On Being Defeated by El Capitan.

The sun sets on the Cathe­drals after a storm.

The ques­tion that con­tin­ues to spring into my head, day after day, year after year, is sim­ply, “Why do I climb?” The truth is, I have no idea why. It’s just a mag­net­ic pull, a burn­ing desire, an urge that I feel com­pelled to sat­is­fy whether or not my body feels capa­ble. Then I sit back, exam­ine the larg­er pic­ture, and it all becomes clear. Of course I know why I climb: because I can, and I am able, and some­day I may not be. And then I think, “You bet­ter take advan­tage now, you lucky bastard.”

Hang­ing out.

A good climb­ing trip is a com­plex recipe. The ingre­di­ents seem zesty enough, but putting them togeth­er for some­thing that is tru­ly out of this world can be tricky. Con­sid­er the thought, the plan­ning, and the actu­al exe­cu­tion. Where do we go? Yosemite Val­ley. What do we climb? El Cap­i­tan! Once the idea for a climb is con­ceived, whether or not I get to the top is real­ly of no con­se­quence. I climb to bow down to some­thing larg­er than myself, and to know that what­ev­er hap­pens, the expe­ri­ence I gain is going to be real. Not nec­es­sar­i­ly com­fort­able, but always real.

Don’t let any­one ever tell you that climb­ing a big wall is easy. Sure, peo­ple do it all the time, but let’s face it, the effort, the logis­tics, and the courage to pull it off is phe­nom­e­nal. And after all the think­ing and plan­ning I did to get ready for El Cap­i­tan, the exe­cu­tion fell short. My ego may be bruised but the desire burns deep­er for anoth­er shot, one more expe­ri­ence, and, well, that just may be why I climb.

We’ll be back!