Sea of Dreams: A4 Solo for Andy Kirkpatrick

Andy Kirkpatrick has made a solo ascent of Sea of Dreams A4 on the South-East Face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Andy spent a total of fourteen days on the wall and even celebrated his 44th birthday during the climb.

Andy Kirkpatrick in Yosemite, 168 kb
Andy Kirkpatrick in Yosemite
© Andy Kirkpatrick

After climbing Zodiac A3 - for the seventh time - with a friend as a warm-up, Andy's attention turned to Sea of Dreams. Writing in his blog, Andy described the fierce reputation of the route:

"The Sea of Dreams is a route that still maintains a mystique, a route that retains a grade of A4+ (“if you fall you die”) even though it was put up in 1978. Time has no doubt mellowed the climb, with several well known ‘features’ such as the ‘surf board’ having fallen off it, as well as some bolts and rivets being added. Nevertheless it still deserves a Jim Bridwell grade of PDH (pretty damn hard) in most peoples books."

Andy high up and alone on Sea of Dreams, 219 kb
Andy high up and alone on Sea of Dreams
© Andy Kirkpatrick

With pitches including RURP belays, copperheads, expanding cracks and minimal gear throughout, Andy claimed that no pitches were "easy," a situation not helped by heat and a dwindling supply of water:

"The days were hot and often still and windless deep within the womb of the North American diorite, with 3 litres a day pushing it.  I also found no easy pitches, forcing me to get up at dawn and climb into the dark, the punishment and stress unrelenting, but I could not stop - I had to get to the top before I run out of water."

Summing up his two weeks of effort alone on the wall, Andy wrote:

"It’s boring to describe every pitch, but I doubt I’ve climbed a route so sustained and mentally draining, probably not helped by being alone [...] I was broken down by the wall, skin and bone and fat and brain and thought rendered by the toil of it all."  

Creative gear placements on Sea of Dreams..., 205 kb
Creative gear placements on Sea of Dreams...
© Andy Kirkpatrick

As ever, Andy has written an engaging and entertaining account of his experience on his blog.
Read Andy's Sea of Dreams blog.

Andy is sponsored by: Exped, Julbo, La Sportiva, Montane and Petzl

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