liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

New Speed Record in Rock Climbing at Yosemite

That's the new record for the fastest climb up El Capitan in Yosemite. The locals were defending their record against outsiders that climbed it in 2:45. The route they are using is The Nose, which is straight up the middle, rated 5.11 with a big pendulum required in the middle of the route. If you've ever seen that rock, then you know awe. When I see that granite monolith, I fancy that I can feel its gravity. It is incredibly massive. If you are not a climber it is hard to imagine going up it with just your body, a few bits of metal and a rope. But it can be done. People used to take 3 days to do this route, sleeping on little portable shelves on the way up, hauling huge bags, and flinging their fecal matter down in paper bags. No more.

I used to be a climber. I got rid of most of my gear but I still have the basics. I took it up in the mid 1980's when there was an extended drought in the southeast, and the rivers dried to a trickle. My boyfriend at the time, JD, taught me how to lead so that we could swap lead on multi-pitch climbs. I remember my first lead, on a 6 pitch, 5.2 climb at Linville Gorge (North Carolina) known as The Prow. I led a pitch that was not even 5.2, putting a tricam under an "eyebrow" of rock every 5-10 feet. I didn't look back at JD, who was belaying. When I got to the top and set my anchor, I looked down and every single piece that I had set in the rock had jiggled out, and they were hanging on the rope in front of JD. It was humbling, because if I had fallen, I would have tumbled down the rock as far past JD as I was above him when I fell. The route was so easy, though, that I would have happily free-soloed it: I had no fear of falling. Later in my climbing career I got much better at placing protection while leading, but I never did fall on lead, preferring to stay well within my abilities. Years later I climbed The Prow without ropes or gear, just for the warmup. I enjoy free soloing more than climbing with all the gear, as long as I am able to feel comfortable on the rock.

I remember one time when we were spending a winter at Joshua Tree, we had set up two topropes on a 5.8 and a 5.9 on a slab of rock that stood immediately over our campsite. While I was on the 8 and someone else from our group was on the 9, a guy came and free soloed the route between our two, a 5.11. He stopped in the middle to retie his shoes. I thought he was a showoff and a dick. I later discovered that all major climbing areas have their local badasses who like to sandbag visitors and piss (figuratively) on the rock.
Tags: california, north carolina, recreation, rock climbing

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