We were glad that two guys had fixed the two first pitches, and we made it down by only having to leave out 2 short bits, but keeping my lead line. This was my first round of the walk of shame. A large haulbag, a grumpy, depressed face looking at the ground, and a slow pace are the typical signs that you know you're walking the walk you would rather avoid. Smile, be friendly, and a bit ironic if you can, and it does go by. A partner that takes his share off the "we bailed" explanations is helpful.
Bad luck did not stop though… After getting all set up after pitch one on LiA and climbing half of the next pitch, William decided to go home the next morning, for very good, personal reasons … the fact that we had to give up is nothing compared to why...
I went down and wanted to find a partner for the route but no luck. Erik E had just come down from a wall, Dave had to answer tourist questions and was injured. Nanook had no time either... I thought : "This is desperate" Since all my gear, water, food etc. was already up there, I decided to try and solo the thing.It already smelled a bit like another round of the Walk. To prevent this, Dave made me a little drawing on how to solo, gave me some explanations and encouragement and off I went. If you are thinking that soloing because you have no partner, opposed to soloing because you want to, is a bad idea, you are right.
I had like zero fun… On the first day it was okay, I finished pitch 2 , and went back to the valley. the next day i went up there in the morning after getting some more gear from nanook and dave (thanks again guys!) and did pitch 3. For some reason everything I did, I did it super slow. I paused in the middle of leading to look around, and took plenty of time to think. This allowed the little thing in the back of my mind to grow, and the things between my legs to shrink. After having done p3 I set up the ledge and watched it get dark for looooong time. I knew I would retreat first thing next morning. Yes, the next pitch looked fabulous! But I just didn't enjoy climbing without William up there. I have bailed off of a lot of climbs, but this one was one of the easiest in terms of taking the decision. There was not really any doubt it was the right thing to do…
Going down from 3 was already quite a jugging/swinging challenge! I woke up at 6 and was at the bridge at 11. Bail of the Day! I was relieved when Dave said he had bailed off of El Cap solos before too. I spent the rest of the day getting my gear down. I split it up in 3 portions and gradually shuttled them down. I had not eaten anything but 3 cookies and a powerbar all day and by 3pm, I could barely manage to walk uphill for 300ft without a bag. I must have looked pretty cooked, because a family from the Netherlands asked me at the base of the nose if i was okay, and i was like, no, do you have something to drink? They gave me an apple and a smoothie, the best of my life. I was very grateful! A dad and his sons from Indiana that looked like they walked straight out of the movie " The Patriot" helped carry all the crap down, and the dad estimated that my loads must have been 150 pounds… no wonder I was fried. It's amazing how many good people there were around.
Bailing is a lot of work, but then soloing without liking it is too.
Now I was back in the Valley and wanted to climb, but having given up on soloing and partnerless, this was challenging.
Day by day i got less psyched…
I was hanging out at the slacklines in C4, when a guy with an old down jacket walks by, and I asked him: "Are you a climber" and he said yes, and I said - want to do Stoner's Highways one of these days?
He wants to, and a couple days later we are off! After eating cookies and drinking beers day in day out, this is exactly what i needed…
Turns out Everett is on the SAR, and a really cool person.
While I led the first the pitch, a bear and her cub strolled along the base. They did not seem to be bothered by us that much, and were soon gone.
We had a good day, although climbing on Middle Cathedral with El Cap behind you is a bit like writing an exam with a really pretty girl sitting next to you… We were back at the lodge at around 1 and got some beers going around the pool, which ended in a pretty awesome barbecue dinner with Margaritas at the SAR site. Finally a good day, more of that was welcome.
After another hanging out day - I have lost count how many of these abrading days there were - Allen and I were going to do the Regular Route on Half Dome . It looked like it was too hot for Autobahn, which I was initially more psyched for.
Alan was the only psyched and not perpetually busy climber i met in all that time at the bridge! When we realized we had too little water, and were already pretty late, we changed plans to climb Astroman. With a party ahead of us, that bailed below the Harding Slot, progress was pretty slow…
We made it to the top with an hour of daylight left, and got back to base as it got dark. I was really trashed the next day…
The next weekend was rather uneventful, a scary climb of the very wet Northwest Crack on Lembert Dome, when the thunderstorms approached us faster than we wished…. Another full value climb, even if we did not anticipate that!
Back in LA, and ready to leave for Wyoming to climb in the Winds and the Tetons with Jim Donini and my dad, which I was looking forward to.
Driving through the nothingness of these huge plains I had read about in Karl May's Old Shatterhand books as a kid. Sometimes the nothingness was interrupted by the occasional town.
We had a lot of fun! We expected it to be a bit like Joshua Tree, but it was a lot better! Tribal is one of the best face climbs I have ever done… Unfortunately it rained every day for a short time in the afternoon. Still we climbed a lot of good meters in 2,5 days. We then left for the Valley because we could't wait to climb a wall.
A bit smoky when we arrived, but still… There is no place quite like it. This time, everything went smoothly, and we immediately started racking and fixing.on Tribal Rite
We chose the New Dawn start, because it seemed like the most straight shot to the summit, and we wanted to be on the right side as much as possible.
This was the most fun I have ever had on a wall. We had Pizza for the first night!
After a couple terrible hauls and mediocre climbing on the New Dawn, it was glorious climbing from El Cap Tower to the top. There is some strange engineering on the route, but that doesn't distract from its classiness.
We carried everything down at once, which immobilized us for a couple days.
After a climb in Toulomne, Oz, we went back to the Valley so I could take revenge on Lost in America. This would be my dads last route before he had to head home, After the usual pre wall procedure of humping and fixing a pitch we started.
We met 3 russians that had done the nose in 3 days whith 15l of wather between them, and gave them some beer. They liked it! After this route I felt very much done with wall climbing, or aid climbing for that matter. Huge racks had lost their appeal, and I was ready for some sportclimbing. After my dad left, I was in the Valley by myself and not being psyched to climb, it looked like a long, dire time before I could go home to my friends and climb normal stuff again.
But I hadn't yet realized how awesome meeting new people can be, and soon my spirits were high. I did a bit of cragging for a while, climbed Nutcracker, and the East Butt on Middle, which got me super psyched on getting back on the Captain.
I was sleepy for many days after that and only climbed Serenity and Crag routes, which was nice.
When the weather forecast changed to thunderstorms, we were even more psyched about our choice. Because there were no parties on the route, we chose to start early to avoid having to pass people that come to fix the first four.
After to days of hanging out and resting, I now sit in the train to Bakersfield.
This TR is about climbing but what I will remember most is the people i met. Thank you.