Thursday, May 17, 2012


I have again been sucked into the center of the climbing Universe for my third season. I was hired into a volunteer program working for the climbing rangers Ben Doyle and Jesse McGahey. It's basically a climbing stewardship program where two friends and I will be working towards being a positive influence on the climbing community. Trail building projects to preserve climbing approaches, route condition patrols (i.e. climbing NIAD to make sure all the anchors are bomber), and other various projects will be worked on.

It seems to be one of the best situations I get to be in as a climber in Yosemite. I got to train with the Yosemite Search And Rescue crew, and I'm now a volunteer SAR climber. Last week a guy fell and dislocated his shoulder and called YOSAR. I got to be on the litter cary out crew, and even got paid! Psyched!

I'm currently staying in a tent cabin until the end of the month in the SAR site next to Camp 4. I have met incredible friends, and finally feel settled in here in the valley. The volunteer program will last until the end of August. It feels good to be a part of something cool in one of most incredible places to climb in the world.

I have felt a bit burnt out on filming and editing since I finished my new Patagonia video, but the inspiration will resurface with time.

Last Season Colin Simon and I warmed up on a route called Lurking Fear on El Capitan in 10 hours 30 minutes. There were minimal amounts of suffering to be had, and it was a good route to get ourselves into shape.

After my one day solo of The Zodiac last spring, I have been inspired by the idea of soloing big wall routes. Though I wasn't in the best shape, I decided to get in gear by soloing Lurking Fear.

Two nice 'wall style' guys from the bay area let me start up just before them on the route, and I made quick progress. I used a new technique where I back looped up the first few bolt ladders where the intermittent hook moves appeared, and daisy soloed the rest of the bolt ladders. I also used a brand new 9.2mm Edelweiss 70 meter rope. I climbed nearly 70 meter pitches all the way up the route.

I got into a seriously good rhythm, felt very confident, and found myself off route. A traverse full of fixed gear out left seemed to have been wiped clean. I spent two hours pioneering a  horrifying pitch rated somewhere around C3+ to find out that I was off route, and wasted a lot of time. I somehow managed to get back to my anchor, and felt mentally fried. I drank some water, squezed a gu packet into my mouth, and turned up the volume on my ipod.

The second half of the route has a low angle characteristic with awkward free climbing. I felt very confident, and climbed up to 5.10 with my only partner being my gri gri.

I topped out the route in 19 hours and 25 minutes. I was so damn thirsty I couldn't even swallow. Good weather this early in the year dried me up, and sufficiently dehydrated me. Luckily while I was stumbling around the top of El Cap, I met a guy that had just soloed Never Never Land. He had some water to nourish my swollen throat.

My girlfriend Jess in my haul bag, not wanting me to leave Colorado. 

Climbing and bivy gear for Lurking Fear, having more value than my car.

High up on Lurking Fear

John and Oliver psyched a few pitches below me. Monkey calls kept the moral high. 

My friend Zach on an evening free solo on After 6.