The Truth about offset cams and the nose


Original Post
Stanley McKnight · · Paradise Valley, Arizona · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 13

My partner and I have been working up to doing some Yosemite walls this summer for a while now. One thing that I can't seem to find one answer to is the necessity of offset cams on routes like the Nose.

Some say they're nice but not totally necessary, some say climbing without them turns the route into a near impossible and much more dangerous pursuit.

For those of you who have been there, what would you say about the offset cams? Are they must have? I already have DMM offsets, brass offsets, and peanuts. Would these suffice?

Thanks for the help,

Stan

Max Tepfer · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 1,520

Not necessary. And you might want to reconsider doing the nose in the summer.

Stanley McKnight · · Paradise Valley, Arizona · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 13

Thanks Max. I read that about 5 pitches up or so the temperature drops down to the 80 and the higher you go it can be high 70s even during the summer, is that true or is that just if you catch a lucky break?

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 0

More than likely it'll be very hot. Climb early in the morning, hide out during the day (take something to make some shade) and then climb into the night.

You don't NEED offsets for the Nose (the Nose was climbed a few thousand times before they were invented) but a set or two would be nice to have. Not having them certainly does not make the route dangerous and nearly impossible. We are talking about a route that goes casually at 5.10 C2

Stanley McKnight · · Paradise Valley, Arizona · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 13

Thanks for the advice Mark

NorCalNomad · · San Francisco · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 55
Max Tepfer wrote:you might want to reconsider doing the nose in the summer.
+100
Wally · · Denver · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 0

If you can afford a set of offset cams, I would bring them. Having offsets on your rack would likely increase the reliability of certain placements and may allow you to climb more quickly. I agree with Mark - not necessary - but nice to have. The Nose was my first El Cap climb.

Wally

Mark Hudon · · Lives on the road · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 0

Make sure to take A LOT of water!

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 888

Looks like you've been hanging around my neck of the woods. You should spend some time at quartz before you head to the valley. JB

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 200

Only the pitches up to Sickle (first 4) really have the most blown out scars that offset cams are ideal for, but honestly, it just takes a little more time to find a decent regular placement on them IIRC. These are the only funky aid pitches that I remember.

I would be sure to take some Cam Hooks. They can get you by some thin flared placements fast too like Great Roof pitch etc.

You really don't want to be on the Nose in summer. It will be 100 degrees++ in the full sun and reflecting granite. But if your are slow and can aid climb at night it is doable.

NIAD parties are often on it then because they get so high before the sun hits the wall...but up to Camp 4 or so can be brutal mid-summer.

Matt Desenberg · · North Berwick, ME · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 145

I've usually found offsets to be useful while aiding.

I did the Salathe in July, and my partner on that route had previously done the 3D in August. IT wasn't bad, but I worked on a farm for 10 summers and was fairly used to being baked all day on a regular basis. You can find windows, but don't skimp on water

Karsten Duncan · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 2,145

offsets are useful on easy aid routes like the Nose and salathe but definitely not mandatory. Where they shine is as you move into the C3 to A2 to A3 range. They can make certain sketchy placements bomber.

As for the summer on the Capitan, I have done about 10 routes there in July/Aug. You do want to take 1 gal/person/day and you might wish you had more but. . . . the walls are almost empty and the temps are not that bad. Often the hottest part of the day is in the morning when you move out of the shade but before noon when the winds pick up and cool you down. The 10am to noon hours always felt the hottest to me. Other than that I loved climbing in the summer.

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 200
Karsten wrote:offsets are useful on easy aid routes like the Nose and salathe but definitely not mandatory. Where they shine is as you move into the C3 to A2 to A3 range. They can make certain sketchy placements bomber. As for the summer on the Capitan, I have done about 10 routes there in July/Aug. You do want to take 1 gal/person/day and you might wish you had more but. . . . the walls are almost empty and the temps are not that bad. Often the hottest part of the day is in the morning when you move out of the shade but before noon when the winds pick up and cool you down. The 10am to noon hours always felt the hottest to me. Other than that I loved climbing in the summer.
I am not denying your experience but it very definitely depends on the route.

Mescalito/Dawn Wall are insufferably/deadly hot in summer. Whereas the Shield is a Summer route due to high wind on the head wall that makes it too cold in Spring etc.

The very hard/long routes are also often done in summer as stable weather is desirable for the slow climbing etc.

So, in the final analysis there is no hard and fast rule. Cooler seasons carry risk of storms and Summer can have pleasant windows. Its surviving the bottom portion of the routes when hot and the top of them when cold that is the dilemma.

The best approach is to have a broad window to choose from for the best chance of success.
Stanley McKnight · · Paradise Valley, Arizona · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 13

I live in AZ and climb/ mountain bike through the summer so I'm not too worried about the heat. I figure with some extra water and climbing mostly early and late we will make it work. Plus I like the idea of doing el cap for the first time without a ton of other people on the route so we aren't holding people up (hopefully).

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

You'll be fine. Most people are really pussies when it comes to heat. If you can manage the arizona summer then you'll be fine. Just don't skimp on water.

violetteta8 · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 85

Offsets were really nice on the Nose. As said before, not necessary, but my partner and I had a couple sets that made everything rather straightforward.

Lurking Fear was my first El Cap route done in early June. My team and I (party of 3), were moving slowly, and the heat was pretty brutal. However, there wasn't much wind. Bring lots of water.

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 200
eli poss wrote:You'll be fine. Most people are really pussies when it comes to heat. If you can manage the arizona summer then you'll be fine. Just don't skimp on water.
I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt....But could you please share with us your experience climbing El Cap and Hauling on a multi-day route under mid-summer conditions? Of course, the conditions can be from not at all bad to extreme heat depending on the weather that week. The people on a fixed schedule that lock into climbing regardless of conditions are the ones usually getting in trouble.

Very few (even in Arizona) live outside for multiple days in a row while doing the level of work big wall climbing demands.

This is not a mountain bike ride, or few pitches of climbing then back to your air conditioned house and refrigerated water, is it?
BrianWS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 770

I climbed for years in brutal tropical temperatures in a largely south facing crag. I thought I was a badass when it came to climbing in the heat - until I took a July trip to the valley. The temps are no joke and should be taken seriously.

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 0

Yawn......sounds like the real question is what kind of mountain bike gear do you use? Still using a steel frame, no suspension bike from the 90s? Go for an all stoppers/hexes ascent of the Nose! Got an early 2000s foam helmet and soft, non-adjustable suspension.......

The Nose and Salathe are a little harder in the summer because of the free climbing - you have to be smart and do a fixing day where you climb from the ground to Sickle (or Mammoth in the case of the Salathe) in the shade. And then it can still be pretty toasty at times but yeah for sure there will be plenty of perfect weather, there will be no one on the route, and you can sit out on the ledge at night in your tshirt, which is bonus.

The 'get a few pitches off the ground and it's rarely above mid 80s' was more of an aid route thing - mid/upper 80s in direct sun on a bigwall with a double rack and haul line can make 5.9 feel pretty desperate, lol.

Woot!
Erik
Rockclimbyosemite.com

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136
King Tut wrote: I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt....But could you please share with us your experience climbing El Cap and Hauling on a multi-day route under mid-summer conditions? Of course, the conditions can be from not at all bad to extreme heat depending on the weather that week. The people on a fixed schedule that lock into climbing regardless of conditions are the ones usually getting in trouble. Very few (even in Arizona) live outside for multiple days in a row while doing the level of work big wall climbing demands. This is not a mountain bike ride, or few pitches of climbing then back to your air conditioned house and refrigerated water, is it?
You're right, I haven't been on El cap in the summer. What I have done is climb in direct sun on a day with a heat index of 116 degrees. You end up drinking twice as much water as normal but it is doable.
csproul · · Davis, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 25
eli poss wrote: You're right, I haven't been on El cap in the summer. What I have done is climb in direct sun on a day with a heat index of 116 degrees. You end up drinking twice as much water as normal but it is doable.
Now do that with a double/triple rack, and throw in some hauling. Now, because you are drinking twice as much water, you're hauling twice as much water. And because it's bigwalling, and the OP (and most of the rest of us for that matter) is a bigwall noob and slower than they should be, you can double the water again. And because you're dehyrated from day one, by day three you're moving even slower.

It is doable, but cragging in the heat is not at all the same as bigwalling in the heat.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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