Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 12 on the Dawn Wall

In 2011 Kevin had injured his ankle and was unable to give the Dawn Wall a push attempt.  To fill in I went up with Tommy, belaying him on the wall for 10 days.  At the end of 10 days living off the ground I came down feeling weak.  I felt like my deep core had lost its strength.  Granted, I wasn't climbing, just jumaring (ascending the ropes behind Tommy), but it was interesting to see what living in that environment did to your body.  I don't know the science behind it all or how this type of living really affects your body, but I think walking and the way gravity puts force on our bodies when we're on the ground naturally gives them a little strength.  Being in a walking position strengthens your core because you have to hold your upper body upright.  Tommy and Kevin are doing a lot of stretching and exercises while they are on their portaledges, and they are of course climbing, so that helps to keep their bodies in shape, but I think despite that, living on the wall slowly takes its toll on your body.

There are 4 pitches between pitch 16 and Wino Tower (one of the few ledge features on the Dawn Wall).  These 4 pitches are a bit easier than the crux pitches that Tommy just climbed through, but they are still difficult and require Tommy and Kevin to be climbing really well to finish them.  As Kevin rests his skin so he can finish pitch 15, it is important for Tommy to be able to keep climbing to keep his fitness up.  Tommy and Kevin decided yesterday that while Kevin rested Tommy would attempt to climb up to Wino Tower.  Last night Tommy was able to climb pitches 17 and 18, which are both mid 5.13 in difficulty.  Tonight he will attempt to finish pitches 19 and 20.  Once Tommy has completed these last two pitches to Wino Tower he will just focus on being support for Kevin while he tries to finish pitch 15 and work his way to catch back up to Tommy.  

Checking out the views after a snowstorm when I belayed Tommy on the Dawn Wall in 2011.  Photo:  Big UP Productions

2011 Portaledge selfie.

13 comments:

  1. Hmm - not sure if my previous post worked... here it goes again:

    How is Tommy continuing his ascent if Kevin is still trying to send 15? Is someone else belaying Tommy on 16-20?

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    Replies
    1. Kevin is belaying Tommy, and Tommy will belay Kevin. They are able to move around on the wall between pitches. Kevin just won't advance his climbing until he's finished pitch 15. Does that make sense?

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  2. Totally! Thanks for the quick response! I figured that was the case, but wasn't sure how easy it would be for them to move around to get back and belay the other after completing a climb.

    I'll be following closely - this endeavor is truely epic! Your updates are better than any news article I've read yet and I'm super stoked for how well Tommy is doing, and wish all the best for Kevin to redpoint Pitch 15 soon!

    Cheers,
    Raphael

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  3. Hey Becca ... great post. This is Jason Blevins with The Denver Post. Can I bother you for a quick phone chat? I'm at 303-564-5192 / jblevins@denverpost.com Thanks
    -j

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  4. Becca I posted something here earlier today but not sure it went up. I'm with the positive content website Heartbeings.com and was trying to see if we could submit 5 questions to Tommy and Kevin for our Q&A section. Let me know if this is doable. heartbeings1@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately the guys want to keep focused and aren't responding to media until after the climb is finished. I hope you understand! Thanks!

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  5. Go Tommy and Kevin! When the European Space Agency was given the option of sending climbers to the dawn wall or landing a probe on a comet .... they chose the comet! You guys are true pioneers!

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