Monday, August 6, 2012

Half Dome Solo

My quadricep muscles burned, my lungs burned, it was just too damn hot. I hiked at a leisurely pace up the death slabs to the base of Half Dome. My intention of rope soloing the Regular Northwest Face fell in the shadows of my self doubt and insecurity. "BAIL! BAIL! BAIL!" My mind kept repeating..

I was ok with the fact that I wasn't going to climb the route. I was too tired, out of shape, and not psyched. I was still feeling the effects of a mental hangover from already climbing El Cap 5 times this season. I decided to stash my gear near the base of the route, and come back in a few days.. or next week.. or never..

"Maybe I'll just climb up part of the way up the first pitch.." I thought to myself. I knew I could easily bail from pitch 6 with a 70 meter rope.

My sweaty hands found relief with a fresh layer of gym chalk, and I turned up the volume on my iPod. I sunk my had into the first perfect hand jam of the route, and then decided to follow that with a thousand more.

Attempting to get psyched.

Sun creeping over the visor. The heat is on.

Seconding the first pitch of the chimneys. 

Justin and Trevor letting me pass them in the middle of the chimneys. Trevor was a bit nervous as I free soloed passed him.

Justin giving me his rope so I could fix their line at the end of the zig zags in exchange for beer when we got back to the valley

Justin coaching Trevor how to jug up through the zig zags

An alpine style luxury bed at 1am. I needed to hydrate and sleep after I got back down to the base. The muscles in my legs were cramping, and I felt too dizzy to immediately start hiking down the death slabs.

I found myself in the reoccurring situation towards the end of the route, dry with no water. My focus diminished and my energy level plummeted. I got to the last anchor at the very last pitch, and I was hammered.

Climbing by myself takes an immense amount of motivation and willingness to be vulnerable. Soloing big routes is a way that I prove to myself that I don't rely on someone else to succeed. Half Dome was my fourth grade 6 wall in a push, I don't think I have much more to prove..
Now I'm going to go sport climbing.

The stats:
Climbed route valley to valley, with a little nap in between
10 ~70 meter pitches
6 pitches free solo
10:50 On route
23:30 Camp 4 to Camp 4
3-4 hours spent sleeping and hydrating at the base of the route after I had climbed the route


  1. You don't have anything to prove!

  2. Yeah buddy! Nice work this season. You provide serious motivation for the in a push style! It was awesome hanging with you up there, look forward to running into you again either on the wall of on flat ground!

  3. I'm stoked on this. I've slept in that same bed before.

  4. Who needs a thermarest pad when you can use a pack and rope?

  5. Good stuff but you should examine why you think you need to prove yourself