El Cap, the Nose, Stovelegs, first pitch
My climbing partner Eric Doub and I conceived the idea that maybe we should try to climb the Nose in a Day (NIAD). After all, everyone is climbing the NIAD these days. I personally know many people who’ve climbed it in a day. So why shouldn’t we?
Well, some minor details, like - the other climbers climbing the NIAD are faster than either of us. And stronger. And most of them about 20 years younger.
However, I wanted to try. And, apparently people at the American Alpine Club thought that we deserved to try this - they awarded me a “Live Your Dream ” grant to attempt the Nose.
Initially, I drove to Yosemite alone and found a climbing partner there who’d climbed with my friend in Colorado. Steve and I met at 5:00 am in the parking area below El Cap and organized our gear. Today, we would climb only the first 10 pitches - as far as Dolt Tower, and then rappel down.
Steve was a stronger climber, and had climbed Astroman free a week earlier, so he led the first several pitches. After following pitch three, I decided I wanted to lead the next pitch. Pitch 4 went well, after a scary stemming move above a ledge (with no gear in), followed by two short pendulum traverses, and then we were on Sickle Ledge.
We stopped for a quick snack here, and Steve said, sounding surprised,
“It looks like we’ll make it to Dolt.”
“Well, yes, ” I replied. “Wasn’t that the plan?”
Yes, but I didn’t really think we’d make it,” he admitted.
Oh? When I asked why, he replied that he didn’t really think an older woman like myself would make it to Dolt Tower, and that he thought we’d climb as far as was reasonable, and then descend.
He added, “We’re climbing faster than I expected, and I expect we’ll reach Dolt.”
Since I’d had every intention of getting to Dolt Tower, I was glad he now also though this was feasible — especially since I still hoped to eventually climb the whole thing.
I then led pitches 5 and 6, two easy pitches one can run together with a bit of simul-climbing. The next few belay stances were miniscule — about 2″ by 3″ at the most, enough for one toe hold. Steve, who mentioned that he’d led every pitch of Astroman, led the next few pitches, and I climbed them .
We took no ascenders on this trip, but both of us climbed all the pitches. sine it was a practice run, this gave me a good feeling for the climbing on the lower portion of the Nose.
It also convinced me that I’d happily lead pitch 8, the first pitch of the Stovelegs, a fun hand crack.
Around 3 pm, we arrive on top of Dolt Tower, enjoying a wonderful view with our snack and water. I can see why climbers call the Nose the greatest rock climb in the world: the climbing is excellent, on superb rock, with a variety of moves and techniques - liebacks, stemming, jam cracks, face climbing all on stellar rock.
After that first run up to Dolt, I definitely planned to come back for more.
On Dolt Tower