I imagine you stepping into the Valley for the first time, taken aback by the monstrosity of the granite walls that surround you. Glacier polished formations embellished with tiny crystals and features calling for your hands to explore them. Cracks, ranging from the size of your finger pads to your entire body, luring you to feel them. The sky, so blue and crisp, you wonder if every sky before this one even counted.
What was it like to see all this for the first time? Soon-to-be classic climbs with your name written all over it?
There are hundreds of miles of trails that snake through Yosemite, but no trail map or guidebook yet established for where you're trying to go. How did you discover this test piece of a climb? Did you see it from afar? Did someone rumor about a hidden crag that you just had to see for yourself?
I imagine you wanting to climb this route, losing sleep over the excitement that you might be the very first to ever touch it.
It feels like Christmas.
You are a kid again.
Except unlike all the other gifts before, this is one no one else can have. Tossing and turning in the close quarters of Camp 4, you wonder if your thoughts are so loud that someone might hear you and steal the climb straight from your hands.
How did you know to walk two miles in on easy terrain only to take a sharp left turn after a fallen tree and bushwack your way up a steep slab to the most glorious hand crack the Valley had never seen? What did it feel like to stand at the base of the mountain? Did you know you would send? Were you scared to fall? Did you imagine all the lines of people who would soon swarm this same base, all because of you?
I think of you often, how young and fearless you must have been. Did you feel invincible? Unstoppable? Did you ever have a doubt?
If I close my eyes, I can see your bare hands sliding into the crack and twisting. Your face lights up with joy. Your feet, donning half the amount of rubber and technology of today's modern shoe, follow the same protocol. You stand up and off you go. Hands, hands, feet, feet. You're fifteen feet from the ground, feeling so strong. You place protection and you tug on it - feels good.
You climb up another 10 feet, spotting the next place for your protection. Everything feels amazing. Solid. Effortless. Then out of nowhere, your foot slips. Damn it!, you yell into the abyss. Your hands hold you in place, but you feel shaken and your wrist a little sore. All you can hear now is your breath. So desperate, so alive.
Your foot meets the glassy granite that had just betrayed you, but this time, you carefully angle yourself as you dance to the next hold. Your fingers meet a small edge that is so perfectly placed, you wonder if this rock was created with you in mind. As you look around the vast and striking landscape, you realize that this place was never made for you. You are simply one of the lucky ones who get to bask in its existence.
What did it feel like? To know that you were one of the lucky ones?
As you pull yourself over the lip of the wall, a sense of gratitude flows over you. It would be selfish to think that this place was made for you, but now, you are part of it.
Thank you for being our fearless leaders and our wild trailblazers – the original adventurers that we will always strive to make proud.