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The Nose on El Cap
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iain_mct


Apr 12, 2002, 8:27 AM
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The Nose on El Cap
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I'd like to ask a question about the best strategy fro climbing the Nose on El Cap. I know that a fast and light approach is supposed to be the best but myself and climbing partner are fairly inexperienced aid climbers. He has climbed the regular route on half dome and the prow and I have climbed the one next to the Prow with the Korr roof (forgotten it's name for the moment) and been as high as dolt hole on the Nose. He climbs 5.11 and I climb 5.9/5.10a/b. We are really worried about running out of water, also crowds and not making it to ledges. Therefore we are going to take a ledge and a lot of water (30 litres) and are planning to climb the route in five days + another day to fix to Sickle. We're going to climb the route during sometime during the last two weeks in May. What do people think about this strategy? Do many other people take such a slow approach? Living in the Uk we really are not used to the kind of heat in Yosemite and usually by the time we get used to it it is time to get on a plane to fly back to cold, rainy England. Any advice appreciated. I only discovered this site a few days ago so apologize if this has been discussed previously.
Thanks, Iain.


radistrad


Apr 12, 2002, 4:21 PM
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Ian, do I recognize you from Supertopo?
I have not climbed the nose and I can not give advise to you on that.
To me is sounds like you guys will be able to free climb a lot of the nose, sound like you will be able to do it in 3 days, not 6. I have some freinds that free climbed as much as they could and they did it in 2 1/2 days.
The temps will probably be in the 70's.
Did you find Chongo's book?
I looked for him last week and could not find him. I am going back in the next two to three weeks, hiopefully sooner, I'll keep an eye out for him


krustyklimber


Apr 12, 2002, 6:02 PM
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If you guys know about Supertopos then you already know of the best source of beta out there (other than current first hand knowledge) Chris' "Road to The Nose" should be just what you're looking for!

Jeff


mrhardgrit


Apr 14, 2002, 1:05 AM
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I'm from the UK and know exactly what you mean by the temps - we just aren't used to them are we?!

Being a brit that goes to the Valley every year and having climbed El Cap in some fairly toasty weather, I would definitely go for a fast and light approach. Spend all your time until you go in May just climbing cracks and getting comfortable with simul-climbing (def the best way to cover large amounts of easy rock). Another good method is to go to your local cragg and find 5 E2/E3 cracks, put a rope up on them and do laps (works for me!).

The SuperTopo "Road to El Cap" - well, personally i wouldn't bother. Just go to the Valley and climb lots of cracks!

Good luck


apollodorus


Apr 14, 2002, 1:47 AM
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Today, right now, April 14, it's 85 degrees F on the California coast. It's even hotter inland, like in Yosemite Valley. Two weeks ago, it was 60 degrees for a whole week.

The weather in California is a crap-shoot.

You'd better be prepared for either cold or hot weather. I wouldn't worry about snow from now until early November, but rain is still possible.

Take as much water as you can, and guzzle a lot before you blast off.

The SW face of El Cap, including the Nose route, is a gigantic solar cooker.

Wear white clothes, not shorts. Be like that idiot bin Laden: full desert garb. He is only selectively stupid.


iain_mct


Apr 15, 2002, 7:59 AM
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THanks for the replies. I think we are just about there as far as preperation is concerned but you can never have too much beta can you? Radistrad - I sent a letter to the address posted on the supertopo site but never got a reply. I'll see if I can find Chongo when we are out there. Krustyclimber - I've got the supertopo guidebook and next weekend will be treated to a pitch by pitch slide show from somebody who has climbed it four times I believe. I do accept that fast and light is the best approach but I've spent a lot of money on a portaledge and am determined to use it. Also this is my first year in a row in Yosemite and from past experience it is a lot hotter than I am used to in the UK so we are taking lots of water. we really want to enjoy it and don't mind letting people pass us. Apollodorus - I've got a white long sleeved base layer top. Last year I got sun burnt through it! I'm not wear white trousers/pants too as I don't want to look like a total twat. Mrhardgrit - I've been practising cracks at Millstone, free climbing and aiding. Not sure about simulclimbing on the Nose though. Isn't that a bit problematic with a haul bag?
Thanks for the advice everyone. Only four and half weeks to go!
Iain.


radistrad


Apr 15, 2002, 8:06 AM
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I'll check my e-mail, I dont often check my "public" e-mail address.
Sorry.
Rob
I looked and did not see an e-mail, gotta love technology...
anyting I can help you with?
A good place to look for Chongo is the base area of El Cap around PO wall.
I should be back in a week or two and will continue to look for Chongo.

[ This Message was edited by: radistrad on 2002-04-15 08:09 ]

[ This Message was edited by: radistrad on 2002-04-15 08:12 ]


glockaroo


Apr 15, 2002, 8:21 AM
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Ian, you said:

"I've got a white long sleeved base layer top. Last year I got sun burnt through it! I'm not wear white trousers/pants too as I don't want to look like a total twat."

I'm very fairskinned and have to be careful in the sun/heat.

When I did the Nose, I wore a cobalt blue colored top from Patagonia: the silkweight crew, long sleeved. The sun blazed on us every day and I didn't burn a bit thru the shirt. It was very thin and breathable.

For pants I wore North Face convertibles in a khaki color. Being able to change back and forth between pants and shorts w/o undoing the harness is handy, and that khaki nylon keeps the sun off nicely. If you can, have a small clip-in loop sewn into a tucked-away spot on each removeable pantleg.

Good luck on your trip, and please post a trip report when you return!

[ This Message was edited by: glockaroo on 2002-04-15 08:22 ]


passthepitonspete


Apr 17, 2002, 6:33 AM
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Geez, like I guess somebody had actually better answer your question, eh?

OK, first off, have a click here to read about my ascent of The Nose in 1988. You can read a lot about how to climb it wrong and how to climb it slowly!

The best beta I can give you is to climb directly to Sickle Ledge at the top of 4, spend the night there, and be off early the next morning. This will get you ahead of the usual queue which forms from people jugging up ropes they fixed to Sickle.

The good news is you no longer have to climb that horrid offwidth by the Dolt Hole - you can traverse right on a 5.8 bolted face to the base of the Stovelegs, at that point the most perfect 5.8 in the world, or so I've been told. I went the hard way above!

Your strategy of taking a bit of extra food and water is a valid one, but I would not bring the portaledge. You can bivi at Sickle, Dolt, El Cap Towers, Camp 4, Camp 5 and Camp 6. This makes The Nose the most bivi-able route on El Cap.

I would take 4 litres per person per day on the first two days, and 3 litres per person per day up higher. If the weather is very hot or very cool, adjust accordingly.

If you are a bitchin' Valley free climber - and this is quite a bit different than being a bitchin' free climber elsewhere! - then you should be able to get up the Stovelegs fairly quickly.

But unless you are well familiar with the straight-in Valley cracks, you would be better advised to practise your "crack jumaring" - get absolutely dialled on climbing a jam crack with a cam on top of both aiders! Practise this! Use Chris Mac's Road to the Nose to get some suggestions. Ammon might be able to tell you a few practise cracks, too. You should be able to fly up the Stovelegs if you know how to "crack jumar".

Make sure you know how to haul. Don't use a Petzl Traxion - get a Wall Hauler (not great) or better still, a Kong Roller Block, which is the best 1:1 "compound pulley" available. Set up a load release knot cord on your pig so you don't have to struggle to unclip it from a carabiner.

Read my posts and make sure that you have all the stuff you need, and you know how to properly rig it. Invest in the adjustable daisies and track down the adjustable fifi. Practise aiding smoothly so you know the sequence of how to do it right. Practise topstepping - you will save time. The Nose is a lot less than vertical, unlike much of El Cap, and you can gain a ton of height and time by topstepping.

Make damn sure you know how to clean. Read my posts. Do not clean with two jugs - use one jug, one Grigri, and your adjustable fifi as I describe. Maybe someone can find the link and stick it in the post below. Get your cleaning and your jugging dialled. If you plan on jugging any fixed ropes, I highly recommend you buy yourself a Petzl Croll ascender so you can make yourself up a Frog system as described here.

Make damn sure you know how to lower-off your haulbag on the million traverses. Make sure you and your partner can clean a traverse on aid. This is not an easy thing to do, but is much easier using the systems I describe here. And make damn sure you know how to do a pendulum!

Bring the right stuff as far as clothing and bivi gear so you do not die up there. Dr. Piton highly recommends not dying.

Finally, adopt a Dirty Harry voice - even though Clint didn't specifically say these words, they somehow sound better in his voice:

"How badly to you want it, punk?"

You must steel your nerves.

You must dial in your heart.

You must focus on the wall to the near exclusion of everything else.

You must adopt a mindset unlike anything else you have ever done in your life. This is because you are about to embark on the greatest adventure of your life!

All the elements of adventure are there - risk, danger, excitement, passion, and mostly the uncertainty of outcome.

The very best thing that you can do to succeed on The Nose, or any other big wall for that matter, is to determine that

you will make it.

You will not quit when things get a little miserable, because they will. You will not quit when things get quite miserable, because they might. Read my trip report if you want to see from misery.

Up your ante! Tell all your friends, family and especially enemies that YOU ARE GOING TO CLIMB EL CAP! Publish your intention right here in the Aid Climbing Forum - I want to see the post entitled, "The Big Announcement" right up here on top of the Forum! Expect to be labelled a BWT if you don't make it.

And finally, when you get to the base, and you look up at the top which seems an impossibly far distance away, so far that you wonder how you could ever climb it - don't wonder.

Just shut up, and climb.

Don't quit except in the direst of emergency.
If you are properly prepared, then the only thing keeping you from the summit, except for a terrible storm, will be your own mettle.

Dirty Harry voice:

"Do you feel lucky, punk?"

Dr. Piton voice:

"There is no such thing as luck."


iain_mct


Apr 18, 2002, 1:01 AM
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Thanks for the advice Pete. I've read all your posts on here which I have found extremely useful. Both my friend and I have been getting in lots of pratice. Both are top stepping. We've been practising aiding and free climbing cracks for the last three months. He has climbed the regular route on half dome and the Prow. I've been as far as Dolt hole before but unfortunately had to retreat because my partner didn't want to be there. I really think we are as prepared as we can be. The reason we wanted to take a portaledge was not because we are worried about making the ledges every night but because of crowding. We thought we can always fix anoher pitch or rap down a pitch to set up the portaledge if the ledges are too busy. Everybody knows we are going to do this climb. I will be too humiliated if I don't get up it this time. The pressure is on. This will be my third year in a row in Yosemite. It really is an amazing place. Thanks for the advice everyone. I'll be posting a trip report at teh beginning of June when we get back.
Regards,
Iain.


glockaroo


Apr 18, 2002, 8:44 AM
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Good call on the portaledge, Iain. We took a double ledge on the Nose and were extremely glad we did.

We had Sickle and Towers to ourselves, but 2 teams merged in up higher from Triple Direct and things got all clogged up. We were delayed for hours waiting around, and had to climb through most of the night at one point to stay remotely on schedule. All the ledges on Camp V were occupied. Without the portaledge, we would have been hurting big time.

Plus if bad weather moves in, the ledge/fly might save your life... or save the ascent, since you can wait out the storm reasonably well instead of having to bail. It's an individual call, and I'm not much of a hardman, but I didn't mind lugging the ledge at all for the benefits it provided.


passthepitonspete


Apr 18, 2002, 8:54 AM
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Hey, I guess you guys are right.

Taking a ledge might well be the better way.

Good call. I concur.


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