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|Submitted by Tom Evans on Sun, 01/04/2015 - 16:12|
ElCap Report 1.3.14 Special Dawn Wall Edition Day 8
Brought to you by “Adidas Outdoor”
By Tom Evans
Yo … Big time climbing here in Yosemite! This climb, “The Climb of the Century”, is getting world-wide attention, as Kevin and Tommy are seemingly riding the winds of success to what looks like victory. The NY Times has the famous reporter, John Branch, here to cover the story. The story is being carried by regular media, not just climbing related media. Psyched to be here, in the thick of the action…albeit from a thousand yards away! But, as you faithful readers know, distance is erased by my Big Gun, which zooms us up close to those micro holds and tic marks. They have been on the wall 8 days so far… you can smell them from here!!
So … the holidays are over and most of you are back at work.. Cubicle Pukes.. arise!! Take a break and come with me…your man at the scene of the most memorable climb in many a year. Forget about those flash and dash climbs and all the hype they generate… this is the real deal and you are right there, up close and personal!
Today’s ElCap Report..written just for you..unique in all the world!
A good sized crowd, for this time of year especially, started gathering around 10 this morning, in anticipation of serious climbing, on extremely difficult rock. The 15 pitch is one of the three linchpin pitches upon which success rests. It is rated 14d and twice as long at the 14d pitch sent a couple of days ago.
1) Kevin and Tommy had a leisurely morning and are seen here at “The Camp” having some coffee and soaking up some warmth after a cold night in freezing temperatures.
2) Down below were Erik Sloan and partner, Ryan Sheridan, both of whom are essential to the success of the operation. They are the men who do the dirty work of logistics. They haul hundreds of pounds of provisions up the face, doing many hours of backbreaking toil to keep the climbing team and photographers in provisions. Every few days they are up early and off to work. Here they are just below Stork Ledge, 550ft up, hauling several hundred pounds of provisions up to The Camp.
3) In a lighter moment… someone in the meadow said that a climber was rappelling down the face, from near the top. I knew that wasn’t part of the plan so I swung the big gun up and took a look. There, much to our surprise was a man, completely nude, except for a harness and shoes, rappelling a short distance from the top! He was doing the porch swing it turned out and a video is available on line!! And I thought I had seen everything possible in my 20 years of shooting on the Big Stone!
4) Later in the morning, Kevin when up to the Tan Band to “tic” the routes minute holds so they could see the them, as they climbed, poised between skill and gravity.
5) The men had decided their best chance for success, on this ridiculously hard pitch, was to climb late in the day, after the direct sunlight was off the route. Around 3pm the 4 photographers were in place, the crowd assembled and there was nothing left to do but give it their all. Here they are just about to start. Kevin is on the right, looking down at the gathering multitudes.
6) Soon Tommy launched onto the pitch. He is so smooth and his technique so polished that it was difficult to see where the hard parts of the pitch were! After a relatively short time he fell from about half way across the pitch. He returned to the start of the pitch and after Kevin went out to check some of the route again, he started again. Here he is way along the pitch climbing with strength, determination, and skill. Photographers rope in the picture.. sorry!
7) Powerful moves got him around the difficult crux section of the pitch and he was soon across to the end and the crowd below went wild!!
8) The climbers are not alone out there on those difficult pitches, as would be normal on ElCap. Normally, when you are out there on the sharp end of the rope, with your partner out of sight and a fresh wind jostling you about, fear lurks and if you lose concentration you can quickly get into serious trouble. Here you see some of the photographers, hovering around like relatives at the reading of a will. Kevin, in green, is taking a look at the last part of the pitch, which he was soon to start, when darkness came and I departed the freezing meadow, as the big gun doesn’t like darkness, and I don't like the cold!
9) Brett Lowell got to spend the afternoon and evening hanging in free space, 1,500 ft above the ground, taking those extra cool shots of the climbers. Brett Lowell, in the catbird seat.
10) On the way to the Lodge, for a quick supper, I happened to see the moonrise off to the east. Screeeech! I hit the brakes and jumped out of the car to get this shot.
Kevin was soon to climb and had his headlamp and some photographers lighting to help him see the way. Celestial events combined to give him the best the night has to offer, a full moon! As I write this I do not know if Kevin succeeded on the pitch but I do know that he gave it everything he had and, no matter what, his relentless determination would eventually carry the day.
Tomorrow, another crux pitch, with wild leaps and thin technical climbing. Come on back folks, for every pitch is now a crux pitch and like I’ve said before, “You don’t have it made, until you have it done.”
So that’s the way it is, on this Saturday, the 3rd day of 2015.
Capt. Tom … signing off from “The Climb of the Century”