Letter Home

It’s hard to believe that just one week ago, I said good-bye to you and your mom as you boarded the bus to start your travels home, and I hiked into the mountains. So much has happened since then, and I’m struggling to wrap my head around it.

I’ve had a huge adventure for sure. I wonder if you would have recognized Alex and me staggering back into El Chaltén, with ripped clothes and the fuzzy remains of our rope draped over my shoulder. Alex had to walk close behind me because he was snowblind. We looked and smelled awful. When we got to town we heard the news that Chad Kellogg was dead, killed by rock fall two days earlier. Do you remember him smiling at you from the end of the table at La Senyera? He was a new friend, as experienced a climber as any of us. The news made me nauseous and took my breath away.

Posted on February 12, 2015 .

Endless

Fear. Anger. At the very least, aggravation. Those are the emotions I expect to see in my wife’s eyes. But her look, instead, is strangely calm.

My wife, Becca, and I have been adrift on a sea of blank granite for six days now, on yet another of my attempts to free climb El Capitan’s Dawn Wall. Our home is a 3-by-6 piece of nylon strung between aluminum poles and suspended from the wall by straps. On clear days, the sun reflects off the rock and cooks us like ants under a magnifying glass. On stormy days, deafening wind and flying snow hit us from every direction. When the sun comes back out, giant plates of ice peel off the wall and buzz by us like flying saw blades.

Posted on February 10, 2015 .

FREE PASSAGE

Finding the path of least resistance means climbing the hardest bigwall free climb in the world. 

Obsession is like an illness. At first you don't realize anything is happening. But then the pain grows in your gut, like something is shredding your insides. Suddenly, the only thing that matters is beating it. You’ll do whatever it takes; spend all of your time, money and energy trying to overcome. Over months, even years, the obsession eats away at you. Then one day you look in the mirror, see the sunken cheeks and protruding ribs, and realize the...(Continued)

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Posted on January 28, 2015 .

The Echo of the Wind

I look down at Alex Honnold for reassurance. His back has stiffened; his eyebrows are slightly furrowed. “Dude, you got this,” he says. “You’re a total boss.” What have I gotten us into? I wonder. Just three days ago, we were walking down the newly paved streets of El Chaltén, our footsteps quick with anticipation. Alex had never been to Patagonia before.

To the west, the evening sky washes in pale purple. Far below, the shadow of the Fitz Roy massif stretches across the eastern plains: steep, sharp lines that shoot up and down the jumbled glacier and beyond to rolling brown grasslands. I can track our position on the range by looking at its cast silhouette. It’s February 13, 2014. Two days into our climbing, Alex and I are nearing the top of Fitz Roy, not even halfway into our journey...(Continued)

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Posted on January 28, 2015 .