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Caveat Emptor, 5/7/11

By Jim Herson

Chris Mac just raised $30,000 for his ASCA organization! The ASCA replaces deadly old 1/4" rusty mank, which climbers have been whipping on for generations, with new, strong, beefy hand drilled 3/8" stainless steal bolts. It is backbreaking, exhausting, tedious, altruistic, lifesaving work. And you need to stop reading right here and enjoy your blissful ignorance. Because...

Have you no sense of decency, Chris Mac!?!

Intrigued by the media lynching of fellow good samaritan and notoriously lousy book keeper Greg Mortenson for his audacity to teach little Pakistinian girls to read, Mac raised the bar on unconscionable behavior by a nonprofit. Aided and abetted by the frighteningly talented auctioneer Mr Addison, whose infectious enthusiasm for all things well priced served him well in that role, Chris and his ASCA auctioned off a trip up El Cap in a day with me. [1st place was a trip not climbing with me.] Unfortunately David, the "winner", is a friendly kid with no Valley experience and totally eager to learn.

Mac, do you also auction off puppies for an evening with Hannibal Lecter?!!??

Because readers of this blog know exactly where this is heading.

We headed straight up the East Ledges under the tired old transparent guise of "training". Because, as every 'beginning to rock climb' book emphasizes, the only place to learn to jumar is off the widely exposed lip of El Cap so some doddering old nutcase can check out Houlding and Pickles's brilliant new El cap free line, The Prophet. A quick topo query to the beta master Clint and David's fate was sealed. How could I not have thought of this auction gig years ago?! Thanks Mac!

Fortunately Mac and the ASCA, with a sympathetic jury, could plead a strong case for leniency based on full disclosure had I not strategically suppressed Erika's Letter of Recommendation

But before victimizing the good hearted David, I needed to kick start the season with the traditional season opener, a run up the Nose. On Saturday Chan and I became perhaps the least fit pair of 50 year olds to head up the Nose as Chan hasn't donned climbing shoes outside since last year's Nose opener and I've been whining nonstop for the last 4 months, to a stunningly lack of empathetic 'friends', about a torched elbow. And not to pass judgment on Chan's big wall hone before he took the year off but he did forget his belay device and dropped mine on pitch 2 last year. Fortunately Yosemite granite worked its magical healing powers on my elbow and my fragile mental state. A gorgeous day up the surprisingly dry stone. It's worth noting, however, that at the top of Boot Flake we did pause to consider the increasingly menacing and deteriorating weather. That's just what wisdom gained by old age looks like. That neither of us packed rain gear (nor rap line) and continued up anyway was also thanks to the big picture perspective unique to us wise elders. We figured that if the weather turned, as it seemed intent on doing, it'd be way more efficient to just cut-n-paste the 'we got hammered' boilerplate for this trip report than to write an entirely new narrative of cautious rationality.

This was our 100-100 climb -- a team combined age of 100 with a combined 100 El Cap ascents. The problem with the 100-100 is that by the time you're a 100 you can't remember if it's your 100th. We're actually 101 and suspect we have more than 100 ascents. But it's hard to know since not only are our El Cap addled mental abilities maxed out with double digit counting but also, for the obvious peace of mind, we try to block out ascents with Greg.

Caught up with David the next morning and accidentally let slip that rapping off the top of El Cap "is a bit gripping." Obviously I was way off my game. David's suspicion quickly grew and we hadn't gotten half way to the East Ledges rap lines before he caught on and suggested we reconsider our [my] objective. Normally this wouldn't phase me -- see Rita/East Ledges crushing load -- but it did give me pause that David had generously supported a good cause for the privilege of this abuse. So I just marched him to the top of the raps and cached him there for 3 hours while I'll scoped out The Prophet. Well, ok, to be honest I wasn't actually that big hearted. I knew the Prophet would be soaked so I was just hoarding David's good will until it dried out.

Apparently hanging out at the top of the freezing East Ledges raps forever gives a man time to reevaluate his priorities. By the time I returned to the raps David suggested that, really, he's happy with any day climb and, you know, why don't we just call it even on the donation. And I'm like "Dude! Have you seen the 'A1 Beauty' pitch on The Prophet! No way are you weaseling out of this commitment!"

And then, worried that I might not have sealed the deal, we did the 1st pitch of the Nose. The sweet taste of El Cap always brings them back.

In the meantime Mac, you might want to retain creative counsel.


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