AUTHOR: Mayan Smith-Gobat
PHOTOGRAPHY: Andrew Bardon
The beautiful orange Salathe headwall soared overhead, split by a single rounded crack — Only 180 feet separated me from 'long ledge' and the end of the difficult climbing. Yet this was the crux, an overhanging hand and finger crack culminating in a powerful boulder right at the end of the rope length. I had been on the wall for six days and we were running short of water and food...
"The time is now... The monkeys are raging!" came a shout from Sean, at the anchor far below.
Firing up my motivation... with determination I shook one last time before committing to those last tenuous moves. Nearly 3000 feet of granite dropped away below me, as I pasted my foot on a terrible smear, pressing hard I worked my hands up the slopping pin—scars. Then throwing with all my remaining strength, I hit the jug with a shout of relief and joy!
I had just climbed the Salathe — 'The greatest free—climb in the world' The previous two years of effort, were suddenly totally worth every second... It was the day before my birthday and I had just completed a life goal of mine — free climbing El Capitan!