Funny how things are so much simpler and easier to deal with on a wall where just life and limb are on the line. Mark Hudon and I spent 8.5 days climbing the Reticent Wall on El Capitan mid May 2014. Two days were spent in the snow and sleet on Lay Lady ledge. Climbing partners for close to 40 years we had first climbed El Cap 38 years before. We had been working up to this wall that was for a while known as the hardest on El Cap as both of us are in come back mode after fairly long lay offs from the sport. South Seas, Lost in America and The Atlantic Ocean routes were the build up over the last three years for me. Mark had a few other routes thrown in the comeback as well.
Cheynes photo and words capture perfectly the defining moment of the Reticent for me. This pitch originally rated A5 and described as a "real death pitch" was mine. Meaning you could blow a hook move and hit the ledge 100’ below. It is a bit safer now but still considered A4+. Mark had more hard aid pitches under his belt than I and offered to take the pitch, but something in me wanted just to see if I could still tap into the calm focus I was so addicted to back in the day. Having this as the second to last pitch of the route kept the pressure on the whole time.
The pitch... was simply perfect. It's why we climb...
Pictured: Max Jones clips a 'thank God copperhead' on the crux A4R pitch of The Reticent Wall. My palms sweat with nervousness and I could feel heavy anxiety in my chest as I watched Max gingerly move upwards. I was glad to be the one taking photos today #daysyouremember photo and quote by Cheyne Lempe