No avoiding slab…

I have mentioned in previous posts that jugging on slabby/vertical terrain will be one of the biggest challenges for me. This is because, normally, you want your weight to be over your feet (i.e. a body position that is as vertical as possible) so that the larger muscles of the leg do most of the work; as opposed to tiring out your smaller arm muscles. However, my left leg likes to stay straight because I can lock the knee out and use it a bit. This makes my butt stick out and has my upper body doing a lot of the hard work.

I could not avoid practicing jugging on non-overhanging terrain, so off to Crow Hill I went. Again. It is worth mentioning that on my very first excursion to Crow Hill, I really wondered whether I would be able to carry my fat rope, static line and aiding gear by myself. It is not a long approach by “normal” standards; maybe 20 minutes or so to the base of the crag, and then a walk up a defined trail to the top of the ledge to set up anchors. I declined offers of help to carry my stuff because I needed to prove/see for myself whether I could do it on my own. Subsequent trips have not been a problem at all, so that is one thing to be pleased about I suppose.

I set up a fixed line on a dinky slab and experimented around with different aiders. I first tried using a Metolius Easy Aider on my right leg, and then a regular ladder aider on my left leg. This proved to be quite inefficient as my left foot kept coming out of the ladder aider step. Perhaps I could strap my left foot to a step using a velcro strap? I decided to ditch the left aider altogether and just have my left leg free to be straight. This works decently on a surface with a fair bit of friction. I have doubts about whether this will work on a smoother surface, such as El Cap. I am going to carry a spare ladder aider regardless.

There has been a slight shift in my attitude towards this goal. I am still feeling self-inflicted pressure to “succeed”, but I am also realizing that I need to take the pressure off myself and just enjoy climbing one of the sweetest lines around. NIAD is a big mission that some of the best in the world fail at; there are so many factors that play into this e.g. weather, other parties on the route, logistics etc. I received some excellent advice; to start up in the evening (while it is still light) when everyone else is settling into their bivys; then climb through the night (with multiple headlamps for the hands and feet), when traffic is lightest. Hopefully we will be high on the wall at day break, giving us daylight to finish the climb with.

So, I need to climb at night and figure out the whole lightning scene. And I will have to assess how much water I should bring and drink. I know that it can get really hot ton El Cap and underestimating the heat up there is potentially dangerous. Do I risk just peeing in my pants? Or do I just maintain a state of slight dehydration? I’m leaning towards the former…

Anyhow, the road to The Nose continues…

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