A Humbling Monster

Well the rumors are true, El Cap is a humbling monster.  It’s big, it’s steep, it’s slick, it’s sharp, it’s hot, it’s cold.  Luckily, we ain’t here just to “conquer” the rock, weez here to push our context of reality, find deeper meaning in this crazy world, and drink some ice cold wobbly pops in the beautiful meadow.

Last weekend, after only 5 days of climbing, Will and I needed to escape, my legs were tired of hiking, my elbows flared up from jugging, and Will was getting over a weird stomach bug, so we kicked it to Tahoe for a couple of days.  Along the way up north we pulled over in Bridgeport on the East Side and had ourselves a few cocktails at the local Saloon.  I met a retired man there who was out for the fall fishing.  He had a bit of a belly, a comb over, a plaid shirt and a big enlightened grin on his face, I liked him immediately.  As you do on the bar stool, we shared stories about ourselves.  At one point with a cheeky smirk he leaned forward and whispered, “Listen, I LOVE my wife, and I miss her, we do many great things together, but fishing isn’t one of them” and then he continued, “you know, I’m not really here for the fish anyway”.  I love my wife too, and we do many things together as well, including climbing, but I think I did know what he was saying,  Fishing was just the excuse to travel a bit, clear his mind and see the world from a different perspective, the Sierra’s are absolutely jaw dropping.  Perhaps it’s the same reason why we climb these massive cliffs?  It’s not about the bike.  Overpriced Bourbon never tasted so good.

So, we get into South Tahoe the next day, and it’s rad, chill bro, tranquilo, like so chill we didn’t even do anything.

After some R and R, an oil change and a new US 395 T-shirt, we are back in the Valley.

Yesterday Stanhope and I went from the ground up on the Prophet, to inspect those initial terrifying pitches. 12bR, 12bR, 11dX.  Will then said “you know what’s cool?  we might actually be the only other people on the planet to free these pitches”.  That was a cool thought.  Then we rapped off and guzzled 3 liters of water.  After those first 3 pitches, it really kicks back.  This is a slow progress process.  We want to enjoy it.  We want to be safe. And we want to feel strong.  It’s too easy to want to push it everyday and then flame out.  It’s harder to approach it with patience and diligence.  The problem then lies in time, something we may very likely run out of.  But that’s not our concern at this point in the game.  Our concern right now is taking a 50 foot tall onto a marginal belay or an expanding flake.  Our concern is getting shut down by super tech granite moves that Leo is especially gifted at.  Our concern is wimping out on the Devils Dyno, if we ever get to it. But hey, like Mr.Houlding himself once said, “if it was easy, it wouldn’t be hard would it?”

Until next time…

  • That write up in Rock and Ice a few months ago was insane. Definitely one of the best I’ve ever read. Houlding has pursued climbing the way I would have if I was half as talented as him and willing to risk everything else in life to have pursued it has far as he has. With that said, I hope you two have a great adventure on the Prophet, grow from it as climbers, and get inspired to find your own prophet somewhere in your life. Come back to the NRG Sonnie, and bring Will with you.
    See ya at the crag sometime, JOe.

  • Joey

    Thanks for the essences of adventure from afar. I do enjoy reading your updates. Good luck on your projects – you inspire me to work harder on mine.

  • Darrell

    Cool to hear you guys are still at it. Looking forward to gnar bigwall pics. Up, up, up!!