On October 28, our climbing anniversary, I tell him outright that I want to climb El Cap. We’ve been drinking and he’s just had a giant steak so maybe he’s a little less sensible than usual because when I say it—“I want to climb El Cap”—he smiles and shakes his head yes.
I have my place. I’m really good at carrying stuff uphill, bringing a yummy lunch, keeping my mouth shut when I’m scared or frustrated, and doing whatever Abram tells me to do without question. On El Cap, it won’t be enough. There is no way that Abram can lead every single pitch. El Cap is 3000 feet of rock climbing broken into 31 pitches, and the lead climber hauls the bag of water, food, and camping gear while the follower ascends the rope and cleans the pitch. I’ll have to lead some of it, if only to give Abram a break from managing the haul bag.
I have a question now for everyone reading this. How many of you would trust yourself with your own life, 30 feet up when you are hanging by your fingers to a rock face? Okay, how about 200 feet up,or 1000 feet up—or 3000 feet up? On El Cap you might be hanging ten feet above your last piece of gear, on one exhausted arm, while you hunt frantically around on your harness for the right piece of gear to plug in a little crack, and you’re looking straight down a vertical wall to the ground 2500 feet below. So, how many of you trust yourself? I know I don’t!
All of the high places that I have reached in my lifetime, I have reached because Abram does trust himself in that situation. Perhaps this is the reason he says “yes” to me when he could climb El Cap with a better climbing partner. He knows that we share something in our spirits that make us willing to push ourselves to the limit. Our limits are different—his is certainly more extreme than mine—but the sense of challenge is the same. So, Abram makes El Cap possible for me and I want it for my life. I want it with everything in me that wants. I want it bad.
Anyway, he’s “tied in” now that I’ve booked the plane fare!