After The Prow I found myself thinking, these walls are tough man, is it really that fun? But as my body healed and the fear faded, the stoke of my first wall remained, and I was ready to get on another one. I get a call from my buddy Laughlin (pronounced "Locklin") saying that he has some time off in July and wants to get on a wall in Yosemite. He is a really strong free climber, but has not done much aid climbing at all. Despite this, I know he is a solid and smart climber so he will be able to figure it all out when we are up there. We meet up and decide that the south face would be a good route since the aid is easy and there is a decent amount of free climbing. We make the typical planning of fixing to the 5th pitch, sleeping on dinner, and then finishing the next day. Sweet, good plan, see you in a couple weeks and let's do this thing!
In the following weeks I had a lot of time to day dream about the wall. The thought kept popping into my head; maybe we should just do it in a day? The first three pitches will be fast...the kor roof doesn't seem that bad....only three real pitches of aid after that.....then some free climbing and we are there....yeah it could work.
Laughlin and I met up a few days before the climb to make the final plan and sort gear. We looked at the topo, and almost simultaneously said, maybe would should just shoot for a day? We had the usual back and forth of what if this or that happens, but in the end it was decided, in a day it is!
We got to the Valley around 12 at night and parked at the Ahwahnee. We packed my Metolius Quarter Dome haul bag tight and started the approach. About 5 minutes from the base of the wall I had a horrible sinking feeling inside me as I realized something.... I was going to strap my helmet to the haul bag on the outside, but I forgot to. DAMN!!! Time to walk all the way back to the car....
The next morning we are climbing by 6am. No one in front of us!! Woohoo SF to ourselves.
The next problem occurred when I had to clean where Laughlin had gone off route. I jumared up to his high point and watched how the rope went from the one green alien I was standing on, back down about 15 feet to my right and 5 feet below me. Trying not to think about how far I would swing if that piece blew, I reached high, clipped a fixed head, cleaned the alien and had Laughlin lower me so I could pendulum to the anchor. The crack was close enough that Laughlin cleaned the draw off the head when he was cleaning the next pitch. I could have also lowered out, but this seemed faster. Sweet! Problem solving on a wall is actually kind of fun after all.
Next I start up the longgg 7th pitch. This pitch eats up nuts (haha I just said that) and is pretty straight forward c1 with some easy free. The one part that was exciting was starting up the double crack section on the second part of the pitch. I started in the left crack and then when that stopped I had to make a big reach to the right crack and blindly stuff a cam in. The placement was bomber, but the reach was a little exciting. I get to the achor, fix the rope, and start hauling. When the bag gets to me I immediately pull out a water bottle and food. I'm dehydrated and starving. I always make the mistake of forgetting to eat and drink. I also had a why do this moment. I was tired, hungry, and dehydrated. I looked over to Half Dome and thought, how am I going to climb that, or El Cap if I'm already tired on this. I said why do I climb walls? It's hard work, it's scary at times, but for some reason it's all I want to do (except in this moment.) The food and water helps, and I find myself starting to have fun again. Alright, my head is back in the game let's finish this thing.