I saw Mash before he saw me. Somehow I got the drop on him. He was unpacking the El Cap haul bag and gesticulating intensely, no doubt talking about dolphins having sex under a full moonbow in the tranquil waters of his homeland, Costa Rica. It pretty much went like this:
“Mash! Great to see you...What’s up?”
“We’re climbing El Cap, you and me.”
“Well, my brother’s here, we’re thinking about getting on The Salathe”
“Great, let’s DO IT! But let’s climb The Nose first to warm-up, then we’ll rest for like one day, THEN climb The Salathe!!”
Then he gave me a small, silver frog charm which he blessed in Costa Rica, (Mash is a shaman) and attached it to some p-cord and my neck. I’m still a bit concerned about having a full strength piece of cord around my spinal column and sole airway...but no problems yet!
Mash is full of cosmic psyche and really good at convincing, but back to back Cap’n routes seemed like a bit much. We slept on it, and Joel and I decided just climbing The Salathe would be enough, for now...
Mash has climbed The Nose approximately one billion times, and doesn’t seem to be any less excited about a couple billion more ascents. He’d climbed The Salathe some ten years before, and volunteered to haul “the whole route” while we climbed free (well mostly free). What? A shaman haul monkey?? Perrrfect.
My brother had never climbed a proper El Cap route, what better way to start than “the greatest rock climb in the world”, to quote Royal Robbins. I’d tried the route two years prior...and bailed after hauling chimneys sapped my energy for climbing free, and the weather...wait its Cali...yes the sun, that’s it! And, well it was too hot, so...
Sooo, here it is...THE El Capitan!!
So it begins...Joel climbing on P5 Freeblast
Joel leads below The Half Dollar
Malu, Joel, and an Orange on Heart Ledges
Alex and Mash on Hollow Flake Ledge
Did you get your tickets?
The FrEEbiRD himself!!
Roger Suen leading below The Ear
Behind The Spire, an increeeedible spot!
Mash is below in The Alcove
Chillin' hard as I lead above The Spire
Roger and Alex approaching The Salathe Headwall at dusk
Sending love from The Block at dusk
The Monkey Shaman tackles The Roooof, approximately 9pm
Looking well rested on Looong Ledge.
Not quite long enough for 5 monkeys!
Fusterclucking near the summit
Roger jammin' some amazing free pitch waaay up!
Soaking it in on the descent
We're gonna need a bigger van...