Contact us

Your shopping cart is empty

Cart summary

: 0
Total items: € 0,00


Waterfalls and raging rivers

"We set off, Jacopo and I, with the main objective of climbing The Nose, the historic route that logically and aesthetically traverses the edge that divides El Capitan in two, like a prow. Then, for the rest, we just want to climb as much as possible. We are in the company, and on the same wavelength, of Ragni di Lecco Luca Moroni, Giacomo Mauri, and Mirco Grasso, a CAI Academic like myself.

As soon as we arrive in Yosemite, we realize that the conditions are not exactly the best, in fact we could safely say that they are decidedly bad. The exceptionally heavy winter of precipitation has in fact accumulated a lot of snow on the high plateaus. In the upper part of the national park, everything is whitewashed and laden with snow. The weather is always nice, the sun is shining and it is quite warm. The consequence of this combination is the rapid and abundant melting of the snow, and a considerable flow of water into the valley. The walls are covered with waterfalls, and the rivers are ready to overflow. The environment is spectacular, but we don't just look around and take pictures: we are here to climb."

We spend a couple of days observing El Capitan, the wall we crossed the ocean for, studying strategy and logistics. Everything is different here compared to climbing in the Alps and everything is new to us: this is our first big wall experience.

As the river situation is getting worse by the day, the rangers decide to close the entire Yosemite National Park for a week. We have two roads in front of us: either we climb the Capitan, or we have to get out of the park. We decide to go up."

Big wall

"On the first day, as we are climbing the initial four pitches and carrying bags to the Sickle Ledge, we meet a valley veteran who is training. He tells us, "The wall is soaked, in these conditions you absolutely must have a pair of camhooks to pass the Great Roof." We barely know what camhooks are, but we climb down and go to the shop to get them. They don't have them available, but luckily the shop assistant lends them to us, wanting nothing and trusting us and our word that we would bring them back. These are those magical and genuine moments when a climber feels part of a community as big as the world. Trust, empathy and sharing. The feeling is even better than when you succeed in a challenging climb.

The next day, equipped with camhooks, we set off again, full of both excitement and fear: would we be able to pass the famous Great Roof?

We climb slowly, pitch by pitch, climbing and retrieving our bags. We find ourselves sleeping at El Cap Tower, on a perfect evening. It is a pity that a fine but steady drizzle is falling from above, due to the waterfalls higher up on the wall. We therefore place ourselves in the driest corner, making ourselves as small as possible. We eat and try to sleep, although the water wakes us up every time the wind turns.

The next morning I set off, to tackle the famous Texas Flake, a fairly easy chimney for those used to this kind of climbing. For everyone else, however, including us Europeans, it is not exactly trivial. With a little fear I manage to crawl upwards, arriving at the belay without too much fear. A possible flight, however, is out of the question. It is then Jacopo's turn, who tackles the Great Swing, a large pendulum used to pass from one system of cracks to another, with ease and style. We feel fast and quite efficient, despite a few complications with the recovery of the backpack. In fact, following the report, we leave it hanging at the bottom, to retrieve it later from a higher belay. It was a pity, however, that the static rope decided to get stuck in a blade just then. Result: abseiling and another ascent. This type of climbing is more of a vertical job!"


Great Roof

"By late afternoon we are finally under the Great Roof. It is actually soaked and green water is coming out from under the roof; I discover that it is indeed slime. I set off and without too much trouble I reach the end of the vertical section. I am trying to keep as much protection as possible for the traverse under the roof. Nails and other fixed protections, in fact, there are none, and the crack is all more or less the same. There are still several metres left horizontally, and there is a crazy void below me. The conditions are really bad. By now I only have a few micronuts and a couple of microfriends with me, as I start to alternate between the usual protections and steps on camhooks. This slab under the roof is really slippery. I seem to hallucinate when the camhooks come out of the crack, but with the last of my energy I finally reach the belay. I don't believe it, we managed to pass the Great Roof in these conditions and, a small satisfaction that spurs us on, we are the first this season to climb so high. I shout with joy, make sure and start to retrieve the sack. I deceive myself that by now the greatest difficulties are beneath us."

The sense of going on

"We are forced to spend the night at Camp V, on two separate ledges because neither is big enough to accommodate us both. From the Great Roof upwards the water continually soaked us. I was afraid we would suffer from the cold, instead the temperatures are quite high. During the night the snow continues to melt, and once again all the water coming down wakes us up when the wind decides to shower us.

In the morning we set off, still upwards, but when we arrive at Camp VI, after climbing two pitches completely full of water, we find ourselves under a real waterfall. We question the sense of climbing and going headlong in these conditions. The sky is overcast and the weather is deteriorating. So, after a tasty cigarette smoked completely soaked, we realise that we are climbing for the pleasure of it, not so much to conquer a summit. We decide to descend, sorry to have come so close to our dream, but happy to have reached so high, the first in this less than optimal season. These mixed feelings accompany us during the long descent down the wall, another adventure. After a few hours of abseiling, peppered with big pendulums in the void fighting the wind to reach the belays and a few rope ascents, we hit the ground. We didn't make it to the top, but we experienced a great four-day adventure, three of which were completely alone on the wall."

The journey continues

"We go ashore that the park is still closed. Our travelling companions are at the crag because their big wall project was not feasible. We all decide to go climbing in the desert at red rock and joshua tree. After a week, Yosemite Park reopens, and we return curious to see if conditions have changed, but they have not. Still attracted by the Capitan, we take a look at the West Face, because it is shorter than the Nose, but it proves to be too wet as well. We then dedicate ourselves to climbing classic routes in the valley, such as Middle Cathedral and Serenety Crack, the latter being considered the most beautiful 5.10 route in the world. Another beautiful and long adventure takes us up Snake Dike at Half Dome. The route is easy enough for me to have fun and even climb wearing Geckos! When we reached the top, we discovered that, with all the snow on the summit canopy, a pair of skis would have been useful for a more enjoyable descent.

The difficult conditions made for a unique trip, far from the crowds that normally storm the walls of Yosemite when conditions are perfect. A trip without the summit of the Capitan, but one that filled our baggage with extraordinary experiences, which were all the more real and powerful because of the great unknowns we experienced.

And then, what can we say, one day we will return to the Capitan, maybe with better conditions!"



Discover more




Discover more


Discover story
Quotation_SX {CITAZIONE} Quotation_DX