I feel a little high tonight, light on my feet. There’s a hot fire burning in the Curry Village family room, I’m wrapped up in a down sweater, swilling Cobra’s with big Willy. I just got a text from my friend Tommy Caldwell who came desperately close to sending pitch 12 of the Dawn Wall. We got a great word of encouragement from the man Leo who says “be safe, not scared”, (respect to that) and just had dinner with Mr.Honnold, his lovely lady Stacey and our buddy Ben Ditto from the East Side. It’s an exciting time here in Yosemite Valley.
Will and I got up this morning expecting an overcast sky, snow swirling around like confetti, but all’s we got was a big blue roof. We packed up, hiked up and climbed up the wall. We walked under Tommy and his base camp in the sky. It’s otherwordly up there. We decided to haul up the port-a-ledge and get it ready for our own hopeful push and brought along our friend Paul Bride for fun pics and morale.
This was our third time ground up, and each time we do we pull our ropes and re-lead to our highpoint, this may be pointless for some, but means something to us. Paul jugged up behind us, to capture our mini breakthroughs, with a bit of guidance from Leo I discovered his way out left of the ‘marginal’ belay. No chalk, no boot rubber, no sign of any gear above. With some crumbly rock under my shoes, I embarked on a personal journey of insecure movement, nervously waiting for the “committing move to a good edge and a small bomber cam with big relief”. I went up, then down, up, then down, up, then down, and finally after a million times in and out of my chalk bag, I went up, and up again. Breathing well, I pulled into the corner and got some gear. After some easier moves on surprisingly hollow rock, I gained a sloping shelf that took me to the belay. A feeling of pride fell over me. Although not physically very hard, (the pitch is 5.13aR) it was psychologically rewarding. Even more so than most climbs I have ever done, especially the harder pre-rehearsed ones. That’s the feeling I think Leo was trying to preserve with his attempt, the same thing John Bachar fought for all those years. The unknown. The unpredictable. Even though Houlding and Pickles pointed the way up, I was still on my own, and thus, proud of myself. And that sensation is exciting. I’m not often proud of myself. I’m content with myself, but not always proud. Much of the time, I take the easy way when given the chance, sometimes I regret it, other times I don’t. But I’m glad we haven’t robbed ourselves of this experience by rappelling down all the way, at least not yet – ha ha ha ha. I’m glad we are trying. It’s a meaningless invisible line, and yet, to us, right now, it’s as real and dense as the stone we’re climbing on.
Shortly after this, Willy climbed up to meet me with a bright light in his eye and a grin on his face. We were making steady progress, but the storm blew overhead before we could celebrate and thus retreated, but better prepared for the next time around. It’s now raining on the roof, and that will turn to snow tonight. How much, time will tell.
Tommy is still up on the wall, he’s the toughest man alive. PERIOD. Brett and Josh from Big Up are there as well to capture the magic, and Becca his wife is playing the role of worlds greatest belayer, and playing it better than anyone. He’ll be climbing again on Saturday, we wish him luck, but then again, he doesn’t need it, he’s got strength, optimism and determination. Alex is going for another speed record on the Nose with Hans next week, they were 45 seconds shy of the record this week, and that only adds to the excitement of their smashing upcoming bid.
I think that’s it for now. Just wanted to get that off my chest. Hope you’re all just crushing it.
Below, my hero at 7:30am, a well rested Stanhope, with a pillow case that reads, “follow your dreams”