American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, California—Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Aurora

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1984

El Capitan, Aurora. In August 1981 Peter Mayfield and I climbed a new route left of Tangerine Trip. We used the bruised and beaten start of the Trip to reach the huge arch where that route traverses right. At this point we went left 180 feet, getting swallowed into a great bomb-bay chimney that we nailed horizontally on the opposite wall so we were encased by walls with sky below— a very odd position in relation to the valley. We then broke out onto a very overhanging wall, finding thin seams that connected readily. A pitch of sus tained copperheading behind little scallops gave an A5 pitch. (The attempted second ascent leader took a long fall here, popping a hook and ripping the aforementioned copperheads back to the belay, so it was with hindsight we rated this lead A5.) Above this we bivouacked on a good ledge we named “The American Zone” after a line from a Stones song that recurred frequently on our tape deck. Surprisingly the next section—a dark streak with few visable features—fell not to a rivet ladder but entirely to hooks and natural placements. A seam like the Shield Headwall cracks led to some flapping, expanding flakes, then at the headwall the drill came out in earnest, getting us over to the end of the Tangerine Trip. The ascent took nine days and the climbing was mostly A4 and A3, with 70 holes, 20 for belays. During our climb we enjoyed red sunsets with silhouetted skydivers hurling themselves from the top to the meadows; we saw the spectacle of a giant rope snaking down the Dawn Wall on a winch for some spelunkers to jümar and rappel on; we watched the same rope get dropped and whip down into a trucksized heap at the base; we witnessed an injured party on the Dawn link up with a team on Mescalito to self-rescue themselves; we marvelled at the acrobatics of the ever curious Peregrine. In short, the belaying was never dull. VI, A5.

Greg Child, Unaffiliated

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