I think that Heath and I both assumed that at the end of each day we’d just be zombied out, totally drained, and just wanting to sleep. Not the case really. I think the biggest surprise after day one was that it wasn’t as hard as expected. Granted, we’re not the guys doing the lead climbing, but for what we were doing, it didn’t wreck you. One of the things that Timmy stressed was that if we wanted to make it we had no choice but to trust the gear. If you didn’t, you were going to be screwed.
Here’s Timmy telling us about someone he took up in the past:
If I had just walked up to the edge of this 3,000 foot face I would have lost my stomach, but starting from the ground makes things so much different, it takes the shock out of it. After only a few minutes you get high enough off of the ground to say “Alright, at this height I’d die if I fell. So from here on out, the consequences are all the same, I’m good with this.” It’s kind of like riding a motorcycle on the freeway for the first time. It’s such sensory overload to the part of your brain that fears death, but once you desensitize it for a while, it goes numb so you can move on. On the bike you just picture your body ragdolling down the road a few hundred times and then you’re good, on the rock it’s more of a tumbling and crunching thing. To be honest, my biggest fear was that I’d freeze up one day and not want to move, because I don’t think you know you’re one of those people until it happens. I’ve seen it before, they just go into this other mental state and nothing you say can snap them out of their fear coma. So, huge relief to find out I’m not that guy.
The first day sets the stage for really how much repetitive work you’ll be doing over the next several days. Timmy wasn’t kidding, you just jumar up, and then haul, jumar up, and then haul. The hauling is really hard work and it doesn’t take long for it to set in that you’re basically going to climb this rock twice. Once climbing to the anchor and another when you’re lowered down to haul and you climb back up again. You do this a bunch of times and the next thing you know the sun is going down and you finally get to just sit and rest.
Highlights of the day:
-Another guy climbing up 200ft to our ledge at night to offer the worlds biggest joint to us. Heath and I decided to abstain from the pot while we lived roped in.
-Heath and I whispering in disbelief that Dave wasn’t clipped into the rock, but was just connected by what seemed like a really small and simple knot. “God that looks so sketchy.” Then he turned around and told us he was going to lower us down to the sleeping ledge on that same knot. “Dude… are you joking?”
-Timmy walking around on the ledge at night and saying “Heath, you gotta stop bumping me man, I’m free solo” (no harness, no rope, no nothing)
-Last but not least, silverfish bugs crawling all over my arms and face as I tried to sleep for the very first time on a wall in a harness. Eventually I just turned my headlamp on and had a killing spree with my finger and did my best to reduce the local silverfish population.
Good night El Cap. I hope I don’t roll off this cliff in my sleep.