I planted my feet firmly on the granite in front of me. I pressed with all my might to try and move the three heavy haul bags 150 feet below. They didn’t budge. Damn, big wall climbing is absurd, I thought to myself as we struggled to drag nearly 300 pounds of gear up El Capitan.
We were aiming for one of the only dry routes on the huge monolith. Unfortunately this side of the formation required hauling our bags up the 1200 feet of low angles slabs that make up the Muir Wall, slabs that characterize the entire southwest face of El Capitan. Soon the terrain would steepen, the loads would lighten, and the climbing would also improve.
PING! I heard the distinctive pop of a piece of gear followed by the clattering of the entire rack on Benny’s chest harness jolting and shaking as he went airborne. I snapped to attention, head spinning upwards in time to see him plummeting through the air. He started to reel over backwards but impacted the haulage before he could flip, the bag sent him head over heels and continued his fall head first down the wall. He was coming straight at me.
I threw my arms in the air to protect my face but luckily Benny came to a stop just above me. He righted himself, checked all his appendages for breaks or bruises and quickly reported he was fine, although shaken up. Our third day on the wall had started with excitement.
Oh how fun it is to lose our minds up here on the big stone.