  cause it to unjam, sending him to the deck, as the blue rope would pull through the anchor.  Not good!






























11)  Fortunately everything went well and he did a series of shorter rappels using only the blue line.  Here he is leaving Dolt Tower.































12)  He was soon with his partner and they continued to the ground without incident.






























The boys in the know, say that he should have used the pull line (if it was a dynamic rope) as a safety line with his partner tending it and him putting in gear and clipping into it along the way. He could use a moving clove hitch as attachment to the line, as he leap-frogged gear up the crack.  The mini-traction, on the pull line, looks like a good idea but should not be his sole connection to that line.  Fortunately, for all concerned, everything went well.  However, the method they used is not recommended, as there are better, safer, ways to get the job done.  No YOSAR personnel were required to go on the cliff and we are all pleased at the outcome.  I went through this explanation because this has happened in the past and will happen again in the future.  This is not a personal attack on the climbers, but a moment when we can all think about what they went through and understand how to avoid it if possible.


In other news:  The Facelift has the largest turnout in the history of the event.  The evening programs are well attended.  Too well attended!  The problem is that the venue is far too small for the large crowds in attendance.  The auditorium is filled far beyond its safety rated capacity.  Hopefully, a larger venue will be available in the future. 

The trash removal crews are cleaning the park with a fine toothed comb and it looks to be another record setting year.  Thus far over 1,000,000 pounds of trash/refuse has been collected in the 10 years of the event!!!!!  Other national parks are watching our event to get ideas for their own Facelifts!

So that’s the way it is, for this Wednesday, the 25th day of September, 2013.

Stay tuned!

Capt. Tom








Damn guys, SAR could use the

Damn guys, SAR could use the work, and everyone loves a dolt run ;)

go mash!

glad to see him up on the captain.

and THANKS for the photos Tom

-John G