Sunday, October 23, 2011

valley update...

I briefly mentioned Kevin's ankle injury in last weeks post, thinking it was just a little hiccup and after a few days rest he'd be back and crushing on the project.

It is really sad to say that the ankle injury on the dyno pitch sustained last week will end Kevin's season on the Dawn Wall project.  Kevin writes more here.  Tommy is super bummed, but feels he needs to keep forging on, and is doing so with Kevin's blessing.  I have been filling in, and as of now, will be belaying Tommy for part of the push (along with his dad and hero, Mike Caldwell).  Yikes!  I've never spent more than 3 nights on a wall, so the thought of 10+ nights up there is a little intimidating, but I'm really excited to be up there and to help out.  This project has shaped our lives ever since Tommy and I started dating a couple of years ago - while Tommy decided to give the Dawn Wall a further look to see if there was a possible route that could be freed with Big UP Productions and Corey Rich for the climbing film Progression - he told me he liked me and the rest is history.  :)

TC climbing in the dark on pitch 10.
It's amazing having the opportunity to spend time on the wall with Tommy as this is his place.  Watching Tommy climb and function on El Cap is kind of amazing.  I joke that he functions better up there than down on the's first nature for him.  The way he climbs specifically on that grand wall just confirms that this is what he is supposed to be doing.  Obviously I'm a bit biased since I'm married to the guy, but I think anyone who has had the experience of being up there with Tommy would confirm it.  The fact that he has free climbed 11 of the 14 free climbing routes up there  and freed 2 El Cap routes in 24 hours would also confirm he knows how to do it.  (I'm bragging here, but I think the next person in line for freeing El Cap routes is Thomas Huber at 6 routes.  In my own naivety I didn't realize free climbing El Cap was so hard that not that many people have done it...I thought people did it all the time.  I was wrong.)  Okay, I'm done, but it's kind of awesome!

so happy to be in the portaledge finally at 12am!
Back to the project.  This one is really hard, and Tommy has been feeling up and down about it; super positive, and then a crux pitch will shut him down and he'll feel really discouraged.  The other day when we were up there I felt like his relationship with El Cap was kind of like that with a crazy woman - showing him love one day and then fighting him and throwing him off the wall the next...and he just keeps going back.  I know that he wouldn't be up there if he didn't think it was possible, I don't think I'd be up there if I thought he wasn't capable, and I don't think you all supporting him would be rooting so hard if you guys didn't think it was possible.  We are all hoping for a send, and if it's going to happen it's gotta be this season.  Let's all keep cheering him on, and show him he's not in this one alone!  And no matter what happens I know he'll finish having fought the good fight.

We are on the ground today and possibly tomorrow, then back up to give the crux pitches some more time.  If all goes well, we'll rap to the ground, prepare for the project and hopefully start the push by the 31st.  Since I'll be up on the wall with Tommy I'm not sure how updating via the blog will work so keep checking back or else check in here.  Thanks for all of the support!

i love hiking up the east ledges.  : /
taking a break for dinner before it gets dark.

tommy moving himself and the portaledge to the next pitch.
On a side note:  We went to the 50th Anniversary of the Salathe last night featuring Royal Robbins and Tom Frost, and it was quite fun!  Tommy enjoyed catching up with Tom Frost, and Royal snuck out for dinner before we could say hello.  What great men, a great route, and great history.  It made me so happy that we climbed the Salathe this past spring and I knew what they were talking about.
Tom and Royal with Tom's photo in the background.

Tom and Tommy.
we splurged and i celebrated the 50th Salathe anniversary with an El Capitini at the Ahwahnee.


  1. Very cool!

    Bear hug!
    Nando Grillo

  2. Thanks for the updates, Becca. Thinking of you guys up there.

  3. The portaledge looks so roomy and inviting...

  4. Hey There,

    I was just checking out the slideshow on the patagonia website about your climbing trip to China.

    My girlfriend and I are both climbers living in Yosemite and have been working as field educators for the Yosemite Institute for the last few years. This winter we are applying for an adventure grant through work and are looking at China as a possible option.

    We would love any information you might be able to share about how you were able to get permission to climb in that park even though it is technically "illegal."

    I would really appreciate an email if you have the time.

    rkelly at naturebridge dot org

    Thanks for your time!