Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring conditions

Well, we knew we rolling the dice by coming this early in the season. We are the only ones on El Cap at the moment. The spring snow melt off the top starts raining down on us at 4pm each day, making us retreat back to the portaledge and fly. Not to worry though. We get up early each morning and push hard until it gets too wet. Today we worked on pitches 9 and 10, roughly 5.12+ and 5.14 respectively. Pitch 10 is a beautiful seam lieback that you can clealy see from the valley floor. Each move is harder than the last for the full 100 foot pitch. I'm looking forward to trying this pitch some more, as it's my anti-style. Once the rain started, I worked on the cruz of pitch 8, which happened to be directly below the portaledge and remained dry for 30 minutes longer than the rest o the wall. This section, being short and powerful, felt great! Tomorrow we venture up to check out the last unexplored pitch on the route: the Molar Traverse. Wish us luck! We're psyched!

- Posted from the wall

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dinner time

- Posted from the wall

Heads up!

- Posted from the wall

Finally on the wall

At 1:30, we couldn't wait any longer and we started jugging our fixed lines. Even so, we were getting hit here and there with ice chunks. Nothing too big luckily. Just as we made it up to the top of our lines, the afternoon wind and snow melt rain started. This made setting up the portaledge interesting, but we got the fly on and now we're chilling out of the weather. I think we are going to put some rain gear on and aid the next pitch so that we are good to go in the morning to push higher. We'll see. Because of the conditions, I was only able to snap one picture on the way up of the gear that protects the crux of the 5.14 seventh pitch.

A pecker and a super old copperhead. Sort of equalized. Sweet!

More later or tomorrow.

- Posted from the wall

Heads up!

It raining on and off all night last night and was quite cold. We are at the base right now where it is raining down chunks of ice. Some are the size of ice cubes and others look like flying guillotines. So, because are helmets are up inthe haul bags, we are playing it safe by hanging out in the forest a few hundred feet back from the base of the wall until the ice stops falling. Nice view though, no?

- Posted from the base of the wall, curled in the fetal position, waiting for the torment of raining ice to stop. Not really. But we are at the base.

Location:Wawona,United States

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Key

Packing for the wall. Photo by Tom Evans.

Hauling the bags up to the top of pitch 5, on our way to getting them up to pitch 8.

This route is BLANK. There are 2 ledges on the entire route. TWO. One on top of pitch 5 and one on top of pitch 17. Otherwise, it's totally sheer. Thank god for our portaledge!!

Tomorrow we are headed up for the next 4 days to explore the last 4 unclimbed pitches on the route. Tommy has aided through this section before, but its never seen a free climb attempt. We are expecting some serious difficulty with the Molar Traverse pitch, which is basically like the Great Roof on The Nose, but reversed. It looks much longer, harder, and involved. With 4 days, we will really be able to spend some serious time on each pitch, which is key. What we're learning is that it's going to take an intimate knowledge of each pitch, top to bottom, to climb this thing. It's so consistently difficult, that every pitch must be climbed with no wasted energy. I love this work because it's just like working a highball in a way. We rehearse the pitches, find the absolute best sequence, make it super efficient, and then fire it. The only difference is that the climbs are 150 feet long, not 40, and there are 30 some odd in a row. Hmmmm. Well, maybe its not like highball bouldering at all. Oh well. I'm loving it anyway. I'll try to update from the wall on our progress if we get the solar charger for our phones to work. A big storm is coming in on Tuesday, so we should be down by Monday night. More soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hot in the sun

We're chillin on the portaledge at the top of pitch 7, baking in the sun. The conditions were great between 7 and 10, with overcast skies and crisp air. The clouds have since parted and it's time to sit back, relax, eat some lunch, and wait for the afternoon shade.

- Posted from the wall

Top of pitch 6

- Posted from the wall

Top of pitch 2

We are mini traxioning (self belay) the first 7 pitches today

Hanging at belay

Tommy at top of first pitch

Pitch 3 here I come

Mini traxion set up

- Posted from the wall

Daybreak at the base

- Posted from the wall

Early start

A day of photos to come.

- Posted from the drive to the meadow

Location:Northside Dr,Wawona,United States

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mescalito: Days 1-3

The spring season is in full effect here in Yosemite. The snow is melting, the temperatures are warm, and the crowds are coming........

Arriving on Tuesday afternoon, El Cap was completely soaked from head to toe. I was instantly depressed, thinking that we had come to early in the season to get anything done. Tommy and I met up in the morning and discussed doing some training routes instead, but decided to go see how the wall looked in the sun. Sure enough: bone dry. I could hardly believe I was looking at the same wall as the night before. El Cap has its own micro-climate that I'm still trying to understand. This aspect however is quite simple. As long as the wall is in the sun, the snow run off evaporates before it hits the wall. As soon as it goes in the shade however, it literally starts raining, soaking it from top to bottom.

To deal with this situation, we are going ground up each day, pushing our fixed lines higher and higher while the wall is in the sun. Each morning we mini-traxion our way back up to our high point (which is great for getting the bottom pitches dialed), lead up a few more pitches, then head to the ground for dinner. Pretty sweet! Today I hiked some loads to the base so that we are ready to blast wall-style as soon as it dries out. All of our food, clothing, sleeping stuff and water are packed and ready to go. We're both really looking forward to trying pitches 7-10, as Tommy has only aided through them in the past. He said they look possible, but it will be nice to know for certain.

So far, we have the first 5 pitches fixed. We are getting an alpine start tomorrow to take advantage of the early morning shade (hope it's not soaked!) and hope to get a few new pitches in before the afternoon shade and ensuing blanket of wetness descends. Here's how the pitches stack up so far:
Pitch 1: 5.12b slab
Pitch 2: 5.13a seam
Pitch 3: 5.13c seam and face
Pitch 4: 5.12b corner
Pitch 5: 5.12d corner

And on the agenda for tomorrow:
Pitch 6: 5.13c corner
Pitch 7: 5.13+/5.14- corner
Pitch 8: 5.14- ?

We'll see!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mescalito Media

I just saw the product of the BD shoot Tommy and I did on El Cap last season with Tim Kemple and Pete Vinitov. I think they did a great job capturing the scope of the project. Big thanks to Mike Call for the edit, and of course BD for all the gear!

You can check out the videos, photos and writing by either going BD's home page and surfing around, or follow the direct links below.

Tommy and I are back in Yosemite for the next 6 weeks or so. I'll be updating occasionally here, so stay tuned.

VIDEO Part 1: BD athletes Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson attempting to free El Cap's hardest climb from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

VIDEO Part 2: BD athletes Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson attempting to free El Cap's hardest climb from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Big Wall Cribs with Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on El Capitan from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.