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[Yosemite]

Staying on El Capitan

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Staying on El Capitan

Postby from_mars » Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:55 am

I'm new to this blog; as well as backpacking in general. After a 3 day trip north of hetch hetchy I'm hooked. I got some good gear and have spent the last two weekends at little yosemite valley on my own. Sub-freezing, but didn't seem to bother me. Too busy with the views from clouds rest and half dome to think about the night-time weather. Anyway, I want to try staying on el capitan this thanksgiving, but I'm not familiar with the area up there. I've been to the top of upper yosemite falls, so I'm familiar with the trail up to that point. Any information would be quite useful. Is it sheltered, water etc. I want to try out my new single person tent (seedhouse SL1, only 3 lbs., more room for extra fleece. I know it's only a 3 season tent and the weather is predicting rain and snow). My other tent is an sierra designs electron 2. A little sturdier than the seedhouse, but still a 3 season tent.

Thanks
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Postby bill-e-g » Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:11 am

Not sure what you are asking but I'll say a few words:
2 ways to get there:
1) Old Big Oak Flat Trailhead - 10 miles - +3000ft gain
2) Yose Falls Trailhead - 7.5 miles - +3500ft gain

There are plenty of places to camp out on the top of El Cap...

For water 2 weekends ago even Ribbon Falls was flowing...

If you go from Old Big Oak then you want to fill up and carry water
from Ribbon Creek.
From Yose Falls Eagle Creek MAY have water in it. If it were me I'd
get at least 2 litres in Yose Creek or Eagle Peak Creek and not
chance it.

Anyway, if you go Yose Falls way you HAVE to hit Eagle Peak and
also walk all the way to the edge of El Cap and peek down...

From what you say you don't have alot of experience so please be
very cautious. Be prepared and don't "have" to get to El Cap.
If you run into snow maybe turn back...
You won't see anyone after Yosemite Falls...

Have fun

At this moment... (wed) it is suppose to rain PM thurs... so I would bump
to the weekend...
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Postby from_mars » Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:22 pm

Thanks for the info and the sound advice Bill. You're right about not "having" to get to El Capitan. I've been a private pilot for 25 years, and I've had my share of "just say no" if things didn't feel right, so if I don't feel comfortable, believe me, I'll turn around. As far as the weather, you're right, I may push the trip out to Friday. Since there'll be snow on the ground up there, I'll probably opt for the yosemite falls route since I'm familiar with the hike to the top. Several weeks ago me and another gentleman hiked from LYV up to clouds rest in the snow, and I don't know how we followed the trail, but somehow we got to the top. We followed someone else's footsteps, but of course you never know if they're lost too.
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Postby bill-e-g » Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:06 pm

If you go please post your experience/conditions.

Two weeks ago I did 3 day loop up Snow Creek to Tuolumne Meadows
and then past Cathedral Lake and Sunrise HSC on JMT down to
Nevada falls and out Mist Trail.
Second day was nearly 100% in the snow with up to 2ft of snow.
After Sunrise "crest" south of Sunrise Mountain at 9700ft. the
trail was free of snow.

Hiking in the snow def. has it's risks but also alot of reward.

Enjoy
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Just back from El Cap.

Postby from_mars » Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:31 pm

Just got back from El Capitan. Actually the first night stayed on some ridge overlooking Yosemite Creek about half a mile up from the falls. The hike up Yosemite Falls took longer than I thought, so it was too dark to attempt el capitan. Great spot though. Made it to El Capitan the next morning. No snow anywhere except for a football field-sized patch in Eagle Peak meadow. It was warmer up there than down in the valley. Took your advice Bill and filled up with water at yosemite creek. Saw one stream not named on the map a short distance past there, but don't remember much past the Eagle peak-El Capitan junction. Set up camp and hiked out to Ribbon Creek to get water. It was still running. On El Capitan it was windy, but not too cold. Didn't realize there was a serious hike down to the edge. It was worth it. Got to a spot where there are a couple of short climbers chains bolted to the mountain. Peaked over the edge and than just held my camera over the edge and took some pictures. My mother would kill me if she saw me doing that. Looks flat from the valley, so you don't expect the rounded summit at the top. Didn't see anyone, so it was like I had the whole mountain to myself. What a feeling up there. Especially the night sky. It was great. Looking forward to a trip in december. A friend of mine wants to check out Clouds Rest after seeing some shots from there I took when it was knee-deep in snow about a month ago. Thanks again for the advice. It was very helpful.
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Postby bill-e-g » Mon Dec 01, 2008 10:59 am

Cool. Thanks for posting your experience.

Sorry, I guess I should have mentioned the 500ft. descent to the edge.
(you can go even further.... keep going southeast and you can start
to see the face too... when I did it I said "far enough" after awhile...)

No doubt it was warmer up higher. I try to get up higher than any
valley since cold air settles down into them.

Now you got me thinking about doing Yose Falls, El Cap, Rockslides loop
this weekend. Hmm...
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Postby from_mars » Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:26 pm

Yeah. That was a question I had. While taking pictures from the top I noticed what looked like a small fire road or something running along the valley but up from the river and the road through the park. Essentially in the area called The Rockslides on the map. A gentleman I ran into on the way there mentioned an old road that apparently comes off of the ribbon creek trail and runs back towards the valley while the ribbon creek trail continues to the big oak flat trailhead. He said it would be easier than going back down Yos. Falls, but I didn't see it on the map, so I didn't chance it. Is that part of the loop you're referring to?
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Postby bill-e-g » Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:29 pm

That road is actually Old Big Oak Flat Road.
It is the original route into the Valley. It runs from Tamarack Creek
Campground. (ok, actually it runs from Crane Flat ...)
The trail from El Cap thru Ribbon Meadow runs into it. From there
you can either go north to Tamarack Creek campground or continue
west to the Old Big Oak Flat Rd. Trailhead. Or... head east down the
road past rockslides to near the base of El Cap.
They "relocated" the road due to the numerous rockslides continually
taking it out.
There is actually still some old railing at Rainbow View which is
almost directly across from Tunnel View. It's pretty cool to hang out
there and see 100's of people at Tunnel and noone at all at your
private lookout...
The trail across rockslides gets lost in the rocks where the road
originally made a couple switchbacks. If you hike it keep your
eye out for paint marks and ducks marking the trail. And/or
bring a GPS with the route marked...
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Postby bill-e-g » Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:34 pm

I tried posting links and photos before. I'm trying again...

Here is Rainbow View:

http://yosemitephotos.net/main.php/v/mr ... 4.JPG.html
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Postby bill-e-g » Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:09 pm

Just did Yose Falls -> El Cap -> Rockslides this past wkend w/ the wifey.

The weather was pretty spectacular... At night it only got to maybe 39.

Anyway, just for the record :

Rockslides "trail" is not maintained. If you hike from Tamarack you
will have to climb over logs... and you'll be boulder hopping thru
the rockslides itself.
Within the rockslide where the road used to make it's switchbacks
it is a good 300 ft from the lower road to the upper road thru the rocks.
Keep your eye looking for the old rock wall on the west side (if heading
west)... the trail/road is due west from there.
If heading east when you hit the rocks look below and you'll see
the old road.

Enjoy
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Postby from_mars » Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:52 pm

Great picture. glad to see you had a great time. Sounds like the weather I had the weekend before. Probably only got down to around the mid thirties the night I was there. A little chiller over by yos. creek the night before that. Next time I go I'll try the Rockslides trail. Easier on the knees I think than going back down the yos. falls trail with a full pack. Hopefully the weather holds out for a little longer. Thinking about Obelisk lake. I think it'll be hard to get to in the snow.
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Postby bill-e-g » Tue Dec 09, 2008 8:02 am

Picture above was from May of 2006.

Here is the old Raibow View from last weekend:
<http://yosemitephotos.net/main.php/v/bill-e-g/P1020316.JPG.html>

Just to be clear on this... Obelisk is not for beginners... It is going to
be tough and for sure a huge challenge if you try to dayhike from LYV.
A few years ago this lake was put in Backpacker magazine with
mention of the old Cavalry Trail. Well, that year S&R had to do a
number of rescues of people attempting the feat.
It turns out that they actually do some planning on what Backpacker
mgzine has put in there. You have to realize that the people
writing it are hardcore and do alot of trips. IMO they do not write
for the average schmo. I honestly do 15-20 miles a day in the
Sierras now (if wife not in tow) and I shake my head when I read
the magazine sometimes. I try not to recommend anything more
than 10 miles per day with a pack.

Anyway, I'll quit tooting my horn and get off the soapbox.
I hope you do it (and I'll be jealous). You will love love love the
section to Merced Lake. You'll have to do it in the springtime
when the water is screaming again (the water has subsided now ..).

Enjoy!
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