Did I climb El Cap? (was Re: El Cap with Sulam TR)

Did I climb El Cap? (was Re: El Cap with Sulam TR)

Post by Mike » Thu, 11 May 2000 04:00:00


Pat Nay holds that jugging the Nose doesn't count as a
"climb"; he reserves that term for a traditional swapped-
lead ascent.  Other have disagreed with him, saying the
jugging-only ascents qualify as having climbed El Cap.

I don't think anyone here is "wrong" on this topic.  It's
not a black & white thing, it seems.  I'm chiming in
because I think my experience on the Nose was somewhere in
between the qualifications being discussed.

I "climbed" the Nose last summer after 8 years of trad and
aid experience at the various cliffs in North Carolina.  My
trad skills (when healthy) were around 5.9.  My aid skills
were much better, having done a large amount of A4 nailing
both partnered and solo.  I'd spent a lot of time leading
on heads and thin pins.  I'm saying this not to spray or
puff the chest, but to give you background on my
perspective when I showed up in the Valley.

I arrived in early June having semi-recovered from a
yearlong bout with tendinitis in both arms.  I had healed
enough to be pretty much pain free, but I had lost a lot of
strength.  This is the main reason why we chose to do the
Nose instead of the Shield.

My partner Dennis had done the Nose many times before,
including in a day.  He was climbing strong at Valley
5.11.  He wound up linking and freeing a lot of pitches
that went well that way, while I did many that usually get
aided.  However, he led more pitches overall than I did, so
I jugged more than he.  I hauled on the pitches I led, and
helped him haul early on when the bag was heavy.  We both
used some fixed lines for a few pitches set by parties
ahead of us due to a logjam above Camp 4.  My arms did not
hold up well.

So, did I climb El Cap?

In all honesty and humility, I feel that I did.  I feel
this way because, no matter the details of who led what, I
was challenged quite strongly by the situations and I dealt
with them successfully.  My arms were falling apart, so
even basic 5.7 was surprisingly tough on me.  Plus I had an
enormous emotional burden from never having done El Cap
before.

Am I superior to Sulam or Mark Wellman?  No way.  But I
feel I was kind of in Mark Wellman's situation: the climb
posed challenges to me that wouldn't bother most other wall
climbers, yet overcoming those challenges took everything I
had to give.

This leads me to my final comments:

Quote:

>Naw cut the relativity crap, this isn't deconstructionist
>climbing that only relates to the individuals experience.

I have to disagree, Pat.  My El Cap trip was absolutely
deconstructionist!  The only meaning I gleaned from the
ascent was based on my own unique experience at the time.  
Sure, the Nose is a relative cakewalk to most folks.  Sure,
I've done tougher climbing in the past.  But on those 3.5
days, in my mental and physical condition at the time, the
Nose was a true handful... for me.

Quote:
>How we weigh, judge, categorize climbing is based on an
>evolved criteria set by others over time.

Pat, isn't this criteria really being used to judge the
climbers and not the climbs?

Quote:
>If what others thought didn't matter why are we having
>this conversation anyway?

I suppose it's because other wreck.climbers decided to
object to your implied invalidation of Sulam's ascent.  You
followed up with "not to invalidate..." or "not to
detract...", but I think the tone of detraction was plain.

When it comes to the idea of "what others think doesn't
really matter", kind of the "it's the experience, not who
wins" perspective, there's a lot of b.s. out there.  Many
people claim to do something "just for personal
satisfaction", but inwardly yearn to be seen as "the best"
or the victor among their peers.

But I claim just such a "experience mattered most" attitude
towards my Nose climb.  Nobody else will ever understand
how hard that route pushed me.  El Cap shoved me against a
brick wall and said "the only way you'll summit is if you
reach deeper inside than you've ever had to before.  Doing
so is your only hope."

I responded by sucking it up and grappling with the
challenge as best I could.  I earned the summit prize, and
it was worth every bit of effort.

It all happened on that great trip last summer, when I
climbed El Cap.

Mike
--
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Did I climb El Cap? (was Re: El Cap with Sulam TR)

Post by mikrkc.. » Thu, 11 May 2000 04:00:00

Quote:

> But I claim just such a "experience mattered most" attitude
> towards my Nose climb.  Nobody else will ever understand
> how hard that route pushed me.  El Cap shoved me against a
> brick wall and said "the only way you'll summit is if you
> reach deeper inside than you've ever had to before.  Doing
> so is your only hope."

> I responded by sucking it up and grappling with the
> challenge as best I could.  I earned the summit prize, and
> it was worth every bit of effort.

> It all happened on that great trip last summer, when I
> climbed El Cap.

> Mike
> --

Very well stated. Going up El Cap (or any wall for that matter) is more
about adventure than climbing, (at least in my eyes)and to me is the
sole purpose why I choose such endeavours.

Mike Esparza

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Did I climb El Cap? (was Re: El Cap with Sulam TR)

Post by Rex Piep » Thu, 11 May 2000 04:00:00

Off topic, but you've got a bogus email address:

Mike Adams, how's your tendonitis now? Got any
Valley wall plans this summer? Email me.

-Rex Pieper

remove ".XSPAM" from signature to reply

 
 
 

Did I climb El Cap? (was Re: El Cap with Sulam TR)

Post by j.. » Fri, 12 May 2000 04:00:00

I would dare anyone to tell my 2 partners, Jon and Marek, that they
didn't "climb" the Muir Wall in 1998 with me.  They jumared the whole
wall and hauled 97% of it.  Jon is a 245lb bouncer at a strip club and
as you could imaging, a hauling 'machine'.  Marek is a former national
badminton champion for Czechoslovakia, and is tough too-although he did
whine a bit about the heavy pigs.

If you get to the top of El Cap, I don't care if it's by hook or by
crook, you "climbed" it.  Just the sheer physical effort of it all
qualifies in my book.  I would rather lead personally, but without J
and M, I would not have done TM Herbert's classic El Cap route.  It's
all about TEAMWORK and knowing your role.

Jim Arnold
PS-www.climbnet.com/bwc101.html

Quote:
> Pat Nay holds that jugging the Nose doesn't count as a
> "climb"; he reserves that term for a traditional swapped-
> lead ascent.  Other have disagreed with him, saying the
> jugging-only ascents qualify as having climbed El Cap.

> I don't think anyone here is "wrong" on this topic.  It's
> not a black & white thing, it seems.

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