Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day One...

So the guys started up the wall today.  We got up super early and I cooked breakfast while last minute things were packed.  After some delicious breakfast burritos we hiked to the base to find a wet couple of first pitches and some warm sun.  The guys took their time racking up and soon they were climbing!  Thanks to the sun the pitches dried relatively well, and around 10am a breeze was present to keep them somewhat cooled.  They both fired up the first pitch with Kevin on lead.  Pitch 2 was Tommy's lead, and when he got to the crux (hardest part) of the pitch he took a big fall.  This made me nervous starting out the day like that and I felt like I was going to cry, but after that he went back to the start of the pitch, buckled down and got after it.  I think he just needed to get the nerves out, and that seemed like a big enough fall to do it!  After he got up, Kevin climbed up with no problems and got ready to lead one of the harder pitches towards the bottom of the route, pitch 3.  On his third try of the this pitch he made it.  Tommy climbed up after him and got ready for pitch 4, which was no problem for either of them.  Pitch 5 was back to Kevin's lead, and another stiff pitch.  It took Kevin 2 tries to finish the pitch, and Tommy powered through to the belay.  Then (as Tommy reported) Tommy started to lead the 6th pitch and in the middle of the pitch it got dark, and he finished the pitch in the dark successfully.  TC told me he still didn't feel very relaxed, but was happy that he was getting things done.  Last report was that Kevin was just about to finish the 6th pitch first try and just below the portaledge at the belay he fell, so he was resting and getting geared up to try again before they were calling it a day and setting up their camp for the next while of time on top of pitch 8.  It sounds like this project is seeming to be as big and as tough as they were thinking it would, and they are going to have to work really really hard to get things done!  It's going to be an intense push!

For those of you who aren't familiar with big wall lingo, I will try and describe it as best I can, and feel free to correct me if I'm off!  So this climb on El Capitan that they are trying to do is their "project", which is still nameless I believe.  The climb consists of 33 pitches, I think.  Give or take a pitch.  A pitch is the climbing from one belay to the next, which are typically around a rope's length.  The belay spots are anchors either bolted into the rock, or made with their climbing gear.

Just in...Kevin decided to wait until tomorrow to try pitch 6 again.

Okay...back to the lingo.  A belayer is someone who is feeding out rope or taking in slack for the person climbing.  The rope is going through a device that uses friction to help decrease the amount of strength needed to stop the rope from feeding through.  The guys are free climbing, so they use ropes and pieces of climbing gear that they place into cracks in the rock to clip the rope into to protect themselves as they climb.  How it works for them to successfully climb this route is that they each need to climb each pitch in order from ground to summit, completing the pitches without a fall.  So before they could move on from pitch 5 to 6, they both need to climb pitch 5 without falling.  They can fall as many times as it takes, but after each fall they need to start over from the bottom of the pitch, and then complete it without falling.  Does that make sense?  I don't think I would handle that very well.  So much pressure!!  You could have climbed the whole pitch perfectly and JUST before getting to the next set of anchors (belay spot/end of pitch) you could slip and fall and have to do it ALL OVER AGAIN!  Yikes!  

These are the guys to do it though!  Go guys!!  Tomorrow is going to be another big day!

Organizing the wall food.  That pile is not even all of the food!

Lots of wall food!!

Tommy flaking the tag line at the base.

Kevin checking out the water on pitch 1 and 2.

Kevin starting up pitch one!

On Belay!

Tommy leading up pitch 2.

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