The smoke is clearing in The Valley and folks are arriving. We were up early with the intention of “fixing” – doing the first 4 pitches of North America Wall then leaving our ropes and rapping down for a final night in camp 4 before heading up on the wall the next day.
The South East face of El Cap is dominated by a huge swirl of darker rock that looks a bit like North America
NAW takes a line up the left hand side of this
Good news: we fixed four pitches as planned – tricky aid relying on many fixed heads (insecure blobs of aluminium hammered into features in the rock which are too shallow or rounded for other gear) and the occasional sketchy cam on just two lobes. Slow going as we dialled back into the aid climbing mode (Bill pointed out that Alex and Tommy would have topped out in the time it took me to do the first 2 pitches)
As we gained height we became increasingly frustrated with minor inaccuracies in the topo – pitch lengths weren’t quite right or belays were in the wrong place. As I neared the top of pitch 4 the continuing struggle to reconcile guidebook and rock finally became impossible and the realisation dawned that we were on THE WRONG ROUTE.
We’d done the first 4 pitches of Sea of Dreams (quite a proud achievement in itself but ultimately unproductive – we rapped, pulled the ropes and we’re back to square one. Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Anyway we got a few nice pictures and tomorrow we’re off again!