Day 12 on the Dawn Wall

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In 2011 Kevin had injured his ankle and was unable to give the Dawn Wall a push attempt.  To fill in I went up with Tommy, belaying him on the wall for 10 days.  At the end of 10 days living off the ground I came down feeling weak.  I felt like my deep core had lost its strength.  Granted, I wasn’t climbing, just jumaring (ascending the ropes behind Tommy), but it was interesting to see what living in that environment did to your body.  I don’t know the science behind it all or how this type of living really affects your body, but I think walking and the way gravity puts force on our bodies when we’re on the ground naturally gives them a little strength.  Being in a walking position strengthens your core because you have to hold your upper body upright.  Tommy and Kevin are doing a lot of stretching and exercises while they are on their portaledges, and they are of course climbing, so that helps to keep their bodies in shape, but I think despite that, living on the wall slowly takes its toll on your body. There are 4 pitches between pitch 16 and Wino Tower (one of the few ledge features on the Dawn Wall).  These 4 pitches are a bit easier than the crux pitches that Tommy just climbed through, but they are still difficult and require Tommy and Kevin to be climbing really well to finish them.  As Kevin rests his skin so he can finish pitch 15, it is important for Tommy to be able to keep climbing to keep his fitness up.  Tommy and Kevin decided yesterday that while Kevin rested Tommy would attempt to climb up to Wino Tower.  Last night Tommy was able to climb pitches 17 and 18, which are both mid 5.13 in difficulty.  Tonight he will attempt to finish pitches 19 and 20.  Once Tommy has completed these last two pitches to Wino Tower he will just focus on being support for Kevin while he tries to finish pitch 15 and work his way to catch back up to Tommy.   Checking out the views after a snowstorm when I belayed Tommy on the Dawn Wall in 2011.  Photo:  Big UP Productions2011 Portaledge selfie.

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