American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, California—Yosemite, El Capitan, Solo Ascent of the West Buttress

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1983

El Capitan, Solo Ascent of the West Buttress. From April 21 to May 1, I made a solo ascent of El Capitan’s west buttress via the classic Kor-Roper route. The first five days were straightforward climbing through the lower face’s wet jam-cracks and chimneys, leading up to the White Dihedral. From there aid led up to the committing Grand Traverse, which connects the White and Black Dihedrals and cuts off any fast retreat from the wall. Up to that point, I had been using the Barnett solo system until it failed on the roof of the Grand Traverse. This sent me on a 100-foot fall, which I checked by grabbing the rope with my hands. I covered the rope-burns with bandanas and strips torn from my pants, jümared back up to the roof and completed the lead with the clove-hitch solo system. Luckily the fall occurred near the route’s first ledge and I was able to take a recuperating day’s break away from my hammock. The climb continued through the Black Dihedral, slowly due to the difficulty I had in using my hands. I reached Thanksgiving Ledge and the summit on the eleventh day. I believe the climb was the last of the four classic siege routes to be soloed. It was made alpine style with no bolt kit.

Robert Kayen, Tufts Mountain Club

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