Attempt on El Capitan, Yosemite


Expedition Leader
Last week I spent three days on El Capitan on the Triple Direct Route. We ended up bailing from almost halfway and due to our lack of brining enough small gear for super thin cracks we decided to bail rather than risk running it out on cam hooks and taking a 80 foot fall onto a ledge. I'll be back with the right gear and give it another go soon.


Scott Brady

Great images. The idea of sleeping on the portaledge has always been intriguing

What was the expected number of pitches?


nice job.
been there, done that. I hard to bail just like you guys did - big storm came in.
don't be frustrated ... every experience is its own gem.



Expedition Leader
I think the total number of pitches for the route we were on was somewhere in the range of 28-30. So we made it about halfway.


Just I have absolutely zero mountain climbing experience. Are those small devices considered consumables? (cam locks? Pitons?) or do you retrieve them on your way down? If you encounter one already installed that isn't yours, do you trust it?


Looks like an exciting climb. most ive done is maybe 3 or 4 pitch climbs, I cant imagine 30! :Wow1:

They are retrievable, way to expensive to leave behind. The first guy places them as he climbs and the second buy removes them as he comes up behind. The second guy is top roping( roped from him to his partner via bolted anchors). So he does not need the protection the first guy needed.

some spots have pitons, hammered in metal pieces in cracks or bolts into the rock that are left behind for others to use. You always inspect gear you find, make sure its not loose are deteriorated. when gear becomes unsafe it is usually replaced by someone.
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I think if I slept like that I would have those dreams about freefalling in the middle of the night. You just hope you wake up!


Davenay ... Previous comment is right.
The team retrieves their gear ... It is way too expensive to leave behind. The only time gear is left is if there is a real emergency and lives are at stake ... Ie an emergency retreat before a storm.

Pitons are retrieved if possible. They are rarely used these days, because many other means of protection exist. Occasionally you run into an old piton (so called fixed-piton) which has been left on the route. They are typically old soft iron pitons that were banged into cracks and became permanent. They are really old and quite scary. I used to dread them because i was usually the heaviest guy on the team, so if they were going to fail (pull out) it would be when i put my weight on them. Hahaha! Never did happen, but i have seen them move a little bit. Good times. :)

Climbing is just controlled madness, I swear. :)


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