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winter walls revisited
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guanoboy


Jan 13, 2004, 3:49 PM
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winter walls revisited
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Does anyone have some advice about el cap in winter. I have a sick need to solo the zodiac in February. Past experiences have me most worried about topping out on snowy slabs, but if someone can let me know if i'm getting ahead of myself, that would be great. Are the falls going to soaking me? Is parking in el cap meadows a problem in the winter? Is there a better route for a February ascent. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
Andrew

p.s. In this vein, does anyone know of winter ascents of the N. face of the Grand Teton?


ricardol


Jan 13, 2004, 4:27 PM
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check out chris mac's Big Wall Supertopo book -- he has detailed beta on what routes are good winter routes .. and which pitches turn into watercourses during a storm.

-- ricardo


lambone


Jan 13, 2004, 8:46 PM
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guano,

The falls could very well soak you if it's running....it can also soak people on the Nose if the wind is right. But most likely it will just be some annoying drops that arn't nearly as refreshing as in July.

The top out is one big grunt move over a 90 degeree lip. Then you pack up and head down the east ledges, stick close to the wall on the left dodge the manzinita and it's fine. If you are carefull and willing to back track it is possible to avoid stepping on any slabby rock.

Not telling you what to do, but If I were going to do it in winter I'd wanna blast fast, 2-3 nights max. The weather is not really predictable after that. With short days that means you must either be damn fast or willing to climb in the dark.

Go for it!


climbhigher


Jan 14, 2004, 12:37 PM
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When we where up at the base of EL Cap 2 weeks into last May 03, people on Zodiac where getting hammered on the first 3 pitchs of Zodiac from horsetail falls. It looked as if they were standing under a shower nosal. If the falls is running, plan on getting pretty wet. It does not take much wind to send it your way. Even on the 3rd and 4th pitchs of Zenyetta Mendatta people where getting hammerd by the horsetail falls.


lambone


Jan 15, 2004, 8:19 AM
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Also keep in mind that Horsetail grows in Volume with the spring thaw, so it might not be as much of an issue in Feb. Could vary day to day though depending on temps. It is worst on the lower pitches, so that the worst you just bail.

Although I do remember something about a very experienced and respected climber dying in his harness just a 100' above the ground from exposure while bailing from Zodiac, sometime in winter just last year. Don't understimate the effects of being soaked in near freezing temps with no possibility of warming your core temp.


iamthewallress


Jan 15, 2004, 3:06 PM
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In reply to:
Although I do remember something about a very experienced and respected climber dying in his harness just a 100' above the ground from exposure while bailing from Zodiac, sometime in winter just last year. Don't understimate the effects of being soaked in near freezing temps with no possibility of warming your core temp.

Look up the thread posted in memory of Joe Crowe. Let his memory help you make safe choices if you go for it.


bsmoot


Jan 15, 2004, 9:52 PM
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The North Face of the Grand Teton does get climbed in Winter, I think George Lowe first did it a long time ago.


brianinslc


Jan 16, 2004, 8:09 AM
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In reply to:
The North Face of the Grand Teton does get climbed in Winter, I think George Lowe first did it a long time ago.

Late 60's? FWA of the North Ridge too? And Black Ice?

Saw some of Tackles slides last saturday night. He and Alex did the North Face, with the traverse into the V and the pendi pitch, in the winter. Claimed that it was the first time in winter that the complete North Face had been done. Then I think Alex solo'd it.

So did "buttets"...apparently before Jack and Alex...not sure if he traversed off at the third ledge or not though. Dwight, do tell.

I'd say its a short list of folk who've done the NF of the Grand in the winter....Renny would know...

Brian in SLC


yosrat


Jan 19, 2004, 11:07 PM
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Guanoboy:
There is no definite answer to any of your questions. Last January I climbed Zenyatta Mondatta with some close friends and had an overall good experience.

Will Horsetailfalls be soaking you?

Two weeks before we arrived Joe Crowe died on the lower pitches of the Zodiac so yes the lower pitches are in a watercourse. Joe was soloing the Zodiac, became entangled in his gear and froze in a frigid waterfall. But on the other hand I witnessed Jim Beyer solo the entire route in a sleet storm. I would maybe fix the bottom four because those are the pitches that get slammed.

Falling Ice?

We saw alot of ice falling ice, because it suddenly turned sunny when we got on the wall. Ice was falling over all of el cap, but the frizzbying plates were extra scary because they crashed back into the wall. Once again ZM's steepness protected us from the elements.

Parking in el cap meadow?

F'ing rangers towed me for having a candy wrapper in the front seat. I tried the hibernation case, but it didnt work.

Topout and east ledges.

Nailed a 5.6 waterfall ramp, you will do what you have to do to make the summit. Last three pitches are the only bad ones on the route. Remember if it gets bad enough everything gets wet up there even the "protected" zodiac topout The descent sucks if there is snow. Bring plastic boots!!!! I paid the price. The snow was really really deep when we went down and a few snowbridges gave way over the manzanita groves. Remeber that the east ledges are the runoff for the summit of el cap. Damn those waterfalls were cold.

Is there a better route for a february ascent?

Definitely!! What I would suggest is go out and find some other masochist and climb ZM or Lost in America. These routes are the driest on the captain (I watched a 3 day sleet,rain and snow storm slam the face). If you are willing to solo the zodiac in winter then you probably have enough knowledge to get up ZM. Bring a partner so that if shit hits the fan up there youll have someone else to suffer with. Better yet do a party of three, thats what we did. People talk about Iron Hawk-Native Son but that is a bunch of bs because the golden finger of fate turns into little yosemite falls. ZM or Lost in America for wall style or blast the Nose in two days. Thats the safest way to climb a winter wall. Soon youll have to make a decision and if its your time to go, el cap in winter could get you there. Or you could have 7 days of 60 degree sunshine like we had on ZM. Dont think about it too hard, youll get scared and bail, just go for it!!!!


guanoboy


Jan 20, 2004, 10:48 AM
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Yosrat-
thanks for the advice - just what i needed to hear. I'll be there in February, partner or no.

Anyone interested in ZM in February - pleasant disposition appreciated.

andrew


yosrat


Jan 20, 2004, 2:16 PM
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oh yeah, I carried a cell phone and used it on ZM. My mom got forecasts online and I called her 1/2 the way up. At pitch 10 the weather started to crap out and i got an updated weather forecast. We figured we could climb through the nights and top out in two days or bail if something was coming sooner. We got a good forcast and continued our normal pace and topped out on the 7th day. I think that a January or February is safer than a march or april, winter brings long periods of high pressure. I was f------ freaked the day we started because we only made two pitches (rememeber it gets dark around 5:30) and I had just witnessed a storm that pounded el cap for 3 days. Thats when I was glad the nextel was in the bag. Make sure you have everything including:

Many backup layers for wet conditions that suddenly turn cold. Remember gore tex is bs if you are in a torrential downpour, you are going to get soaked regardless of what jacket you have.

I brought two goretex jackets.
plastic boots.
extra webbing incase you have to rappel the 4th class slabs on the descent.
hobo gloves for when you have to lead in a blizzard
you might want a stove, we bought one.
a bomber ledge and fly
synthetic sleeping bag
more clothes than you think you need because if you cant get dry you are going to die
this is not a comprehensive list, bring the clothes you would need for climbing ranier and then hiking out through the rainforest.

then the usual big wall crap


brutusofwyde


Jan 20, 2004, 4:41 PM
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Red wine and mulling spices are good if you're confined to the portacrampy for a couple days.

Brutus


diesel___smoke


Jan 20, 2004, 8:24 PM
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In reply to:
Anyone interested in ZM in February - pleasant disposition appreciated.

andrew

Talk with Gabe (rogueclimber), he might be interested. He's off around this time.


guanoboy


Feb 16, 2004, 10:58 AM
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I can now answer my own questions. I just returned from a sweltering week in the valley in Feb. Sure, the temps dropped below freezing everynight but it felt like 70 degrees in the sun everyday. The zodiac gets sun all day and stays warm. I was surprised to have the captain to myself. The first 4 belays get wet at night. Parking was not a problem. Post-holing into manzanita thickets on the descent was miserable. I think i would hike out next time.
- notes on the zodiac
bolt ladders had been chopped on pitches 8 and 13 creating the two crux sections of the route. It looked like the p8 ladder was chopped by rock fall and the p13 ladder was chopped by hand.
andrew


lambone


Feb 16, 2004, 5:17 PM
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Pitch 8 was chopped by hand also...there was a thread on supertopo a couple of months ago. Some sorta hack job to make an anti-bolting statement.

Sweet you hit that nice Feb window,
Nice job!


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