American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, California, Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Highway To Hell

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

El Capitan, Highway To Hell. Gabor Berecz and I, both from Munich, spent a few weeks again this year in Yosemite. After making the fifth ascent of Never Never Land (VI 5.10a A3-) with bivies, climbing the very dirty Aquarian Wall (VI 5.10a A2+) (both original A4) and an onsight 25-hour push on Zodiac, we climbed a new route on El Capitan. It takes a good line close to Iron Hawk, mostly on real nice natural formations. After seven new pitches (in a row!), it joins Atlantic Ocean Wall near its 11th belay. We christened the route Highway To Hell and graded it VI 5.9 A5 in our clean new-wave style, which means we try not to use bolts and rivets or any other drilled protection on the pitches. Some people from the Valley didn’t like our style; they cut our fixed line on the really dangerous first pitch (“The Guillotine,” A5). It is a bad tendency if climbers don’t respect one another’s work and style. And also, foreigners have the right to climb new routes on El Cap, if they can! We, for example, don’t like the long rivet ladders on many other new routes, but we would never go there to chop the rivets or to cut a fixed line. There are fewer possibilities but more and more activities and climbers each year. It would be nice (and also necessary) if we all could understand each other. We should at least try. Otherwise we’ll ultimately run into a war.

Our friends and wall partners from Philadelphia, Oskar Nadasdi and Enci Szentirmai, made the second ascent of Eric Kohl’s Pressure Cooker (VI5.10 A4) in September in five days. They also made the second ascent of High Plains Dripper (VI 5.11 A5) this year, but reported that Pressure is harder than High Plains. The freeclimbing is also harder than 5.10, and scary.

Thomas Tivadar, Germany

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