Philippe Petit From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Philippe Petit
Petit at WTC, 1974 Born August 13, 1948 (age 60) Nemours, France Occupation High wire artist Philippe Petit (born August 13, 1948) is a French high wire artist who gained fame for his illegal walk between the Twin Towers in New York City on August 7, 1974.  He used a 450-pound cable to do so and also a custom-made 26-foot (7.9 m) long, 55-pound balancing pole. Tight-rope walker, unicyclist, magician and pantomime artist, Philippe Petit was also one of the earliest modern day street jugglers in Paris in 1968. He juggled and worked on a slack rope with regularity in Washington Square Park in New York City in the early 1970s. Petit is one of the Artists-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Other famous structures he has used for tightrope walks include Notre Dame de Paris, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Louisiana Superdome, the Hennepin County Government Center, and between the Palais de Chaillot and the Eiffel Tower. Petit currently lives in Woodstock, New York. A documentary film named Man on Wire by UK director James Marsh dealing with Petit's WTC performance won both the World Cinema Jury and Audience awards at the Sundance Filmfestival 2008. The film also won awards at the 2008 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, N.C. Contents [hide] 1 Planning the World Trade Center walk 2 The walk between the towers 3 Consequences of the walk 4 Bibliography 5 References 6 Notes 7 Further reading 8 External links Planning the World Trade Center walk
Petit was first inspired while he sat in his dentist's office in Paris in 1968. He came upon an article on the as-yet unbuilt towers, along with an illustration of the model. He then became obsessed with the towers, collecting articles on them whenever possible. Petit also traveled to New York on several occasions to make first-hand observations. Since the towers were still under construction, Philippe and an amateur photographer went up in a helicopter to do aerial photographs of the WTC. Using his own observations and photographs, Petit was able to make a scale model of the towers to help him figure out the rigging he needed to prepare for the upcoming wirewalk. Petit made fake identification cards for himself and his collaborators (claiming that they were contractors that were installing an electrified fence on the roof) in order to gain access to the towers. Prior to this, Petit sneaked into the towers several times, hiding on the roof and other areas in the unfinished towers, in order to get a sense of what type of security measures were in place. To make it easier to sneak into the buildings, Petit carefully observed the clothes worn by construction workers and the kinds of tools they carried, as well as the clothing of businessmen so that he would blend in with them when he tried to enter the buildings. He also noted what time the workers arrived and left, so he could determine when he would have roof access. He once even claimed that he was with a French architecture magazine wanting to interview the workers on the roof. The Port Authority allowed Petit to conduct the interviews, but the real reason he wanted to be up on the roof was to make more observations. He was once caught by a police officer on the roof, and his hopes to do the high wire walk were dampened, but he eventually regained the confidence to proceed. Petit and his crew were able to ride in a freight elevator to the 104th floor with their equipment the day before the walk, and were able to store this equipment just nineteen steps from the roof. In order to pass the cable across the void, Petit and his crew decided to use a bow and arrow. They first shot across a fishing line, and then passed larger and larger ropes across the space between the towers until they were able to pass the 450-pound steel cable across. Cavalettis (guy lines) were used to stabilize the cable and keep the swaying of the wire to a minimum. For the first time in the history of the Twin Towers, they were joined. The 'artistic crime of the century' took six years of planning, during which he learned everything he could about the buildings, taking into account such problems as the swaying of the towers because of wind and how to get the steel walk cable across the 140-foot (43 m) gap between the towers. The walk between the towers
The cover of The New Yorker magazine on the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks On August 7, 1974, shortly after 7:15 a.m., Petit stepped off the South Tower and onto his 3/4" 6×19 IWRC steel cable. The 25-year-old Petit made eight crossings between the mostly-finished towers, a quarter mile above the sidewalks of Manhattan, in an event that lasted about 45 minutes. During that time, in addition to walking, he sat on the wire, gave knee salute and, while lying on the wire, dialogued with a gull circling above his head. Port Authority Police Department Sgt. Charles Daniels, who was dispatched to the roof to bring Petit down, later reported his experience: I observed the tightrope 'dancer'—because you couldn't call him a 'walker'—approximately halfway between the two towers. And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire....And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle....He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again....Unbelievable really....[E]verybody was spellbound in the watching of it. Petit was warned by his friend on the South tower that a police helicopter would come to pick him off the wire. A rain had begun to fall and Petit decided he had tempted the gods long enough, so he decided to give himself up to the police waiting for him on the South tower. He was arrested once he stepped off the wire. The police – provoked by his taunting behaviour while on the wire – handcuffed him behind his back and roughly pushed him down a flight of stairs. This he later described as the most dangerous part of the stunt. His audacious high wire performance made headlines around the world. When asked why he did the stunt, Petit would say "When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk." Consequences of the walk
Page 3 (lying under the cover) of the September 11, 2006 issue of The New Yorker magazine. The immense news coverage and public appreciation of Petit's high wire walk resulted in all formal charges relating to his walk being dropped. The court did however "sentence" Petit to perform a show for the children of New York City, which he transformed into another high-wire walk, in Central Park above Belvedere Lake (which has now become Turtle Pond.) Petit was also presented with a lifetime pass to the Twin Towers' Observation Deck by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. His signature was on a steel beam close to his departure. Petit's high-wire walk is credited with bringing the then rather unpopular Twin Towers much needed popular attention and affection. Up to that point, people such as technology historian Lewis Mumford had regarded them as ugly and utilitarian, and the not-yet completed buildings were having trouble renting their office space.
Silvia Vidal big wall climbing on Huascaran North, Peru
From 23 July to 9 August Silvia Vidal and Youri Cappis carried out the first ascent of "Entre boires" A3/6a+/80º on the East Face of Huascaran North (Cordillera Blanca, Peru).
Silvia Vidal continues to explore the world's biggest walls. From 23 July to 9 August the Catalan climber teamed up with Youri Cappis to carry out the first ascent of "Entre boires" A3/6a+/80º on the East Face of Huascaran North (Cordillera Blanca, Peru). Her expedition report is published below:
Entre boires, Huascaran North, Peru by Silvia Vidal From 23rd July to 9 August, after 7 days hauling all the stuff to the base of the wall, acclimatising and fixing the first 200 meters of the route, Youri Cappis (from Switzerland but now living in Catalonia) and I climbed a new route on East Face Huascaran North.
Youri had no previous experience on Big Walls, but he wanted to come along and experiment living on a wall for numerous days, at altitude and without any connection to "civilization". 10 days before starting for Peru he had never even used a Jumar. He practiced it for 2 days and... came along. It turned out to be an amazing experience for him and also for me!
We established ABC at 5200 meters and after the 7 days acclimatizing, hauling and fixing, we started up the wall. Our intention was to climb a rock triangle and then continue to the top. We failed to reach the summit because of bad weather, ice conditions and because of the extremely difficult return to our portaledges.
The main difficulty of the route was the route finding, this proved complex climbing upwards and even more difficult in descent. The first section is marked by numerous roofs which we attempted to avoid. The middle section is comprised of snow and ice up to 80º and hauling and rappelling with haulbags proved tiring. The final section is overhanging and the rock quality changes considerably, from very loose to bomber. Thankfully the line of ascent is direct and easy up this final section.
Access to the wall is pretty dangerous because of the avalanches from the serac in between the two Huascaranes. Furthermore, the base of the wall is prone to rockfall and our fixed rope was cut in two places. While the route itself is pretty safe thanks to the big roofs and the overhangs, we encountered difficulties rappelling through the overhang spent two and a half days abseiling down through the roofs, traverses and snow sections.
We spent a total of 18 days (17 bivouacs) on the wall and did not have a single day of excellent weather. Intense cold froze our waterbottles and caused some troubles with our feet, hands and nose. As a result I spent some days soloing pitches while Youri rested on the portaledge.
It seemed to us that we were climbing up a virgin wall and we had failed to find any information about other possible routes. This had been a really bad season in Peru and although we had some sunny moments, we climbed almost entirely through fog and snowfall. That's why we called the route "Entre boires", which in Catalan means "inside the fog".
Entre boires East Face of Huascaran North (Cordillera Blanca, Peru) Silvia Vidal & Youri Cappis, 23/07 - 09/08/2008 ABC: 5200m Base of the wall: 5350m End of the route: 6150m Route length: 970m 3 Wall camps: C1/R5 5500m, C2/R10 5750m, C3/R14 5950m Grade: A3/6a+/80º Days on the wall: 18 days Fixed rope: 200 m
Ele enfrentou 16 dias de escalada artificial em solitário para atingir o cume de 1.000 metros do El Captain, uma das paredes mais verticais do mundo. Repetiu o feito seis vezes, cada hora por uma via mais complicada, e em duas saltou lá de cima praticando base jump. Aos 29 anos, o escalador e base jumper Nicola Martinez brilha como o maior especialista brasileiro em ascensões difíceis no Yosemite, parque norte-americano considerado a meca mundial da escalada em big wall
Por Daniel Nunes Gonçalves
JÁ TINHAM SE PASSADO DEZ DIAS desde que o escalador Nicola Martinez, 29 anos, pendurara seus haulbags – os sacos onde são carregados equipamentos e mantimentos – na parede do Half Dome, no Parque Nacional de Yosemite, na Califórnia (EUA). Ele estava pronto para escalar a Queen of Spades, uma complicada via graduada em A4 (na escala que vai até A5), no estilo que virou sua especialidade: artificial em solitário. A única vez que um grupo fez aquela ascensão foi em 1984. Nicola levou quase uma semana para carregar mais de 120 quilos de equipamento até a base da parede. Esperou uma tempestade passar e gastou outros três dias buscando mais comida – a que ele havia carregado para a montanha dias antes fora devorada por um urso, que o encarou a uma distância de um metro do portaledge que o abrigava. Logo no começo da escalada, quando já estava a uns 120 metros do solo, Nicola despencou por 6 metros e ficou suspenso pelo equipamento. Ele não sentia dores depois dessa queda inicial e, incansável, retomou o ataque, arriscando diferentes equipamentos no intuito de avançar em uma das big walls mais temidas do mundo. “Saí da terceira ancoragem consciente de que o blocão que me segurava não era dos mais confiáveis”, lembra. De repente, o susto: Nicola viu a rocha desabando em sua direção, encolheu-se e logo sentiu o impacto no capacete, na mão esquerda, no joelho. Para seu alívio, embora parte da parede tenha cedido, a corda não se rompeu. Usando uma só mão – a esquerda, ensangüentada, doía muito –, ele precisou de mais de duas horas para descer dali em um delicado processo de auto-resgate. Experiente, Nicola se safou sem traumas e poucos dias depois decidiu se recuperar divertindo-se de uma forma não menos arriscada: saltando de base jump de uma ponte de 250 metros em Auburn, na Califórnia. O perrengue acima aconteceu em junho deste ano, mas desafios como esses fazem parte da rotina de Nicola Martinez Gomes, um descendente de espanhóis de 29 anos que, mesmo pouco conhecido no Brasil, está dando o que falar nas rodinhas de escaladores internacionais. Especialmente se o assunto for o Yosemite: Nicola é um verdadeiro expert nos desafios dessa Meca outdoor. Desde que esse paulista criado em Londrina (PR) estreou na escalada, em 1997, tem evoluído no esporte numa velocidade impressionante. Já explorou, com técnicas diferentes e por dias a fio, montanhas dos Estados Unidos, Itália, Inglaterra, Canadá. Mas foram as big wall do parque californiano que o fisgaram de fato. Faz quatro anos que Nicola passa temporadas de seis meses ali, escalando ou saltando de base jump, e acumulando uma experiência que lhe rendeu uma lista de predicados inédita entre brasileiros: é o homem com o maior número de escaladas em big wall do Yosemite, o primeiro a subir em solitário o El Captain (o maior monolito de granito do mundo) e o único que explorou essa parede mais de dez vezes e por sete vias distintas.
“ESCALO HÁ 17 ANOS E NUNCA VI alguém evoluir com essa rapidez em uma modalidade de escalada tão difícil e desgastante”, diz o escalador e fotógrafo Márcio Bruno, 33 anos, citado por Nicola como influência entre os escaladores brasileiros, assim como Eliseu Frechou e Sérgio Tartari. “Ele escala no estilo mais bonito e difícil, com uma impressionante resistência física e psicológica mesmo quando exposto a riscos prolongados”, continua, referindo-se à modalidade de escalada em que o escalador se move sustentado por peças que agüentam somente o peso do seu corpo, em um meticuloso processo de escolha do caminho e do melhor equipamento entre centenas de opções técnicas. Em 1997, Márcio subia a Pedra do Baú, em São Bento do Sapucaí (SP), quando conheceu Nicola, então um novato dando seus primeiros passos num curso básico de escalada. Nicola gostou tanto do negócio que encasquetou: iria juntar dinheiro para virar escalador profissional, comprar bons equipamentos e realizar o sonho de conhecer Yosemite. O rapaz traçou uma estratégia e seguiu à risca. Enquanto explorava montanhas do Paraná, de São Paulo e Santa Catarina, conseguiu que fosse reconhecida a cidadania herdada por seus avós espanhóis. Aos 19 anos, com passaporte europeu, mudou-se para o Velho Continente. Desistiu de cursar faculdade e foi praticar inglês, italiano e espanhol durante dois anos. Foi barman, motorista de caminhão, cozinheiro num refúgio de montanha. Juntou dinheiro até que, em 2004, conheceu os Estados Unidos. Mochila nas costas, desembarcou na costa leste, em Boston, e optou pelo caminho mais longo. Passando pelas belas Rocky Mountains canadenses, levou mais de dois meses para atingir a Califórnia, na borda oeste, onde pretendia escalar por duas semanas. Acabou passando oito meses, se apaixonando pelo Yosemite e decidindo gastar nas escaladas todo o dinheiro que ganhasse a partir daquele momento. “Cheguei tarde da noite na cidadezinha de Merced, que fica a uma hora do vale do Yosemite, e tive que dormir na rodoviária”, lembra Nicola, que adora contar como foi sua chegada ao lugar dos sonhos de 10 entre 10 escaladores de rocha. O relato detalhado você pode ler no bem-sacado blog Rock Monkey (http://nicolamartinez.blogspot.com) ou em algum dos textos que o “macaco da pedra” escreve em sites especializados, como o Alta Montanha. Além do amor à primeira vista pelo que ele chama de Vale Encantado, Nicola conheceu na sua manhã de estréia no acampamento 4 o escalador Dave Turner, um local que se tornaria, mais que um amigo, um padrinho. No primeiro dia, Nick ajudou Dave a carregar seu equipamento para uma escalada de 12 dias. Em troca, esse experiente casca-grossa das big walls lhe daria nas semanas seguintes o caminho das pedras mais alucinantes de Yosemite. “Em pouco tempo vi Nick completando, ao meu lado, algumas escaladas em solitário muito difíceis”, lembra Dave, hoje escalador profissional aos 26 anos. Suas primeiras paredes – Washington Column, Leaning Tower e, logo na terceira big wall, a temida via Mescalito do El Captain – foram enfrentadas sem ajuda de ninguém. Primeiro brasileiro a realizar essa proeza, após os 11 dias que passou pendurado até chegar ao cume, Nicola ganhou com a conquista da Mescalito uma espécie de carimbo no passaporte para que pudesse aprender, com Dave Turner, os segredos da escalada de velocidade. Juntos eles subiram a parede Zodiac, do El Captain, em apenas 17 horas e com 16 cordadas, e a North America Wall, em 32 horas e com 33 cordadas. No último verão, quando viajaram juntos para a Patagônia, Dave deu sua prova de amizade ao enfrentar o ladrão que tentou roubar a mochila de Nick em Buenos Aires, na Argentina. Uma retribuição e tanto: foi Nicola quem carregou os 40 quilos de equipamento por 5 horas até o ponto da Patagônia em que Dave começaria sua última escalada de peso: em solitário no Cerro Escudo, abrindo uma via com mais de 1.300 metros, sem o uso de cordas fixas, em 34 dias de escalada non stop. No ano seguinte, 2005, depois de passar pelo Brasil, Nicola voltou para Yosemite de forma igualmente marcante. Após dormir 16 dias na vertical, repetiu o pico do El Captain por outra via punk, a Tempest (VI 5.10 A4+), sendo apenas o quarto homem da história a subi-la em solitário. “Não conheço outro brasileiro que tenha passado 16 dias na rocha, como fez o Nick”, diz Márcio Bruno, reconhecendo a dificuldade da empreitada. “Ao escalar sozinho em artificial, o cara gasta o dobro do tempo e se cansa mais ao trabalhar o triplo do que se estivesse em uma escalada acompanhada, com a carga repartida”, explica. Nicola parece se atrair pelo que não é fácil. Gosta de paredes que quase ninguém subiu, prefere a velocidade à lentidão e a solidão às escaladas em grupo. “Gosto da intensidade das experiências, de aprender coisas novas”, define. Com a Mescalito e a Tempest no currículo, Nicola Martinez teve a honra de ser aceito pela comunidade de escaladores de longa data do Yosemite como um autêntico dirtbag. Assim são chamados os escaladores que passam temporadas inteiras no parque, dormindo com seus sacos de dormir ao ar livre como se fossem malas sujas. Entre os colegas desse mesmo grupo, fascinado por andar à margem, estão os guias piratas, que acompanham esportistas menos experientes sem a autorização do Yosemite Mountaineering Climbing School, e os saltadores de base jump clandestinos (o esporte é proibido ali), subgrupo ao qual Nicola também se integrou. “Nosso lance é escalar, sem essa burocracia de ter que pagar taxa, fazer teste disso e daquilo”, diz Nicola, que tem escalado novas vias ano a ano: Nawall, Zenniata Mondata, Sea of Dreams, Triple Direct, e por aí vai. A comunidade que o adotou já chegou a lhe abrigar com casa e comida numa situação em que teve roubados os últimos 600 dólares do bolso. Estilo para ser um dirtbag de Yosemite não falta a Nicola. Como se não bastasse a técnica e o arrojo, ele é um gente fina bem-humorado que dá a impressão de não estar nem aí com qualquer coisa que não sejam os esportes que ama. No dia em que encontrou o repórter de Go Outside para uma entrevista em pleno aeroporto de Cumbica (SP), em sua primeira passagem pelo Brasil depois de três anos na estrada, refazia duas malas que pesavam 60 quilos. Para evitar pagar excesso de bagagem, Nick não se importou de espalhar cuecas e cordas pelo chão diante do check-in da British Airways. Seu corpo magrelo, 58 quilos e 1m78, vestia blusa e calça surradas que pareciam ter dois números a mais. A barba estava por fazer e o cabelo era moicano. “Não ligo pra essa coisa de estética”, diz. Nick já usou dredlocks, corta os próprios cabelos que já pintou de amarelo, e chegou até a barbear apenas a metade direita do rosto (confira a foto no blog). Na verdade, Nicola é um desencanado espírito livre, avesso a máscaras sociais. Não se importa de ficar sem tomar banho por 16 dias e ostenta um carisma que já lhe rendeu experiências como apresentador da série De Carona Com O Nick, no programa Gravidade Zero, exibido na TV e na internet. “O Nick é capaz de te dar o último gole de água ou o único dólar que resta na carteira”, diz o escalador norte-americano Aaron Jones, que acompanhou, à distância e também pendurado no paredão, a escalada solitária de Nick na perigosa Porcelain Wall, em 2006. O nome vem da rocha, tão frágil que faz lembrar porcelana. O brasileiro quebrou um hiato de onze anos desde a primeira conquista da via mais difícil dessa parede, batizada de When Hell Was In Session (VI 5.10 A5), percorrendo seus 800 metros ao longo de 11 dias. O esforço físico de içar 150 quilos de equipamento, mais comida, fogareiro e o tubo de PVC onde alivia e carrega suas necessidades fisiológicas o fez descer seis quilos mais magro. “Enfrentamos tempestades pendurados na rocha e dormimos em cavernas em um dos invernos mais chuvosos da história do Yosemite”, conta Aaron. A dupla repetiria a dobradinha trabalhando juntos na produção do documentário alemão Am Limit, dos irmãos Alex e Thomas Huber – um bico que rendeu a melhor remuneração de Nicola nos últimos anos: 5 mil dólares por 23 dias carregando equipamento de filmagem morro acima.
TER SE TORNADO UM ÁS DA ESCALADA EM BIG WALL não levou Nicola a almejar grandes altitudes ou sonhar com montanhas de neve do naipe do Aconcágua ou do Everest – ele prefere a experiência radical do big wall. Seu recorde de altitude foram os 4.500 metros na Sierra Nevada dos Estados Unidos. Mas as longas esperas pelo bom tempo e a vontade de voltar dos cumes de forma mais rápida e emocionante o levou a descobrir, em 2006, o base jump. Nicola se destaca hoje por ser um caso raro de escalador com prazer também por se atirar lá do alto. Primeiro ele arrumou emprego numa escola de pára-quedismo para que pudesse aprender a saltar sem torrar uma nota. Passou um ano dobrando pára-quedas, ganhando uma merreca de 5 a 10 dólares por cada unidade dobrada e chegando a embolsar 350 dólares por dia. “Eu estava ao lado dele no seu primeiro salto de pára-quedas, e lembro que chegamos a ficar preocupados”, lembre a escaladora do Alasca Paige Davis, 28. Tenso, Nick rodou tão forte que se afastou dos dois instrutores e só conseguiu abrir o pára-quedas a 4 mil pés, quando o correto é dispará-lo aos 5 mil. Aterrissou longe e assustado, mas fez questão de repetir o salto sozinho. “Como se não bastasse ser um grande escalador, ele se deu muito bem também como sky-diver”, reconheceria Paige mais tarde. E também como base jumper: apenas seis meses depois de se acostumar com os 65 saltos de aviões, Nicola saltou pela primeira vez de uma ponte em Idaho, EUA. Foi na noite de 31 de dezembro de 2006. Nicola e seus amigos Chris McNamara e Miles Daisher comemoraram o ano novo saltando, à meia-noite, da ponte Perrine, com 120 metros – um deles com uma garrafa de champanhe à mão. Instantes depois de chegarem ao solo e se abraçarem, foram focados pelos holofotes da polícia no alto da ponte. “Achavam que éramos suicidas”, lembra Nicola. Gritamos ‘we are base jumpers, happy new year!’ (somos base jumpers, feliz ano novo!) e saímos correndo dali para não sermos presos”. O salto foi uma estréia e tanto para quem nunca tinha experimentado aquele tipo de queda livre. Hoje o caderninho de Nick já lista cerca de oitenta saltos como esse, de plataformas que variam de perigosas torres de energia elétrica aos dois saltos dos 1.000 metros do topo do El Captain, na companhia de ninguém menos que seu ídolo Dean Potter – escalador que o inspirou também aos primeiros exercícios de caminhada sobre cordas, o slack line. Só do monte Brento italiano, com 800 metros de altura, Nicola já chegou a pular quatro vezes no mesmo dia. Nos pára-quedas, a quantidade de saltos já ultrapassa os 125. Os saltos de base jump – segunda paixão de Nicola depois das escaladas em big wall – acontecem em Yosemite sempre na última luz do dia, quando a escuridão eminente ajuda os dirt bags a se esconderem dos guarda-parques. “Quando chegamos lá embaixo, tem sempre alguém de carro esperando para fechar o pára-quedas e podermos fugir rapidinho”, confessa Nicola. Caso sejam pegos, os base jumpers podem passar a noite na cadeia, ter seu equipamento apreendido e pagar uma multa de 2.500 dólares. Como na escalada, Nicola também prefere o estilo de salto mais difícil, com uso da wingsuit, roupa que liga os braços ao tronco formando duas espécies de asas. Com o traje que o faz parecer um morcego vermelho, seus saltos de 15 segundos tornam-se vôos com o triplo do tempo. Embora o seu estilo preferido de escalada seja altamente arriscado, Nicola não teme a morte. Ele já viu a cara feia do desapego súbito várias vezes, como quando a mãe morreu de câncer aos 47 anos, em 1997, pouco antes dele descobrir a escalada. Em julho de 2006, ficou chocado com o acidente de carro pertinho de Yosemite que matou, aos 32 anos, a curitibana Roberta Nunes, escaladora com quem tinha subido o El Captain e por quem tinha admiração e carinho profundos. E, no início deste ano, teve o maior dos golpes ao receber a notícia da avalanche que tirou a vida da ex-namorada canadense Susanna Lantz, uma escaladora e esquiadora de 28 anos que tinha pedalado por 11 meses desde o Alasca até a terra do fogo. “De modo algum quero terminar mais cedo minha passagem por esse plano”, diz, consciente de que o próprio Yosemite, ninho que adotou para si, tem um histórico de tragédias. “Mas gosto de estar intensamente conectado com a natureza, e esse prazer implica no risco”, resume. Roberta estava com Nicola quando ele cometeu o que chama de maior vacilo de sua vida, em 2004. Duas semanas depois de um casal de escaladores japoneses morrer na via Nose do El Captain, os brasileiros, que escalavam a via Triple Direct com mais dois amigos, passaram pelo lugar da tragédia nas 10 cordadas finais, quando as duas vias se juntam. Tinham percorrido dois terços da parede e só faltavam 10 cordadas para o cume quando Roberta deixou cair uma peça. Nicola quis resgatá-la rapelando numa corda de sete metros, quando percebeu que não havia um nó na ponta. “Foi por pouco”, lembra ele. “Parei a meio metro de vazar no fim da corda e de despencar de um abismo de 800 metros”, recorda. Nicola atribui o erro ao traiçoeiro excesso de confiança de quem já tinha escalado nove paredes naquela temporada. “Depois daquele susto eu checo cada procedimento pelo menos três vezes”, conta. Se vai escalar por 16 dias, leva água para 20 (bebendo 4 litros diários). E, para dobrar um pára-quedas de base jump de forma segura, não se importa de gastar 40 minutos. “Ele não tem medo de se comprometer a fazer coisas extremas”, analisa o belga Nicolas Favresse, que escalou no primeiro semestre com Nick o Marmolada, na cadeia italiana de Dolomiti di Brenta. “Não acreditei em como ele reagiu calmamente, às 11 da noite e depois de 16 horas de escalada em um frio de matar, quando eu disse que a única forma de voltarmos, caso não chegássemos ao topo, seria descendo por uma greta”, conta Favresse. No tipo de escalada em que se especializou, Nick sabe que nunca pode desistir do topo. Os abandonos são raros e trabalhosos, como a tentativa no Half Dome que abriu esse texto. Ali Nicola deixou cordas e equipamentos, com a esperança de voltar tão logo o tempo permita. “Ele não estressa, parece estar sempre se divertindo”, surpreende-se Favresse. Talvez esteja aí o segredo por trás das conquistas inéditas de Nicola Martinez: realizar o que lhe dá na telha pelo simples prazer de explorar intensamente as maravilhas da natureza. Como as alturas do Yosemite que escolheu como casa.
Ontem bati um papo com o brother Nick Martinez, que está na Califórnia e acabou de mandar uma das rotas mais cabeludas do El Capitan, a Pressure Cooker VI 5.10 A4, testpiece do mestre Eric Kohl. Então, fiz ao Nick umas perguntas pra galera do Brasil saber o que rolou:
Nick no portaledge, El Capitan, Yosemite, EUA.
Iaí Nick, o que tem feito depois da última passagem pelo Brasil? Bom Eliseu, você sabe que as coisas parecem rolar pro meu lado fora do Brasil, desde comecei a escalar (e você foi um dos maiores incentivadores ). Mandei-me pra Europa onde escalei pouco e me dediquei mais aos esportes aéreos, um mês na Itália e já sentia que a temporada no Vale de Yosemite estava por começar. Chegando no Vale comecei a carregar meus equipos pra base da parede do Half Dome pra segunda ascensão da via Queen of Spades, a aproximação até a base da parede e uma trilha quase vertical, por isso pouca gente escala as vias em artificial. Imprevistos a parte (mal tempo, ter minha comida roubada por urso na base…). Enfim comecei a escalada dormi na segunda cordada, segundo dia limpei a terceira e quando partia pra quarta, testando uma de minhas pecas em um bloco expansivo em segundos o bloco voava sobre minha cabeça esmagando minha mão contra a parede batendo no meu joelho e voando parede abaixo… Fixei minhas cordas de 70 e 60m e trabalhei no auto-resgate com uma só mão… De molho na primavera e verão me mandei pra escola de pára-quedismo pra saltar de aviões… Neste verão com meu visto aqui nos USA pra vencer me mandei pra Squamish no Canadá onde tive a oportunidade de escalar com Tonto do Brasil…
Quais os picos que você não conhecia que considera mais irados? Bom, não conheço muitos picos de escalada mas Yosemite e a Patagônia chilena são dois lugares iradissimos. Vontade de viajar não falta, Paquistão, Himalaia, Patagônia Argentina, Alaska… Yosemite é muito bom na primavera e outono onde a temperatura é mais sólida e a aproximacao das paredes é pequena em comparação a outros lugares e a qualidade do granito e fendas são incomparáveis.
Qual foi dessa escalada da Pressure Cooker? Fala da via, e como aconteceu a escalada. Bom, após minha escalada no Porcelain Wall em 2006 colocando a segunda ascensão da rota depois de 11 anos sem nenhuma repetição deixei os big walls de lado pra me dedicar ao pára-quedismo e base jump. A tentativa da Queen nesta primavera foi meio frustrante por ter me machucado, voltei pro vale mordendo o beiço e com sangue nos olhos para repetir algo que tivesse poucas ascensões, de bobeira no El Cap Meadow trocando uma ideia com meu amigo Alik Berg do Canadá, que aos 20 anos de idade já tem mais de 20 vias no El Cap em diferentes estilos surgiu a idéia de escalar a via, em menos de 2 dias já tínhamos tudo na base da parede. Sabíamos que seria uma das vias mais difíceis de enfrentaríamos em nossa carreira de escaladores de big wall.
Alto no El Capitan.
. Como surgiu a idéia de escalar essa rota? Então, a primeira vez que ouvi falar desta via foi quando meus amigos Ammon McNeely e Ivo Ninov decidiram escalar a rota em um dia “in a push”, ajudei os loucos a carregarem seus equipos pra base da parede e ali passamos a noite, dia seguinte sentei na base da parede e ali assisti-los escalar as primeiras 5 enfiadas mandando grandes blocos abaixo. Este ano, após a tentativa da escalada da via Queen of Spades no Half Dome, fiquei de molho pelo verão, e no outono senti que era hora de mandar algo excitante… Sentado no El Cap Meadow com meu camarada do Canada, Alik Berg surgiu a idéia de mandar a via…
Nick e Alik Berg no El Cap Meadow, Yosemite . Como você vê o futuro da escalada artificial nas grandes paredes de Yosemite? O El Captain ja saturou, as vias que tinham que ser abertas já foram, mas há muita rocha ainda pra ser explorada como a parede do Mt Watkins, Hetchy Hetcky, entre outras… O futuro esta na mão dos escaladores do presente, passando pra próxima geração a ética local. Muitas das vias antigas em artificial tem sido escaladas em livre, El Nino, Golden Gate, Lurking Fear, Salathe wall. Parabéns aos fortes escaladores que tem puxado limites livrando essas vias, no meu ponto de vista o futuro esta ai…
Como anda o base-jump? Tem saltado muito? Onde? Bom sempre me jogando, seja de aviões, antenas, pontes sendo minha maior paixão os big walls onde posso saltar meu wingsuit, a maioria dos meus saltos de big wall são na Itália, Monte Brento… Mas tenho alguns de lugares ilegais que é melhor a gente deixar em OFF mesmo… Sensação de liberdade, voar como um passaro, voar meu corpo por lugares inóspitos, dividindo e conhecendo gente do mundo inteiro por onde passo.
Qual seu plano de vida a médio e longo prazo? Você pensa em um dia voltar a morar no Brasil, ou só passar temporadas? Vou vivendo dia a dia vendo o que acontece, com certeza continuar girando o globo atras de terrenos inospitos continuar saltando com meu pára-quedas. O Brasil só por temporadas mesmo. Ainda quero passar uma temporada em Salinas e quem sabe repetir algumas das vias na Pedra do Sino… Mas minha historia rola mais natural ( grana, trampo, patrocínios ) aqui fora mesmo…
Nicola Martinez saiu do Brasil faz mais de 10 anos pra viver seu sonho de escalar e voar. E hoje, na Califórnia, está feliz da vida fazendo as coisas que ama. Nick tem o patrocínioo da Território Online, Blue Water Ropes e Yates Big Wall Gear.
Nick buscando as coisas na base do Dome apos um grande bloco se descolou da parede e caiu na minha mao... Mais historias e continuidades nas escaladas no vale vindo logo mais. Abracos a todos. Saudacoes do Vale encantado.
Cesarino Fava died yesterday aged 87 at Malé (Italy). His life was bonded to mountaineering and in particular to Cerro Torre in Patagonia. All mountaineers have lost a great friend. It seems impossible, Cesarino is no longer with us. It seems impossible, because Cesarino Fava is a man one cannot forget. For his infinite vitality. And because the years, all the years of his long life, had not tainted his way of being, always passionate and absorbing. Cesarino Fava loved life. This was clear to all, palpable. He loved being with people with his heart, understanding, knowing, talking but also listening. And his "closeness" drew you in, regardless of whether you were an old friend or whether he met you for the very first time. He was a friend. I've heard this said of Cesarino by many, by all those who had met him. And this goes for me, too. This is how he was, the eternal young alpinist from the Trentino region who departed from his Malé for Argentina. He was an emigrant therefore, a word which Cesarino held in high esteem, "fighting" and constantly inventing his life. Just as he always invented his mountaineering. His mountains, which he loved deeply and with all of himself. Just like he loved his family, a great family as he often liked to remind.Many will remember Cesarino's intrinsic link with Cerro Torre and with Cesare Maestri. They will remember that it was he who called Maestri and the Trentino mountaineers to that fairy-tale mountain (and those Patagonian mountains). It was he who in 1959 saved Maestri after the tragic ascent of Cerro Torre during which Toni Egger lost his life. Perhaps far fewer will remember though the episode on Aconcagua during which he attempted to rescue an American mountaineer, abandon by his guide. That adventure cost Cesarino frostbite on both feet, amputated in large part. But he never gave up and he continued to climb, he continued to love the mountains like before and even more than before. Without ever complaining about his fate. He tried to soar high, to elevate. Cesarino Fava was special... perhaps it is because of this that yesterday many mountaineers felt a bit lost, a bit alone. Vinicio Stefanello
MOAB, Utah — He had learned this extreme form of tightrope walking from a homeless man who wrote books on quantum physics. But that was years ago, while goofing around on a flexible piece of nylon webbing tied close to the ground between a tree and the bumper of a Chevy van. This was something else entirely for Dean Potter, one of the world’s best climbers, barefoot in the dying sun last Friday, walking between ledges of a U-shaped rim above Hell Roaring Canyon, a 400-foot sheer sandstone wall on his right, a 900-foot drop to a dry riverbed on his left. No leash tethered him to the rope. Nothing attached him to earth but the grip of his size-14 feet and the confident belief that, if needed, his parachute would open quickly and cleanly and not slam him into the canyon wall. At 6 feet 5 inches and 180 pounds, wirily strong, Potter dressed in jeans and blue T-shirt emblazoned with a hawk. He wore a wide headband over unruly hair, gaining the appearance of a less gaunt and reckless Keith Richards as Alpine daredevil. As Potter stepped onto the 180-foot rope — a strand of iridescent blue against desiccated canyon shades of brick and tan and coppery green — he was believed to be the first person to combine the adventure sports of highlining and BASE-jumping. He was also taking another stride toward his longing for avian flight, not as a birdman in a nylon wing suit or squirrel suit, which he had tried, but as a soloist who could jump off a cliff in a way that he did not yet understand, with a strength and concentration that he did not yet possess, and simply fly. Trance music pulsed from speakers on the canyon ledge with knowing lyrics: “Sometimes I think my dreams are wild.” Highlining was a high-wire version of slacklining, an extreme cousin of tightrope walking in which no pole was used for balance and the rope was elastic, allowing for various tricks involving walking, sitting, lying down, flipping, even spinning hula hoops. BASE-jumping was an acronym used to describe parachuting from objects like buildings, towers, bridges and cliffs. At 35, Potter had long stirred wonder as a climber. Six years ago, in Yosemite National Park, he became the first person to free climb El Capitan and Half Dome together in less than 24 hours, meaning he used ropes only for protection in case he fell, climbing only with his hands and feet for a vertical mile. It was an effort requiring remarkable concentration and speed that would be unthinkable for an average weekend climber, who would need gear and most or all of a two-week vacation to make a similar ascent. In 2001, Potter climbed the famous Nose route on El Capitan, a 3,000-foot vertical wall with a fierce overhang, in 3 hours 24 minutes. It was a feat stunning in its economy, considering that, in 1958, the renowned climber Warren J. Harding led the first team up the route in 45 days. Often, Potter has climbed thousands of feet carrying no ropes at all, nothing to aid his grip but shoes and a bag of chalk. “Sport is all about being in the zone, when time and space stop and everything goes away,” said Beaver Theodosakis, the founder and president of prAna, the climbing apparel company that sponsors Potter. “Dean holds that zone for hours on end, when the mind can’t wander, when you can’t second-guess, when you have to be so confident and deliberate in your moves. Imagine in everyday life, if we could go to the office like that and not be distracted.” If he was awe-inspiring, Potter was also a polarizing figure in the climbing world. In 2006, he climbed Delicate Arch, the revered 60-foot sandstone structure located near here that is featured on Utah license plates. Technically, it was not an illegal ascent, but Potter came under ferocious criticism, accused by others of slicing grooves in the structure (which he denies) and of betraying the soulfulness of climbing with self-promoting news media attention. “Do what you want, but don’t make it a spectacle,” Cory Richards, a Moab photographer and climber, said. In the uproar, Potter lost his sponsorship with Patagonia, the environmentally sensitive clothing and apparel company. Still, he said he had no regrets about climbing Delicate Arch. “I know we totally respected that place,” he said. He continues to climb with ambition. At the same time, rock climbing has become so mainstream that gyms invite children to scale indoor walls at birthday parties. In the way surfers branched into skateboarding in the late 1950s, Potter was now pushing the envelope in the emerging sports of highlining and BASE-jumping. Jim Hurst “I think that partly has been a motivator for Dean, to keep pushing into the unknown and getting a little more fringe as things are getting more homogenized,” Steph Davis, a top climber and Potter’s wife, said. Potter, an Army brat who grew up in New Hampshire, began slacklining in 1993 under the tutelage of a Yosemite character named Chongo, famous among climbers for his itinerant lifestyle and his obsessive musings on theoretical physics. On his Web site, chongonation.com, Chongo warned that even for rock-climbing experts and extreme sport professionals, a misstep while highlining could result in serious Newtonian consequences of action and equal and opposite reaction. Last Thursday at Hell Roaring Canyon, Potter believed he was finally ready to walk the 180-foot rope while tethered to a leash around his waist. During a couple weeks of rehearsal, he had felt exposed on the rope, with a touch of vertigo. A parabola of sandstone curved off to his right, never more than 60 feet away. To his left, the gorge yawned a half-mile wide. Straight ahead, the rope was anchored to a narrow promontory that seemed to hover, drawing his vision a mile down the canyon. “When I get in the middle, an emptiness takes over,” Potter said. “I felt a little helpless.” On his first few attempts at sunset, the temperature dipping into the 30s, Potter straddled the rope as he fell, barrel-rolling into a sitting position and scooting back to the ledge. And then with impeccable balance and concentration, his arms waving in smooth, swooping motions, he reached midway and beyond. The rope was more taut than a regular slackline. Still, it gave about two feet in the middle and moved a foot from side to side. Potter kept his equilibrium. The leash’s metal ring dragged behind him, giving a reassuring scrape along the rope that was amplified by the canyon’s acoustics. He secured the rope between his two biggest toes, focusing on a yellow flag hanging from the outcropping at the end of the line. He grew more confident and his breathing became shallow and loud and when he covered the distance Potter let out a whoop. It was at times like this, full of calm and terror, Potter said, that he felt most connected to himself and his surroundings. “When there’s a death consequence, when you are doing things that if you mess up you die, I like the way it causes my senses to peak,” Potter said. “I can see more clearly. You can think much faster. You hear at a different level. Your foot contact on the line is accentuated. Your sense of balance is heightened. I don’t seem to feel that very often meditating.” From the time he was a boy, Potter said, he had a recurring dream. He was in the air and people were giving him instructions in high-pitched squeaks, teaching him how to fly. At the end of his dream, he began to fall, dropping toward a dead tree, and then he awakened. As a climber, he came to believe that he might be seeing his own death. But as a highliner and BASE-jumper, he said, he had come to view his dream as an affirmation of flight instead of a portent of mortality. Potter’s whole career has been moving toward a moment of detachment, said a friend, Brad Lynch, a filmmaker who has spent two years on a film about him called “The Aerialist.” First, Potter climbed with ropes, then only with his fingers. Now he held on by the clutching of his feet. “How little can you be attached to the earth by?” Lynch said. “How thin you can you make the veil?” Last Friday morning at Hell Roaring Canyon, the sky was cloudless. The wind calmed as temperatures rose into the 50s. The leash was gone. Now Potter would rely on a parachute for safe passage to the ground. If he slipped off the highline, he would have four or five seconds to open the chute before he hit the broken rock below. It was imperative that he jump away from the sandstone wall so that he could float safely to a sandy wash on the canyon floor. The landing zone was marked with a circle on the river bed. A yellow flag signaled the wind direction. As Potter stepped onto the line, he seemed not yet comfortable with the 12 pounds of extra weight from the parachute. When he fell and straddled the rope, it became more difficult to roll back into a sitting position. His movements, fluid without the chute, were jerky now, less certain. After a few tries, he said he needed a break then changed his mind. He walked 15 feet or so along the line, lost his steadiness, stuck his left leg out as a counterbalance, windmilled his left arm, then bounded on both feet off the rope, dropping into the canyon. He chute opened with a popping sound and he wafted toward the river bed, overshooting the landing zone in his bare feet, cutting his foot slightly on a rock. “It’s still intimidating” without a leash, Potter said after climbing back to the canyon rim. “There was no noise from that steel ring holding me onto the earth.” Still, he clearly relished the liberation of his brief free fall from the line. “I flew a little, oooh, yeah, pretty nice,” Potter said. At sunset, he gave it another try, but his second parachute was a pound or two heavier. Potter seemed tired and wobbly, sticking his left leg out for balance, then his right. Again he hopped off the rope, gliding toward the river bed, landing this time like a leaf on water. In a week, he thought he would be able to walk the entire line. Already, he felt one step closer to flying. “Part of me says it’s kind of crazy to think you can fly your human body,” Potter said. “Another part of me thinks all of us have had the dream that we can fly. Why not chase after it? Maybe it brings you to some other tangent. Chasing after the unattainable is the fun part.”
wow! so much has happened for me in the last two months. i have fufilled my climbing dream of over six years a few days ago. standing on the top of cerro escudo in the torres del paine region of southern patagonia was anything but sane. i opened a 1,200 meter (4,000ft) overhanging big wall route in some of the worst weather i have ever experienced! i was on the wall for a total of 34 continous days, saying screw fixed ropes and siege style climbing, and went for it in pure alpine style continously moving the camp up as i went. showing up with my one haul line and two 70m lead lines might have been a bit crazy, but thats my way. the how is as important as the what. the climb was very difficult on all aspects, gear got thrashed, ropes got cut, rocks came through the ledge, whippers were logged, screamers blown, and of course the weather, oh the weather! i got absolutly pummeled by the patagonian storms! there is so much i want to talk about, but first i need to fill my stomach with real food, eat lots of ice cream, and cut this hair! i will be back to fill in a few details.
Dave´s trip report - Dave wrote a new page on the book of climbing History. Proud of you. Much RESPECT. Nicola Martinez
first, thanks a lot to all of the positive responses that this thread has provided. its good to know that a lot of people are psyched to see something like this go down. it has been a very long journey to get to what i have just pulled off. for over six years i have been training in the valley so that i could take the next level like this. ever since seeing el cap, reading about polar sun spire cerro torre, and similar peaks, i knew that i wanted in. this climb was the first of its kind i believe as pete stated. and i am going for another one this winter here in september. but first i must explain this one a bit... i arrived here in patagonia this last november 15th, after dragging five haulbags down from my home in sacramento. just an adventure and challenge in itself! i was robbed in buenos aires which led to a dramatic fight in the terminal, but i eventually made it to puerto natales with all of the gear, thank god. i was bringing down the full rack and alpine kit, a few hundred pounds and about 70,000$ worth of the best gear available. all of my gear was brand new, and i came up with some good ideas and modifications to my systems as to be able to guard against the unbelievable strength of the constant storms down here. the approach to the wall is 12 miles from the roads end, and i made this 11 times before i started the climb for a round trip total of 264 miles of load carrying, of corse only half the time with weight, and some loads being lighter than others. in the end two americans, walker and LB, helped a bit to get some of the gear from campamento japonese to the glacier camp at the foot of the east face of cerro escudo. luckily i had a 60 gb ipod to help crank out the miles with two solar chargers. so my climbing plan was pretty simple; or so it seemed! i showed up with two 70m lead lines and one double length static haul line, and decided to climb it in alpine style and not use fixed ropes or any other steps back into the style of the past. one person, one wall, with only the summit as an acceptable outcome. nothing was going to stop this dream from coming to fruition except for what we put in the back of our mind and dont talk about. for being alone on such a wall with no chance of rescue, every move had to be assesed and executed as if i was just doing another hard route on el cap with the handy yosar chopper on the ready. of course it wasnt, but i needed to be willing to go for it none the less. so this wall alredy had one route on it, to the right side, put up by three americans- brad jarret, chris breemer, and cristian santilices. they did make the wall, but not the summit. but dont let this fact throw you off- they were bad ass for going for this wall, and much respect from me is focused their way. this ascent came 13 years ago and i believe it took this very talented team of three something like 23 days or so to climb to the summit ridge. a few other minor attempts were logged on this wall as well, but nothing close to making a route. as far as other grade sevens go pass the pitons, yes, i believe jim beyers solo of the west face of mount thor is the closest anyone has come to soloing a grade seven by a new route. but yes, he scrambled off the big ledge that splits the wall, leaving all of his stuff up there, and returned next year traversing back on and finishing. again, this gets so much respect from me, as i know jim, and showed that it could be done. maybe. after fixing the first 130 meter slab with not so bad difficulties to 5.6R A3, i started to haul the bags up and prepared to blast, never willing along the way to fix more than two to three pitches at a time. while hauling some bags up one at a time, the sun came out on the wall full strength(rare!) and all hell started to break loose from the summit. ice, rock, and snow was ripping all past me so i went down to the pile of my bags at the base, un harnessed, and went to camp five minutes away for lunch to let the wall cool down before returning. when i came back a few hours later, i had a nice surprise from the wall. a nice basketball size rock came down at full speed right onto my harness at the base. my aiders, daisies, mini traxion, some biners, and a loker were absolutly destroyed. and worse, the harness had it´s swami cut through about 50% and had lost two gear loops, and another was threatning to fall off!i had some extra aiders and daisies, and sewed some new gear loops on. but the yates harnesses are so stong to start with, i just went with the cut up one for the whole climb. i did not have the extra money to replace it, and it is just about impossible to do so down here anyway. eventually i was able to blast after a few big storms rolled through, on december 23rd. i was knowingly going to be spending christmas, new years, and my birthday up there. one pitch above the large ledge, i made my first of many portaledge camps, tying down the ledge to many pitons and tensioned hooks to keep it down. the updrafts on the wall were almost funny, as they would lift even the haulbags! yes, i tied these down too! so i guess i should touch on the hardware before i continue. this first bivy anchor, as with half of all the belays on the route, were entirely natural. i absolutely kept the drilling to a minimum on this climb for many reasons. and when i did drill belays it was two shorty hangerless 1/4 inchers. yep, old school style and sketchy. but they were quick to drill, lighter, and there arent so many. i highly reccomend the second ascent team(or soloist) to take a bunch of real bolts up there and strengthen it up. but keep the natural belays just that. as for the pitches, they averaged 65 to 70 meters each, usually with between 0 to 6 holes per lead. two pitches had 10 to 12 holes on them. not sh"t when you think about how long, and overhanging the climb was. i am not going to explain the details of the pitch by pitch beta spray, but i will say this. i have climbed a fair amount of routes over the years, and hands down this is the hardest route yet i have touched. nevermind the difficulty, this is the best climb i have climbed, ever. pitch after pitch of sustained thin overhanging cracks never ended, and the climbing was on excellent rock in a stunning location. and believe me, there are a few sections where you will take some long whips and/or crush yourself on the way down. yes, i took a few of these. and yes again, they hurt. but luckily i avaoded all serious injuries, but did have a few close calls. the crux of the route came at about one third height. a few solid pins off the belay (with a small ledge to hit of course) led into about 12 to 14 beaks, not the longest stretch of beaks on the climb, but i ripped many out testing them on the way through the pitch, and all but two i cleaned with my fingers! a few falls were logged when things went wrong, and some blood was lost, but nothing so bad i had to deal with in a deperate way. my second camp on the wall saw an enormous storm, just pounding. two and a half days of continous wind and snow left my 80cm wide belay ledge(the only ledge of size on the route) with three meters of snow on it. i wouldnt believe it if i wasnt there! i have photos of it all and will try to post them but i have no idea how(advice?). the ropes were trapped in three inches of ice, which i learned that jugging on is quite hard and really sucks. at this point it was only about day 8 of 34. the pattern of bad weather continued more or less for the first three weeks of the route, which was the first half of the route. the second half fell in only two more weeks, as i recieved better weather, even though it was steeper and more sustained climbing. i have a few pics where i am rapping down to clean the pitch i just led, and i am an honest 20 to 30 feet from the wall. the steepness of the route was quite impressive to me, and it gave me a false sense of security. i thought that everythging that fell, or most of it, would fall out from me. sure, lots of the time this was the case, but not always. i would hear it coming and stop what i was doing and watch it come for me. i would stay quite still and calm, loosen my dasie chain, and then shift to the left or right in my aides to let it do past. jokingly i was refering to it as ´dancing´! but my ledge didnt dance, and it took many hits. the worst was when a fist sized rock went through my customized double wall triple pole fly system, through my puffy jacket as well, and came to a rest in the pile of sleeping bags inside. luckily i was up climbing the pitch above the ledge, as it landed where my head is when i sleep. more repair work insued, a constant job task on a wall as pist off as this one. eventually i started to get closer and closer to the top, with stacked pitches of A3+ to A4+ continuously lined up beneath me. once i was three pitches from the top i knew i would be going for the summit soon. i had one last hard aid pitch, two easier pitches up the right trending ramp, and then i would be on the ridge. the virgin ridge. i had no idea what to expect up there, as you cant see it from anywhere, at least you know one thing- it is sh#t rock up there. it changes from bomber granite to a nasty black shale which in itself is solid, but quite shattered. on day 33 i decided to push up the last aid pitch to the ramp. before this, i had planned it out perfectly. i had an alpine pack packed with tech tools, crampons, puffy pants and jacket, bivy sack, goggles, gaiters, food and water, and all of the alpine goodies that go with the game. i didnt take it with me on that day as i was planning only on fixing my rope up to the ramp and going for it tommorow. but i made the ramp by 11am, and decided to go up it to have a look at the ridge. the tow pitches up the ramp went quick enough, but from the summit ridge notch i made it to, i couldnt see the ridge, as a tower was in the way. so i climbed this section out of the notch, the hardest part of the ridge, and was up on the summit ridge proper by 1pm. i had nothing with me. no food or water, pack, or anything. just a headlamp and my lead gear. a quick smile broke out on my face and i just went for it. weather was warm and clear enough, but a bit windy. i made the summit notch proper, tagged the top, and went back into the notch for pics and to suck the water from a trickle in the back of a crack. within a few minutes i was free soloing back down the way i came, rapping back down to the ledge on the wall proper, making it back by 10 or 11pm or so. my dream had come true. no, i made it come true. i am not even going to try to relate how i felt actually doing what i had dreamt of for so long, but i am sure you have an idea. the next day saw one of my proudest pushes ever, rapping the whole wall in 18 hours in desperately windy conditions. on the second of many raps i lost some of my only good rope, having to cut it loose from behind a flake. so, about the ropes- i had my three cords, and just before i left the ground a fourth 60m rope was donated to me by the americans. it was not so usefull on the way up, as most of the pitches were 70 meters, but it came in handy on the way down. it went like this. i would tie all of my ropes together ends to ends. then i would rap, down swing and aid, and do lots of tricks, connecting as many belays together ar the length of my ropes let me. then i would jug back up, and then bring down all of the bags at once with a special rappell braking system i came up with. then i would go back up the ropes again, and then pull them one by one as i made my way back down, again. i rpeated this process jugging the length of el cap one and a half times that day, until i was on the last rappel to the ground. another note- all of my ropes were completely screwed up by this point. core shots like a mother f er. as the last rope on the last rappell was being abused for the last time, it broke. i sick crack is what i heard, and i then i dropped. luckily after six feet of terror, the belay device stopped me. i looked up to see 2 meters of exposed core looking me in the face. then i smelled it. the overheated atc was burning the core strands through, as they cant take the heat like the sheath can. they started to go. i desperately looked for my knife to cut the load loose, but couldnt locate it fast enough on the back of my harness becaus of all the sh#t on my harness. so i did all i could do, and started to let the atc strip its way down the core, bunching the sheath up under it as it went. this was the burning of the core was distributed, and eventually it wasnt burning any more. but not the bunched up sheath wouldnt let the rope pass through the device, so i cut off my belay loop, and continued down un just the gri gri. i made the ground a few minutes later, thinking light thoughts on the way down with the ridicously heavy load on my system, and let out a big monkey call when my boots made contact with the glacier. oh my god, i did it, and lived through it! unfortunately i had to leave this rope on the route with all of the booty of the belay and a new dragonfly stove sitting next to the belay. i have been beating myself up since about this, as i really despise leaving this junk rope on the mountain. all of my friends here convinced me not to go up it to clean it off, but i am very sad that this perfect ascent left behind a rope on the wall. it is not on the line of ascent and i cant climb back up to it. i hope the winter storms sweep it off the slab, of i owe you some beers if you repeat the route and can remove it. now i am in town relaxing between carrying down all of the stuff. trying to let it all sink in, of course with a big knowing smile on my face.
This short message goes for you Dave, for being focused and persistent. Good job achieving this BIG goal in your life. Thank´s for all your help and support since we me aroun C4 in 2004. The man that trusted me and showed everything I know about big wall climbing, taking me on my first solo wall ever, the south face of the Collumn. After that we shared many other simul solos around the Valley. I never forget when he invited Bryan Sweeney and myself to do my first alpine route. The Evolution traverse, I got fucking sick. You´re the MAN and deserves it. Thank´s again. Peace and good vibes. Nick