Never Never Land may be the best moderate route on El Cap's West Buttress. Positioned on the on the impressive nose of rock between Lurking Fear and Dihedral Wall, the route has a great view of the huge concave Southwest wall of the Capitan. The climbing is harder than Lurking Fear, better than Lost World, and about the same difficulty as the current state of Zodiac, New Dawn, Shield, etc.
The route starts on Aquarian Wall, a line originally unlocked by Kim Schmitz and Jim Bridwell in 1971. Both had teamed up to complete the Triple Direct together in '69. Aquarian was Bridwell's first independent route on El Cap. They had attempted the line before but bad weather forced a desperate bivy and dangerous retreat. The team linked thin piton cracks with a few bolt ladders up to the right side of Timbuktu Tower. This is the start to Never Never Land.
Timbuktu Tower is where the Never Never Land variant deviates from Aquarian Wall. This huge flat ledge is the only obvious ledge on the West Buttress. Crack a soda, watch the sunset, and bivy on this really nice patio. The next 3 pitches off of this ledge are tricky, expect them to take a little longer. Chapman and Hawkins did some creative hooking and pendulums to access a shallow vertical corner. This corner crack system climbs really fun A2 and lots of A1/C1 placements - usually some big beaks and offset cams get you through anything tricky. Link the 2 pitches up to Long Ledge and the 2 after to the Pinnacle of Hammerdom.
The Pinnacle of Hammerdom has a great anchor for a hanging bivy. From here, a pretty continuous ramp and crack takes climbers to Thanksgiving Ledge. Enjoy your time here, the exposure is great the aspect, perfect. While climbing these cracks you won't believe that you have the whole route and the whole section of wall to yourself.
Hawkins would later collaborate with Kauk, Bard, and Burton on New Jersey Turnpike. Chapman would go on to complete Eagle's Way on El Cap's Southeast Face with Graham and Orey.
First One Day Ascent: McNeely, MacNamara 16:00 (rocknclimb.com)
10 Peckers, esp. Med and Large
5 Blades #3-6
10-12 Lost Arrows, Asst
2ea Baby angles
10 Rivet Hangers, including large Moses keyhole hanger
Assorted Stoppers & Microstoppers, including offset
1-2ea offset micro cams
2-3ea micro cams
Apr 10, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a A3
definitely a lot harder than zodiac or ttrip(A2). a full grade imo.
wouldn't link the two pitches above hammerdom.
great route description and overall page, thanks.
Apr 11, 2013
We did the route in a push in 2008. I don't remember many of the details, but I thought that someone that can make it up Zodiac could pull this off. I thought the second and third pitch off Timbuktu were tricky and then the first pitch off the Pinnacle of Hammerdom. Everything else is cruiser, right? We did Aquarian before this with a bivy on Timbuktu.
Apr 13, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a A3
agreed about the crux pitches. the rest is pretty mellow.
but i think that if you're new to aid climbing you'll get up the zodiac because you can always see what to do for each placement and everything is really clean and super fixed with slings, pins, etc.
nnl seemed harder to me because it is much fresher with more weed and stuff and less obvious climbing and maybe a bit more grainy/loose things.
i think if you can climb harder routes than nnl or zodiac, than they may seem more like similar difficulty, but if the zodiac is technically hard for you, nnl is gonna be a full on adventure...