Sharing my legs with a friend


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Cardiff by the sea
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 20, 2008 - 12:18am PT
As most of you know, this past spring myself and Dave Lane climb the Zodiac with our friend Steve Muse (Museman) Steve suffered a spinal cord injury breaking his C7 leaving him a incomplete quadrapalegic. I surf regularly with a lady that publishes a small coastal publication called the Beach Break news. She asked me one day surfing if I would like to write 1,000 words about the climb for the publication. This is what I came up with. Go easy on me I have never writen anything for publication before and I wrote with a non climbing, surfer type reader in mind. I added in some pictures .... well because pictures of climbing are cool!

Sharing my legs with a friend

Three laborious hours hiking the mile and a half with nearly 700 feet of elevation gain, I gasp for a breath as we cautiously sit Steve down on a flat rock at the base of our chosen climb, the “Zodiac” on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
If you have never visited Yosemite or seen El Cap I would describe that Yosemite is to climbers, what the north shore of Oahu is to surfers, and if Pipe is center stage, then El Capitan is exactly that for climbers. Sitting at the base looking up at our proposed climb, is like waxing your board on the beach getting ready to paddle out to macker, spitting, north shore barrels. Everyone who climbs El Capitan will experience some form of anxiety before you climb. Steve and I are no strangers to this feeling, having climbed this face and this route before. On this ascent that feeling seems magnified for me, without having to ask I can sense it with Steve as well. You see Steve is going to spend the next week ascending this sheer face without the use of his legs. Back in 2004 Steve had suffered a spinal cord injury (a broken C7) in a car accident leaving him paralyzed from the mid torso down. Doing this climb is the pinnacle of an arduous comeback for my pal.

Before his accident Steve was one of my main climbing partners. We had climbed big walls together in Yosemite, Mexico and in the Yukon Territory of Canada. He shares the same enthusiasm and passion for climbing as I do, and was someone I could count on to share my rope with anytime, anywhere. He actually enjoys the suffering that is required to do multiday big wall routes, to climb frozen waterfalls, or to just spend a day out climbing in the wilderness (that sometimes ended up being an unplanned night out in the wilderness. We have scared our wife’s more than once with our climbing antics.) He enjoys all the same fun stuff I do.

The planning and training required for this particular climb was unlike any other in the past. Steve needed expensive custom adaptive climbing equipment; and we needed to devise a system that allowed him to ascend up and down a rope competently. With the help from many friends, the climbing community, SolidRock Gym and CAF (The Challenged Athlete Foundation) all of this got worked out. Steve spent a year training at SolidRock, repetitively going up and down a rope strengthening his arms. We also decided it would be best to have another abled body climber along to help share the leading and other responsibilities with me while on the wall. Having that extra climber would also help give us a larger safety margin if for some reason things happened to go south. We agreed upon and ask our good friend Dave Lane (international mountain guide extraordinaire) to join us.

Dave enthusiastically accepted the invitation to join us.

Carrying Steve and our hundreds of pounds of gear needed for the climb to the base of the “Zodiac” went smoothly and efficiently. We had support from friends that had taken time to travel to Yosemite for no other reason but to help with the preliminary logistics. We received support from new friends, people that saw what we were up to, that graciously gave us some of their time and effort.
The weather had been poor and raining upon our arrival and for our first few days in Yosemite. Now as we start up the wall, the weather could not be better for climbing with cool, breezy, blue bird skies and a warming trend forecast for the next week.

The system we figured out for Steve to ascend the rope works on a 2 to 1 mechanical advantage with a pulley. The system allows him to go up the rope by doing a pull up on a modified mechanical rope ascender and allows him to descend the rope by incorporating a self locking belay/rappel devise.
As I watch him lift himself off the ground, I’m excited that we are officially under way. Dave, Steve and I worked competently and efficiently together throughout the entire climb. Everything went well and as smooth as any one of us could expect. We would get comfortable starts in the morning (never climbing before having at least two cups of coffee) and always settling into to our hanging bivouac in the evening well before dark.

Every evening Dave and Steve would medicate themselves with what they called “gatoritas” which was a mixture of Tequila and lemon lime Gatorade. I would medicate with ibuprofen and a Rockstar. In the late afternoon after spending six incredible days on the wall we pulled ourselves over the summit. The three of us where very excited, plenty of high five’s and hugs ensued. Steve has just pulled himself up over 1,800 feet of vertical and overhanging rock, cumulating what we calculated to be 2,800 pull ups. But it’s not over until everything and everyone is back at the car, so in other words, we still have to get safely back down to the valley floor.

The descent is what I feared the most of our journey. Descending back to the valley floor from the summit is a grueling, arduous, endeavor, with a technical, exposed 700’ cliff band to navigate. Again several friends new and old met us on top to help support a safe passage for Steve to get down the east ledge descent.
The camaraderie of friends that came together to help us before and after the climb was overwhelmingly beautiful.

Steve is one of the bravest men I know; he had the courage and commitment to leave the security of his wheelchair for a total of eight days (the longest since he has been sentenced to it.) He willingly and graciously put 100% of his trust in so many people that week.

For me; this journey was nothing more than a chance for some selfish gratification. It enabled me another opportunity to share a rope in that special place with my pal that we both dearly love. All I had to do to get it was to simply share my legs with a friend.

I hope some of you enjoyed.

Best Regards

Nov 20, 2008 - 12:27am PT
"Sharing my legs with a friend" says T2

And that you did.

So nice of you to share yourself to someone Tom.
Allen Hill

Social climber
Nov 20, 2008 - 12:32am PT
I have never posted here but certainly have enjoyed the site as a lurker. That said, this trip report is simply the best I've seen. Worthy of a film.


Social climber
El Portal
Nov 20, 2008 - 12:32am PT
Awesome story and accomplishment, as we said back in the day "It was Proud."
You are guys are great!

You've got great legs ta boot!


Cardiff by the sea
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 20, 2008 - 12:43am PT
Thanks for the kind words you guys!

And Jo your making me blush :)

Trad climber
My Inner Nut
Nov 20, 2008 - 12:47am PT
The look of friendship and commitment in all of your eyes is priceless.


Trad climber
Nov 20, 2008 - 12:48am PT

A honor to read a post like that. Impressive to say the least.

Nov 20, 2008 - 12:58am PT
Congrats again guys !!

Trad climber
Gunks, NY
Nov 20, 2008 - 01:08am PT
That is really awesome! That really redefines the concept of friendship...

Trad climber
Nov 20, 2008 - 01:15am PT
Very inspiring. Thanks again.

Trad climber
all bivied up on the ledge
Nov 20, 2008 - 01:30am PT

chica from chico, I don't claim to be a daisy
Nov 20, 2008 - 01:30am PT
T2, Thank you for this amazing post...Sharing your legs and love for a friend~ Beautiful... Yes, Proud.

A buddy of mine in town has M.D... When he wants to go hiking- his male friends carry him on a stretcher. The piggy back ride got to hard.

ps,also love your pics with your daughter...Proud.


Trad climber
San Rafael, CA
Nov 20, 2008 - 01:33am PT
Thank you so much for posting your story- you did a beautiful job. I feel moved and inspired and happy for everyone involved.

Big Wall climber
Capo Beach
Nov 20, 2008 - 02:51am PT

Amazing guys! Wished the stars would have aligned for me to be on board. There's always a next time. RIGHT? can’t wait to try the gatoritas, haa haa.

Thanks for sharing Tommy, I’ll be getting paroled here in Iowa soon and hope to catch some waves with you soon…. Aiigh and paddle out with you, museman.

Nice work! OUUAhh!

Social climber
wuz real!
Nov 20, 2008 - 02:59am PT


Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Nov 20, 2008 - 08:21am PT
That was cool T.
Congrats to Steve for gettin' it done!

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Nov 20, 2008 - 09:22am PT
"For me; this journey was nothing more than a chance for some selfish gratification. It enabled me another opportunity to share a rope in that special place with my pal that we both dearly love. All I had to do to get it was to simply share my legs with a friend."

Great read and effort.



Nov 20, 2008 - 10:01am PT
Sweet, Tommy. Very well done.


Trad climber
Nov 20, 2008 - 10:35am PT
Whenever I've climbed El Cap, just getting my own tired, worn out butt down and back to the car is almost more than I can handle. Kudos!

Cardiff by the sea
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 20, 2008 - 10:38am PT
Gene: I see you breaking trail for us in the talus there :)
It was great to have you as part of the team.

Ammon: Iowa again? Blah ! When will you be back home my friend? I look forward to the call when you return, surf, skate, climb or ride lets go out and play when you get home.
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