MescaDawn VI, 5.9 A4

First ascents:
Wall of the Early Morning Light: Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell, 1970
New Dawn: Yvon Chouinard: Chuck Pratt, Dennis Hennek, and Chris Jones, 1972
New Dawn, complete route: Charlie Porter, 1972
Mescalito: Hugh Burton, Steve Sutton, Charlie Porter and Chris Nelson, 1973

Notes on the route:
The MescaDawn route is a fairly elegant way to do the New Dawn Wall without groveling up the left side of El Cap Tower. The basic route is to to do Mescalito for nine pitches, then exit left on The Wall Of The Early Morning Light for about four pitches, and then continue up what is now called the New Dawn to the summit. It's far simpler than it sounds, and you would really have to work at it to get lost.

The Nuts and Bolts:
The first pitches of Mescalito are reachy and take quite a few heads. I think we fixed the first 4 pitches and then did one long haul from the Alcove. The Seagull is rumored to be's not.

On the 8th pitch you will see a line of bolts coming in from low down on your right. These are the bolts that Royal "the Yosemite Vandal" Robbins didn't get around to chopping during his attempted "erasure" of the W.E.M.L. with Don Lauria in 1970. The ninth pitch is shared by Mescalito and W.E.M.L. and then a painfully obvious line of bolt slashes out left. It is these bolts that will take you to the Dawn Wall proper.

Be forewarned that this route does have a ton of bolts....I take that back. It has a ton of rivets. What's the diff you might ask? About 1000lbs of holding power. I pulled out at least a half-dozen with my fingers, and replaced about the same number that were either missing or flattened to the wall. Be sure to expect a few dicey moments out on the long ladders where supposed A1 can get real messy real fast.

The next big event is getting onto Wino Tower. The pitch is about 190ft. to get onto the Tower. I have no idea who decided a belay could be set lower at the small roof. It sucks. Another option would be to set an anchor in the offwidth just before the Tower. Even though we had some big cams, I opted to lead out on the zip line and get all the way onto the Tower. What a mess. The pitch off the Tower is clean and nice and goes real fast. We fixed this pitch and then bivied where Harding swilled for old times sake.

Pitch 20 is a pretty cool rig. A long reach helps out here with some blind placements over a small roof. Think of it as a tension/penji type thing. After you get established on the big diorite flake, hook all the way to the belay. Watch out for sharp edges here as the top of the flake is a razor and will slice anything you've got.

Pitch 22 ends in a super bivy site under a ceiling with tons of bolts. When venturing out over the roof on the next pitch, watch for the rope getting stuck at the lip. Pitch 25 and at last, the nailing appears. This is the crux of the whole route and is a fine example of stacked arrows and blades. Pretty good fall potential if you skate. I belayed at the two bolts that are marked on the topo as "fake anchor" which I would not recommend. Luckily I backed up the two crappy bolts with a rurp stack, a sideways wired and a tied off pin. At least the haul bags were empty..... A good anchor appears at a small stance about 12ft higher, complete with bolts. Ooops!

Pitch 26 is nice and steep with some easy hooking and nailing on a big flake system to a rivet ladder. From the belay, head up and right over a small roof to the summit. Watch the edge of this roof as it is quite sharp and since you lived through all the crappy rivets, it would be a shame to get the chop stepping onto the summit.

Info provided by: Russ Walling, Greg Byrne and others.