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Archive for May 5th, 2018

“You stumble into the forest and wend through the pines that finally open up, and there–before you, above you, around you–a sea of granite soars straight off the talus, stunning for its colors and sheer bulk; and terrible for the emptiness that sets in your gut as your eyes pan up its titanic corners and towers…

We were over 2500 feet up the wall now, into the really prime stuff. Here the exposure is so enormous, and your perspective so distorted, that the horizontal world becomes incomprehensible. You’re a granite astronaut, dangling in a kind of space/time warp. And if there is any place where you will understand why men and women climb mountains, it is here in these breezy dihedrals, high in the sky.”

– John Long, Nose In A Day, First person to climb El Capitan in single day, 1975

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It’s a really busy morning but I did find time to watch a film on the record breaking climb up the face of El Capitan in Yosemite that took place in October of last year. Climbers Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds scaled the granite icon, once considered an impossible climb, in a mind boggling 2 hours 19 minutes and 44 seconds. To give you an idea of the speed we’re dealing with, most climbers, who must be very experienced just to make such an attempt, spend 3-4 days on the wall before reaching the summit.

Pictures don’t do justice to the sense of awe El Capitan inspires. The idea of someone walking up to its formidable base and basically just climbing up it seems ridiculous. The imagery in the film brings a sense of scale, with the climbers appearing like mites running along the back of a huge hairless beast. It also gives you an idea of how many people are on the face of this monolith at any given time even though it appears completely devoid of life from a distance. I had to laugh to see these two men as they seemingly fly by traffic on the wall.

Take a look. There is something very mesmerizing, even centering, in this short film. Not a bad way to start your own busy Saturday.

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