The Daily - June 10,2022 - 24

FEATURE
Is It Worth It?
By Josie McKee
This story is excerpted from Valley
of Giants: Stories from Women at
the Heart of Yosemite Climbing
edited by Lauren DeLaunay Miller
(2022) with permission from the
publisher Mountaineers Books.
THIS, HERE AND NOW, IS WHERE
I'm supposed to be. It wasn't so
much a thought as the sense that
every part of my being was perfectly
connected, focused on my movement
through this space. My lungs
burned, but I kept my breathing
calm. Heart rate down. Movement
controlled, precise. Each foot
perfectly placed, hands settling
into the undulations of stone, each
move executed as choreographed:
the dance up the stone.
I put my hand into the last
perfect jam of the hundreds of
feet of perfect hand crack that
make up the Stovelegs on the Nose
of El Capitan. I moved left, my
next hold a thinner crack. Then
I reached and grabbed the cam.
Perfect, I thought briefly, this being
my tenth time climbing the route.
The cam was right where I had
asked her to leave it to make that
move just a little easier, more fluid,
so I didn't have to stop moving.
Somewhere above, Quinn
continued swiftly, just a little less
than the full 200 feet of our rope
between us. I kept pace with her
(barely!), moving up as she moved.
The extra loop of rope was a buffer
for moments when I needed to
pause while she was moving. Everything
was done with that same
level of precision. She was not
leaving much gear to protect a fall.
Any mistake could be catastrophic.
I could not risk slipping or accidentally
pulling on her.
Farther up, I paused. She was
moving more slowly, somewhere
in the chimney, beyond several
ledges. I had a moment to think: If
I remove this cam now, there won't
be any gear between us. But no
matter, there are ledges. Surely a
fall wouldn't pull us completely off
the side of El Cap.
24
I suppose it wasn't about being
where I was meant to be. It was
about the fact that in that moment,
I could not be anywhere else, because
if my mind strayed, it could
cause the whole system to fail. It
wasn't that we were being reckless;
it was just that our values had
shaped our decisions. We put more
value on experiencing these moments
of fluid, continuous movement,
more value on the speed of
our ascent, than on our safety.
We wanted to know: How fast
can we climb the Nose? Right then
and there, about one-third of the
way up a 3,000-foot face of granite,
my choices were fueled by this
curiosity. Decisively, I pulled the
last cam out and kept moving. The
best I've ever moved. Fingers in
the familiar crack, in just the right
position, toe on this crystal, core
tight, reach to the next hold, sensing
each grain of rock. Focused,
present, in flow. Perfect. Fast.
I WONDER WHAT IT'S ACTUALLY
like to be up there. I was eighteen.
My climbing partner and I were on
our way from my home on the central
coast of California to go sport
climbing in the Eastern Sierra. We
drove into the Valley, stopping in
El Cap Meadow to take in the view.
The last light faded from the sky,
and headlamps were beginning
to wink on, high up the face-bigwall
climbers making their beds
for the evening. The top of the
giant monolith shone white in the
light of the rising full moon.
I imagined sitting on a portaledge,
legs dangling over 2,000
feet of air, 1,000 feet of silver-white
granite still rising above me. My
stomach flipflopped. Someday, I
vowed to myself. Someday, I would
be one of those tiny lights up there
on the wall. I will climb El Capitan.
I really had to go be there, to
experience it for myself.
At that time, I really had no idea
what skills it would take or what
equipment would be needed for
such an endeavor. I had probably
climbed three routes that were
over 100 feet, but 3,000 feet? Pretty
much unfathomable, the idea
was merely a bucket list dream.
/ OUTDOOR RETAILER SUMMER 2022
Quinn Brett
FUELED BY CURIOSITY ABOUT WHAT
WAS POSSIBLE, I SET OUT AGAIN, THIS
TIME WITH THAT BUCKET LIST GOAL:
TO CLIMB EL CAP.
A couple of years later, I was
beginning to learn to trad climb.
A friend showed me photos of his
recent climbing on El Cap. Seeing
the look in my eyes and fueling my
questions, he said, " Just go, " and
told me what gear I would need for
big-wall climbing.
So I showed up. I got beat down
more than ever before. Tired, hungry,
thirsty. I tested the limits of my
body and mind. I lived in the tension
of exposure, day and night. I epic-ed.
I climbed a " small " wall. I bailed
from a " small " wall. I learned. It was
hard. The climbing was hard, finding
wall partners, being in the heat ...
so I followed the summer season to
Tuolumne Meadows.
THERE IS A LONG RIDGE OF GRANite
that runs like a ribbon across
CARLO NASISSE

The Daily - June 10,2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Daily - June 10,2022

The Daily - June 10,2022 - CT1
The Daily - June 10,2022 - CT2
The Daily - June 10,2022 - Cover1
The Daily - June 10,2022 - Cover2
The Daily - June 10,2022 - 1
The Daily - June 10,2022 - 2
The Daily - June 10,2022 - 3
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The Daily - June 10,2022 - Cover3
The Daily - June 10,2022 - Cover4
The Daily - June 10,2022 - CT3
The Daily - June 10,2022 - CT4
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/dailySM2022_Day3
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/dailysm2022_Day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/dailySM2022_Day1
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2022_Day3
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2022_Day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2022_Day1
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2021_day3
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2021_day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2021_day1
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/outdoor-retailer-august-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/outdoor-retailer-july-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/outdoor-retailer-june-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/may_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/april_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/march_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/february_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/january_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/december_2020
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2020_day3
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2020_day2
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/preshow2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2020winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/postshow_summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/day3_summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/day2_summer2019
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2019_day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2019_day1
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/preshow2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2019winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2018summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2018winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2017summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2017winter
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2016winter
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