American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, California, Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Ned's Excellent Adventure

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

El Capitan, Ned’s Excellent Adventure. In the sweltering heat of early August, Warren Hollinger and I established a new line on the southeast face of El Cap. We began three days after I topped out on the Porcelain Wall (see below) and climbed nine new pitches as a variation of Lost In America (LIA). I had completed the first two pitches previously, as a separate project, then later realized there were more new features above. We decided to climb the first two pitches of LIA to speed things up. From the shared second belay, Warren led up and left through “The Cauliflower,” trundled a loose block, then nailed a steep, left-leaning corner to a hanging belay. My next pitch involved more trundling, some expando, hooking, heading, a little nailing, and a few rivets. A difficult pendulum to a hook brought Warren back into LIA below its fifth pitch belay. He continued on, free climbing to The Bay of Pigs and stretching the rope its full 60 meters. We climbed the next two pitches of LIA and then celebrated the full moon with Old English and tequila. Two more pitches of LIA brought us to the tenth belay, just below the Fly or Die. I climbed 20 feet to the traverse, deviated left, then up onto the super-steep headwall via a delicate flake and more heads. Warren’s next pitch climbed a small comer, “The Black Thumb,” then a rivet ladder, and finished on hooks to a small stance. A large ramp, “The Black Crescent,” led me to many hooks, a bit of easy free climbing, and the next belay. Warren then traversed left, popped over an arching roof, and free-climbed to a stance. Another short free pitch led us to the summit, where we enjoyed our last warm beers. We spent seven days on the wall and climbed 14 pitches. The loops on fixed heads were duct taped closed and many of the moves are reachy (we are both 6' 3").

This route is dedicated to the memory of my uncle, Ned Gillette, who was killed in Pakistan at the time of this ascent. His incredible inspiration will never be forgotten.

Bryan Law

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