Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2010/06/10

Salathe Wall

Last week Ben and I decided we would in bark on a adventure together. Ben being a dedicated free climber had brought up the idea of trying to free climb The Captain. It has always been a dream of mine to free climb the captain and after some thought I decided that there was only one way to make a dream happen and that was to go for it. I found Ben and we started prepping for the wall. Ben had never climbed a wall before, but I knew he was motivated I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was fully psyched and would give every pitch his most valiant effort. I knew from the beginning that it would be a teacher student experience and that I was going to have to pull from deep in the depths of the patience bag. We fired the Free Blast in the first day and Ben lead through the Hollow Flake refusing to do anything but on-sight free the off-width crack. We spent the first night on Hollow Flake Ledge and woke up[ early the next morning to fire to the distance to El Cap Spire. This day was my block to lead and I was dreading the monster off width until the very moment I forced my left hip into the void. It was an amazing feeling worming your way up a 150 ft. granite off-width crack. We made it to El Cap Spire and celebrated with Stages Chile. Our dream of free climbing turned into a dream of making the summit in proud style as we looked up at the wet pitches above The Spire. Ben lead to The Block on the third day. As I popped my head over the last pitch to the bivi, Ben looked at me and said “That was like a spiritual experience.” Ben had just thrashed his way through the sewer, which was leaching water, and sporting a 5.8 rating was probably the most intense pitch of the climb. I thanked him for hooking the team up and getting us to the bivi. The last day was amazing. We had perfect weather and crazy exposure through the headwall. It was my job to get us to the summit. I french-freed  my way through the roof and up to the 5.13 flaring crack. What an amazing pitch! Full exposure on overhanging terrain! We topped out with enough time to make it down for sandwiches and beer at the bar. We both agreed El Cap is no joke and swore we would be back for some more free climbing fun, this time with a different strategy and more experience.

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