AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, United States, California, Yosemite Valley, The West Buttress of El Capitan

The West Buttress of El Capitan. In the balmy spring of 1964 Chuck Pratt and I, in 3½ days, made the second ascent of the West Buttress of El Capitan (for first ascent, see A.A.J., 1964, 14:1, pp. 79-80.) This was the first continuous ascent of this strenuous 2200-foot route. Two previous attempts at a no-fixed-ropes ascent had failed. Our first bivouac was in hammocks beneath an overhang 800 feet up, the second on a ledge halfway across the Grand Traverse, and the last on Thanksgiving Ledge. On the eighth pitch there is serious danger of the rope catching in a crack. Layton Kor lost a rope here and we spent half an hour freeing one. On the tenth pitch there was originally a ladder of five bolts, but the fourth bolt fell out after the first ascent. We were able to bypass both it and the fifth bolt by lassoing a small horn on a large flake. On the next pitch Chuck bypassed two bolts by using a jam crack, so I removed these. Subsequent parties should beware of an unexpectedly expanding flake on the first pitch above the Grand Traverse. Two of the bolts in place are rawl-drive studs minus hangers and nuts. Suggested bongware: 2-4", 1-3½", 3-3", 4-2½", 2-2".

Royal Robbins