First All-Disabled Ascent of El Cap
Two days after the punishing decent on the east ledges, busted fingertips, sore toes, sunburn and five days four nights spent on the wall – it's all worth it.
My partners, Pete Davis and Jarem Frye, have been here before; Jarem attempted a route on the Capitan last season only to be shut down on the 4th pitch by a broken prosthetic, and Pete mastered one El Cap wall but he was psyched to try a harder route on the "big boy side of the Cap."
We hauled our loads to the base and fixed two pitches only to be welcomed to the Zodiac and El Cap's right side by a huge rainstorm. A day's wait in the Valley and then we took the junk show back to the base and blasted off.
Time and movement took a different form over the four days. Pete and I swung leads while Jarem jugged the haul line between us. Nights were spent in portaledges chatting about family, friends and the whole coolness of climbing in our lives. Days were filled with sketchy leads, hooking over heads and peckers, cam hooking for many feet, until the routine became normal.
On the last evening I lead the route to Peanut Ledge, the last small stance before the summit. That morning I had looked up at my next pitch which looked a lot like climbing into the mouth of an angry shark with its flakes and cracks, but it turned out to be one of the coolest pitches I have climbed. Leap frogging cams up a wide crack had me giddy. Pete took us to the top where we were greeted by some friends who had actually hiked 4 beers to the top for us!!! After repacking all the junk, we took off down the east ledges which are a lot like putting your hand in a chainsaw with a heavy pig on your back, but after a bit of suffering, we were on the pizza deck in Curry Village eating like kings.
So now, the first all-disabled ascent was worth it. It was always worth it, but sometimes when you're having Type 2 fun, you wonder. In the end, it was just climbing with my buddies on the best piece of stone in the world, enjoying every piece of the puzzle that is aid climbing.
Jarem has sworn off wall climbing, but yesterday on the hike back to the base to pick up some gear, Pete and I were already scheming the next wall together.
First we're going sport climbing though; we're not that dumb…