American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, California, Yosemite Valley, The West Buttress of El Capitan

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1965

The West Buttress of El Capitan. In the balmy spring of 1964 Chuck Pratt and I, in 3½ days, made the second ascent of the West Buttress of El Capitan (for first ascent, see A.A.J., 1964, 14:1, pp. 79-80.) This was the first continuous ascent of this strenuous 2200-foot route. Two previous attempts at a no-fixed-ropes ascent had failed. Our first bivouac was in hammocks beneath an overhang 800 feet up, the second on a ledge halfway across the Grand Traverse, and the last on Thanksgiving Ledge. On the eighth pitch there is serious danger of the rope catching in a crack. Layton Kor lost a rope here and we spent half an hour freeing one. On the tenth pitch there was originally a ladder of five bolts, but the fourth bolt fell out after the first ascent. We were able to bypass both it and the fifth bolt by lassoing a small horn on a large flake. On the next pitch Chuck bypassed two bolts by using a jam crack, so I removed these. Subsequent parties should beware of an unexpectedly expanding flake on the first pitch above the Grand Traverse. Two of the bolts in place are rawl-drive studs minus hangers and nuts. Suggested bongware: 2-4", 1-3½", 3-3", 4-2½", 2-2".

Royal Robbins

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