This is a trip report of my fall in Yosemite and Utah. Enjoy!
The weather in the Valley this fall was not exactly Ideal. A couple of huge rainstorms soaked the Capitan to it's core, resulting in prolonged periods of seeping cracks and wet faces. This is what ultimately shut down our proj for the season, but we still made some great progress.
Over the past year, Brad Gobright and I have been working on a new free line on the west side of El Cap. The route will be an 8 pitch variation to the Huber's Golden Gate, leaving the Salathe 6 pitches earlier. The variation has a handful of difficult pitches that will make the route more direct and quite a bit harder than GG.
This October we went for a full redpoint attempt on the route. After 4 days on the wall, we had team freed up to the 23rd pitch; a short, steep, exposed arete that marks the final crux before joining GG. We quickly saw that it was dripping, no doubt from the torrential rain right before we got on the wall. After a day and a half of waiting and trying to dry the pitch we bailed, intending to return five days or so later when the pitch would be dry. Five days or so later brought even heavier rains, and with November near that was it for the season.
Photo- Tom Evans
Photo- Tom Evans
Inspired by my good friend Will Stanhope who sent the day before, I managed to nab an ascent of the painfull Sasquatch (a steep finger crack put up by Dean Potter) before I left the valley.
Sasquatch from Mason Earle on Vimeo.
Once in Moab, my Israeli friend Amit and I got straight to business on an old Indian Creek project of mine. It was a route I found at Reservoir Wall in 2008 with Nico Favresse. Nico left before he could do it, and I couldn't link the crimpy less-than-tips moves on lead. After 2 days of work on it this November tho, I was able to send what we called Machete 5.13.
I had to go to Vegas for a week, and while out there I got an onsight of the classic Desert Gold 5.13a. Sadly though, I have no pictures!
Next up was a project that had been haunting me since I first found it a year and a half ago. Its a second pitch offwidth roof right off the road near Blue Gramma cliff. I had given this route many tries, and destroyed a few pairs of pants and shoes. I was reluctant to get back on it, knowing how hard, painfull, and un-fun the pitch was, but after three more back breaking sessions, I finally fired the FA. I called it The Price of Evil 5.13-, a name Pamela Shanti Pack came up with, as she had come close to sending the route this spring.
The last few weeks of the trip was mostly spent highlining, but I did get out to send a few other nice routes. Had a nice day out at the Crackhouse with friends and some BASE jumping hooligans, sending it from the Potter traverse start. I also got to do the first free ascent of a really nice sport route on Potash road. My friend Ryan, who was on the FA team was nice enough to let me get on it. Horizontal Mambo-5.12d climbs the start of the popular Bad Moki Roof, then traverses right out the middle of the massive roof on awesome jugs, culminating with a sandy, insecure mantle. Definitely the steepest line on Potash. In near darkness after a couple sessions, I sent wearing a headlamp with dying batteries.
The last send of the trip was Bushido-5.13, a massive underclinging arch first sent by Noah Bigwood. I headed up there with Canyon Cain, a local crusher, who by the age of thirteen has already sent 5.13 in the Creek. I gave it a solid onsight attempt falling at the final crux, 25 feet from the end. Canyons micro hands made the first half of the route a lot harder, but he made a solid effort. I returned a few days later for the redpoint, and what I think was the fourth or fifth ascent.
Back in Mass now, its either Patagonia or plastic season, and I'm choosing plastic this round. Getting psyched for the spring.