Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fitz Roy, Round 2

This mission fell into the shadows of the other climbing that we had done during the season, but our attempt on the route was epic. This was the last route we climbed in the big mountains before we took a bus up to Frey in Bariloche, and then to Buenos Aires, where we flew back to the states. 

Scott Bennett and I attempted to repeat the route Mate, Poro y Todo Lo Demas (5.11b 900m) on the North Pillar of Cerro Fitz Roy. The route name translates to: Mate (tea), Weed and Everything Else. "Everything Else" predicted the shenanigans that got thrown our way. 

Without breaking stride, Scott and I successfully picked up a ride from town with the flick of a thumb. A 40 minute ride in the back of a pickup truck on a rough and windy road led to our 6 hour hike to base camp. We bivied below The North Pillar instead of at Piedras Negras to get a head start the next morning. 

I managed to sleep for 2-3 hours, before I poked my head out of the tent to see low visibility due to a thick fog. My lightweight aluminum crampons chomped their way through hard snow as our 30 minute approach turned into 3 hours. As we reached the base of the North Pillar, Scott's swear words followed an unfortunate situation; a broken crampon. 

Our plans of climbing Mate Poro in a single push were diminished to only summiting the North Pillar. Summiting Fitz Roy would require the use of crampons, and would be highly dangerous without them. Our nervousness cut through the thick fog, as we are aware of how dangerous the mountains are in bad weather. 

Not being able to see further than a single pitch below or above us, we decided to bail. We had climbed over 1500 feet of the route in 8 hours, and decided that it was a safe decision to retreat. 

Scott led the rappels, and we got back to the steep snow and ice that stood between us and the safety of our base camp. In order for Scott to descend safely, I chopped steps for him for over 3 hours. We were disappointed that we had failed to summit, but realized that we had an incredible season in the mountains. 


I feel unbelievably lucky that Scott Bennett and I got to write an article for Alpinist. I also somehow managed to get to be on the cover of the magazine.  

It was cool to take a look at what happens in a magazine before it reaches your hands. Being a part of the process was a great learning experience. I was unable to put as much effort into the article as Scott Bennett did because I was getting started with the Yosemite Search and Rescue Team. Just as I began to help finish up the article, a call came out to go look for a kid in the High Sierras. I got flown out in a helicopter that afternoon, and the kid was found the next day.

In Climbing Magazine, Blake Herrington also wrote an article about the gear that Scott and I took on The North Pillar Sit Start.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Nose, Solo

On June 27th, I became the youngest person to rope solo The Nose on El Capitan in a single day. It took every ounce of willpower and psyche to complete the route. I began limping down the East Ledges descent in my climbing shoes 19 hours after I sunk my first hand jam into the first pitch. 

This is just a quick post, hang in there. The psyche for documenting my experiences is in hiatus. I still love writing, shooting photos, and editing videos, but I just needed a break from it all. 

Here is a pic by Tom Evans of me climbing up the boot flake on The Nose.

It's about 100 degrees here in the valley today. My girlfriend Jess and I are headed up to Tuolumne, where we'll wake up early to brew coffee for all the climbers in the morning. Living here has become routine, and it feels amazing to be in one of the most incredible places in the world.