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North America, United States, California—Yosemite, El Capitan, Genesis, 1989

El Capitan, Genesis, 1989. In May 1989, Doug Englekirk and I climbed a new route on El Capitan (Genesis, VI, 5.11b, A4+). It lies between Tribal Rite and the Wall of Early Morning Light or New Dawn. We began on Armageddon (5. 10d) and via some new moves of 5.11 joined the right side of E1 Cap Towers (New Dawn). Genesis started off of E1 Cap Towers. I led the first two pitches during two attempts, the first in September 1988. Pitch 1 started off the Porter bolt ladder of New Dawn and was a mixture of vertical and overhanging hooks, copperheads and rivets. Pitch 2 went out left under a small roof (A3) to six rivets and then joined a 30-foot section of drilled hooks left by Dale Bard during the filming of Star Trek V. Doug then led the very serious “Blade” pitch, a thin expanding flake (A4) with a bad landing. The climb took a total of 14 days of which three were spent storm-bound in a portaledge bivouac. During day 3 of the storm, I started to lead the next pitch, which was our only rivet ladder (130 feet). While trying to squeeze in the last placement, I took a 25-foot upside-down fall. By the time I got back on the lead, a cold rain was falling that lasted for several hours until I regained my ledge. This was the “Great Flood” pitch (A2). The next pitch had Doug leading off the belay on Bird Beaks, one of the more obscure but useful pieces of equipment used for hard direct aid. Doug finished Pitch 5 with an interesting variety of techniques (A3+). The next pitch was a mixture of difficult free climbing (5.11) and aid. Pitch 6 would have been moderate free climbing, but more rain left the steep slab slippery and so it went at A3 with hooks, heads and rivets. Pitch 7 had Doug traversing off the belay on 5.11 moves to a steep and not too solid pillar (5.10), continuing on into the crux of the climb: crumbly aid placements, a couple of rivets and a string of tied-off knife-blades and Rurps through an overhang, to an uncertain landing (A4+). The “Golden Comer” pitch followed and was disappointingly crumbly at the bottom, requiring six rivets. Then it livened up with marginal copperheading and pitons, followed by two overhanging hook moves that led to nailing an expanding roof (A4). The rest was straightforward aid and joined the Wall of Early Morning Light just below the prominent ceiling above Pitch 24 on the New Dawn topo in the Yosemite guidebook.

Eric M. Brand