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- ?