REAL BIG. For those that are new to the Wonderful World of Yosemite – welcome.
El Cap is the largest exposed piece of granite on planet earth. Bigger than those monsters you see in Norway. It is unbroken – a giant ancient magma Pluton that cooled and hardened under intense pressure while it was under miles of dirt thousands of years ago. It turned into granite. With erosion, the rock was cut by Glacier action and sits overlooking the 3,000 ft valley.
The Ahwahneechee natives called it “The Chief” – aka The Captain (white man’s term. While Half Dome is the signature landmark of the park, El Cap is the world climbing mecca. At 3,000 feet above the meadow, it has been a target for men and women for decades.
Listen – I am NOT a climber and do not want to be perceived as a poser……I do admire them. I can’t do what they do. My passion is Half Dome.
It used to take DAYS to get to the top. Using pitons, anchors, ropes and grit. They hauled up 70-pound bags full of their stuff. Everything that goes up…has to come down in the bag. No pee or poop is allowed to freefall down. (Whew).
So last weekend, Alex Honnold made it to the top in a hair below 4 hours. Bottom to top…with NO ropes or aids of any kind. No protection…just a bag of chalk to keep his fingers dry. Think about it. Cramming his fingers into slots half the diameter of his phalanges.
Granite is prefect for climbing. An igneous rock, it is very strong and does not flake off (look at your kitchen counter). Up he goes – last Saturday alone at 6:30 am. The outrageous crowds over Labor Day have gone and all this is kept secret – no gawkers to pressure him. Filmed by National Geographic and photos by Tom Evans, he made it. We’ll see it soon in the NG magazine, then the documentary. Alex did the impossible.
Back Story: Honnold gets up Half Dome in record time
Oh, he’s also gone up the face of Half Dome a bit faster than my 11-hour hike …. He free solo’d up that in less than 2 hours.
A tip of the Tilley hat to Alex and his spirit of adventure.
Live – don’t exist.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Don’t dream it – be it” – Rocky Horror Picture Show”
Read “One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome