I sat there on Big Sandy Ledge on Half Dome, 50 pitches into our linkup. I couldn't keep my eyes open for more than a few seconds before I would fall asleep, only to wake up moments later and feed Colin slack through my gri gri.
"I'm going to take 5 rest days when I get done with this.." I said to myself.
After topping out, Colin and I opted to take the 8 mile Mist Trail down because it was too dangerous for us to take the Death Slabs descent due to our exhaustion. It seemed as if every muscle in my body was screaming at me to stop, eat, sleep, and drink. Every few miles we would stop momentarily to take a break and I would fall asleep with my head in my hands.
Colin's parents met us a mile up the trail from the valley with food and water. I can't express how thankful I am that they did that for us, and how damn good everything tasted!!
Blisters from cramming my feet into my climbing shoes followed by hours of wearing my wet approach shoes led to a painful descent.
Photo: Uncle Tom
Hanging out at the bridge after getting down. I've been spending almost all of my time here, watching friends climb El Cap, eating, and hydrating.
One of my favorite places ever is the base of El Capitan. I made my usual walk from The Nose up to The Zodiac looking for dropped gear (aka booty).
A Japanese guy had a wire rivet hanger break, fell, popped a few pieces of protection, and hit the ground from about 30 feet. I witnessed the rescue from only a few hundred feet away. The YOSAR team knows what they're doing.
I helped the fallen climber's partner Daizo bring down their gear and gave him a ride back to Camp 4. It sounds like the injury wasn't serious.
SO.... It's time for my big solo. I'm feeling mostly recovered mentally, and completely recovered physically. I am going to help Mark Hudon bring his gear down from the top of El Cap tomorrow morning, and then I think I'm going to head up on the wall on Saturday.
I'm nervous, but once I start climbing I know I'll be fine.
Difficulties that lie ahead:
Passing a team of 5 Koreans (wtf?!?!)
This team of 5, the "Team Extreme Riders", just topped out today on The Zodiac. Another flock of them is fixed to pitch 4, and will be up on the wall tomorrow.
So I have been sort of stepping outside of my comfort zone, talking to people, and asking for help. I talked to the big man Dave Turner yesterday for a few hours about solo speed climbing. He has climbed El Cap over 40 times, and has done some really gnarly stuff. It's cool, to see what is actually possible as far as big wall climbing goes... Aid climbing, is all about tricks... I got a few cool ones from Dave.
AHHH!!! I'm getting SO psyched. I'm getting that nervous exciting feeling like when you're 10 years old on Christmas... multiplied by million.