Friday, June 10, 2011

The Nose, El Capitan (Pt. 1)

Colin and I broke our personal record on the nose.
1st time on route: 4.5 days
2nd: 14:56
3rd: 9:17

After carrying down an insanely huge load for Pass The Pitons Pete from a route that he bailed from (which he spent 6 days to climb 6 pitches)... Colin and I decided to climb The Nose the next day.  

(This post isn't complete. There are a few more details that I'm going to add, along with a video. I'm just impatient and wanted to post this.)

Ready... Set... Go!

With our logistics dialed and my technique sharpened, I was off. The first pitch felt hard, it always does. Rated at 5.11d, I think it's supposed to feel that way, especially for a warm up. I confidently short fixed every pitch, and placed the least amount of gear as possible. 

I climbed through the first 4 pitches (some of the hardest on the route) in 36 minutes. When Colin got to Sickle Ledge and reported the time, I didn't believe him.. I thought that maybe he was just trying to make me feel better about myself so I would climb faster. All I could think about was the mistakes I made. I even fucked up and "Z" clipped.... twice! I have never even done that before. 

A few days ago when we made a practice run up to Dolt Tower, I was disappointed that on the last few pitches I was too exhausted to free climb, and ended up french freeing (pulling on gear). I realized that I had wasted energy in several ways. 
This time, I focused on my breathing and concentrated on moving efficiently instead of 'fast'. I mentioned one of my previous posts that I thought that I would be able to knock an hour off of my time of 2:52. Quite disappointed I didn't quite cut an hour off, I climbed the 1000 feet in 1:53 :)
To be honest, I didn't actually think I could do this, but it was just a poor attempt to make myself look badass. 

Leading up the Stove Legs

 Colin up off of Dolt Tower

Colin leading up the boot

Cluster of NIAD's at the boot

The the pegmatite bands, also known as the "Grey Bands" on El Capitan, is where the perfect splitter cracks are intersected by loose shitty rock for a few hundred feet.
"FUCK!!" I yelled as I was spit off because of the mistake I made. I had pulled off a piece of loose rock and lost it. At the mercy of gravity, I fell 20+ feet and slammed into the slab below, hurting both of my ankles.
I sat there hanging in my harness as the pain slowly faded until it was bearable enough to start climbing again.
I got right back up to the same section and committed 100%, not letting my fall take control over me.
"Way to get after it again man!" Colin yelled up to me
Yelling back, "I'm not going to take no for an answer!!!"

Back cleaning the roof traverse

Dalton leading up the roof

Chillin at camp 6

Colin headed up The Changing Corners pitch, the last crux of the route.. sopping wet.

These times are insignificant, and actually don't mean anything. They are just for me personally to sort of watch my improvement. A year and a half ago when I climbed The Nose for the first time, the very first pitch took me approximately the same amount of time it now takes me to climb 1/4 of the entire route.

So, weather has been weird this whole spring, I'm sure that you are sick and tired of me complaining about it. Rain and snow forecasted the next few days, so we left to climb climb at Jail House Rock.

Rainy day at the bridge

Tending to my swollen ankles in the ice cold Merced River. I couldn't stand up for more than 5 minutes without my ankles hurting too much. I hobbled around for the next few days, they're finally feeling mostly better a week later. 

So, I marked this post "Pt. 1" because Colin and I are off to climb it again tomorrow morning. This time we are extending the climb to the base of Half Dome. 54 pitches under 24 hours, wish us luck! 


  1. Hey Cheyne,

    Found your post about your first climb through Wednesdays Rock. Wanted to see what your new projects were after you'd sent your "one huge goal" last year. Congrats on stellar 2nd and 3rd climbs. And thanks for the inspiration!