“Jim, I’m nervous. I can’t stop shaking.” It had been almost a year since my last Nose in a day, also my last time climbing El Capitan. I felt like a fish out of water, unconfident in my skills or ready to move fast and be bold. With a mantra and motivation from the gaining party, I pulled it together to clip the bolt and swing again. Somehow I ended up on the Real Nose, approaching a corner system instead of a splitter hand crack.
“I’m off route Jim.” I could tell he was frustrated with my mistakes and slowing us down on our ascent. Our friend Mac showed up below me at the anchors I should have been at.
It’s ok. I thought. Lower down to the anchor, untie, pull, and re-tie.
Pull it together. Pull it together.
Once the mistake was corrected, I got into the groove again, ruthlessly jamming my way up the Nose, and placing gear only when necessary. A party was rapping as I sped by.
“Good job, you are crushing,” he said.
“Thanks man, I feel like a turtle right now.” I responded, still upset with my mistakes.
2.5 hours to Dolt. It was 30 minutes faster than my last run with shenanigans. Maybe I’m not moving so slowly.
Jim caught up, gave me gear, and I sped off again - quivering in the Texas chimney, destroying the Boot flake (free’d it!), and nailing the King Swing. Jim took over and I was finally able to soak it all in.
Here it was, early April, in t-shirts, climbing El Capitan with our good friends rallying behind us. I sat there for a few minutes on Eagle Ledge understanding so vividly why I am so passionate about rock climbing and the lifestyle. I felt free, in ecstasy and awe of the world around me - loving the puffy, white-bellied swallows chirping in the cracks I was jamming, the view of Middle Cathedral, the meadow, Ribbon Falls, and all of the subtle features of Capitan.
My favorite moment of the climb was jugging the changing corners, my least favorite pitch on the route due to it’s steepness. That area of rock is so unique with just one feature, the changing corners pitch, and nothing but blankness on either side. The wind was raging, and ropes flying over head. I laughed, and laughed, as I dangled in space almost three thousand feet off of the deck.
We topped out and got down just as the sun was setting, shared icecream, cheesy popcorn, and good food with my closest friends.
I moved into my shabin in Camp Four the next day. It’s a modest wood-framed tent cabin, but feels luxurious after living in a mini-van with another person for a year. My first decoration was a picture of the Salathe headwall above my bed. Mayan gracefully dispatches the 180 foot splitter in the photo. It is my daily reminder of where I am headed, and what I am working towards.
Later that night, I turned on my pager to start my first season on Yosemite Search and Rescue. It was 10:30 at night and I heard this unfamiliar buzzing and a person speaking. I was startled. Am I getting called out?
“One to two SAR members needed for a call on top of Yosemite Falls,” the unfamiliar person commanded. Shaking off my sleepiness, I biked to the SAR cache and got sent out on my first mission. I spent half of the night hiking in the rain up the Yosemite Falls trail to locate two lost, young hikers from Southern California. This meant talking to my new friend and SAR mate, Buck, about everything rock climbing.
I’m finally starting to feel like I’m reaching a balance, a balance that is rewarding and sustainable for now. I’ve been battling the extremes in my lifestyle - just climbing in Bishop or just working in Taiwan. I am more psyched that ever to work in and for a community I’m in love with, and to pursue my dreams and become a granite gansta!
That night, I realized I was living my dream. I am taught time and time again that patience is the greatest virtue. It’s easy to slump in your seat when things aren't working out, when you’re not sending a pitch, or life, or when you get into a situation that ends up less glorious than envisioned. I often think about Taiwan, what I learned, the life I lived there, and how I’ve changed from it, but it’s hard to put it down in words. I will write about it when it flows freely from the depths of my soul, but for now, I will keep learning, practicing patience with myself and others, and push myself to expand my comfort zone in all aspects of life.
The time is now and it’s time to RAGE!
|Mac and Rob sticking the King. We are above. Photo Credit: Kaylene Grove|