See here, I'm a 9 to 5 slave monkey. I don't have endless days to leisurely choose my non-cubical adventures. Hell or high water, I was going to get to Heart Ledges that night. Two dry heave and rally sessions later, I'm at El Cap Bridge. I pray that the bad taco truck fiasco of 2011 is over, throw on the harness and start running toward the captain.
My friends and I made it as far as the alcove last week and barely survived the storm that blew through the valley. Stymied by the downpour of water on the route, the four of us were forced to come down after playing human tetris in a double portaledge for 36 hours. I won't lament over our first world problems. Plus, we had whiskey. And as a wise fortune cookie once said, things can always be worse.
I jug like a lunatic up to Lung Ledge with a whole roasted chicken in tow. I am met with great enthusiasm. The plan was for me to jump on the hollow flake in the dark so as to not burn precious day light hours the next day grunting up the thing. However, after all the barfing down below and all the jugging up above, I wasn't in the best condition to fight with the rock. Midnight. Bellies full. We snooze.
Pitch 14: I flashed this bad boy the first go around and told my proud tale here.
The weekend warrior clock was tick tocking. No time to waste. Knowing the exact width of the cavity I returned with some DIY A0 ammunition.
So far I've scratched off 27 of the 100 things I want to accomplish before I die. And while this might come as a surprise to you, climbing The Ear twice is not one of them. My partners have more pride than me because they wouldn't ask the other team the million dollar question. Plus, as agreed, it was my lead. With shame, I piped up and asked her if she could fix our rope while we waited for them to pass and charge ahead. It wasn't my proudest moment, but the timing was right and the opportunity lent itself. In rebuttal, if I hadn't ever lead the thing, there was no way any of us would have jugged a pitch we hadn't climbed. I survived it once. I had my heart set on getting to El Cap Spire in daylight. She graciously accepted (heaps of appreciation if you're out there reading this). I humbly jugged. My partners were elated. Neither wanted to clean that pitch again.
Take it from someone who isn't a hardman. If you aren't either, bring a #4 and #5. Back clean the 4 once you get the 5 in place because you're partner will thank you for not having to squeeze back there to clean it and you can protect the exit with the 4, too. But before you get there, yes, you will have to free climb... dun dun dun... 5.8.
Enough ear talk! Moving right along. We make it back to the alcove and before I let the PTSD sink in, I chimney my way up the airy cavity to El Cap Spire.
I can confidently say that Yoga has given me the strength of 100 men. Skinny, metrosexual, crunchy Bay Area vegan men, but still. While my partners linked like crazy (P21+22, P24+25, P27+28, P29-31 with a 70m rope), I was a jugging and hauling MACHINE.
Same as the ear, if you like your partner, back clean the red #1 you can place before you squirm down and out. A big green 6 protects the squeeze. The hold out left isn't that blind. I tried to link 33 and 34 but I placed way too much gear in the pitch below and the rope drag was unbearable. I ended up linking 34 and 35.
Hours later I get my car out of the NPS impound. Too tired to drive back to SF just yet, I crash in the International House of Euros tent. 2am I drag my half dead carcass across the parking lot and drive like a lunatic back to the bay area. I pull up to Mission Cliffs and shower in the fetal position.
9am I am in the office wearing dress pants to cover up the 17 bruises I had acquired on this excellent adventure. I just climbed El Cap. Psyched! 'Til next weekend. On deck: Lurking Fear.
Cubical monkey, over n out.