July 28th /1999- full moon, I climbed Half Dome and El Cap in 20 hours and 40 minutes, SOLO! ( with a rope)
Hanss play by play of the big day....
event, time of day*, elapsed time, time of segment(s)
start at stables lot 3:24 AM 0
arrive at base 5:13 1:49 1:49 hike
start of climbing 5:47 2:23 34 mins to flake rope, stretch, etc.
arrive at big sandy 8:38 5:12 2:51
arrive at top of HD 9:45 6:21 3:57 and 57 seconds
Start descent 9:54 6:31 9 mins 50 secs coil rope, etc.
arrive base of cables9:59 6:36 3 min descent of cables
arrive base of route 10:21 7:58 25 mins - top to base
arrive at stable lot 11:38 8:14 1:16 from base, 1:44 from top!
Start at base of Nose12:42 PM 9:18 1 hr 4 mins, 2:48-top HD to base EC
arrive sickle 1:5? 10:3? 1 hour and change - the 1/10 mark
arrive at camp 4 7:05 15:4? 6:23 - the half way mark
arrive camp 6 11:38?aprox 19:1? 11 hrs aprox
arrive at top of EC 2:28 AM 23:04 13:41 Nose, 20:43 btm HD - top EC
leave top of EC 8:10 28:46 5:15 sleep
arrive back at truck9:51 AM 30:27 1:41 down hike. CtoC=30:27
*per video internal clock, may be 6 minutes +- off PST actual, backed up by Avocet and Nike watch.
I hiked up with my South African friend Alard Hufner from the Stables parking lot in a beautiful full moon morning. The spring had water at the base, I brought enough water for the route if it was dry, but only with rationing, so I took a good fill before starting. I soloed the first pitch, then rope soled a full 60 meter length using the Wren Silent Partner, then rope soloed the bolt ladder and 5.9 hand, then I soloed to the bolt ladder at the Robbins traverse. Rappelled off the lower out and rope soloed to the base of the chimneys, rope soloed 60 meters into the chimneys, then soloed to Big Sandy. I rope soled to the right side of Thank God ledge , then soloed off "roping in" twice by leaving two leaver-biners left strategically until I was on the 5.5 ground to the summit blocks, pure soloed from there. On the route I ate one PB Harvest bar, one PB gel, and drank 1.5 liters of water. Descended the cables in about 3 minutes, DARN! I keep looking at my watch at the top of the cables and forget to check the exact time when I reach the bottom. This time I looked about a minute or so after.
Made it back to the base in 25 minutes. Stuffed stuff in the back pack and headed down. Ate a banana, apricots, PB protien bar. Stopped in at the Lodge store for a B&J "totally nuts" icecream bar. Saw Steve Schneider in El Cap Meadow where I was first informed that Dean Potter had already done the big link up a day earlier. Doaohh! The first thing that slipped out of my mouth was "Rad and Awesome!, I guess the word got to him that I was going to go for it." then I had to keep my head straight and deal with my own situation which was to nail 3000 ft of granite still to go before I could join his ranks with in the 24 hr mark. Here I figured Id be OK as I had 15 hours since I left the car still left before my "24 hr C to C time" was up, AND I had nearly 17.5 hours left since I started at the base of half dome before my "24 hr bottom to top time" was up. - I had soloed the route before with a Grigri in 14:11 but now I had the Wren Silent Partner, broke out the 70 meter rope, and better beta. I stuffed my face in the meadow with peanuts, molasses cookies, and assorted other grub.
I rope soloed in two pitches to Sickle. I soled to top of Sickle and rapped to dolt hole cracks. I anchored and rope soloed into the Stove legs for 60 meters. I rope soloed again about 40 meters, then I just soloed from there to the top of Texas flake, leep-frogging a # 3 and 4 camalot, OF COURSE! I rope soloed to top of boot, then rapped to bottom of boot, fixed the rope and cleaned the bottom to Texas, jugged back up and swung the King Swing on Rap, - thus eliminating going to top of Boot again. I pulled the rope right after completing the swing and anchored the rope. I rope soloed from here to the top of the route, never being off belay again, AHHH! Went from base of Great roof to triangle ledge after Pancake flake. From there to camp 5, from there to the Glowering spot, then to camp 6, then to above the 13.b then to the final belay just outside the alcove, then to the top! My Friend Alard and Abby were on top to film/video me, I was smashed. On the route I consumed three liters of water, three Power Bars, two PB Gels, one packet of Uptime, and some nuts. Steve and Heather gave me verbal hooting support all most the whole route as they were doing the route in a day behind me. On the top with only one hour left to make it to the car for the "24hr Car to Car time", I opted to lay down instead and have a safer and nicer walk/descent out in the morning. ( see times above)
I received no assistance from cameraman- Alard or others from the time I left the truck at 3:24 am til I topped out on El Cap. Other than a shared sleeping bag on top, a can of corn, and a bagel, I received nothing else on top except friendly moral support -WHICH I was very grateful to have! I carried all my own gear down from there as well.
What I know about Deans ascent:
He started about 5pm on the Nose, Monday the 26th, he only took a single 8 mm rope, about 30 leaver biners, I think a sparse rack, and NO jugs! ( I think ropemans though) He cut his rope at Pancake flake, he disgarded his rope at the alcove and soloed piece to piece from there. Yikes! He only took a 100 ft section of rope for Half Dome , Plus I assume some leaver biners, and a sparse rack. He topped out on HD about 23 hours and change after starting The Nose. He was met on top by Jose Pereya, and slogged down the trail via the gap between liberty cap etc.. I assume his car to car time was about 28 hours.
History of the EC/HD link ups:
In 1986 John Bachar and Peter Croft climbed EC and HD via the "big routes" in under 24 hours. Im unsure as to what their car to car time was. I believe their time on The Nose was 9.5 hours and their time on The Regular North West Face was 4.5 hours. It was almost ten years before another team even attempted the link-up.
Myself and Andres Puhvel tried to do HD first in 95 then when we got to El Cap meadows we were disheartened by the multiple parties on The Nose and opted for The West Face. A good effort, but not equal to the original.
In 96 Peter Coward and Joe Terravechia teamed up and pulled off the link up in 24 hours.
The next season in 97 long time bay area "weekenders" Greg Murphy and Chandlee Harrel pulled off the link up also.
I tried again in late 97 with Abby Watkins, again trying for Half Dome first. We completed Half Dome and got to three pitches up El Cap and were too knackered to continue. So we had a light picnic at sickle ledge and retreated.
Finally in 98 I pulled off the link up with Nancy Feagin, doing El Capitan first and Half Dome second. We made it car to car in 24 hours.
In the fall of 98 Dean Potter, Jose Perayra, Miles Smart, Chris McNamara, and others started breaking some of the long standing speed records on the big walls. Dean did a mind blowing solo of The Regular route on Half Dome in 4 hours and 17 minutes. I got wind that Dean was trying to get fit enough to not only do the link up, but do it solo! This seemed possible looking at my solo time of 14 hours on the Nose a few years earlier, combined with Deans time of 4 hours on Half Dome would allow for a day ascent of both. Of course the cumulative affect of doing both routes alone would be taxing to say the least. So of course I started setting my mind to do it also if not first in the 99 season.
After getting knee surgery in May 99 and dealing with the X Games in late June I started doing long routes in the valley to get ready. In my regular bolstering style I "announced" to many of my climbing friends and thus the whole of the big wall climbing community that I would make an attempt of the link up on the full moon, July 28th. I still have not been able to talk to Dean in person, but the tale I get is that he flew out just for a few days to do the link up the day before me.
And thus one of the biggest solo link ups in Yosemite history happened with-in three days. Dean did the EC/HD link up in the same order as all the previous teams. While I finally pulled off the link up doing HD first. I wanted to get the horrendously long arduous hike approach to Half Dome done first, while I think all the other parties wanted to dispense with the bigger wall first. EC being 3000 ft and HD only 2000ft.