From 0 to Lurking Fear in One Year


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Trad climber
Aug 11, 2008 - 10:16am PT
Jack Osborn did do it (a fact my brother loves to remind me of when belittling big walling in relation to big wave surfing - and perhaps rightly so) - but the fact remains he did in fact get him self in great shape, had two guides, jugged everything except TRing a single 5.9 pitch.........all these caveats and it was still damn impressive. Also - I essentially tagged along on my first el cap route and led only 3 pitches and mostly jugged (also Lurking Fear) and I have to tell you it will leave you wanting and not with a sense of accomplishment. Im sure proverbs abound about this, but Ill leave you with these from E. Africa - pole pole ndiyo mwendo (slowly is indeed the proper path) and haraka haraka haina barkaka (quickly quickly has no blessing).
mark miller

Social climber
Aug 11, 2008 - 10:19am PT
You need a good partner (or guide), who will have all or a portion of the gear. You will need to be in top physical condition, just to get you gear to the base of Lurking fear. Unless ElcapPics sets you up with some sherpa's ( more change..). You had better get your ass on the rock 3 times a week . Lear to climb at night with a headlamp so you can go afterwork and still climb. cross train for endurance and you'll probably need more strength to haul (the slabby pitches up top will be alot of fun...) then you know of.
Your goal is "Knott" impossible but is going to require more out of you then you ever thought you had in you, especially if you're planning on doing your half of the leading and hauling.

Howdy Greg, Kupandamingi is in great shape, a strong and go for it climber with a sensible head on his shoulders, and a heck of a lot of .10's and harder(leading) under his belt when he did Lurking.....

Boston, Ma
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 11, 2008 - 10:26am PT
Officially the best thing I've ever heard about a fear of heights.

No sherpas, but a headlamp is a great idea. As far as top physical condition, I assume we're talking about cutting alot of weight, and developing sickening upper-body strength?


Trad climber
new york, NY
Aug 11, 2008 - 10:33am PT
why such a specific olympian goal? why not just learn to rock climb, take your time, and have fun?
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Aug 11, 2008 - 10:34am PT
Billy, you have picked a good route for your quest (either as a real climbing goal or a good troll).

"Lurking Fear" was first climbed by Phil Bircheff and Jim Pettigrew, in 1976. I don't think Phil had climbed for an extended period to time before rising 'off-the-couch', driving to the Valley and climbing a new El Cap route. Here is a cartoon featuring Phil with one of his quips, draw about four years earlier.

Good luck

Boston, Ma
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 11, 2008 - 10:49am PT
I don't know why I picked Lurking Fear. I don't know why I picked El Cap, for that matter. Olympian is a funny word for it because I made this decision watching Michael Phelps swimming for Gold last night, and decided to do something amazing. Why not?

I think it was the names? Lurking Fear. El Capitan. Yeah.

Also, as I understand it, Lurking Fear is one of the easiest "aid climbs*" (don't know what that means) on El Cap.

I'll asterisk stuff I don't understand from now on. Looking for definitions.

Still trying to understand trolling* but I guess I'll figure that out.

That cartoon is friggin classic. Maybe I'll write a book about this. That will be in there.


Trad climber
Aug 11, 2008 - 11:51am PT
Billy, you are stepping up to a noble goal. I do not mean to dissuade you but I think your time frame is not realistic if you actually want to be the person to climb the thing as opposed to jugging it.

El Cap is a goal of mine as well. It has been in my sights for 4 years now and I am making my first trip to the valley this sept. (No, I will not be climbing the captain this time around. But hopefully will do WFLT next season as my first big wall.)

Anyway.,... I too am in Boston. Are you climbing at crow hill, or up in North Conway yet? You really need to get up there before even thinking of cali. Feel free to hit me up if you need anything out this way as far as route advice etc ....

Aug 11, 2008 - 12:01pm PT
My guess is while watching Phelps you suddenly realized you were alive.

Sometime in my first month of climbing( at the age of 26) I formed an
outlandish goal and completed it by the end of that summer. Having such
a goal is very useful in that you get down to work right away. A few
suggestions some of which may even be right or useful listed starting
with those requiring the least assistance. It takes time to line up
1. Start a running program to build up pulmonary and heart function.
Donít "jog", Jogging just produces impact that destroys the frame. Run
interval sprints that focus on building endurance. If you are not coming
off the big toe you are faking. Focus on the breathing. Donít, donít run
on pavement. As you would not run your horse on pavement, so you
should not run. Soft sand if you have it.

2. Upper body. Daily sets of pull ups to near exhaustion. They should be
sufficiently frequent that you can still feel the previous set. Watch out
for elbow damage. Back off when you feel a problem there and figure out
what you are doing wrong. Isometric endurance hangs can be very hard
on the elbows. Never hang from relaxed shoulders, unless you want them
to start dislocating. Rope climbing is excellent. Again several sets a day.
To change the body you have to convince the body it has to change if it
wants to survive.

3. Food. If you really like to eat something it is probably refined sugar.
Cut it out completely. Number one is to get your weight down to only the
tissues that you use while climbing. If your upper legs start to get heavy
you are doing something wrong. The legs you need to climb should be
relatively light. No useless excess pounds to drag up hill.

1. Gyms. I climbed with an avid gym climber who was surprised that
outdoor 5.7 was harder than gym 5.11. I was quite old when gyms first
appeared and I found they were really excellent at producing tendonitis.
You like to get tendonitis early in life? Go for it. Wonít help you at all on
learning aid.

2. Assistance. I got started with help from MITOC. They may still be
around. If you are working hard you will find someone to teach you.

3. Aid. There are few cracks and fewer aid climbs in the East. No matter.
Until you have been at it for a couple months you will not know yet what
you are interested in/ good at. No matter what, it will work out.

4. Gear. Once you have a teacher you wonít need to buy a lot of gear.
Just buy a few pieces and perhaps a rope. When not climbing you will
want something to look at Ė and dream. Try and get good comfortable
shoes. No point in having shoes so short and painful you start hoping
death will come soon.

5. Injury. When you are injured you canít climb. Donít get injured.

6. Kind of climbing. Once you know what it is you want to do you will
have to go where that climbing is. Without doubt you know where Lurking
Fear is. You will have to spend some time there. Quick trips will not do
the trick. I would be surprised if you donít make it by this time next year.

1. The crowd. There are going to be a lot of people and distractions. If
you have your own good program going and you can feel yourself getting
stronger each week you will have your own compass built into your brain.
You will be traveling in the direction it is pointing. You will have increasing
confidence, your attitude will be founded on a smile, and you will be
serene amidst all of the noise.

2. Not to do. There are always things one should not do Ė for one reason
or another. You have to decide where you are going and how you intend
to get there. You have to travel according to your own lights.

Nearly forty years ago I faced just such a choice in the East. We were
using hard iron pitons and it was terribly clear every piton I placed to get
something I wanted Ė was destroying what would be needed by all the
people in future generations. We were destroying the rock itself.


Trad climber
boulder, co
Aug 11, 2008 - 12:21pm PT
Stupid Goal.....

Learn How to climb first. That's a goal.

And then Decide if climbing Lurking Fear would be fun or not.

Or u are not doing it for fun? Then Hire a Guide.


Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Aug 11, 2008 - 12:28pm PT
I taught my friend how to Trad climb and we did Tripple Direct three months later.

Don't do LF...go up the middle.

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Aug 11, 2008 - 12:39pm PT
Kupandamingi: You can add to your list, for Jack O; cried (sobbed, bawled, etc.) like a baby cause he was so scared.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Nutsonthechin, Wisconsin
Aug 11, 2008 - 12:43pm PT

pimp daddy wayne

The Bat Caves
Aug 11, 2008 - 12:44pm PT
If you smoke lots of weed it will help you. Acid also helps with fear....
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Aug 11, 2008 - 12:54pm PT
Step one;...start climbing your ass off;.....when you are ready for Lurking Fear, you will know it....might be in a year, might be 2 years, might be never. If you want to see what happens when people try El Cap and are not ready for it....just walk over to the base at any given time, and watch what happens;'s not always pretty. Good luck. I climbed El Cap after I had been leading maybe 5 years.....I climbed about 150-200 days a year then, and travels up for it, then go for it....but have your ducks in a row before pushing off.

Boston, Ma
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 11, 2008 - 12:59pm PT
jstan, awesome AWESOME post, which I will being this afternoon at my gym. I run intervals now and have worked pull-ups into my routine, so the validation there is great. Rope climbing will be making an appearance as well. Informational and Inspirational. Thank you.

Roman, haven't made it anywhere yet, but I will definitely be hitting you up for route advice and locations, etc. My good fortune to find someone local!

Weed and acid are out of the question, but I appreciate the advice. I'm sure it works.

A few things I need to define. Aid*- Technically, I don't know what this means. Jugging*- complete mystery. Leading a pitch*- this is Greek. And I took Greek. And I still don't get it.

Pictures of Jack Osbourne are inspirational. I like the kid and all, but those are just hilarious. They make me train harder.

The reason I chose climbing as my goal in the first place is the juxtaposition of mental and physical power required to conquer a mountain. This will definitely be a huge challenge for me, and the information that I have received in just the last 12 hours has been helpful. Anything else that anyone has will help.


P.S. Thanks, Fattrad. Hopefully won't need it, but I'll take you up on it. Can't be too careful.

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Aug 11, 2008 - 12:59pm PT
Well, I went from zero to Zodiac in about a year. You just have to be obsessed and have a certain amount of natural coordination and fitness. Then again, I had the extreme benefit of learning aid from Ammon. And besides that I basically followed Chris's advice in the old Road to the Nose guide and read articles on the forums to clarify things I didn't understand.

I don't think it's a good idea to say you want to do this in a year. You're putting too much emphasis on one route. Lurking Fear itself probably isn't a big deal once you are prepared. There are so many intermediate steps that are just as satisfying and they are important to make sure you are ready if you plan on leading it yourself. I was just as stoked after my first valley grade IV for instance, East Butt of Middle. Or after climbing Fairview Dome etc etc


Trad climber
Aug 11, 2008 - 01:11pm PT
True enough - the video of Osborn reveals a sobbing, whining and scared shitless kid up there, but the important thing is he kept going. As a poster above noted, we are all scared up there - I certainly was and plan to be in the future. The question, then, is can you climb and function up there while being scared?

Also agree with another poster about going up the middle. If this is your one shot at el capitan, you'll forever regret having gone up the shoulder. Ive also done triple D and enjoyed it far more than lurking fear (perhaps because I pulled my own weight on that). Hoping to get on tangerine trip this year to round out the easiest possible combination of climbs that ascend all sides - all part of my Shield avoidance strategy.

Mark Miller - hope to see you out climbing soon, clearly from your description of my climbing abilities youve forgotten what a gutless and weak climber I am!

Aug 11, 2008 - 01:12pm PT
But what if you don't like trad? A goal is not worth seeking unless you enjoy the quest.

Boston, Ma
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 11, 2008 - 01:16pm PT
Your point is very well taken, although I do appreciate a goal for a goal's sake.

I like the idea of Lurking Fear, but I am not married to it. I'm married to El Cap, but if there are better suggestions, that's cool. But it definitely needs to be challenging. Not looking to hike.

Intermediate steps will be taken during the next 14 months. And I'm hoping that they will be everything you described.


P.S. Trad*? Heh. Sorry. Still not up on lingo.

Gym climber
Otto, NC
Aug 11, 2008 - 01:19pm PT
Look man, if this is your primary goal for the next 14 months, it's absolutely possible. However, given your level of experience, the possibility only exists if you make it your first priority.

Pulling on gear is not that complicated, but it does demand a certain level of familiarity with the gear and the medium. You will need to acquire many different skills, most of which build on one another, in short succession. Having an appropriate mentor for this will make things dramatically better. Unfortunately, you live in Boston. At least it's (sort of) close to Conway, which bears the nearest resemblance to big granite of the El Cap sort. Without a mentor, you will need to be an accomplished autodidact, which few people are. Second best would be to transform some acquaintance into a committed partner with the strength of your passion, with whom you then learn everything together. Training is way easier with support.

Every time you perform a procedure up there for the first time in your life, you increase the likelihood of failure- either through basic incompetence, or sheer logistical overload. The water/food/endurance clock is always ticking while you're on the wall, and you don't want to burn it up while flailing. So make sure to practice every little thing somewhere close to the ground, and make all the basic mistakes in a noncritical context.

Living and breathing rock climbing is not the worst way to spend a portion of your time on earth, and one which has gripped most of the folks on this forum for some time or other. A year spent in training for this goal will not be a wasted one, regardless of the 'outcome'. Have fun, stay safe, pay attention. Good luck!

*'Trad' (hoboy) is a word invented to distinguish traditional, ground-up, gear-protected climbing from the kind where you follow a line of closely spaced bolts. Climbing walls pretty much defines a trad sort of outlook, in terms of commitment, self-reliance, type of climbing, deprivation and suffering.

Oh yeah.

Wall climbing hurts.
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