Trip Report
Mark Hudon is a Liar: A South Face of The Column Trip Report
Tuesday July 17, 2012 5:00pm
It's 9:02 am and I want to vomit. I want to scream like a schoolgirl and pound my torn and sore fists against the belay and shake my head and cry. One stupid, unforgiveable mistake and we have failed. And it’s my stupid fault. We will go down now. All the way to the ground. And we all know there is nothing proud down there on the ground.

Credit: Macronut

Typing that last paragraph as I sit here by the beach, the epic on Washington Column six weeks behind me, brings back memories that really bum me out….so let's start with happier times.

6:00am on a Tuesday morning. Sunlight filters through my kitchen window as Adam pulls up in the driveway. I pour a strong black cup for him as he sits down amid the guidebooks strewn on the breakfast table in front of us. It's our quarterly “Alpine Stoke and Goal” meeting. We’re fresh off an autumn victory on Fairview Dome and feel like, late in our thirties, we are in the best climbing shape of our lives. We start talking about what we want to accomplish in the next year. Dream routes, fitness goals, our life schedules with wives and children. You know the routine. The usual suspects come up.

“Fishook Arete would be sick this spring,” I offer.
“The Swissy on Sill has always looked saucy too.”
“For sure.”
Then Adam starts in…..Third Pillar of Dana, North Ridge of Lone Pine, Tenaya-Mathes link up, East Buttress of El Cap.

“El Cap huh?” I mumble and close my fingers tightly around the warm porcelain mug in my hands. “El Cap……” Adam gets quiet, knowing something profound is about to come out of my mouth.
“Ok, I’m gonna say it. So just shut up and let me talk man. Let me get this out. We’re 39 years old. I’ve been climbing for twenty years. You are the best friend and climbing partner a dude could ever have. You are perpetually stoked. You are loyal. You are strong and fearless on the stone. We are a strong team. We are not getting any younger and If we are ever, I mean ever going to climb El Capitan, we need to do it now. We are climbers man. With every fiber of our being we are rock climbers, and yeah, we have awesome adventures and crazy missions but to be a climber and never climb The Big Stone is like being a sailor and never going out into the open ocean. I want to know what its like up there man. I want to know if I have what it takes. I want to pull up the anchor and head into deep water with you by my side. How bout it man? We climb El Capitan before the clock strikes midnight on our fortieth year. We train, we learn, we practice and we get that mama done so that we can hold our heads high and call ourselves real climbers. What do you think? Will you climb into the boat with me? Will you batten down the hatches, set the course and steer us straight? Are you in for the long haul? If so, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

He exhales…..stares me straight in the eye, and like the partner that he is, fully knowing he knows nothing about big walls, hauling, jugging or aid climbing in general, says the three most beautiful words a man has ever said to me.
“I’m yer huckleberry.”
A strong handshake seals the deal.
We will climb El Capitan in the next two years. Our course is set. Our destiny cast in stone. We will do a Wall this year as a training goal, then go big in 2013.

The Column.  Shot with my iphone from the fourth pitch of Goodrich pin...
The Column. Shot with my iphone from the fourth pitch of Goodrich pinnacle.
Credit: micronut

The next few weeks fly by as we purchase gear, make a training plan and lurk the internet with searches like “How to climb a big wall” and “How to set up your aiders.” We buy a haul bag from some dude on Supertopo. I pet it fondly every time I walk by it in the garage. I have done one wall, more that ten years ago, Liberty Crack on Liberty Bell in The Early Winter Spires. So I know the basic system, but Adam is clueless and has a lot to learn. It’s a good thing he has me as the captain on this vessel.

Credit: macronut

Our initial training sesh in my garage does not go well. Apparently it's not "all coming right back to me." It’s not like riding a bike and I think we need help.

Enter Mr. Mark Hudon.
I’m not really sure where Mark entered the picture, but its been a fun ride ever since he did. I think it probably started with a couple comments here and there on Supertopo regarding my trip reports and or his. I think I pinged him on e-mail at some point about hauling or something, and a friendship was born. Until my wife actually met him, when I brought up the name Mark she would say things like…”Mark? He says that’s his name? You mean your internet lurker “friend” who you’ve never actually met. How do you know he’s not a 12 year old girl who lives in Fargo or a 75 year old inmate in Folsom Pennitentary?”

“Uh….cause do either of those two know how to set up one of these their sleep?”
Credit: Hudon

So Mark became our chief motivator and educator. He became our Bigwall doctor and our mentor. First, he pimped us out on anchor set-up. Emails became more and more elaborate, texts poured in with intricate beta. We promised him we would keep our belays cluster free. We worked on the butterfly knot until we could both do it blindfolded. We obsessed over anchor components, knowing that we must be smooth and streamlined to succeed. No lie. This is the kind of stuff Adam would send me from work.
(Photo of equalized surgical tubing from the Hospital)
He sent me this one from one of his kid’s t-ball practices. What kind of a father works on his anchor skills at his son’s t-ball practice I ask you?
(photo of haul line butterfly on chain link fence)

The weeks flew by and we put this stuff to work in my garage and at the gym in Fresno.
Credit: micronut
We worked out three morning a week, leading, hauling, un-clustering.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
At the gym, we find ourselves to be much cooler than most of the other climbers. We are Big Wall climbers. For one, our harnesses are thicker and we actually own and use climbing gear. We wear pants instead of shorts. And we keep our shirts on. (Though truthfully, we are buffer than most the shirtless fellas in the place. )We do not wear oversized knit beanies, visors or tank tops. We do not climb with i-pod earbuds in our ears because we actually communicate to each other. We gain a perverse satisfaction by hanging out up at the anchors, 80 lbs of freewight plates docked inside the haulbag next to us, yelling commands while kids climb below us. “Pig’s Docked!!!” We scream at full volume. Our voices echo throughout the gym…”Lead’s fixed!!” “Jug when ready Adam!!!” like we’re in a windstorm. Nobody probably hears us with Bieber blaring on the gym speakers anyway.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

We really started to figure stuff out. We sent progress texts to Hudon and he would cheer us on or point out flaws in our systems. Before work, we drove fast in the pre dawn mornings to work out on “aid boulders” just outside of town.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

We bought lots of new toys...shiny, pretty things that were fun to hold and fondle and spread out on the garage gear table.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
A winter send of the first pitch of La Escuela went smoothly and for the first time, we started feeling like “Man, this makes sense.”
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

We sat down and made a “Road to The Captain” that included getting our systems dialed, getting fitter, climbing as much as possible and doing a wall in the Spring of 2012. Washington Column was the first wall of choice for lots of reasons. 1. Its full of gumbies. And we plan to embrace our slowness and not stress out about clogging up the route. 2. It has a fairly short approach and can be rapped as a descent. And 3, It’s a really cool line with loads of history and a cool actual summit. Badabing. put it on the books. May 2012.
One day, we hike up to check out the route and get our first glimpse of our destiny.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Its love at first sight.
Bring it on. We can’t fail.

Winter 2011-12
We get some winter morning training days in at our local crag, Tollhouse rock. Linking multi pitch routes to work on general climbing fitness.
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: macronut

We grab a Jan 1 ascent of Snake Dike.
Credit: macronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

We're fit. Our systems are clickin'. Things are falling into place

June 2012
The Packing begins. I’ll admit, packing for a big wall is super fun. It feels like you’re headed to war. Or into space. I love obsessing over the details. Hudon sends us an “All things haulbag” pdf and we spread gear all over the garage floor.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
We feel like Herbert and Robbins in Camp 4 back in the day.
Credit: micronut
I set to work on a critical big wall prep task. The “poop tube” art. Inspired by the artists of old, my muses Michaelangelo, DaVinci and Rothco, I come up with the perfect image to grace our first ever portable men’s room.
Credit: micronut

One day, while at work, Mark and I are texting while I should be working. A common occurrence since we started this wall stuff. I hint that I wish he could come up The Column with us rather than waste his time on a silly, pounded out route like Iron Hawk. He texts back that we should buy an old GI Joe action figure and name it Mark and tote it up the wall in his honor. Right then and there the creative wheels start turning.

I’ll admit, I felt kinda strange sitting on my living room floor, taking the clothes off GI Joe, making him a new outfit (complete with duct tape harness slings, biners and alpine coil on his back) and talking to him while my wife paid bills next to me.
“Honey….how’s it going with your doll over there….you’ve been playing for an hour.” My wife says with a hint of concern in her voice.
Minimark.  Comes complete with big wall stubble and kung-Fu action gri...
Minimark. Comes complete with big wall stubble and kung-Fu action grip.
Credit: micronut

“Uh…He’s an action figure? Not a doll. And he has a name, please. Its Mini Mark.” I say as I hold him up to show off my little creation.
“You mean, like your playpretend internet friend Mark? The one who’s so awesome and climbs El Cap all the time and roasts his own coffee but you’ve still not actually met nor have any proof that he actually exists? And now you’re making a doll in his image? Scott, this is getting creepy.”

Backpackers coil sold separately.
Backpackers coil sold separately.
Credit: micronut
I hold Mini Mark close and whisper in his ear…”Don’t worry Mini Mark, she didn’t mean it, she just doesn’t understand. Come on, lets go out to the garage and pack.”

"Seriously?  You guys are bringing all this stuff?  In my day we hand ...
"Seriously? You guys are bringing all this stuff? In my day we hand hauled and brought one T-shirt and one rain slicker to share. Pansys."
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

One brisk spring morning, the UPS man drops off a little brown box.
"This box smells like heaven." He says, and makes an effort to hold onto it as I clutch it from his grasp. I tear into it, knowing exactly what it is.

Credit: micronut
Its a one of a kind "South Face of Washington Column Blend" from Hood River Coffee Co. The nectar of the big wall gods. Mark has come through big time. We will race up this wall with black coffee running through our veins. Its the perfect boost to our pre-trip stoke.

Kinda like Christmas when you’re a kid, the day arrives before we know it. The bags are packed. The car is loaded. Mark has been on Iron Hawk for a few days now. Shredding it in style. We are stoked for him. His fans look on, people cheer from the bridge, the guy’s a rockstar. Supertopians wait with anticipation as he live feeds from the wall.

Nobody is going to gather to watch us on our wall. “Real” climbers actually avoid The Column. It has been free climbed. It has been speed climbed, siege climbed and you name it climbed and it hardly counts as a big wall in some hardmen’s books. But it’s a big deal to us. A really big deal. Adam and I have a different kind of fan club. Our kids gather around our ankles to hug us and our wives pack secret notes in our packs. They are our biggest fans. My wife, the biggest supporter of my passions and adventures since the day we met, gives me a big hug and says “Go get that big wall Big Boy.”
Inside the card reads' "GO DAD!  GET UP TO DINNER LEDGE FAST!"  I love...
Inside the card reads' "GO DAD! GET UP TO DINNER LEDGE FAST!" I love that my kids know what Dinner Ledge is.
Credit: micronut
She makes us pose for a photo “while your’e still clean.”
Credit: micronut

And then we’re Northbound outta Fresno with the wind blowin in our hair and Mumford and Sons blarin’ on the speakers up to 11. The NOAA website says its gonna be 98-99 degrees in the Valley this weekend but we are from Fresno. Fresnans don’t even sweat until its 108. 99 shouldn’t phase us. Which way does The South Face of The Column face? Who cares…..Lets roll!

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Minimark continuously asks “Are we there yet?” and makes radio radio requests we refuse to allow. “No Minimark, we will not play Back Street Boyz. Or Lady Gaga. Ok, maybe pokerface, but that’s it.”

We stop three times before we hit Wawona. He has a very, very small bladder.

We hit the Valley at full stride and I give a little honk to all the tourists at the Tunnel overlook, lettin’ know Micronut and Macronut are on the scene and ready to tear into The Column like a teenager into a bag of Cheetos. (I have no idea what that means, but its late as I type this and it sounds kinda cool…kind of aggressive. I’m leaving it in.) Minimark has been begging for a better view, so he crawls out onto the hood and straps himself on with a double bowline. ‘Cause “Back in my day all we used on El Cap was a double bowline wrapped around our waist.”
Credit: micronut
“Now we’re talkin’ fellas…..Look, there’s Lost in America….Did I tell you about the time I…….”
Minimark drinks in the view at 30 mph, happier than a yellow lab in the bed of a pick-up truck.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

But we are here for business and we show it by pulling into the Ahwanee Hotel Valet Parking with authority. Touristas and well dressed adults stroll the courtyard as the sun sets to the west. I slam on the brakes, come to a screeching halt and we have a junk show spread on the ground before the engine goes quiet.
Credit: micronut

We are in a state of euphoric stoke as we quickly stuff the pig, aiming to get a load humped to the base before it gets dark. We will blast off burly early tomorrow morning in hopes of being the first on the route, but we want to dial in the approach to avoid snafus in the dark manana manana. Even the blood sucking hoards of skeeters cannot dampen our spirits. We are brave sailors heading into the unknown, warriors forging into unfamiliar land, we are battle ready and work hardened. Bring on the adventure!!!

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

I am sucking wind like a pregnant waterbuffalo within five minutes of starting the switchbacks. Sweat stings my eyes and my pulse is at a full redline. I cannot feel my fingers under the crushing load. Mark Hudon is a liar. Climbing bigwalls is not fun. I hate him. I hate his trip reports for tricking me into thinking this would somehow be great. I hate Adam for being ahead of me, I hate Yosemite for the steepness of its approaches. I hate mountains and backpacks and the pointy thing in my pack that is threatening to rupture my spleen.

“Going up” Says Adam, and I break from my pity party, tighten my load, and grind upward. We make good time though, and soon we are on the sandy, hummocky ledges below the route. Astroman rises above us.
Credit: micronut

The ghosts of the Stonemasters live up there, high above in the perfect cracks of that historic route. I think I can hear voices trickle down on the wind….I can hear Kauk whispering to me…”Keep it up Micronut…you guys are almost there, you’re stylin’ that approach bro…you guys look strong……”
The voice of John Long blows down from somewhere near the Harding slot…
“Sack up you whiner……keep truckin’ ladies…...what’d ya think, this would be fun?”
“Yes! Yes I did!” I holler up into the wind.
“What’s that Scott?” Adam asks from above me.
“Nothin” I mumble…be there in a sec.”
Credit: micronut
We hump up the last steep bit of 3rd class and are soon at the foot of the route. The evening wind cools our damp shirts and we knuckle bump at an approach well done. We are here. Right where we want to be. Right when we want to be. It feels good and we will sleep well tonight knowing the hard part is behind us.

Credit: micronut
We head back down with a spring in our step. We sleep in comfy beds in the home of a friend who lives behind the Ansel Adam’s Gallery and are back at the base by sunrise the next day. “Bling” it’s a text on my i-phone from Mark. Perfect timing.
“Get up there at o’dark thirty and be the first party in line. After that, SIMPLY DO NOT COME DOWN!!!! The level of self loathing you will experience when you hit the ground after a bail will never pass for the rest of your life!”

Credit: micronut
First in line. Check.
We take a moment to sit there in the morning coolness and soak in the moment. It’s time. We bow our heads and Adam says a quick prayer aloud in grattitude for the times we’ve had getting here and for the adventure ahead. We give thanks for our wives and our health and ask that The Lord watches over our children in our absence. We pray for safety and for Him to reveal Himself in the beauty and grandeur and minutia of the magnificent terrain ahead.
Credit: micronut
Then the quiet is over. There are voices below. Its go time. We are first in line and rarin’ to go. Racehorses in the gate. Spinters at the blocks, waiting for the gun. The time is now. Our once future is here. Now. We are about to explode. 3. 2. 1. On Belay? Yup! Lift-off!

“Wait man. I gotta take a leak.”
“Really man?”
“Yeah…gimme a sec.”

Four minutes can seem like an eternity.
“Ok…On Belay! Hoooooweeee….GIT SUM!”

Adam styles the first 5.8 pitch so fast I take no photos. He is strong like bull and our system is dialed and he hauls the low angle slab so fast I can smell burning pork rinds as the pig flys upward. My jugging practice in the gym has paid off and I arrive without breakin a sweat.
High fives at the belay and we move the sack left 50 feet to the start of the next pitch, the first pure aid pitch. In a move I slightly regret later, We let the fellas below us move ahead and start up the pitch. They are aiming for and “in a day” ascent and have nothing to haul. Here is Adam and one of the (Montana I think) guys on the start of pitch 2.

Credit: micronut
They move pretty smoothly, but it takes time, and we slowly start to cook…a low simmer perhaps describes it best, as we sit under them waiting to climb.
Credit: micronut
Minimark has snuck out of the haulbag and works his way up some features to the belay bolts. He soaks up the scenery and yaps on and on about how we shoulda just fired the pitch and how we never shoulda slowed down our momentum and how our chi is gonna get all fouled up with the heat wave approaching.
Credit: micronut
He’s gettin’ antsy, and he’s right, it’s getting way hot so as soon as I can I grab him, stuff him into the haulbag and start up the pitch.
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
The pitch starts out well, finger sized cams straight up and over a little horn, but I’m getting hot really quick. I have to take time to drink every five pieces or so, and by the time I’m 50 feet up, it has to be over 100 degrees in the frickin’ south facing oven of a corner I’m in. No lie…I keep plugging upward, but I’m getting absolutely baked and I’ve stopped sweating by 80 feet. I have consumed two liters and I can barely swallow. It feels like sand in my throat as Adam shouts up encouragement.
The climbing is awesome, and I’m slowly moving upward, but man…I am really, really hot.
Credit: micronut
[Click to View YouTube Video]
I start seeing little tiny black orbs in my periphery. Then the orbs coalesce and I have a tunnel vision of sorts for a few moments. I close my eyes and it goes away. I suckle the last few drops from my second Nalgene and plug some hand sized camalots into the final bulge. Its full survival mode for the last 20 feet and I have a stabbing, pinpoint headache at the base of my skull for about 90 seconds. My pulse is flying..maybe 120 or so but I am not breathing hard. The words “heat….str…oke” hiss from my crusty lips as I clip the anchors and hang there for a moment or two like a piece of beef jerky flapping at the belay.

Ouch. Mark Hudon…I loathe thee. Just thinking of his name however, must be pure magic, because “Bling!!” like a fairy godmother checking in her people, a text message vibrates in my pocket. Its from Hudon, up on Iron Hawk. No lie, you can’t make this stuff up. It says “Morning Boys, today is the big day! Kick Butt!”
I will rise to the occasion. Right now. I will man up and get this pig up here and we will keep going UP!

I can feel the life coming back into me. Mark has saved the day. Maybe he’s not all that bad of guy. In a trance, I set up a Super-Duper-Make-Mark-Hudon-Proud-Equalized-Butterflyknot-Belay-and-Haul-Setup.
Credit: micronut
The cleanliness of the belay astounds me and the haul goes smoothly up the scalding glassy granite below me. Lead line fixed. Pork is docked. Badabambadabing. Relax.
Adam hustles up, jugging his first full pitch clean-up like a freakin’ Olympian and we are soon stylin in the sky. Bigwall style. Knuckle bump. Smiles all around.

[Click to View YouTube Video]

Adam glides up pitch three, which seems a bit funky for the grade. He says the hauling is a real drag, and I stop a couple times on the follow to shove and manhandle the bag over little bulges and around gremlins that cling to her girthy gray belly.
(When I upload Paul Souza's Photos I'll Post them here. Thanks Paul for humping up and getting some cool telephoto shots of us on Pitch 3! )

We are pretty whacked by the time we reach Dinner Ledge…Adam learns the hard way that its pretty much a bummer if you set your haul pully below your nards. I’m still heat strokey and seeing little blue and green spots on the granite in front of me, but we are amped to be on Dinner, one of the most iconic ledges around. A couple dudes from Utah arrive shortly after us. It’s a snagglefest getting our ropes and kit over to the bivy proper, but we collapse in the shade, lay on our backs and grin like we hold the world in our hands. We gorge on water and snacks like we’ve been lost at sea for weeks. We wanted a voyage into deep water, and we’re feelin far from land now.
“Well done mate.”
“Well done chap. Well done”

We often talk with British accents on routes. I have no idea where or when it started, it just happens. And it feels right.

Mid Day: Dinner Ledge: "Welcome, Scott and Adam From Fresno"
Credit: Paul Souza
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Our plans to push higher are thwarted by my slow recovery that includes childbirth groaning and wailing as muscle cramps ripple through my body. An hour or so of food and drink and rest feel great though and we decide to take our time, chill and enjoy the evening. We will fix a few pitches tomorrow, rap, spend another night on Dinner, then punch it to the top on day three. Now, I know, this sounds like a really
slow way to climb this wall, but we are having a blast. And what is our alternative? Climb hard all day the next day, rap the route, probably into the night, descend to the car and go home? Who wants to go home? We’re having the adventure of a lifetime! We will stay adrift. Our stern is pointed into the wind and we are holding a steady pace. We will dine like champions tonight and leave the sight of shore for good. Our voyage has just begun.
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Dinner Ledge is awesome. Frying pan flat and a view worth a million bucks. It feels sooooo good to take off shoes and hang out. You’re only three pitches up but man, it seems way far from the ground. A lot of that has to do with the fact that you climb so much up and right on the approach, and the routes three pitches actually bring you back left a good bit, which is a few hundred more feet off the ground. It has an exposed and airy vibe and we are diggin’ it. The SFIAD guys are coming off from a pitch above the Kor and the Utah fellas are hydrated, rested and ready to tackle the Kor.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

While those guys work, we plan to chill out and put the “Dinner” in Dinner ledge.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Minimark is aware of our intentions to dine like rockstars, and though he has contributed little to todays events, he somehow expects to be at the front of the chow line. And he wont stop talking.
Credit: micronut
“Did I tell you that on The Triple Direct back in the 70s we had nothing to eat but salami and moon pies for 9 days? And one time, on The Shield me and Minimax shared one piece of toilet paper for the last 72 hours after a mishap with the poop tube? You kids these days have it light. Now lets get that fancy jetboil cookin and get our fiesta on.”

Credit: micronut
Well, he’s got the “Fiesta” part right. We have a pound and a half of marinated chicken, fresh tortillas, chips and salsa, refried beans, sour cream and grated cheese.
If there is one thing boys from Fresno take seriously, its our Mexican food.

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
We build our burritos higher than Aztec temples and then come back for more. Minimark somehow folds his and gets the thing down, but he’ll pay for it later with a bowl movement the size of Barbie’s suitcase. Good thing he’s sleeping on Adam’s side of the ledge.
Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

With evening comes a cool breeze that blows through our veins and restores life to our weary bodies. We enjoy the lightshow on Half Dome and the surrounding formations. The hash granite grays of the day give way to splashes of orange, red and pink. Our world changes in front of us. The sky comes alive and we sit and admire the handiwork of the creator. Faint twinkles of the first stars begin to grow into radiant pinpoints on an ever darkening fabric. A massive full moon peeks up over the shoulder behind the vernal falls ampitheater. There is no place either of us would rather be. This is why we started this thing. To be here, on Dinner Ledge, with a hard days work under our belts, enjoying the splendor and massiveness of the space below and around us. Darkness spills into The Valley. Day one. In the books.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Someone's gettin ready for bed across the street.  A stones throw but ...
Someone's gettin ready for bed across the street. A stones throw but a million miles away.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
The twinkling stars sing us to sleep and a brilliant moon watches over us, high on a sandy ledge, above the majority of the human race.

Day 2. Saturday. 6:00am
“Rise and shine sweetheart. The Kor Roof awaits.”
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
(Minimark Photo) Mark is up with the birds. “Couldn’t sleep. Big day. Racoon?)
The jet boil comes to life like it has one purpose. This morning we will start the day in style.
“The best part of waking up…” I sing/mumble. “Is Hudon’s SFWC Blend in your cup.”
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
(I’ll save yall the details of my brief epic with the wag bag. Lets just say there was some confusion up on the little exposed privacy ledge above Dinner as I decided whether to use the big or the little bag as the “go to “ bag. Ask me in person some day. It’s worth a laugh.)
Credit: micronut
Adam is rarin’ to go and he jumps on the next pitch. He’s a better free climber, and I’ve heard it can get spicy in the last few feet to the bolts, so he takes the lead. Like I said, the perfect partner. I’ll lead the penji pitch, then we’ll swap leads from there.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

We’re firing on all cylinders as he charges up the 5.6 free climbing to the 5.8 face section under the roof. He stalls only briefly, placing a bit of a sketchy offset into the last fingerpod before the roof. He hollers down that it was spicy, but I hear a “click” of a big biner on the first bolt and he is in the business proper before 6:30 am.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Adam makes the Kor Roof look easy. This is his first full on aid pitch of his life and he’s goin’ “Ho man…sooo cool” and “Bam!” as he reaches high and moves through the bolts.
Credit: micronut
Ok. Hudon isn’t a liar. I take it all back. Climbing big walls is great. Its big and steep and spectacular and Adam is having a total blast up there. He stalls only briefly to turn the lip on a blind offset and some wiry mank that has been there since 1985 and then he rockets up the angling crack on fingie sized cams. He passes the set of midway bolts, turns the roof and sets up camp in a sweet alcove waaay up in the inky blue sky. I slap on the jugs, pop the knots and start chuggin up. I’m smooth as silk. It takes me no time to get to the roof.
[Click to View YouTube Video]

Later, somebody told me that they overheard Hans and Honnold talking in the deli that day and they were like….”Dude, did you see Micronut jugging that pitch…he was freakin’ flying. Like yeah…it was outta control. The dude was smashing it up there.”

I switch into re-aid mode, and move through the bolts, efficiently re-aiding each piece like we planned. Its solid and smooth and fun. I can feel the wind in my teeth. I can smell the history in the granite here inches in front of my nose. Kor and Fredericks, surmounting this wild obstacle, not knowing what was ahead. We have beta hounded and supertopoed this route to death, but for a moment I slip into their frame of mind and lose myself in the pleasure of the unknown. I move over the lip, admiring Adam’s placements, and switch back into ascender mode.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: Paul Souza

Then things get weird. Way weird. Somehow I get all funky and tight between two pieces with my fancy dancy Metolious “easy” dasies. I’m stuck. Like full on cinched up stuck. Both canary yellow daisies are tightened all the way up and are six inches from my zipper. I cant release the tension in the daisies to move to my right, or back down and left, and my feet are still below the roof, the lip of the roof crushing my pelvis. I wiggle and squirm and yard and thrust in very unattractive gestures, none of which help and are somehow are actually tightening the awkward noose I’ve cinched myself into. I would draw you a picture to help you envision this, but it would not be appropriate for young viewers. Its getting serious. I have images of SAR lowering in to get me. Over the rescuer’s headset I hear, “Uh, Werner, you need to see this, man (chuckle chuckle). The dude’s marooned himself like a dolphin in a net up here (chuckle), send me up some Crisco, a knife, and …….a camera.”

For a moment I hate Mark Hudon again. He is the reason I am up here tethered to this beast. He makes it all look so fun. He talks about sweet systems, efficiency, comfort on his nice portaledge. He ends up the star of Tom’s El Cap Reports. He texts and shoots video and takes pictures while he solos and cleans up tat on A4 routes. I’m sitting here on C1 terrain, tied up like a pole cat in a tree trap, sweating bullets and trying how to extricate myself from a self imposed birds nest of death. I vow to never speak to him again and to curse the ground beneath the routes he is on. I will unfriend him on Facebook as soon as I get down.

I say a brief prayer, do some strange bouncing/chickenwing thing and pull with all my might on both daisy releases simultaneously. Pop! I’m free. Oh sweet mother mary of mank I’m free. I re-aid past the next few pieces and am soon jugging smoothly up the steepening crack. All is well in bigwall land as I make it to the belay.
[Click to View YouTube Video]
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: Paul Souza
What a killer spot. The wind is absolutely raging, but we are actually making good time and Adam has the belay all tidy.
[Click to View YouTube Video]

We actually have to do a bit of unclustering as the lead line blows down and out sideways in the raging wind and snags itself under the roof. Adam makes the rap to free it not once, but twice. But it doesn’t bother us, we are here to work. To do what it takes to move up this hing. To seek out new terrain and visit the seldom trodden summit where so many have tasted their first Bigwall success. We lean back in comfort at the organized belay, the rope is flaked. I’ll lead up and over the cool roof right above us as soon as I re-organize my aider/jug/biner set-up.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut

Saurday June 2 9:02am
Everything happens in an instant. Suddenly I’m screaming Rock!! Rock!! But my eyes notice that the thing hurtling toward the ground is no rock. It’s a swirling shiny webbing thing that is spiraling down and away from the wall. What? What-how-what the? Its both ascenders, clipped to Yates Wall Ladders with two big shiny locking biners. Gone.
(In the midst of briefly unclipping my jugs and aiders in an attempt to streamline things for leading, I was unsnarling some dyneema shoulder slings and click!...the big biner unsnapped and the things went windward.) The reality of what has just happened hits me like a fist from Tito Ortiz. In .75 seconds the trip comes to an end. Its 9:02 am and I want to vomit. I want to scream like a schoolgirl and pound my torn and sore fists against the belay and shake my head and cry. One silly, asinine mistake and we have failed. And it’s my stupid fault. We will go down now. All the way to the ground. And we all know there is nothing proud down there on the ground. I want to cry.

Credit: micronut

I sit quietly at the belay and apologize over and over to Adam, who is visibly bumming but trying to be a good partner. We discuss making aiders out of slings. Using prussiks to jug, the gri-gri, all kinds of ideas, but in the moment they all sound really really slow. Up there in the wind and the exposure and the shock of it all, there doesn’t really seem to be a great option other than down.

Credit: micronut
I’m quiet as I carefully rig my ATC. Bummed. More than bummed, sad really. Guilty. The whole gamut. Adam never makes me feel bad.
He says something like “It ain’t going nowhere man.” And I drop over the lip, away from the wall, into the wind.
Credit: micronut
He’s right. We came, we saw, we failed. But we had a blast.
Credit: micronut
We learned a ton. We had lots of laughs. And we learned a lot. Did I already type that? Yeah, I did. Here’s a shot of Adam rapping with the Pig on his back.
Credit: micronut
We learned on the last rappel how to rap and ride the pig. If this shot freaks you out, just know that I warned Adam ahead of time how dangerous it was, and he immediately did four, slow back bends into a crunch forward to show off his ab strength and that he had it under control. Not many men could have done that. Like I said. Adam strong like bull.

We hit the ground pretty quickly and a “Da-Brim” sighting makes our day. I’ve actually never seen one in the wild.
Credit: micronut

The trip back to the car isn’t really worth discussing, other than it gave me time to reflect on the climb. Our first Big Wall attempt. A failure. And my fault. But I can live with it. One day, twenty years ago, I clung to the wall in lane six a pool at The Olympic Trials, quietly processing the fact that in an instant a lifetime of Olympic dreams was gone. Life moved on though, and the good stuff hadn’t even begun to take shape. I knew this would be the same. Adam’s and my climbing career is far from over. This little detour, this Big Wall thing, has just begun. We will be back. We will climb bigger walls. We’ll free climb in the High Sierras this summer and make plans around the coffee table and come back next season with a full on fire in our bellies.
For now, Pizza in our bellies feels astonishingly good.
Adam, Scott and Paul Souza post bail, soaking up some pizza and re-ena...
Adam, Scott and Paul Souza post bail, soaking up some pizza and re-enacting the minutia of life on the wall.
Credit: micronut

We spend the rest of the day at the bridge, watching Mark up on Iron Hawk.
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
Credit: micronut
He’s up there, about to have a full on epic that will inspire climbers from all over to be tough and resilient and wise in the face of crazy circumstance. But for now, he’s sittin’ on his ledge, thinking about the summit and we are on the bridge, chatting about our own little epic.
Mark in A4 territory.  Iron Hawk.
Mark in A4 territory. Iron Hawk.
Credit: Tom Evans
A couple wall rats tell us its not so bad and how they failed on their first wall. I feel kind of like we’re part of the Big Wall clan now. We aren’t yet, but I feel closer for some reason. As they say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Someday soon we will climb El Capitan, and this trip has been the first step.
Credit: micronut

I said earlier Mark Hudon is a liar. He is. He told us climbing a big wall is great. He’s a liar because its better than that. Its hard to explain, but it is. And we owe this entire trip to Mark for lighting our fire and for keeping it stoked. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains, done a lifetime of great routes. Sport climbs in Alabama, Bouldering in The Milks, splitters at the Tennessee Wall, scary granite in North Carolina, snowy routes in the Sierras, sunny long routes in Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Shuteye and Tuolumne. I am a fortunate man. But nothing compares to this Wall thing. Its really no fun most of the time. It hurts. Its dangerous. Stuff is heavy. Its slow. But man, it is really, really cool. So next fall, if you see us up on Lurking Fear, know for a fact that those two dudes from Fresno are going to the top. They’re ridin’ their big wall psyche all the way to the summit. They’ve got Big Wall fever. And they’ve got it bad.
The end.


Postscript: A couple weeks later, my wife and kids and I are having dinner with Mark, the big one, and some new friends (Cheyne and Jessica)the manure pile buttress campground. He and Cheyne are about to blast off on The Shortest Straw. We have cold fruit, sliced Tri-Tip sandwiches and warm pilaf piled on our plates. I explain our snafu above The Kor in detail. He mentions the shockingly simple way we could have kept going up. “All you guys had to do was use the haul line! Adam could have led on his set, then zipped the jugs and aiders down the line. Voila!” I’m stunned. In the heat on the moment, we never even thought of this as an option. Rookies. For a moment, I’m back up there, juggin’ the steep line under The Roof, and the moment is as real as it was then. I wish we could be back there, right now, ready to push into the unknown. All I can do though is think of Adam’s words from that day we bailed, “It ain’t goin’ nowhwere man,” He’s right. And I know it in my gut. So I reach over, gaze up and West to The Captain, and take another scoop of fruit salad and put it on my plate.

(p.s. If any of the dudes we shared time on this wall with chime in, I have lots of good photos of you guys. Drop me an e-mail )

  Trip Report Views: 18,051
About the Author
micronut is a trad climber from fresno, ca.


Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 18, 2012 - 01:44am PT
Hey yall. I originally posted this story incorrectly in the main Forum. But it really belongs over here in the TR section. Thanks for all the great comments and dialogue. 70 something comments strong. I'm posting those comments here since I want to preserve the original comment flow. Kind of a hassle, but thats what you get when a 50 hour project ends at 1:00am and you hit "submit" without really thinking about it. I'm glad that yall are enjoying my stuff.
See you out there,

What a hell of an experience, thanks for the detailed TR!

Holy smokes. That's the super carne asada of all trip reports.
Since we seem to be counting, you used the word "I" roughly 122 times, not counting contractions. Fortunately "we" was employed 137 times, so you're in the clear.
Thanks for the great story and it ain't over yet.

Great TR, Micronut! Best wishes with next chapter.
(Is that T.M. Herbert with Mr Robbins in the black and white history pic?)

It's definitely TM.
Definitely a great Trip Report too.
I know you'll do it the next time and go on to even better.

Damn! I just checked into the taco for a quick minute and ended up in a long story.
Nice post, but from now on your name should be macronut.
Good read indeed!

Riley Wyna:
Really good first effort guys!!!
Hope i get to climb with you guys soon!!!

Wonderful TR. Brought back memories of my first wall. Like Adam said, it ain't nowhere.

Great trip report!

Great TR in usual Micronut style. Thanks tons!

Awesome! Very honest and amusing write up, West Face of leaning Tower and then on to El Cap!!Ask Mini-Mark, he'll tell ya the same:-)

So funny. A real pleasure to read. That MiniMark is badass!

Way Caffeinated Modelo Burpers from Fresno!
I'll be cheering for you to get back up there and kick some A. Another good TR by the way.

Great trip report. TFPU. Really funny at times. Good writing!
Since I've been coming here (about 8-9 years), people's reports have become much more humorous and humble: more human, and so much better for it.

AARRGGGGHHHH, the bitter taste of fail sauce!
Keep after it boys! (I'll change it to "men" when you get up the damn thing!)
I'll actually read this novel after running errands.

Another awesome Micronut TR. What a great thing to wake up to on a Monday morning.
Yep last time I check those walls are still there and begging to be climbed some more!

Mark Hudon:
Awesome, Scott, funny as hell and sincere as well.

Fun-factor bonus points with an extra bonus of for attitude. Go back for more!

I had to make a second cup of coffee to read the whole thing.
well done fellas! Welcome to the clan :-)
Uh, Werner, you need to see this, man
I almost sprayed my screen!
"I" count: 2

Ron Anderson:
sheeoott, whats with all the FAIL talk, looks like a total success on the fun in the sun scale..Beats woikin....

Awesome. You'll get it the next time

Holy crap, thats the funniest thing I've read in a long time. Way to take it all in stride, and keep the stoke. Awesome.

Which was more work-
The aid climbing or
compiling the trip report?
Good job on all accounts!

Trip Report: dependably awesome, funny, heartfelt. Thanks so much for the great read, and best wishes for your next attempt!

Great story!

Capital, guvna.
(spoken with British accent)

Don Paul:
Most of us have dropped important stuff off walls. If it wasn't a critical piece of gear, you wouldn't have brought it in the first place. I was climbing triple direct with a guy who dropped all the cams from about halfway up the route. Lesson learned: don't put all the cams on one sling.
FYI if you still had two aiders and two jumars between you, I would give the leader the aiders and one jumar, hopefully have a separate locking pulley like a wall hauler for hauling. The second has one jumar and uses a prusik knot at the waist, and uses a sling or two for the other. You can use a biner for a handle for the prusik knot but there's less bite that way. This would be a pain but would get you to the top. I guess it depends how many pitches you had to go.

Yes, it gets "roasting" (get it?) hot up there. I've been pretty well cooked up there a couple times. Especially when my n00b partner drank almost all the water while the other two of us were fixing 3 pitches above Dinner ledge. He actually SAT on the ledge and consumed far more than his share of water while we suffered away in the heat with one quart above him. A few pitches higher and you would've made the prusik knots and improvised aiders work just fine, trust me.
I dropped a jug and an aider from the Ear pitch on the Salathe, and rapping off was NOT gonna happen at that point.
Do you have plans to go back for a rematch yet?

good read
late for work
thx and don't worry, all part of it.

That's no failure - that's an awesome story and great trip report. You guys are great!

I've found the best way to have success on walls with a lot of free climbing is to spend less time practicing aid and more working your free climbing ability. It seems that any competant trad climber can walk up C2 sight unseen, not something you need to 'practice' more than a few times to make sure you have logistics right. Of course I've always been a 'logistics guy' and my brain constantly goes over subtle nuances like rope management, leading in blocks, conserving gear, efficient hauling... it DOESN'T focus on how to execute free moves with confidence, so I have to train that :3
It's a funny thing, anything you or I will likely have as short term goals in Yosemite have probably been done before we were born. Though at first humbling, this affords us a GREAT perspective! Robbins did the NWF of half dome in the fifties and he was a teenager, because of his iron-clad determination and willingness to put up with uncomfortable situations. You could do any 10 foot section of El Cap, any of it, probably right now. The trick is learning to live with sleeping in shitty spots and not eating and drinking as much as you like and hauling. All blue collar sh#t.
You wanna climb walls? Spend a summer tossing hay and sleeping under the stars. Learn to love being exposed and be comfortable knowing you are signing yourself up for some hard work. Most wall bails are because of situations that might later on be uncomfortable but probably won't hurt anyone.
Think of Charlie Porter. Dropped a haul bag and summitted still, days later. Yikes.

Damn that wuz funny. Hilarious in fact. Super hilariously hilarious. Love Mini-Mark. Guffaw.

Thats a REEALLY great TR, very compelling.....Thanks for sharing your experience!
Its not going anywhere....

Thank you for sharing!

I think that sense of humor is exactly what you need to climb big walls! I really enjoyed reading this!

cool garage floor

Supertopian connoisseurs have been waiting for weeks for this trip report, Micronut, and you didn't disappoint! Your adventures were right out of the Fresno Big Wall Society's playbook.
It took a couple of failures before I got up. The first (while I was still at Berkeley, so the FBWS never recognized it as an Official Failure) included dropping my glasses on the pitch below Dinner Ledge, among other signs of incompetence. The second involved getting our rope stuck a couple of pitches above the Kor Roof. Both were well worth it when success finally came.
Those of us who follow your TR's were certainly rooting for you, but, in a way, we knew it wouldn't matter. Regardless of what you did, you'd give us an excellent, entertaining, and satisfying trip report.
You've done Fresno proud!

Vitaliy M.:
And I have not done sh#t this morning again because of your great TR! Well done!
I have a plan to maybe attempt Lurking Fear this Fall as well. Maybe mini Mark and Cheburashka can have battle of the cocks or something! : )

Dave Kos:
If it wasn't a critical piece of gear, you wouldn't have brought it in the first place.
That explains the army-guy toy in the photos.
Turning 40 is a completely artificial barrier. You got time.

Jim Brennan:
So now you have some retreating experience !
One more arrow in the wall quiver. This will help make success on El Cap that much more likely. Forget about the guilt, you guys made it back safely to the ground with all your bags and gear. Think how valuable that experience will be if you have to split from up high on a wall in a storm.
Thanks for the TR.

If it wasn't a critical piece of gear, you wouldn't have brought it in the first place.
That's kinda what I was thinking when I saw the cookpot/stove/monster burrito set-up.
I've only taken a stove on a wall once. Hard rolls, salami and cheese, is about the most high speed food I've taken up there.
Not that they were defeated by weight or anything, but it's a consideration.

Hard rolls, salami and cheese, is about the most high speed food I've taken up there.
What? No M&M's?

Reaaaaaally really good micronut!!!

Inner City:
What a great TR. 'Failure' has never been described so succesfully!

Good times with the good attitude!
Thanks for bringing us along.

mac gilbert:
Nice report. your photos are great. i have some photos of you and adam from the trip. Shoot me an email and i can send them your way.

Mark Hudon:
Hey, Scott, could you check on that mini-me, I don't know what your kids are doing with it but my fingers and back are killing me!

Thanks for all the input and comments yall. We had a blast and I'm glad you enjoyed the read.

-Survival, we may not go right back to the column. It was a learning experience and a great trip, but for some reason I don't crave that summit like I have others. I think we're headed up something bigger as soon as we can. Stay tuned.

-Drl, The TR for sure. At least 40-50 man hrs in this whopper.

-Reilly, Ditto.

-GDavis, I agree.

-John. Thanks man. I can't wait to meet someday. Hey, Kary K. says hello. We work together a lot. And by the way, Mark Haymond presented us with Fresno Big Wall Society coffee mugs to celebrate our failure. How cool is that. I hear, according to legend, that you are kicked out of the Society if you ever actually get up a wall.

Bek had Minimark outside today playing with it. One of the dogs had chewed off a finger and Bek had driven a nail in the lower back to hang a "rocket pack" for airborne action. You don't believe in Voodoo do you?

About time! I've been checking the ST every week since that weekend!
Well done gentleman! A fine TR, as usual!
Scott, we should have a BW training session in the gym soon. I'll bring my ledge too.

By the way.... I read the trip report with my rubber chicken. The little hussie thinks Mini-Mark is way haught. The little hen is beside herself laying eggs and naming them Mark. All of them. Works for me - I guess I am having french toast for breakfast.
"I" count: 3

Sweet TR tfpu! Hopefully we'll meet up on the big stone someday.

What? No M&M's?
I had to stash the M&Ms in my a*# so my partner wouldn't eat them all while I was leading every pitch......
BWA HA HA Hhahahaaaaaa!!!

Russ Walling:
Micronut delivers again! bravo!

Amazing read! If you had told me this morning that I would spend 20 minutes utterly absorbed in a TR about 2 gumbys making it 4 pitches up the SFWC, I wouldn't have believed it. Totally engrossed.
The sense of history is palpable...but I'm not sure it's helping you guys. It's perhaps as if listening to all that Instruction and History have taken the place of a more fundamental skill: how to think for oneself.
Dropping stuff is normal. Figuring out how to work around clusters big and small is part of getting up stuff. It's like survival said: "A few pitches higher and you would've made the prussik knots and improvised aiders work just fine, trust me." I have no doubt of that. Maybe the old dads who grew up with prussiks and never met a jetboil were just more used to coming up with solutions, I dunno. I knew some guys who were bad-ass aid climbers, put up all kinds of sick stuff, and never jumarred- they just re-aided stuff on belay. Really f*#n slow climbers, granted, but they weren't thinking about jumaring per se, just about how to ascend the pitch safely and get the gear back. I'm not trying to pick on you here, understand, but maybe open up the door to some different and possibly more successful thinking.
It doesn't seem to have slowed you down any, and your stoke is there, and you learned a ton, and you're gonna get up something big prolly on the next try, so no harm done obviously. Thanks for the great read, I can't wait to hear about the next one.

So have you figured what you could have done to avoid this mishap in the first place?
'cause there are multiple ways it could have been solved/avoided before you ever left the ground.
I failed on my first two wall attempts (solo, zion) on routes of similar difficulty before I finally got up one...once from underestimating the workload, one from straight up snail eye. If you want it, it will happen.

Great job guys. PS, it IS part of the experience though, right?

Captain...or Skully:
I can dig it. Hella TR, Micro.
Remember to make it a learning experience. Most everyone has failed a few times, so just chalk it up & try again. It's the Way.
Something to consider: When I did Skull Queen, I just back cleaned the Kor Roof. All the gear above is good. Sure sped it up, I'll say that. Just a thought. Rock on, you Fresno Freakazoids!

Great read as always! Sure brightened my day...

This. . . right here. . . is one of the prime reasons why . . .
I love this kind of creativity.

PSP also PP:
I made the mistake of doing the South Face as my first wall climb in July a long time ago. Ran out of water two thirds of the way up and then didn't top out till the next morning. Passed out about three times (from severe dehydration) trying to carry the haul bags across the death slabs. We were so delusional that we left all our stuff stroon about on death slabs and brought our chalk bags and shoes so we could boulder when we got down to the valley.A few hundred yards down the trail we saw saw some bees hanging out near some damp gravel and managed to dig up a seep . We soaked our tee shirts in it and squeezed the nasty tee shirt water in to our water bottles. We drank three bottles of tee shirt water before we left. Lesson very well learned was don't climb the column in the summer. Slept with a water bottle for like two years! We paid some SAR guys to get our gear for us up on the death slabs. After that I fully understood what learning the hard way really ment.

This is what I love about the Taco! Great TR. Sincerely, thank you very much for sharing!!!

What a great TR!
Thanks for taking the time to put it together.
Next time...

If I ever climb a big wall, I will give micronut full credit for providing the inspiration. Well done!

Lesson very well learned was don't climb the column in the summer. Slept with a water bottle for like two years! That cracked me up! The n00b drank almost all our water on Dinner Ledge. We topped out and settled in for a bivy. The two of us that did all the climbing made Mr. n00b go find water. He came back with three quarts. It seemed like hours later.
I still don't know where he got it......

Ezra Ellis:
Thanks much micro, way to go bro!

Loooooooooved the Micronut Odyssey! Been hoping to stumble upon it...and there it was after a really long, stressful Monday at work. Thank you!
Thank you for breathing life back into me so that I can get through the week...until my next humiliation.
Saturday brought about my first outdoor climbing lesson ever and I had to smile reading about your excitement and plans and goals for Saturday were to 1) not scream bloody murder when I fell (I didn't -- I wasn't even scared -- beats the hell out of me why not) and 2) to use my big muscles before my small muscles.
Little did I know that apparently the brain needs to be trained to override the instinct to grip fiendishly with the fingers (okay, maybe it's just my special brain), because even as I stared at my knee, willing it with all my might to straighten out, my reptile brain was apparently overriding my conscious Will, draining the last of my strength right out the ends of my little finger tips until...humiliation.
Having "Plan Bs" lined up like biners on a sling will be my mantra going forward. :D There's no such thing as failure, you know that. I know you do.

Big Walling (The Art of not dropping things)
Better luck next time. It really is crazy how many things you need carry up with you to do a wall and then droppping one of them can end the whole affair. If its got a locker on it than lock it.

Just as a sidebar. . . I'd like to say:
Mark FRIKKEN HyooooooDon. . . could stoke a dead guy up a wall. . . OK?
And. . . for that. . . we are all very thankful!

What a fantastic tr. It had it all: humor, modesty, and psyche in bucket loads. This type of thing is definitely what makes supertopo worth visiting. More more more! I'm dying(maybe not the best term to use) to read about your next adventures. Sounds like you have a great partner too.
Being 45, it's good to read about someone close to my age still living the dream!!!
you guys rawk!!!!!!!!!!
from one scott to another.

Super fun TR. Got me psyched up to do something!
Still laughing.

That was Awesome!
Well done!

Tattooed 1:
Most excellent TR. Well done. You guys rock!

Great TR! Woo Hoo!

Great TR! That was also my first wall - and I failed on it too. It's a long story (well not by your standards) but basically involved Kor Roof tanglage preventing further progress. But the retreating experience was worth a lot on another wall. There's been more than enough success too so keep pushing.
How about the Prow next? It's a wild, beautiful and airy route that will really give you a sense of exposure.
Cheers and tell us all about the next adventure, Roy.


Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Jul 17, 2012 - 05:23pm PT
Yo Micro- how did you convert this to a TR? I have an old one from years ago that is in the forum that should be a TR- Thanks!

Trad climber
  Jul 17, 2012 - 05:23pm PT
A story about a retreat from that route back in the early 80's.
Two guys from Calgary started in the afternoon and reached the big ledge before sunset. In celebration they consumed some smokables and got the munchies. They then proceeded to eat all their food and drink their beveredges. At this point they had to retreat before it got dark as they had no supplies for the next day.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jul 17, 2012 - 05:27pm PT
Really enjoy your stuff! This report woke up the wall psych in me. Will be going to the valley and getting on one this weekend (80%)! Not El Cap but something to get my partner and I closer to that dream!
Next time you will kill it. Your anchors for one look professional. If you would see mine, you would not want to be my friend. : )

Trad climber
Stockholm, Sweden
  Jul 17, 2012 - 06:05pm PT
Did you say you were a dentist? You should be a writer man! Just awesome, as we're getting used to, from you. And the fact that you guys are just a couple of struggling weekend warriors, climbing the kind of routes I would consider trying myself, just makes it all so much more enjoyable as it's easy to relate to. Fantastic!! Thank you!

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Jul 17, 2012 - 06:15pm PT

Wicked TR- get some!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Jul 17, 2012 - 06:34pm PT
Didn't I tell you about rope bags?

I hope I can take part in a crazy adventure with you and Adam!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Jul 17, 2012 - 06:36pm PT
They were full of food. We were gonna have Chinese food on night two. We ended up dedicating the rope bag to the wok.

  Jul 17, 2012 - 06:44pm PT
SWEEEEEEET - I loved that trip report, and while bailing always sucks, knowing the logistics on how to safely bail is a key skill because I guarantee you, we all bail at some point in our careers.

Way to go!!!!!

Francesca Drake

Trad climber
  Jul 17, 2012 - 06:57pm PT
Great trip report Thanks for sharing loved the pictures.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Jul 17, 2012 - 07:12pm PT
Oh, ah well, Sure. Your rope bags were full of food, now I know I want to do a trip with you guys!

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jul 18, 2012 - 12:01am PT
Love your trip reports. You truly have the fire to do this wall. As for having to back off, well, it happens to other eager climbers too. Welcome to the brotherhood.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Jul 18, 2012 - 12:36am PT
Such an awesome TR! Its going in the SuperTopo news shortly. Thank you for sharing the great photos and stories.

  Jul 18, 2012 - 08:42am PT
you guys rock

this report got me so psyched. so many great pictures, beautiful and some really funny (minimark sleeping is hilarious)

and the way your tale conveys the strong partnership through ups and downs is my fabulous

have a blast in the sierra -- I can't wait to read about it!

Trad climber
the basement of Lou's Tavern
  Jul 19, 2012 - 08:14pm PT
Been waiting to read this. Not disappointing in the least. Dig your writing Dude.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
  Jul 19, 2012 - 09:20pm PT
Fantastic trip report. Success tastes much sweeter seasoned with a bit of failure. You'll send it next time and the top-out will be way more memorable.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
  Jul 21, 2012 - 10:41am PT
Great TR Micronut. MiniMark is classic old-guy-delusional, all plastic and tall talk. Based on my own old-guy-delusional experience, you guys are firmly on your way to big wall mastery. Very cool TR.

PS: Set a goal to climb El Cap by a classic route such as the Nose or Salathe. Try it again, but try something steeper. Your big walling skills will quickly fall into place. Allen Bard and I, in the about 1973, climbed the East Face of Washington Column and then climbed the Salathe. I had climbed the South Face of Washington Column and Regular Route on Half Dome; Allen had done something similiar. We were more than ready, and we didn't have Mark to guide us nor did we do any practicing.

Social climber
  Jul 19, 2012 - 11:51pm PT
Fantastic! Thanks...
Bill Sherman

Mountain climber
Culver City, CA
  Jul 20, 2012 - 01:25am PT
You guys were all set for success with that much training and preparation. It just took one moment of inattention to remind you that there's still plenty to know to get up a wall.

I'm sure when you're on Lurking Fear or whatever you decide to do next there won't be that same mistake and success will be that much closer for you.

My first wall ended in retreat as well but more for my lack of understanding what it would take to climb a wall. A 40' fall didn't help my confidence much either.

I would still call this a success overall. The TR was fantastic and the MiniMark commentary was very worthwhile.

Keep up the good work!

Trad climber
Bullhead City, Arizona
  Jul 22, 2012 - 03:02am PT
Excellent trip report. Can't wait to read about your trip up El-cap before the big 40.


Grizzlyville, WY
  Jul 23, 2012 - 12:54pm PT
Great TR! Oddly inspiring. You'll send the next one in fine style.
Solo far-end haul

Big Wall climber
Northern CoLoRaDo
  Jul 23, 2012 - 09:22pm PT
Hey micronut, could you ask Mini Mark if he'd be interested in tag-n along on my Dunn-Westbay trip come 1st week of August? Curious to see how he does at altitude. Seriously. Contact me to set up travels for the Lil Guy. That is... 'if' he'll go. -Cheers-

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jul 23, 2012 - 11:18pm PT
GREAT report! First-rate pics, humor, and success amidst failure. Maybe you need the mullet and teeth mojo to keep the interlectual juices flowing so them derned thingama-jumar-jiggies stay put.

Trad climber
Pollock Pines, CA
  Aug 2, 2012 - 01:46am PT
great TR!
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  Aug 2, 2012 - 11:36am PT
Super cool TR guys. Thanks for the inspiration.

  Aug 2, 2012 - 06:00pm PT
Awesome - looking forward to more. Cheers!

Trad climber
Somewhere South Of Heaven
  Aug 2, 2012 - 10:53pm PT
MH- I hope I can take part in a crazy adventure with you and Adam!

And, don't forget Minimark! The dood has definitely earned it and is no doubt a badazz for tagging along on all these routes with the two bros from Fresno, eh?

Will be looking forward to the TR, which should prove interesting...MH, the two Nuts(Micro & Macro)from Fresno and their lil' buddy Minimark on a Big Stone cruise. STELLAR!

Regardless, thanks for another great report. Sorry about the mishap, but, as I am sure you are aware, yer definitely on the right path! Kudos!!

edit: Someone mentioned an extra jumar/jugging device, also, a pair of prusiks should be included. I always carried at least one in my pants pocket(loop of 4mm perlon). BTW, the SFWC was our(myself & W Landry)first wall in '74, your tr & pics brought back some great memories. You will send it and dig it next time around (all the more rewarding)!

Trad climber
  Aug 2, 2012 - 08:20pm PT
Good job guys, sounds like the psyche is still high. It only gets easier from the first one (exponentially). I'll bet you learned more in those couple pitches than you did in months of training and scheming. Plus, just knowing Lempe will give you extra send power...but hauling loads to the base always sucks.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Aug 2, 2012 - 10:33pm PT
Can you imagine a Jett/Hudon TR?

Scott and Adam would be running around wearing wigs, buck teeth and talking in Suess and I'd be off crying somewhere!

Social climber
boulder co
  Aug 27, 2012 - 01:59pm PT
great tr, well written and funny. The south face of the column was my first wall too. Don't feel bad. I did the walk of shame a number of times (3 times just on elcap before I got up) before I figured things out and a couple of those times I just psyched myself out. I didn't even drop anything that would force me to bail. Sounds like a great learning experience. If walling was easy everyone would do it. The summit is that much sweeter when you had to work so hard to get there.


Sport climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Aug 27, 2012 - 03:34pm PT
this tr brings back so many memories. what a well written trip report that is perfectly studded with gems of photographs. if it's any consolation, i failed on the south face twice. the first time was my first time ever aid climbing and the second time, we made it within two pitches and decided not to bother with the choss pile at the top (i regret that bail so much). good for you guys though. the wall will always be there. you pick up, move on and handle other projects till you feel like going back! keep on climbing!!

Trad climber
Northern California
  Aug 27, 2012 - 07:20pm PT
Thank you for this great trip report. Awesome read, laugh out loud funny, and a sweet account of a great friendship.

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
  Sep 22, 2012 - 12:23am PT
Hey kids: Before you start writing yourselves off in terms of your ability to be big wall rats, consider the noble John Salathe; I think he did some of his big routes in his 40s....first ascents on bigwalls before the term was invented. And don't forget Fred Becky, who, astoundingly, was still climbing ice well past his 90th birthday. Oh, and learn a few more tricks on how to improvise stuff...where there's a will, there's a way. There are a dozen alternatives that could have made it possible for you to top out. Aiders? Schmaiders. You're a dentist; think about how those old school dentists pulled teeth down in Fresno back in the day of Clarence King. Which, BTW, you hafta read about.
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Sep 22, 2012 - 12:51am PT
Another awesome tr Micronut! I look forward to your next adventure and have faith that you will accomplish your goal.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Sep 22, 2012 - 12:58am PT
Dropped shtuff? Welcome to the bail club. You know big walls now. Keep trying. Drink lots and lots of coffee. Why am I advising you? You got the real deal in yer phone list!

Nut, I recall your TR of Fresno climbers from last spring, and you have my firm support. You are a respectable raconteur. And you speak from experience, not the pie-in-the-sky, even though you are so subtle about being a wall n00b.

And you have pride in your hometown.

SJV climbers have always had what others lack, the ability to get to the Valley and climb there relatively cheaply. Enjoy the positive, learn from the negative. Keep the trad alive in the San Joaquin.

Sport climber
Made in California, living in The Old Pueblo
  Sep 22, 2012 - 01:10am PT
You did not fail, at all.

Incredible TR...

Not a failure... an amazing success.

Much respect, ~Leggs

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
  Sep 23, 2012 - 04:24pm PT
Oh sweet mother mary of mank....

Absolutely hilarious! Best TR ever. The minimark thing was priceless. All the best with the upcoming send!
Bill Mc Kirgan

Trad climber
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  Sep 23, 2012 - 05:03pm PT

I can smell burning pork rinds as the pig flys upward.

You have a way with words it was almost like being there.

Thanks for sharing your adventure and best wishes to you'se as you plan the next one.

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Sep 23, 2012 - 08:09pm PT
That was so funny.

The original action figure guru was Russ Walling. He was way into them. If I remember correctly, when he was really young in the valley, and had a constant mess of sticks and leaves in his long hair, he had a G.I. Joe head on a stick clipped to his rack.

"Punk Joe"

Good to see a new revival.
Johnny K.

  Jul 16, 2013 - 07:35pm PT

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Dec 4, 2013 - 02:55pm PT
Just putting some summer Big Wall stoke on the front page on a drizzly cold day here in Fresno.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
  Dec 4, 2013 - 03:26pm PT
Missed this before. Thanks.

FWIW, I "failed" on NWFHD for exactly the same reason. Doh! I went back next year and go it done.

I tried--THREE TIMES--to get up SFWC but failed: 1st--stormed off. March. 2nd--epic newbies in front. Like taking 45 min. to jug 100 ft. Arrggh. 3rd--epic newbies in front. Like getting to a belay and sitting there futzing with gear for TWO SOLID HOURS! Arrrghh.

I never went back.

My first grade V was also Liberty Crack. Go figure.


Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Dec 4, 2013 - 03:30pm PT
Scott, you pick the wall, me and you Spring '14, I'm calling it out now! Adam can come too ;)

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
  Dec 4, 2013 - 03:31pm PT
Good - because I missed it the first time - but thoroughly enjoyed the report. AHHH - to know as much as you do. Guess I'll drive down to Hood River, buy some coffee, and gather the courage to seek knowledge from your Sensei. Is 57 too late for your first big wall????
Peter Haan

Trad climber
  Dec 4, 2013 - 03:35pm PT
Lots of fun this TR. One day you two will have to start wearing big boy pants though.
i'm gumby dammit

Sport climber
da ow
  Dec 4, 2013 - 04:30pm PT
I was laughing out loud for most of that. excellent writeup.

Just livin' the dream
  Dec 4, 2013 - 05:02pm PT
I was laughing so hard, I could barely read. (Thank you for supplying all those fab photos so I didn't actually have to read through the tears of laughter.)
And then, of course...I cried...
right along with you up there looking down at those disappearing ascenders.

Not only an excellent TR of big wall climbing, but an excellent TR of dealing with the vicissitudes of life.

You and Adam are the best! Thanks for posting this.

Trad climber
  Dec 4, 2013 - 05:21pm PT
Thanks for bringing this back to the front -- a great read I missed the first time around.
But totally unfair to get me all riled up to climb big rock with the weather looking so shitty.
Stevee B

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
  Dec 4, 2013 - 08:28pm PT
Great write up man. Thanks for taking the time, this must have taken awhile.

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  Dec 4, 2013 - 08:44pm PT
Very well put together, enjoyed big-time...Thanx for sharing.....



Big Wall climber
Ivins, UT
  Dec 14, 2013 - 01:46am PT
Yeah, great read. Thanks! I could relate to every word, emotion, and situation. Big walls are an acquired taste. Some of us simply keep returning in the hope that we will do better next time. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes not. As I see it, if you spend the night on a wall, you have had a success. For those who never return to a big wall, you are in good company. To those of us that do, we are a peculiar lot.

However, there is no substitute for experience. Everyone wants it but it must be (l)earned. Carry on!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Dec 21, 2017 - 04:52pm PT
Some light reading for any young big wall noobs out there. Just felt like a bump was in order....... seems like I wrote this so long ago.

  Dec 21, 2017 - 06:10pm PT
You need a new bike
the Fet

  Dec 21, 2017 - 06:55pm PT
Great TR. Fun pics and read.

Your life reminds me of mine. A trailer covered with quads, including an electric one for a little kid (since retired/sold). Multiple sets of skis. And somehow you are supposed to find time to take off and climb with all that going on.

Trad climber
  Dec 21, 2017 - 06:57pm PT
Micronut, I curious if you've been back and sent it yet?

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Dec 22, 2017 - 11:28am PT
Scott, Thanks for the bump of this TR. I read it all the way through again and enjoyed it like rereading a favorite book. With your writing style I could hear the grunts and feel the heat and live the excitement of your adventure. -Mark Haymond

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Dec 27, 2017 - 08:05pm PT
I still can't believe you guys bailed.