Saturday, October 16, 2010


I have been in California for about a month now. Hazel was here for a few weeks before she flew back to England. It was great to revisit some classics with Hazel, and see some new ones as well. First up was the Regular Route on Half Dome. She had done the first few moderate pitches a few years back, but aside that minor asterisk, she onsighted the whole route in a day. Katie Brown has also done that.

We both shook our heads in amazement at the top, imagining ourselves ropeless like Alex Honnold. Still the boldest rock solo ever done, in my opinion.

Next was the Bachar-Yerian, a bold classic on Medlicott Dome in Tuolumne Meadows. Again, a stellar fall-free onsight for Hazel. We swung leads. I have wanted to climb this route since I was a kid.

Since Hazel left I've been fooling around on the right side of El Cap, trying to piece together a line. Jason Kruk and I tried to free the Waterfall route a couple years ago, but turned around in the face of loose rock. A week ago, a giant rockfall obliterated the line we were trying. Often I wonder if the fear I am feeling on routes is justified, or just nervous hocus-pocus. This section of wall is really sketchy, and I think we made the right decision a couple years back.

Photo by Tom Evans.

While dabbling on the top pitches of the Waterfall route, I've had the pleasure of hanging out with Brits Jason Pickles and Leo Houlding, who are trying to finish their long term project: the Prophet on the right side of El Cap.

Their route finishes with a pitch they've dubbed the A1 beauty- I like to call it the Cobra Crack of El Cap. Yesterday I awoke at 2 AM to hike up and help film Leo lead the crack. I'm no videographer, and seem to start shaking ever so slightly whenever I have camera in my hand. It was so cool to see Leo send the pitch. He was jacked- now, every pitch of his ten year mega project has been sent. All that's left is a ground up push.

The whole experience charged me up more so than any recent climb of my own. It is inspiring to see those boys stick to the process, year after year, through injuries and setbacks, and revisit something until they see it to completion.

Here's a shot of Leo lacing up for an evening bid on the A1 beauty pitch of the Prophet. I love the mornings and evenings up there.