The Nose: we tried, we bailed
by We didn't write this
The alarm clock went off at 3am. The night before, we geared up for a 2 day push on the nose.
We almost didn’t go. The weather reports were sketchy, predicting both suffocating 90 degree heat and thunderstorms throughout the day. When we woke up, we saw no stars and felt a thick humidity in the air. All perfectly good excuses to not go, but for some reason, we went anyways.
To avoid hauling and move quickly, the plan was to lead in blocks of several pitches, and have the second jug the rope with a backpack full of food and water.
At 5:15am, with the aid of my headlamp, I smeared my foot on a 5.7 slab and went off into the darkness. I climbed 30 feet, placed a piece, climbed 70 more and gained the first anchor. I fixed the rope, screamed “ROOPEE FIXED” and Walker joined me in a few minutes. Boom, 1 pitch 20 minutes, PSYCHED!
The first few pitches were wierd, polished, and smelled like pee. But we didn’t give a fuck. I would climb fast, pull on lots of gear and Walker would jug at a extremely impressive rate behind me. Eventually, it got light outside. Around pitch 5, we passed a cool 2 man, 1 woman team from Kiev and secured the coveted highest party on the wall position.
In a mere few hours, we were 9 pitches up the Nose. We switched roles and Walker took the sharp end.
This slowed us down, mostly because I suck at jumaring. Nevertheless, we made steady progress. Walker led the next 5 pitches, and I slowly ascended the rope behind him. At 12:30pm, about 7 hours into the climb, I sweatily crawled over to join Walker on top of pitch 14, a chill ledge called the el cap tower.
Walker looked disgruntled. With a sad look on his face, he said “dude…. I have some bad news.”
He proceeded to explain that he was feeling sick, had just puked, and had a stomach ache. This condition, a remnant of the food poisoning he had a few days earlier, was probably intensified by the extreme heat. It was 90 degrees and the Nose bakes in the sun all day. He wasn’t psyched to go any higher.
The heat also fucked with our water supply. We started with 2 gallons and only had 1 left. Only 7 hours into a 2 day climb, we already consumed half of our water.
We bailed. It was sketchy.
ince the rap stations were about 50 meters apart, we couldn’t just rap on our 60 meter rope. Instead, we tied the rope to a thin cordelette we borrowed from a friend with a thick ass knot that couldn’t go through the rap rings. I rapped first, then Walker. When we both reached a lower anchor, we pulled on the cordelette to retrieve our ropes. Repeat as necessary.
I did the second rap and Walker followed. About 2/3 of the way down, we got some more bad news. The cordelette which we thought was 60 meters was actually more like 40. So, the climbing rope reached the next rap station, but the cordelette did not. Walker used an intermediate rap station, 2 rusty pitons and a sun fried sling that looked like a Warren Harding original.
A crafty method of tying knots allowed us to extend our range to 50 meters, which is was enough, but just fucking barely. 8 or 9 rappels later, we were on the ground.
After a refreshing swim in the river, Walker bailed again, only this time all the way to Rifle, Coolahbraaado. I got in my car and bailed as well, for an evening of good friends and good tequila.
Here are my 3 observations from the nose:
1. The nose is a giant slab, like every other climb in California. Next time, I’m going to the Red instead.
2. Many, many, many people have tried their luck at the Nose, and most of them peed on it in the process. It smells kind of like this:
3. New Balance is not a good wall climbing shoe.
So yeah, in short, we tried, we failed, we learned. Well try again soon!