Monday, October 18, 2010

Pitch 16: The Dyno

It's October 18th already! Where has the time gone!? After my birthday, Tommy and I got right to work by hiking up the East Ledges and establishing our basecamp on Wino Tower. Despite the seasonal early October storm, the weather has remained warm (80's!), far too hot to work on these tough pitches in the daylight. This was no surprise however. We planned on doing a lot of night climbing this season and that's exactly what we've been doing. About 4pm every day, the wall goes into the shade. We'll eat a big dinner and rappel off Wino Tower to work on the 4 pitches below us (pitch 16: 5.14, pitch 17: 5.13c, pitch 18: 5.13c or d and pitch 19: 5.13c). Climbing at night has worked out great. It's quiet, cool, and time seems to stand still. Hours will pass in the solitude of your headlamp and thoughts before arriving back at Wino Tower sometime in the middle of the night.

During our last two day stint on the wall, Tommy and I focused on the "Dyno Pitch." This pitch features three distinct cruxes: the dyno (obviously), the super thin dihedral directly above, and the crimp liebacking at the top. On the first night (we've been climbing from 5pm - 1am lately for optimal conditions), we worked out a great sequence for the dihedral and liebacking. Tommy linked the pitch from above the dyno to the top and I managed from the middle of the dihedral to the top. This was a huge breakthrough for both of us. The next morning was cloudy and windy, so we had the treat of climbing in the daylight. When Tommy said he wanted to work on the dyno that day, I wasn't so sure. But, after a few cups of coffee, I could hardly contain myself. Our buddy Cooper Blackhurst was with us and snapped a few photos of the dyno...

The Set Up

The Leap!!

The Catch

To my great surprise, my body remembered how to execute the move, and within a few tries, I was sticking the dyno! This was a great relief for me, as this is one more of seven 5.14 pitches that is feeling more and more feasible with every attempt. Where Tommy excels at super technical climbing, I guess I can jump. Tommy came close to sticking the move at least 15 times, but alas, no dice. I'm not too worried though. He'll stick it. And when he does, we'll turn our attention to the MEAT of the climb: the two traverse pitches between Mescalito and The Wall of Early Morning Light.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For the last 11 years, I have been spending my birthday in Yosemite. The tradition started on my 16th birthday and has since grown to a great community trip of my closest friends and family. To everyone who made it out, thanks for making it a great birthday. To those who didn't make it, you were missed! 

It's that time of year again: Valley season! Tommy and I will be in Yosemite for all of October and November trying to finish off the Dawn Wall/Mescalito Project. I'm packing up everything I need for the next two months: ropes, fresh shoes, haul bags, rack, tons of chalk, and a whole summer's worth of psyche. I think about El Cap every day. I even dreamt about the first traverse pitch a couple nights ago. The pitch ends standing at a no hands rest on a 9 inch wide foot ledge. You're smack in the middle of the blankest part of the wall, surrounded by a sea of granite, strangely comfortable. In my dream, I made it through all the cruxes and was rocking onto the foot ledge (also quite hard) when I finally stood up, only to realize that I was so precariously perched I couldn't reach to clip the anchors without falling! Noooooooo!!!!  While in Colorado this summer, Tommy and I did a long interview with Dougald McDonald in Estes Park. The interview and photos (from Tim Kemple and Corey Rich) just hit the newstands in the October issue of Climbing Magazine. I was worried about all the press this project has been receiving, especially considering the fact that it is still a project. I didn't want it to create the expectation and pressure of completion. Instead, To my relief, it feels like there is an overwhelming level of support, energy and encouragement. This goes a long way when the going gets tough, so thank you.