There are innumerable things to learn when taking multiple days to climb up a big wall. Kate and I had such good fortune when climbing Freerider, and the effort was truly that of a sizable team. I have many to thank for this incredible week, and a few hilarious lessons to share.
The Big Wall Lesson Session first!!
1) Don’t bring food… or water, for that matter. (Thank you Hayden, Katie, and Ben for leaving your food on Hollow Flake Ledge after the storm. We sure did eat a lot of canned beans. And thank you everyone who left the water Kate and I stashed. This does not included whomever drank a gallon, peed in the bottles, and left them on a ledge for others to clean up.)
2) In Yosemite, the classic routes are never crowded. (Freerider ascends a popular section of El Cap, sharing a majority of its pitches/ledges with the Salathe. And yet, nobody else was on the route the entire five days! They must have gotten the memo…)
3) Hauling is for wankers. (How much did we haul Kate? Nearly up to the Spire and then a small bag from there on. And that was plenty really…. Thank you Mikey, our not so secret secret weapon. And Dave!)
4) Portaledges will appear when you need them. (We didn’t bring a ledge on this route, and were anticipated an uncomfortable bivy at the sloping block. When we arrived at the ledge, however, a two person BD ledge was hanging at the anchor. Thank you Beavis and Butthead (sorry, these are the names I know you by) for stashing your gear at just the right time!).
At this point in the lesson it may be clear why this whole ascent was truly a team effort. Thank you everyone near and far for your support. And a final lesson. Even with all this help,
5) You still need to climb the route. And it will still be hard and a lot of work. Especially making yourself move well on your 4th and 5th days on.
So, thank you KATE! We tried hard. We supported one another through various mid-route breakdowns and believed in our ability. I’m very proud of us. Let’s rope up again sometime.
Photos: Mikey Schaefer will be sharing some beautiful photos soon. Until then, enjoy several that TOM EVANS took with his mega-lens from the meadow. Thank you Tom!!