Throughout the trip and since we returned home to Newfoundland, the Choss Boys have had a couple opportunities to practice our public relation skills.
Coming to Mexico, Daniel and I (Nick) were looking for two things: bolts, and a break. After five straight months of trad climbing, big walls, and alpine climbing, we wanted a vacation from our vacation. Well, El Potrero Chico gave us all that we wished for, and more.
One of the finer crack climbing test-pieces in Red Rocks is 'The Fox.' The 140-foot pitch begins with a finger crack, but gradually widens through all sizes into a short chimney, and then narrows to a 5" offwidth to finish. During a climbing trip in April, 2015, Dave onsighted The Fox after a real battle, and inspired Nick to give it a try as well. Not having much crack climbing experience, Nick was quickly thrashed before even reaching the fist crack, 1/3 of the way up the climb.
Daniel and Nick were both motivated to return to The Fox and gauge how far their crack climbing technique had progressed. Check out the photos, and a brief recap of their sends.
On November 4th, 2016, the Choss Boys became the first Newfoundlanders ever to climb El Capitan. Their ascent of the Salathe Wall captured the attention of the local climbing community in Newfoundland, and an overwhelming outpouring of support and congratulations followed. A leader in the Newfoundland climbing community, Greg Locke, wrote an article in a local sports page, and Nick's mom, Marie Wadden, tipped off her friends at CBC. As a result, the Choss Boys spoke with Heather Barrett, host of CBC's Weekend Arts Magazine. Below is the recording of their interview.
In case you haven't realized, a common theme has emerged in many of our climbing exploits.
"We head up the approach trail and in good Choss Boys style get immediately lost and disoriented."
- Erik in "Choss Boys tackle The Grand Wall"
"4 AM again. True to the Chossboys style, Daniel and I (Nick) had attempted to climb the North East ridge of Bugaboo Spire the previous Wednesday, but instead got hopelessly lost."
- Nick in "A ridge tale: Summit fever"
Yeah... I guess you could say we haven't exactly been slaying it on our big climbing days. This time, however, I (Nick) am happy to report that we finally managed the first ever Choss Boys anti-epic!
Another mauzy evening in St. John's. It's only 6:30pm, but the sun has already set. I (Nick) am sitting in front of my laptop at our kitchen table, hunched over a sprawling pile of notes, staring through glazed eyes at slide 44/112 in a lecture titled "Nineteenth Century Foundations of Experimental Psychology." After 45 minutes of studying, my pace has ground to a halt. I absentmindedly open a new tab in my browser and type "yosemite mountain project" into google.
Daniel, Erik, and I have been planning a climbing road trip for over two months now. The three of us have a spreadsheet titled "Big Trip 2016: Finances," and Erik started a slideshow where we can lay out a vague plan for the route, and the places we will visit. I open this slideshow in another new tab. There are 7 slides, but only 4 of them have content; its just a skeleton. Slide 3/7, "Yosemite," is the only one with an image.
Back on mountainproject.com, I search for "El Capitan," and immediately start browsing through world-famous routes. Although all are renowned in their own right, two climbs in particular stand out: "The Nose," and "The Salathe Wall." I open the page for The Salathe Wall, and feel my vitality returning immediately.
The hardest part of any big objective is getting started. Apprehension and nerves are rampant. However, once underway, even the most daunting projects can unfold with relatively little anxiety and stress. This is a detailed account of the Choss Boys' most ambitious climb to date.
The Salathe Wall on El Capitan is 35 pitches, with 3500 feet of climbing; the difficulty rating is "5.13b or 5.9 C2". Since the Choss Boys were not skilled enough to free climb 5.13b, it required using a combination of free climbing and aid climbing. After training for months leading up to and during their time in Yosemite, the Choss Boys finally committed to the climb at the beginning of November, 2016.
We arrived in Yosemite valley rife with stoke from our brief introduction to aid climbing in Smith Rock. The first thing we did upon our arrival was rush straight to the base of El Capitan and climb one of the valley's most famous single-pitch climbs, Sacherer Cracker.
The next three days were spent honing our big wall techniques: aid climbing, hauling, and managing logistics as a team of three. After substantial practice, and careful analysis of our timing, the decision was made to commit to our first multi-day wall ascent, the West Face of Leaning Tower.
Having left the Bugaboos early due to bad weather, Nick seemed to have a hole in his heart where the summit of South Howser Tower should have been. It was unsurprising that his unfaltering summit lust was replaced by another massive objective on our way South: The North Ridge of Mount Stuart, in Washington State.
And thus began the Choss Boys biggest epic to date.
I (Dave) have joined Nick and Dan for three and a half months of climbing! For the last 5 years, a road trip around the United States has been a big goal of mine. Recent grad school acceptance has led me to resigning from my job and joining Nick and Dan under pretty short notice – It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to join the "Choss Boys" after they planned such an amazing trip!
Living in the "Chossmobile" (a 1985 Dodge Ram Get-Away Van) is more comfortable than I initially expected, but not without its quirks – here are a few stray observations from the first couple weeks on the road.
We are Daniel, David, Nick & Erik.
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