|Traversing means being creative. And looking down on the world.|
The ensuing years have brought repeated successful ascents by a variety of climbers. Most, if not all, of these subsequent ascents were undertaken with some variation of Croft's free solo strategy. Some of the down-climbing sections were rappelled, but the prevailing wisdom has been that free-soloing is the way to complete this beast. Using a rope adds security but takes time.
Here's a brief, hopefully to-be-expanded, list of the known history of the complete Evolution Traverse. Information gathered from magazines, internet, rumors, first-hand knowledge, and summit registers. Entries limited to full, complete traverses, as described in Peter's book. Can we fill in the many gaps in this timeline?
- 1999 Peter Croft
- 2002 Matt Samet
- 2002 Dan Pattitucci and David Melkonian
- 2006 Jason L. and Ben
- 200? Jake W. (multiple rumors suggest a Car To Car effort!)
- 2008 Alex Honnold
- 2009 Ian C-B and Tony S
- 2010 Jim Donini, George Lowe and Ben L.
- 2010 Ryan Huetter and Josh
- 2010 Vic L.
- 2010 Someone with a foreign name in the registers the whole way.
- 2011 Mike C.
- 2011 Michelle P. (first woman)
- 2011 Ian M.
- 2011 Jed and Alex
- 2012 Ben H., Shay H., Konstantin S. First Winter Ascent
|Yours Truly. On the clock. "Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards"|
|Alex skiing, after slogging, all in sheepy terrain. Whew|
Our powers combined this past winter when we teamed up for said slog ski tours. We have since climbed together in Red Rocks, Tahquitz, Joshua Tree, and of course, the High Sierra. We have also pursued our own missions this summer. Myself, like a bazillion days of awesome alpine guiding. For Alex, she chases sheep. Mostly via spreadsheets lately, but sometimes she goes out into sheepy (read, loose and unappealing to humans) terrain to listen to radio beeps and pick up shit. She also motivates a motley crew of civilized climbing partners to send big agendas and then drink nice wine. I don't really fit there, what with my cheesy teen-pop music and crappy beer tastes.
|Said Lone Pine Peak Trip|
|Winchell. Shake down "cruise"|
We had our own ideas about how this thing should be tackled. Neither of us are free-soloists. We wanted the security the rope would provide. That meant we'd take more time. With free-soloists (and those using a rope just for rappels) taking about 16 hours on the ridge, the extra time some belaying would require would push us into multiple days. Since, in our experience, roped travel on this sort of terrain takes about twice as much time as free-soloing, we estimated just over 30 hours of climbing time. Check my math, that sound right? That's a long time moving. We would have to sleep at some point. Then, question is, do we do one night out and do two 15-16 hour days? All with camping gear and climbing gear on our backs? Man, that sounded miserable. How about 3 days, 2 nights? Nice civilized 10 hour days on the go, watching the sun set and rise from camp... man, sounds like a good time. That's what we decided to try. We would hike in one day, climb 3 days with 2 nights on the ridge, have another night at our "base camp", and hike out on the 5th day. Awesome.
Climbing with camping gear is hard. Heavy backpacks really matter. So we brainstormed together to get those packs as light as possible. And then, like good boyscouts, we gave our "system" a try. We crammed a day of climbing and a night on the ground into the approach for one of my work trips. We "traversed" Mt. Winchell in the Palisades as part of my approach to meet a client back there. Worked out awesome, and we got to try our system. We had some adjustments to make, but we thought it would work. Like our experience on Lone Pine Peak, our Winchell climb gave us the confidence we needed to proceed.
All that was left then was to stay acclimated, stay healthy, and have good weather. We had 2 out of 3. As our long-set-aside dates approached, the forecast morphed into a round of thunderstorms. We seem to get those here. This summer, we've had big cycles once every 3 weeks or so. Those intervening 3 weeks are awesome, but the 4 or 5 days thunderstorm cycles can be burly. This session was forecast to overlap with the first 2 days of our 5 day window. The back end of our window was fine. Following our 5 day allotment, we each had built a cushion day, and then had big agendas starting day 2, Post-Evolution. Watching the weather, debating, discussing, consulting the Norwegians, all led to postponing the trip one day. I mean, who needs a "cushion"? We'd be sleeping on a sliver of foam, why not extend the austerity to our rest allotment too? So, we had intended to walk in on a Saturday, but we pushed it back to Sunday.
That's the background, really. If you are super interested in what we packed and how to better measure your preparedness for something like this, let me know. I go back and forth on creating a blog post or info page for the Traverse. What are we supposed to do? The body of information available will increase with more and more completions. That will (and has already, for sure!) make this route more attainable. But it will also reduce the adventure component. Hmmmm, the big questions. For now, stand by for more of our story!
All this is thanks to:
Sierra Mountain Guides (and awesome clients!)
and Sage To Summit