El cap exploration

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A few days of rest after Salathe wall, cragging down low in the valley floor, Sean and I put our force together for an attempt to explore the potential of a new free line on the right side of El cap. That was our main target for this season. As usual we preferred not to inspect too much with Binocular as we prefer to stay away from too much assumptions. The line seemed obvious from the meadow, it’s a huge traversing feature that goes crosses a pretty big part of that side(it crosses about 15 different routes!).

The only way to know anything was to go for it and get a close look. So that’s what we did! We packed up for 7 days and tried to free ground up as high as we could. The first day it rained all day but the features are so overhanging that we were dry and the condition for climbing where actually better than when the sun is out. We started on the free version of Zodiac and at the black Tower (pitch 5) we cut out left trying to get an obvious left leaning ramp system. In order to free climb we had to do a down climb which was pretty funky on thin granite plates which turned out to be an A4 R of an already established aid line.Yakes! Once we got to the ramp, the next challenge was to reach “the golden finger of faith” which is a huge left leaning golden flake feature in a finger shape. We were pleased to discover many face holds making a couple of really cool pitches of 5-12 face climbing which allowed us to reach the “Golden finger”

It was followed by a beautiful endure corner which turned out to be much more challenging than expected and we spent each 4 tries in order to sent it on lead. Sean had a memorable fall with a cam popping in his face while trying to do it by night. His face came out pretty bloody but he was so psyched with prospect of getting a picture to update his Facebook profile picture. The next pitch was one of the coolest when we found out we could squeeze our way to the other side of the golden finger making a sweet and extraordinary way around a very difficult section. We finally reached the top of “the golden finger of faith” which is probably 2/3 of the way to the top of Elcap with all the pitches below us redpointed.

During the day the heat of the sun was so intense, we were forced to wait, eat and play music in our portaledge with the fly used for making shade. Unfortunately right after the golden finger of faith, our hopes to free everything dropped with five meter section of rock totally blank. We looked for variations but no obvious solution was possible to find. So We just kept going and forget about the idea of freeing it all. The next part we followed the route Iron Awk all the way to the top. As we went we just focused on looking at other possibilities. Nothing clear appeared but we saw many options. I still feel that something is up there maybe even two different lines so we are psyched to come back for further exploration. Just being up cragging on el captain is amazing.

I had once more a super fun trip to Yosemite with plenty of super good climbs but also great Camp 4 parties and meeting climbers from all over the world. Yosemite is the Mecca!

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