Like Rusty with Mescalito, or whatever it was, I'm not the guy to describe this route as it was 15 years ago...
Anyway, what I remember: A fun route that takes in the first 10 pitches of the Salathe, then ten pitches of the Muir, then ten pitches of the Nose....or something like that.
Left of the Nose.
A relatively small wall rack.
From: Oakland, CA
May 8, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a C1-2
After the looong pitch above Mammoth, you reach a small ledge. Above this ledge is the feature some call the Crystal Chimney. This is not a C1- pitch, and blowing it here (thin, cam hooks, ok brassies) means a fall onto the ledge. I've read of people getting hurt here (two stories I know of), and found it heads up, though I'm not a strong aid climber.
Though most of the climb (95%) is C1, C2 might be a better grade for it, as there are some spots that'll get your attention.
Other 'cruxes' include hauling off the traverse into Camp 4 (beware the unseen flake that'll snag your line) and the 2nd pitch off of the Grey Ledges (given C2 by ST).
Great first line on El Cap - likely the easiest on this section of the wall. The Free Blast lends a great feeling of momentum on day 1, which is nice for the psyche.
Edited to add: I strongly agree with Will below. This description is choss, baby!
|By Will Butler|
From: Boulder, CO
May 11, 2008
I recognize that it is difficult to outline the pitches on such massive walls as El Cap, but a greater effort should be made in keeping with standards of this site. 2 cents worth.
|By Jacek Czyz|
From: Denver, Chicago, Poland
Feb 11, 2010
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a C2-
Definitely the easiest route on the wall, mainly because not sustained and easy to climb in two pushes. But which way C1- if share C2 pitches with Muir and Nose?
If you don't climb free (5.11a) end of the slab on Free Blast it is difficult to aid it. This last section I think is mandatory 5.10/A0.
|By Mike Zinsley|
Oct 27, 2010
Gray ledges aren't much to sleep on, but the ledge below Camp 4 is awesome! Camp 6 is the next and last stop, flat and big enough for two.
Once you get to the Nose, it seems like a walk in the park compared to the Muir.
We used MANY RP sized (tiny) wired nuts to aid the pin scars on the Muir. The small wire is thin enough to slide into and hang through the crack below the scars.
Jan 21, 2012
FA: Jim Bridwell, Kim Schmitz, 1969
|By Dan Mathews|
Oct 26, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a C2
For what it is worth, I think the aid is a little more committing than the nose. The second pitch above Mammoth is comparable in difficulty (but longer) than the pitch above Camp 5. The next pitch is as hard as any on the Nose, and the long C2 corner up to the Shield route is longer and slightly more difficult than any of the Nose aid. Still, it is all straight forward and didn't need anything more complicated than brass offsets and a few offset mastercams. (You'll want a hook for the hard slab pitches if you don't free them.)
The three traversing pitches can be time consuming. Our haul line snagged on the "hidden flake" described above. Since it is down and quite a bit to climber's left of Camp 4, I had to place a couple directional pieces on the rappel to get over to it.
I think the Nose has more memorable pitches, and is a "better" climb, but this is a great route too. It's often less crowded...until you hit Camp 4 that is.
Also, the Heart ledge rap route makes it very easy to go down until you hit the traverse to the Nose. Once you leave the long C2 corner, the easiest way off is to finish the traversing pitches and then descend the Nose raps.
After a 15 year hiatus of big wall climbing, we chose this climb because:
1 - It's an "easy" El Cap route
2 - It's not as crowded as the Nose, which would allow us to set our own pace at the beginning.
3 - You get to ease into it by coming down after Mammoth.
4 - By the time you hit Camp 4 the hardest aid is behind you and you know by then if you are moving efficiently and ready for the endless traffic jams on the Nose.
5 - It's easy to bail all the way up to the Shield if it's not working out.