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Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6

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Offline wrangler88

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Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« on: August 08, 2018, 09:49:16 AM »
DAY 1
Woke up at 3am Sunday morning August 5th to head toward Pine Springs. I really didn't have a clear plan what I wanted to do at GUMO or how long I wanted to stay. I spent the 7.5 hour drive out west to think about my plans. I took highway 176 once I reached Big Spring. This is the route I've taken the past couple times I've made this drive, and it has seemed to work out best. I arrived at Pine Springs Visitors Center by 10:30 central time (I've found its easier to just keep my clock on central time). I paid my $5 and got my permit for Guadalupe Peak Campsite for 1 night and Pine Top Campsite for 1 night. I never did make it to Pine Top. But I wanted to keep my options open, thinking that I may feel good enough to hike the 4 peaks route from Guadalupe Peak.

So I left the trailhead around 11 and headed up. I passed several small groups of people and individuals early on. Some struggling up, others coming down. Just about every spot a tree cast shade on the trail, there was someone taking a quick break underneath. I really didn't feel too tired on my way up. My base pack weight was just under 5lbs, but by the time I added food, 8L of water, and fuel, my total pack weighed around 29lbs!

I made it to the forested section and welcomed the reduced incline of the trail as well as the more consistent shade. At the T for the Guadalupe Peak campsites, I turned and found a site and had lunch. There was another group of about 6 or so college aged adults, playing fairly loud music, and hanging about. I wasn't really looking forward to spending the night near the group I stereotyped as being loud night owls. Luckily, as I was eating my lunch, they headed out and down the mountain.

After I set up my tarp, unloaded 4.5L of water, and set up my tarp, I headed toward the summit. I had forgotten how close the campsites are to the Guadalupe Peak bridge. The hike up the last 1 mile seemed to go pretty quick. A group of 3 ladies I had passed previously was on the summit. They were from Alpine and were nice to talk to. After taking pictures for them at the summit, they headed down and I had the whole summit to myself. I was pretty shocked that no one else was up there. In fact, after the first 20 - 30 minutes of my hike, I had only seen 1 other person on the trail. Really not the super highway I have witnessed before.

I took in the sites all around the peak. Scouted North toward Shumard and picked what would be my route if I decided to head that way the next day. I also scouted a route South toward El Cap in case I decided that would be my direction. My legs were pretty tired at this point. As I headed back toward my campsite. I decided to attempt El Cap. I took about 30 yards off trail and decided my legs were too shot to make the whole trek. So I hurried back up to the Peak Trail and headed down to my campsite for the afternoon and evening.


I moved my tarp to the site with all the wind breaks as the breeze had turned into more of a light wind. (Throughout the evening the wind would increase.) I laid down for a while and might have dozed off for a few minutes. I spent time watching a couple episodes of Cheers. Its my one goal this year to finish the series which is nearly 300 episodes long. I also spent time on the ridge looking toward the Bowl and Hunter Peak. Awesome views back this direction from the campsites. About 30 minutes before sunset a group of fathers and boys came rolling in. I could tell right away they were boy scouts. I do have to admit they were the quietest group of boy scouts I've ever camped near. No doubt the hike up with 50+ pounds each had worn them down a bit. They had chosen to come to GUMO and Carlsbad since their trek at Philmont had been canceled due to the wildfire this year. I told them I too had been to Philmont a couple times and had carried 50+ pounds and new exactly  how they felt. Thats why I got into lightweight backpacking. I hated the miserable feeling of hiking with that much weight.


I took in the sunset from the same view point I had gazed from earlier in the afternoon. The colors back to the west and the shadows on the Eastern ridge were great. I went to bed around 10pm. The wind died down overnight. I believe the low was around 55 or 60. I felt really comfortable with my cheap $20 costco quilt and a thin long sleeved shirt.



DAY 2
I woke up before first light. Anxious for the sun to rise. I couldn't go back to sleep. So I waited under my tarp. I couldn't believe how many lights from the oilfield/Carlsbad? I could see. The first time I had stayed at this site, there was a thick blanket of clouds below us and we couldn't see the desert floor. I was kind of disappointed to see so many lights down below. At first light I took down my tarp and boiled water for breakfast. I had PackitGourmet Polenta and Sausage. It was easily one of the best backpacking meals I've ever had. Washed it down with instant coffee and loaded up my pack. I had around 3L of water left and new there was no way I'd have enough for a trip across the 4 summits. Besides I didn't think I could physically handle it. Hopefully I can come back during fall or winter and tackle the route (or at least Bartlett and Shumard from Bush) with a partner.

I did decide that I had enough stamina and water to attempt El Capitan. I headed up the Peak Trail. I knew the ridge I needed to take from near the peak. However, I became impatient with the climb up to the Peak and decided to off trail earlier than I had planned. I should not have done this. I believe I used more energy crossing the ridges and small drainages than I would have used just going up on the trail and then down the right ridge. I had a weird feeling heading down off trial. I don't off trail. The only time I ever had before was to summit Mt. Pratt which was not very fun or rewarding to me. My experience on El Capitan would be totally different.

I made it to the bottom of El Cap where all of the ridges and drainages come together. I had crossed over to my 4th ridge just to get down there. I ended up on the original ridge I had scouted the day before. I knew I had to head up the right side of El Cap to reach the top. It is way more steep looking once you are at the bottom looking up toward Guadalupe Peak and back toward the summit of El Cap. I came to the gap between what I call the Thumb piece of the mitten shape El Cap makes. This was my first look over the edge. I got a feeling I have never felt before. I was scared to look down. That was the longest distance straight down I have ever seen. I've looked off lots of mountains and ridges. Most all of them had some sort of ridges coming off of them lower down at some point. This drop as different. It was thousands of feet STRAIGHT down. It was amazing and scary all at once.


After taking in this dramatic sight, I headed along the edge toward the summit. The game trail/path of least resistance/route most anyone who summits El Cap probably takes runs along the edge  of the Western face and just into the trees near that same side. The underbrush was thick in places but really not as bad as I thought it would be. I finally reached the summit at 8085'. The views from the actual summit were not that great. There were lots of small trees and bushes that block the view from that point. I read most of the summit logs from the book and added my own. Then I headed out on the short ridge from the summit to the leading edge. Great views from here. I was able to video call my wife, show her where I was, and assure her I was okay.

After a while near the edge and summit, I headed back the way I had come. El Cap is more densely forested than I had imagined. The trip up was something unlike any hike I have done. It was cool to be off trail. It was cool to summit such an iconic rock. It was cool to have the adrenaline feeling most of the way up. Once I reached the bottom of the drainages and ridges where El Cap meets Guadalupe Peak, it was time to head back up. This time I would follow 1 ridge all the way back to the trail. This looked like the longest and steepest part of this hike. It was for sure the least fun but seemed to pass faster than I thought it would. Once I made it back to the trial, I sat for 10 minutes to cool my feet and drink some water. I drank 1/2 a liter; which left me only 1/2L for the remainder of my hike down.

I headed down at my typical fast pace. I was ready to get back, cool off, and chug some water. The hike down was fairly uneventful. I was reminded how steep the first mile or mile and a half of the trail is. Plus very little shade. I got to smile and say hi to the few people headed up. Really not near as many people as I had expected to pass. I arrived back at Pine Springs around 1pm central time. I decided this would be the end of my trip. The summit of El Cap had definitely been a highlight for me. I didn't accomplish all the things I had hoped to do on this trip. But for the most part, I still had fun.

It leaves things open ended for a return trip before this winter is over. I will post the videos I made from this trip within the next week.

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2018, 09:58:14 AM »

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Offline JordanFiveOh

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2018, 04:42:48 PM »
This is good stuff! Thanks for the report!

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Offline Solo

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2018, 06:47:51 PM »
Welcome to the El Capitan Club!  Did you happen to get a pic of the summit register?  I'm curious how many people have been there in the past 2 1/2 years.  When I signed in Mar '16 there were multi-month gaps between most entries. 

It's a unique summit and an experience I'm sure you will never forget.  The best parts of GUMO have to be earned, and there's nothing like the look on the tourists' faces when you pop back up to the trail after a boss bushwhack through terrain that most of them think is forbidden.

Whether by chance or good on-the-spot decision making, I think you were quite wise to skip the 4-peak traverse.  You couldn't pay me enough to try that in the dog days of summer.  The worst part is avoidable, which is Guadalupe > Shumard.  Too steep, too much brush, and too far.  Bush, Bartlett, and Shumard make a nice loop with a camp at Bush Mtn and a ridge descent to Devil's Hall.
'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view, and robes the mountain in its azure hue.  -Thomas Campbell

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2018, 06:54:38 PM »
I spent time watching a couple episodes of Cheers. Its my one goal this year to finish the series which is nearly 300 episodes long.

I love the irony of this.  Guy comes prepared to/hoping to do a solo summit of 4 GUMO peaks in about 36 or so hours during the middle of a blazin' hot summer , but his New Year's goal is to watch all the Cheers episodes.  The former could only be pulled off by a handful of folks; the latter probably by quite a few sofa sitters.    :eusa_clap:
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2018, 11:13:22 AM »


This is the video of day 1 of my trip. Just the typical stuff ... the trail, the campsites, and Guadalupe Peak itself.

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2018, 11:16:45 AM »
I spent time watching a couple episodes of Cheers. Its my one goal this year to finish the series which is nearly 300 episodes long.

I love the irony of this.  Guy comes prepared to/hoping to do a solo summit of 4 GUMO peaks in about 36 or so hours during the middle of a blazin' hot summer , but his New Year's goal is to watch all the Cheers episodes.  The former could only be pulled off by a handful of folks; the latter probably by quite a few sofa sitters.    :eusa_clap:

Not real sure how to take this.

Not all goals have to be equal. I just mentioned the Cheers thing because I think it's funny. But you're right I guess. I am doing much better at the Cheers thing than the 4 peaks so far.

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2018, 11:22:40 AM »
Welcome to the El Capitan Club!  Did you happen to get a pic of the summit register?  I'm curious how many people have been there in the past 2 1/2 years.  When I signed in Mar '16 there were multi-month gaps between most entries. 

It's a unique summit and an experience I'm sure you will never forget.  The best parts of GUMO have to be earned, and there's nothing like the look on the tourists' faces when you pop back up to the trail after a boss bushwhack through terrain that most of them think is forbidden.

Whether by chance or good on-the-spot decision making, I think you were quite wise to skip the 4-peak traverse.  You couldn't pay me enough to try that in the dog days of summer.  The worst part is avoidable, which is Guadalupe > Shumard.  Too steep, too much brush, and too far.  Bush, Bartlett, and Shumard make a nice loop with a camp at Bush Mtn and a ridge descent to Devil's Hall.

There are still big gaps in time in the register. I only snapped a picture of my entry. There are only a handful of entries per year.  I had most people tell me they didn't know you can do that. I honestly had never done any off trail until I did Mt Pratt last year. I still like hiking trails but it's cool to have new peaks and destinations opened up by going off trail. I definitely have the exact loop you mentioned for Bush and Bartlett in mind.

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Offline Talusman

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2018, 11:34:23 AM »
Well done and welcome to the club! I wish I would of had you check and see how many logged in since I was there. Did you climb back up to the Guadalupe trail to go down? That climb back up that slope will get your heart beating. Went back again last year (still need to post a report) but my brother and I rappelled off the east side cliff face at the end of the saddle pour off, down Guadalupe canyon and back around on the El Capitan trail to Pine Springs. Glad you finally got off trail there, as that is the best way to experience GUMO. Especially all  the way through some of the bigger canyons. Nice job!

Also, did you pass the false summit log box and look through that? There is actually two log boxes on El Capitan, the first one looks like it may be the summit but its not, regardless there is a log box and people log in there thinking they have done it. One entry I read was trying to tell people "you are not at the summit yet". I have never seen a peak that had to for those that think they did it and those that did do it.
"To Think is easy. To Act is difficult. To Act as one Thinks is the most difficult!"

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2018, 01:05:11 PM »
Well done and welcome to the club! I wish I would of had you check and see how many logged in since I was there. Did you climb back up to the Guadalupe trail to go down? That climb back up that slope will get your heart beating. Went back again last year (still need to post a report) but my brother and I rappelled off the east side cliff face at the end of the saddle pour off, down Guadalupe canyon and back around on the El Capitan trail to Pine Springs. Glad you finally got off trail there, as that is the best way to experience GUMO. Especially all  the way through some of the bigger canyons. Nice job!

Also, did you pass the false summit log box and look through that? There is actually two log boxes on El Capitan, the first one looks like it may be the summit but its not, regardless there is a log box and people log in there thinking they have done it. One entry I read was trying to tell people "you are not at the summit yet". I have never seen a peak that had to for those that think they did it and those that did do it.

That sounds like the way to go down! I hiked back theway I came. I dont have any climbing or rappelling experience. But that would have been awesome.

I dont know if I read a report by you or someone else mentioning the false summit box. I looked for it st the point I figured it may be. But i didn't see it. I only found the one near the leading edge of El Cap. Sure hope that was the right one. It looked like the highest point to me. I did read most of the entries. Some were too hard for me to decipher the handwriting.

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Offline Lance

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2018, 01:59:12 PM »
Nice report wrangler!

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2018, 06:04:31 PM »
Great trip report!  Your videos are so good; such a pleasure to watch!  Can't wait for Part 2.  I never felt motivated to camp at Guadalupe Peak, since you can't go anywhere from there, except back down.  But your trip report, coupled with a bad case of cabin fever (haven't been out since May of last year!) makes the idea look attractive.
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2018, 06:53:15 PM »
I spent time watching a couple episodes of Cheers. Its my one goal this year to finish the series which is nearly 300 episodes long.

I love the irony of this.  Guy comes prepared to/hoping to do a solo summit of 4 GUMO peaks in about 36 or so hours during the middle of a blazin' hot summer , but his New Year's goal is to watch all the Cheers episodes.  The former could only be pulled off by a handful of folks; the latter probably by quite a few sofa sitters.    :eusa_clap:

Not real sure how to take this.

Not all goals have to be equal. I just mentioned the Cheers thing because I think it's funny. But you're right I guess. I am doing much better at the Cheers thing than the 4 peaks so far.

Oops! Poorly worded on my part.  This was purely meant as a compliment to your hiking abilities.  I have no doubt of your ability to do all 4 at once if you choose.  There's just not many folks that could come close to pulling that off.  Climbing just 1 or 2 in that time period would be a New Years goal for most (including me).  You just do that sort of stuff frequently so it doesn't have to be a goal (as it would for me).  I also found the Cheers mention funny, especially in contrast with the extreme physical feat.  But please keep posting these reports. I watch them all.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2018, 07:21:20 PM »

Oops! Poorly worded on my part.  This was purely meant as a compliment to your hiking abilities.  I have no doubt of your ability to do all 4 at once if you choose.  There's just not many folks that could come close to pulling that off.  Climbing just 1 or 2 in that time period would be a New Years goal for most (including me).  You just do that sort of stuff frequently so it doesn't have to be a goal (as it would for me).  I also found the Cheers mention funny, especially in contrast with the extreme physical feat.  But please keep posting these reports. I watch them all.

No it's all good. That's why I said I wasn't sure how to take it. I couldn't tell if you were kidding or not. The lack of tone on the internet. I wasnt trying to sound rude in any way either.
Thanks for watching my videos. I really appreciate it. I have fun making them.

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Offline Solo

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Re: Trip Report: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan Summit Aug 5 - 6
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2018, 12:10:29 AM »
There are still big gaps in time in the register. I only snapped a picture of my entry. There are only a handful of entries per year.  I had most people tell me they didn't know you can do that. I honestly had never done any off trail until I did Mt Pratt last year. I still like hiking trails but it's cool to have new peaks and destinations opened up by going off trail. I definitely have the exact loop you mentioned for Bush and Bartlett in mind.

GUMO can be pretty difficult regarding bushwhacking and peakbagging in my experience.  The combination of brush, terrain, and very sparse info make it a gamble.  If you've got Pratt and El Cap under your belt, then nothing else will be beyond your abilities.  Here's a link to the Bush-Bartlett-Shumard loop I did in April with downloadable GPS track:

http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=949182

A few notes though...  Ignore the part where I went off-trail to the north looking (unsuccessfully) for that B-24 wreck.  I camped at Bush Mt and did the peak, plus Blue Ridge and Blue Ridge North the first day.  The second day was direct to Bartlett and Shumard, with not nearly enough water.  One tricky area is a section of mini-cliffs on the south face of Bartlett (near the top), which I scrambled around; might be easier a few yards to the east.  There second tricky/steep part is where I dropped into Pine Spring Canyon above Devil's Hall.  I think that wash will "go" the entire way up/down, so I would scout a route just north of my entry to be safe.  Despite tempting death, I'm convinced the loop is the better way to return from Shumard, by far.  4.4 liters was not enough for what I did by at least 1L.  It's an adventure for sure, with the same flavor as the El Capitan route.

BTW, I liked the part of your video with all of the reef fossils.  I spent my whole trip looking for some, and only found a few shells on the way out.
'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view, and robes the mountain in its azure hue.  -Thomas Campbell

 


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