Yesterday was by far the toughest day yet - and I came within a wisker of bailing - but now I’m lounging in my portaledge ( got to bed at midnight so having a lie in), a
I’m glad I didn’t.
What made yesterday so hard was hauling, which is always tough even when there are two, but alone it can turn into a really nightmare. The problem is that the terrain is very featured (lots of loose hanging blacks) and every time the bag got stuck I’d have to rap down and free it, the jug back and carry on (I had a grigri fixed at the bag so I could haul it at the bag sort distances). And so I seemed to spend all day jugging and rapping and hauling.
I had been fantasising about getting to the big ledge at pitch 4 but when I got there I just found a nightmare of loose blocks, one belay bolt on a wall the required careful block climbing to reach (like crossing a mine field), while the other rusty bolt was drilled into one of the bigger blocks. You do some mental calculations that x block must weight 2 tons extra, but it doesn’t ease your mind.
I guess to make matters worse just before I’d got to the ledge I’d seen a ship container sized block fall down the back off the troll (500 metres away). I heard it falling (imagine the sound of a small house falling half a mile), then saw the huge detonation as it hit the rock slabs. Very impressive, but I guess you can see how it didn’t inspire confidence in the permanence of even 2 ton blocks up here.
Final treat of the night was climbing an off width up to the belay.
Anyway I’m here now and have finally reached the solid stuff (I hope!)
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Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram