Oh, my gosh! I was on the brink of freaking out. Well, maybe not that bad, but I did toss and turn for more than two hours on Wednesday night worrying about this trip. East Buttress of El Cap is a long route. The crux move on the route is rated 5.10b, my limit in leading trad at this point. There is 5.9 offwidth and 60 feet of "5.8 slick face, poor pro." The descent is notorious. Plus, my partner, Scott, hadn't been climbing since our last trip. I was quite nervous.
But I couldn't find any excuse to back off from the plan, so the sunrise on Saturday morning saw me at the El Cap Meadow meeting up with Scott. That was it — a big adventure in front of us. We left the car around 7:45 and 50 minutes later we were at the base, where one party of two was finishing off P1 and another party was about to start. They all spoke German. When we started climbing, it was after a near 2 hour wait. Later, two more European parties showed up behind us. At that point, I figured, if we topped out in dark, we would have eight more people to cuddle with and I could probably learn a little German and Spanish as well. But even though we had to wait at most of the belay stations, the people in front of us were moving at a reasonable speed, so we topped out way before dark. The descent was supposed to be challenging, but not so with four people in front of us. We got back to the Meadow around 6pm. We were swinging leads the whole way up, but all those sections that I had dreaded fell under my lead. And guess I had scared myself enough that they actually felt mellow. What did I lose sleep for?
Saturday night was spent sitting around the campfire with Jesse, Chris, Allen, and Casey listening to Erik and Stacey's wall stories (They just made their five day assault on Triple Direct on El Cap).
We went over to Arch Rock on Sunday to treat ourselves with some offwidth enjoyment. Allen and I climbed Gripper (I led P1&3) and New Dimension (I linked P1&2), which left me a sore body for a few days to come.
Beta: the Supertopo has the rack for Gripper backward. What you really need is one set up to the red alien and two each up to 3" plus one or two for 3.5".
Photos: I forgot to bring my camera on my climbs. Missed a lot of great shots on East Buttress of El Cap. Maybe that should be another piece of beta I should point out: bring your camera on that climb.