Sunday, July 5, 2009

El Cap on the 4th of July

As the hordes desended into Yosemite Valley for the 4th of July weekend, Alex and I had decided to escape the valley floor and climb the East Buttress of El Cap. The East Buttress of El Cap is a 13 pitch route rated at 5.10b and ascends the far right side of El Cap and gains 1500' in elevation. It is known as one of the best long 5.10 routes in the valley and for several quality pitches. We woke up at 4:00am and began hiking up the steep talus field at 5:00. We took our time on the steep approach and we were both a little sluggish, I started up the first pitch around 6:30. The first pitch is a 5.9 chimney and one of the crux pitches of the route, it was physical but not scary as plenty of protection could be found when you needed it, the last move is a wild stem for a hidden jug that is a huge reach and pumpy. The next pitch is the technical crux which contains som 10b face moves off the belay, Alex cruised through this section while I struggled up carrying the pack. I got to lead the 4th pitch which is easy runout face climbing out on the arete, great exposure and possibly my favorite pitch of the climb. The next few ptich were not very classic and very forgetable. I lead pitch 8 which had some exposed moves out on an arete with a huge drop off the other side to some pumpy jamming to the belay. Alex led the pitch 11 which included 5.8 face climbing on slick featured granite, which was very fun. The last pitches were forgetable. The route was not at all what I expected and certainly not my favorite route in the valley. Route finding was difficult at times as the route did not follow a distinct line, the route did have some memorable pitches with steep, exposed climbing with great position, and you can't beat free climbing on El Cap. After a short break on top we made the East Ledges decent and were back at the car by 4:00 for a 10 hour car to car climb. We finished off our 4th of July festivities with pizza and cold beer, another great day on the rock.......and as Alex would say "cheers".

1 comment:

  1. wow coach hughes!! that looks and sounds amazing! I'm glad you are having a great time and I miss you :):)