American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, California—Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Heart of Darkness

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

El Capitan, Heart of Darkness. In August 1982 Peter Mayfield, Auggie Klein and I attempted a new route taking the thin seams to the right of the North America Wall, planning to continue up the black diorite right of the Sea of Dreams. Though we gave up after nine-and-a-half pitches, the section leading to Calavaros Ledge, on the North America Wall, stands as a fine, and difficult, seven-pitch alternative to the latter route. In the midst of the usual nailing were two-and-a-half pitches of 5.10, somewhat of a departure from the norm. While the route to Calavaros was on sound rock, we found that the black “heart” of the southeast face of El Cap was not merely loose, but decayed and hollow under neath. Drilled holes were of dubious strength due to the nature of these over lapping sheets of rock, but skyhooks were regrettably most useful. A nerve-wracking lead, mostly hooks on unsound edges, which we named “The Psycho Killer” pitch, followed by a dihedral of shattered blocks, took the wind out of our sails, so after four days we retreated.

Greg Child, Unaffiliated

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