As our pilgrimage to Yosemite was getting closer to an end, we got less humble and more psyched about trying The Nose on El Cap. The decision was made while chilling in El Cap meadow on a Friday morning and we rushed to buy food, organize gear, poop tube, strategy and etc. Loading the haulbag made us realise that a multi-day sufferfest is waiting for us. Also, the suffering aspect became even more unavoidable after listening to funny big wall stories from our friends Phillip and Thomas who climbed The Nose a few days before us.
The first four pitches (out of ~30) on The Nose to Sickle Ledge are considered to be the most tricky. Most parties fix them in advance, so did we. In the end, climbing those pitches wasn’t that bad especially with a set of offset cams which helps protect pin scared cracks. During the climb, Laura learned how to properly use cam hooks. As it was Saturday, we decided to do the hauling on Sunday and to start the real climbing on Monday to avoid weekend crowds.
Next day, we hauled the damn heavy haulbag to Sickle Ledge. After seeing quite a few fixed ropes at the base of El Cap, it was clear - we need to start next morning very very early to be the first on the route.
3am Monday. The alarm clock starts to ring at Camp 4. Quick espresso shot with muesli surrounded by raccoons and we are on the way to El Cap. Jugging the fixed lines in the dark we saw headlamps slowly approaching the base - we seem to be the first on the route! The first day climbing was exciting. Not only because we met Alex Honnold, but also because of climbing itself. The day finished on El Cap Tower which is at the pitch 13th. We were lucky to share the ledge with nobody as many parties bellow us bailed. It is impossible to describe the excitement when you sleep on a ledge under the dark blue sky full of stars and full moon.
Next day started with the infamous Texas Flake - a chimney without any pro. When Laura was leading it, some guy from a route far on the right was shouting “Teeeeeexaaaas Flaaaaaake!”:) The day was full of classics - King Swing, Great Roof, Pancake Flake. The pitch after the latter was climbed with a headlamp, so we had to stop for a not so comfortable night on a not so big and a bit sloppy ledge called Camp V. The sleep was not good either as all the time we were sliding down the ledge.
The final day brought a nice and sometimes delicate aid climbing. The exposure and wind were increasing as we were getting closer to the top. The final bolt ladder was a good challenge for hand cramps. At the top in the dark we were desperately looking for a tree which we saw in movies and which marks the end of the route. Finally we reached a flat land and collapsed under stars.
Overall, the climbing was very amazing! The element of suffering wasn’t that bad. This was definitely one of the most exciting climbs for both of us which made us even more psyched for bigger and wilder adventures!
Just for a record, the list of stuff we brought on The Nose includes:
- 18 liters of water (3 liters were unused)
- 3 two-person dried meals for dinner
- 21 cliff bars (ate all of them!)
- A few energy gels
- 4 muffins for breakfast
- 4 Starbucks doubleshot espresso cans (quite OK for coffee addicts)
- 2 packages of cookies
- 2 packages of beef jerky
- Lightweight stove
- Small pot
- Bivy sacks (just in case; didn’t use)
- Sleeping pads
- Sleeping bags
- Headlamps with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Little knife
- Poo bag
- Metolius El Cap haul bag (157L)
- Down jackets
- Rain jackets and pants (didn’t use)
- Rock shoes (first day we aided in those, but then switched)
- Approach shoes (I managed to completely destroy my brand new Five Ten Tennie Guides)
- 60m 10.1mm dynamic rope
- 60m 9.0mm static rope (haul line)
- 15m 7mm static rope (lower-out line)
- 3 Yates Speed Wall Ladder, 1 Black Diamond Etrier
- Petzl Mini Traxon
- 2 Black Diamond fifi hooks
- 4 Black Diamond 18mm Nylon daisy chains
- 4 Petzl Ascension
- 2 Petzl Grigri
- 15 quick draws (10 extended)
- 1 set of Black Diamond X4 Offset camalots
- 2 sets of Black Diamond C3/C4/X4 camalots from 0.1 to 4
- 2 sets of Black Diamond stoppers
- 1 set of Black Diamond micro stoppers
- Nut tool
- 2 Moses Cam Hooks (narrow)
- 2 cordelettes
- 2 prusik loops
- 2 ATCs
- 10 locking carabiners
- 20 non-locking carabiners
- Bunch of slings