by Yishai Horowitz
It was an early Sunday morning the June month cool and clear
in Yosemite Valley. The approach to El Capitan was accompanied
by Yosemite Falls in full and the bustling of tourists. We hiked
the final stretch of redwoods. There it was, the Captain. We found
the Nose Route. We set up a belay. I tied my figure 8 and looked
around one last time.
I climbed fast at first and then reminded myself to save energy. As I climbed the earth fell away from my feet. At 180 feet I set up a belay and a haul line. I hauled up our 250lb haul bags and belayed my partner up the first pitch. It went smoothly for the first day.
On the 10th pitch, day two, my partner was leading. She set a knifeblade piton for protection and then climbed 10 feet to where she spotted a huge dino hold and went for it. As her first hand landed on it the whole ledge moaned and ripped off the rock. As she hurled down to the knifeblade, the ledge surrendered to the force of gravity. the knifeblade held momentarily and then popped out as she yelled "&*%$" ROCK!!!
I hugged the rock as it screamed toward the Valley floor. Suddenly i felt a tug on my ATC. i looked up and my partner was hanging form a FISH Head. She was groaning in agony from 40 feet worth of road rash. I tied her off and soloed the 60 feet of space between the belay and where she was. When I reached her, I hauled up the FISH Portaledge and a first aid kit and treated her for first degree burns on her arms and chest. I led for the rest of the day, ending with a pasta dinner with chocolate sauce and garlic salt.
Day 3 was summit day. Lynn led the 18th pitch smoothy in spite of the burns. the 19th pitch was mine. It was a nice 5.10 that I could protect as well as a sport route. Then I started a five foot overhang and I placed a #4 Camalot in a bomb proof placement and rocked on. I found an SMC bolt 4 feet out and clipped in. Just as I approached the lip of the overhang, I ran out of holds. I searched and found a hidden "thank God" hold. The only problem was that I had to twist my body into the rock and dino at the same time. I had run out of steam looking, and I just could not do it. I tried a wild dino and before I knew what happened, I was hanging on the bolt five feet from the roof and three feet from the wall. I started swinging to get back and finally grasped the cool granite wall, returning to the lip of the overhang. This time I completed it with no trouble.
Pitch 23 was Lynn's. it was a 5.11 crack climb with overhang and all, her favorite, and did she ever fly..."a yeh!"
Pitch 34 was the long awaited and last 165 feet of the rock climb, one of the most spectacular in the world climbed by hundreds. Let me tell you, it's one of the greatest feelings I've ever experienced, and it was my turn to lead. I looked down for the first time and realized how people could have acrophobia (the fear of heights), but it was time for NO FEAR. As I climbed off the deck, my adrenaline kicked into overdrive. The bottom holds were lay backs and crimpers. Then the fun began, a 5.10 face climb to the top with some tricky moves. I increased my protection, just as I set a Metolious Quad Cam #7. It turned into a 5.12C climb that was more than vertical. I climbed about 20ft. My hands were sweaty as a pigs as I reached back to get some chalk. And just hen I fell onto the Quad Cam 20 feet down. As I jerked to a stop my feet smacked into the wall. I chalked my hands and reclimbed the 40 feet, getting past the hairy stuff. The rest was just a hill and I topped out. i let out a triumphant roar; then belayed up Lynn. We stood atop this amazing rock. We could see all of the Sierras and the Bay Area. It was getting late, time to pull out our parachutes for the fast way down.