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The Nose

July 9, 2013

We started the trip with a flat tire. Good thing Mike caught it before we headed out 120 to the valley</dd></dl>The Nose  ascends El Cap, Yosemite’s biggest wall, right up the middle from the lowest point to the highest point.  It’s been about 7 years since I first visited Yosemite Valley  and saw for myself just how big a big wall can be.  I was never sure if climbing the Nose was a desire or a requirement, it was just something I had to do.  Whenever the Nose came up with a potential partner there was an understanding that we were just not ready or willing to spend a whole vacation on a single objective.  A few months prior to this trip, Mike D. proposed a trip to Yosemite. His plan was to pack up his car and dirt bag it for a summer.  I wasn’t sure of my plans back then, but wanted week long trip out west.  I agreed to meet him out in California for some climbing, maybe even a big wall.  Despite the fact Mike and I had never really climbed together it wasn’t long until he proposed the Nose and I readily agreed.

We tried to climb together as much as possible but really only made it out the the Gunks twice and had one quick aid practice on a bridge buttress to brush up on our jugging skills and setting up the Portaledge Mike had recently purchased.  A scant four days before I flew to California Mike packed his car and drove straight west.

Friday: June 21

Mike arrived in time and scoped out our Friday Night bivy at Laura’s house. He didn’t sound impressed with our night’s option when I got to my connection in Boston. I tried hooking him up with Lino via email but there wasn’t much I could do over the next 5 hours in the air.    I arrived late on Friday Night and waited while Mike drove around the airport looking for me.  For some reason we were missing each other at arrivals, my phone wasn’t connecting properly and I kept missing his calls.  Mike says he’s driven through 6 times but I somehow haven’t seen him either.  Finally I got him on the phone, “What airport are you at? I’m at OAK, not SFO.”  Mike eventually picked me up and we went to Laura’s; she wasn’t there so we had a bit more space.

Saturday: June 22

The day started out kinda late, but hey, I got in late. We picked up some groceries and fixed a flat tire.  We headed straight out to the valley to see what the crowds looked like on the most popular route in the world.  We had the longest day of the year on our side so we got straight to work, fixing the first 4 pitches before rappelling for the night.  I’m having a hard time remembering who lead each pitch but I think I took the lead to the top of the buttress up the 5.5 gully, pitch 1 and pitch 4.  The climbing was pretty straight forward,  a good bit of aid climbing with some free moves thrown in.  There was already a few parties ahead of us and someone left a few haul bags and a porta-ledge up on Sickle. I assumed they hauled earlier in the day and would be blasting off before we even got out of our sleeping bags the next day.

We camped all the way out at Hodgdon Meadows, a good drive from the valley floor. We arrived after dark and hunted for practical places for us to roll out our sleeping bags.  Not the best camp site but it worked.  In the future I’d try to avoid Hodgdon Meadows. The site we were at was dirty (and dusty) and on a hill.

Sunday: June 23rd. (day 2)

We tried to wake up early and get our shit in order.  We prepared our wall food and left the camp ground.  We found a Bear Box for the food and went back to El Cap Meadow to organize more gear and prep the haul bag. Some young male dear came and visited us, coming close enough to touch if we dared.  I hiked in the haul bag to our hanging ropes: 1 70m lead rope, 1 70m haul line, 1 60m lead line tied end to end, intermediately tied of at bolt anchors.  Mike and I ascended our lines and some one else’s fixed lines.  We may have gotten the lines crossed, Mike fixed that out as I jugged up to the ledge.  All the other stashed gear was still there, I was hoping that party would be pitches above us by now.  Mike and I started hauling directly from the ledge (we did not break it up in to 3 or 4 logical hauls). Sure enough the bag was caught up low on the route and out of sight. We set up a 3:1 haul and were able to free the bag. By the time we got the haul bag and ledge to Sickle it was afternoon. Another party was heading our way.  We started climbing.  I took pitches 5,6 (mostly easy climbing) The bags got wrapped in the lead line on P7 lower out and caused quite the cluster. The team behind us caught up and decided to bail. They were just shooting for Dolt Tower anyway. Mike took us to P9 and I took the next lead. The swing into the stoveledges is bigger than the topo would let on. Mike got it after a few tries. I stopped at the rappel station, a pitch and a half below Dolt tower when it started getting dark.  We set up the Portaledge and bived with no ledge below us.  Ah a free hanging bivy on a portaledge!

Monday: June 24 (day 3)

We woke up with clouds moving in fast.  I climbed through the rain to the top of Pitch 10, Mike took the short pitch 11 to Dolt Tower. A party bailed, saying they came all the way down from Camp 4 when the weather got bad.  We set the Portaledge up as an awning and stood around for a while before pulling out our bivy sacks and hunkering down. It was a long slow day of napping and being wet.  Mostly the weather was a light consistent rain.

Tuesday: June 25 (day 4)

After a long day of waiting out rain we decided to push on in cloudy weather.  We made it pretty far, all the way to pitch 18.5 (There is a traverse ledge kinda thing going on).  This was a big day of climbing including the Texas Flake and King swing. Mike had no problem leading Texas Flake, a runnout chimney featuring a single bolt in the middle.  I did the King Swing and found it a little more tricky than I expected. The topo says to lower 20ft below the Boot but this wasn’t low enough, with the swing ending on a large flat corner. By going a bit lower I found some broken rock and was able to put in a green alien as a directional. I lowered a bit more and got into the wide crack below the Eagle Ledge, nearly half a rope length below the top of the boot. I pulled the haul bag down and over and Mike was able to safely reach the ledge.  I went up pitch 18, starting free and quickly transitioning to aid. Mike lead up to ledges between 18, 19. There is another pendulum off of some fixed nuts. The topo denotes a bolt but that’s not what we found.   We set up the ledge here and bivied for the night.

Wednesday June 25 (day 5)

We took off in the morning without the bag, ledge and haul line. We moved fast to pitch 21 where we fixed the rope and went back down to our bivy spot. I took the haul line back up and Mike freed the bag. Once we were back up on Pitch 21 Mike lead the Great Roof.  The pitch is really long and the roof is put in perspective.  Mike free climbed the pancake flake up until near the top when it gets thin and hard. I took the next pitch and struggled up the wide flare on Aid. It was a long pitch and I ended up at the bivy spot just below Camp V without any slings and the one coordolette was welded shut after being rained on. Mike came up and took us the last 10 feet to Camp V where we spent the night.   Mike was done sleeping on the portaledge and spread out on the natural ledge.

Thursday June 26 (Day 6)

We headed up early determined to make this our last day. The climbing went pretty smoothly. Mike lead the changing corner’s pitch, transferring at the top of the bolt ladder instead of the 2nd bolt as noted in the Topo, it went fine. We swapped pitches and Mike took the final overhanging bolt ladder to the top.  What a sensation watching the Haul bag get lowered out into space, break down the hanging belay and ascend the last section of rock, back aiding the bolts and jugging.  We got to the top around 6 and killed too much time on the phone and repacking the bag.

We attempted to head down but got to the raps in the dark and despite consulting the phone ended up at the wrong rappel station.  70m later we realized we’d fucked up good and I ascended our rappel ropes back up. We bived up top in a thirsty epic fashion (we jettisoned our water and took a bunch of empties/trash). Silly.  Around 3:AM some other climbers came up the fixed lines, mere meters from where we were spread out.  Ugh, of course.

Friday June 27 (day 7)

We woke up pre-dawn and packed the bags.  We made it down pretty quickly after the rappels, picking up more trash along the way.  The rest of the day was spent cruising around the valley, picking up a photo CD from Tom (el cap report) Evens and lunch at Curry Village.  The temperatures climbed steeply to record highs in Death Valley, we made it off the wall just in time.   We snagged a reservation at Tuolumne Meadows and headed up there in the evening.   We talked to the climbers in the neighboring campsite and battled some mosquitos.

Saturday June 28th

For some reason we decided to climb again. I’ve gotten on a lot of Tuolumne climbs at this point but wanted to repeat Fairview Dome.  We had a lazy start and got in line. The parties ahead of us moved smoothly, as did the party behind us.  Overall it made the climbing more enjoyable and a contrast to the solitude Mike and I found on the Nose.  The first pitch was pretty wet at the crux but Mike climbed through well. I was feeling the fatigue in my legs, struggling just to stand up again and again.  We were tired!  We took a dip in Tanya Lake and had dinner.

Sunday June 29th

We had the full day but decided to skip climbing. I needed a proper rest day, despite this being my last day out there.  We enjoyed the day, went up to Glacier Point (I’d never been) and drove back to Oakland international. Two delayed Red-Eye flights later I as home in Philadelphia.

Some photos are below, bigger images can be found on Flickr

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From → Yosemite

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