Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Go Cllimb a Mountain Young Man

El Capitan-Yosemite Valley, California
     Mt. Everest gets lots of ink: highest, most challenging, wind, cold, oxygen, altitude sickness, death will be your companion.   They'll find your body in a few years when the glacier melts.  Ho-hum.   Now folks are paying big bucks to make the summit.   But there are other challenges; some closer to Tahoma and Lake Tahoe.
        Take Yosemite Valley, the National Park.   Not very high you say.  Weather is almost always nice: real summers.  Ok.  I get it: child's play.  Can't even find a Nepalese who can say "Yosemite".  But, wait, Yosemite has some unique features: slab-faced granite walls, measured in the thousands of feet.   It can take a team days or a week to make the effort.   An individual can take even longer: camping in a swing hammock, high above the valley floor, with hardly any shelter from winds, rain, and cold.   Half Dome is the object of many a photo with its stark outline, treeless shoulders, and long drop, with Yosemite Falls right close by.   On the opposite side of the valley is another well known feature:  El Capitan-The Captain.
       This granite monolith attracts its share of climbers.  The crowds who are visiting often have the chance to watch the climbers in action as they slowly crawl heavenward, tactically placing their holds/irons and ropes as they crisscross the 'face'.   But this great rock also attracted someone unusual.  It attracted one Alex Honnold, age 31 years.  He studied the rock face of "El Cap" for two years.  He made his plans.   He got his head straight.  He focused.  Then, he climbed.
      His effort was the first of its kind: free-soloing the entire climb.   That is, he climbed alone without ropes or aids.  National Geographic called the effort the most dangerous climb ever.   Climbing professionals say 4 days is the usual amount of time required for a similar climb.  Mr. Honnold did it in less than 4 hours.  Alone. 
      What does one do after this feat?  What else is there?  Go climb another face?  Hmmmm.
      Congratulations, Mr. Alex Honnold. 

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