Featured Climbing El Capitan in Yosemite

Discussion in 'Sports and Action' started by Nathanael, Jun 12, 2017.

  1. Nathanael

    Nathanael Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2015

    I put most of my work into the video, but I'll give a little written background and share some of the still photos from this trip, since I know y'all like them photographs. :) Video and photos from iPhone 6 and Olympus E-M10 with Panasonic 14mm f2.5. Actually a lot of the video is from the iPhone unfortunately, but it's hard to carry the real camera while you're already carrying all this gear:

    I believe El Capitan is the world's largest granite monolith, or at least close. It's a 3,000 foot wall of unbroken vertical granite. It's also probably the most famous formation in rock climbing culture. There are a hundred different routes, or paths, to climb the wall, but the most iconic is called "The Nose" and runs straight up the middle.

    Here's my partner Luis, aka "The Badger", at the very bottom, ready to start climbing. Another looks at how much gear we carry while climbing, must be like 30+lbs dangling around. All that gear is removable devices that you place into cracks. They expand and stick in the rock, allowing you to pull on them and you can leave them in place to catch you if you fall.

    The ropes are around 200 feet long, so you break the 3,000' route down into short sections called pitches that are at most one rope length. On average a pitch will be 100-150 feet and take 1-2 hours (for us). Our route was 30 pitches and so it took 4 days, climbing sunrise to sundown each day.

    Since it takes multiple days you need to bring enough equipment to sleep on the wall (and eat and drink). We use a "portaledge" which is basically a big hanging cot. Also yes you do have to poop up there haha but it's not too hard. You do have to bring it with you though which is a little gross.
    This was one of my favorite pitches, called "pancake flake". You're gripping this very thin 1" slab of rock overlap, just the right size to fit your fingers behind. Really fun climbing, about 2,000 feet in the air. If it was easy to get to there would be lines of climbers waiting to climb it, but way up here there is quite the barrier to entry.

    At a certain point you look down and realize you are really quite a ways up there.

    Looking down at the final pitch before the summit.

    We finally reached the summit and spent the night. In the morning we were greeted by quite a nice sunrise along with the immense satisfaction of being done. Well, done aside from a grueling descent that took half the day.

    Finally back at the car and feeling very happy with ourselves and very exhausted.

    Thanks all! Feel free to ask any questions if you're curious. Definitely a lifetime goal for many rock climbers and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance and that it all went smoothly (which was definitely not a guarantee). It was my first time trying a route of this size, and many would recommend starting with a bit of of a more incremental approach. Apparently something like a third or half of the groups that try this route end up turning back before the half-way point. Anyways, we made it!
    • Winner Winner x 27
    • Like Like x 11
    • Wow Wow x 10
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Funny Funny x 3
    • Like Like x 1
  2. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Now you need to do it without any pro solo :hiding:.

    Edit I see Harvey beat me to it.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  3. Mountain

    Mountain Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 2, 2013
    Great work! Definitely a bucket list route for me... but one that is seems to be getting farther away , rather than closer.
    What did your prep work look like before heading out there, lots of long granite multi-pitch days, I imagine? Were you able to a free a good portion of it, or was it better to aid most pitches?
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Nathanael

    Nathanael Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2015
    Yea lots of mileage at Joshua Tree, Indian Creek, etc. About 2 months of studying and practicing big wall techniques (done at local single pitch crags). Onsighting 5.10 trad pretty easily.
    On the route it was a mix of french free and aid, with short sections of truly free climbing. I found it more helpful to conserve energy by doing kinda basic daisy chain aid (with and without ladders) than to move slightly faster doing free moves. But very rarely do you have to go full blown slow and precise aid climbing, most of the time you can bump, back clean, high step with your hands in the crack, etc just anything to make it go faster.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    like, The Valley
    On the other hand, how could you not?! :D

    I'm a little curious about how you safely stowed the camera between uses... stuffed in the pack, or more accessible?
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    I've been to Yosemite many, many times and backpacked all over.
    Wow, just wow.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Nathanael

    Nathanael Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2015
    Haha exactly.

    We kept the EM10 in the top of a small pack that stayed with the belayer (the guy who holds the rope from below while the other person climbs). So most of the pictures and videos from below are with the EM10. I kept my iPhone in my pocket and pulled it out frequently which meant I could get some footage from the POV of the climber (looking down from above). Luis aka the Badger was not so cavalier about the safety of his phone, so he stuck to using the real camera while belaying.

    On less serious climbs where you don't need to carry quite so much equipment, I will sometimes carry the real camera over my shoulder the whole time I'm climbing. This is not particularly advisable FYI and I have a broken EM10 on my desk to show for it.

    I will say that the EM10 has never felt heavier than it did on this trip, and as a result I bought an LX10 when I got home (an option I had been mulling for some time). Jury is still out on that purchase though, it's actually still kinda bulky/heavy to have swinging around while climbing.
  8. Nathanael

    Nathanael Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2015
    Big wall climbing is all the fun of backpacking, just turned 90 degrees.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  9. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    Very Impressive climb, and nice shots considering how hard it is to take them.
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  10. mzzyhmd

    mzzyhmd Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 3, 2015
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle haunted scrap heap Subscribing Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    like, The Valley
    Yeah, this is exactly the scenario I was hoping you'd found some gloriously elegant solution for. ;)

    Best I've come up with for the type of scrambling I find myself doing from time to time is a strap made of standard-issue 3/4" elastic webbing, of a length that snugs it up fairly close to the back of my armpit when slung. The elasticity makes it easy to take on/off, and it's un-bulky enough to double as a wrist strap with a quick twist'n'loop. Started doing this religiously after the brutal death of my XZ-1... it's one of my many long-running "just until I come up with something better" solutions. :/
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    Just watched the video. Fantastic achievement. On a photographic note. The light with the mist in the valley on the day where the sun came back out again was phenomenal. Please tell me you took a still picture from that vantage point and post it.
  13. Julia

    Julia Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 9, 2013
    Dresden, Germany
    As someone who's terrified of heights, just looking at some of your photos made my pulse race up to 120 (according to my Apple Watch) and my stomach feel queasy. I can't for the life of me even begin to imagine sleeping on that rock face, no matter how many security attachments you've go there :)

    Despite all of that: congrats on that amazing achievement and it sounds like you've had a fantastic experience. It was very interesting to read your account (haven't watched the video, not sure I'd survive that without having to take some chill pills afterwards :D )
  14. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. Nathanael

    Nathanael Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2015
    LOL if I figure something out I'll let you know, but really isn't life itself just one long "until I come up with something better"
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Nathanael

    Nathanael Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2015
    Errr it appears I did not, just a couple video clips. I was pretty preoccupied with the big swing.

    Haha the video is the best part :biggrin:, though you might be right if the still photos make you queasy I don't think the video will improve matters.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    Fantastic! Well done :2thumbs:
    Though climbing is not for me I find it very fascinating and I can absolutely see the appeal.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Derek

    Derek Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2010
    Minneapolis, MN
    That's great. I've never even done a two-pitch climb, let alone something like El Cap!

    By the way, "the Wolverine"? Are you one? Or did you acquire that name some other way?
  19. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    One thing I've seen with a bit of success was to keep the camera in an empty/clean chalk bag. But with that much gear it would probably just get in the way. Great video and climb! Wish I could have made an attempt at it when I was still in climbing shape... before i messed up my back a few years ago and then started putting on the pounds =[
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.