Monday, January 5, 2015

Even the language is thrilling

I love the writeup in National Geographic's Beyond the Edge blog: Yosemite Climbers Attempt Historic First Free Ascent of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall.

I'm not a climber, nor will I ever be (waaaay too much fear of heights), but I really enjoyed reading the article.

This week all eyes are on climbing’s center stage, El Capitan, the 3,000-foot monolith in Yosemite National Park, as professional climbers Tommy Caldwell, one of our 2015 Adventurers of the Year, and Kevin Jorgeson vie to make history and complete the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall. Should they be successful in free climbing the Dawn Wall, it will be one of the most significant climbing achievements of all time.

I'm sure that at least part of the reason I'm fascinated by climbing is because it's a "gearhead sport"; that is, there's lots of equipment to learn about.

But another reason that I find climbing fascinating is the exotic jargon it's evolved to describe the activities of the sport:

Pitch 16 is the infamous “Dyno Pitch,” in which the climber has to make a jump (dyno) six feet horizontally, and latch onto a downward sloping edge of rock and hold on while controlling the swinging momentum. Thus far Kevin has had the most success in sticking this rowdy move; Tommy, however, has had less success. On this push, Kevin plans to do the dyno.

Tommy, however, plans to circumnavigate the dyno with a 5.14a variation. He will climb in a “loop”—reversing 20 feet of the last pitch, down-climbing 50 feet from the belay, and then coming back up to join a point above the dyno.

Yes, we need the rain (oh, boy do we need the rain).

But yes, it's been delightful to go for long walks in the park during my holiday break, and to ride my bike to work each day.

And yes, it's delightful when an extended stretch of clear, dry weather leads to such a thrilling event!

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