is the easiest big wall in the valley and in the Supertopo guidebook.
I've rappelled off of The Nose on El Cap 500 feet up and then
Wednesday off of The Regular Northwest Face on Halfdome. Three big
walls I have started in a week and rappelled off of. Two solo and one
with a partner.
On Washinvton Column I was just aiding up a perfect C1 crack and being
alone I got scared. There was too much lichen on the rock. It was too
windy. I didn't know where the route went well enough. (For those that
do not understand C1 is as easy as it gets. There are no hook moves,
like the one I blew on El Cap. Every piece used as protection could
handle a fall. At least a smallish 10 foot kind of fall. In short,
it's safe even for a not terribly experienced person like me.)
From my point of view with my high standards I have wasted some time
and failed at what i started out to do I have three points to make in
an attempt to make myself feel better.
1. "If you aren't whole without it (the summit, etc), you won't be
whole with it." - Stu Remensnyder. I had a phone conversation with one
of the owners of the company I went to Pakistan with minutes after I
rappelled off and he said that. The point is climbing (and other
things) are things that we do not who we are. It can be very had to
seperate the two. The point is I don't need the summit or the top of
the cliff to know that I have value. It can be hard for me to
understand that sometimes. Pretty shallow, I know. Extrapolate it to
other aspects of life like school or work and other athletics. The
value of a person is not solely their accomplishments on paper. This
endeavour or sport of mountaineering is a lifestlye choice with risk.
It is very difficult to compare this to sports like basketball because
it is such a massively involved activity.
2. "Your instincts are telling you something. Trust them and Listen."
- Ed Viesturs. Several times this summer I have turned around on
moderate obectives in Rocky Mountain National Park because of weather
or doubts about the strength of the climbing team or simply time
constraints. Overall I have a very good history with bad weather. I
have many times turned around in mildly bad weather just to have it
rapidly detoriate. I do not think I have ever really escaped death
(except for a lightening storm in 2006...) because of bad weather.
However it only takes one misstep to end a life. It is better to be a
little dissapointed than to have an epic which ends at a hospital or a
3. I was trying to eat the whole cake in one bite. El Cap solo for my
first big wall? Am I crazy? No one I have ever heard of headed off to
solo a grade IV route for their first grade V or IV. I totally have
the skills. I cruised a C2+ pitch before I fell on the next C2 pitch.
I have some vey nice aid moves. There was one offset Peenut move in a
shallow wide flaring crack... It was simply the most difficult chock
placement of my life. I also had a hook move on the third pitch that
went very well. I have the technical skills aid climbing to handle it.
I have the rope management skills to solo multipitch stuff and take
four gallons of water up in the air. All of that being said there is a
psycological component that I'm still working on.
I call it my fear of heights or fear of being alone yet that does not
entirely describe it.
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