EPIC Zodiac. Part 1 [EN]

They made it!! Less than two years since their first attempt: they went back, they climbed it, they conquered Zodiac. It was an unfinished business, but our strong team of four climbers conquered El Cap in just 3.5 days!

In the next few weeks, we will share our experience in a series of posts written directly from the Back To The Top expedition-team

Day 1. What better place to start our journey from but from San Francisco? I met Diego and Lolì on a Tuesday evening at SF International airport. It was hard not to spot them at arrivals, as they were loaded with all their climbing equipment and two fabulous smiles.

We rented a super-sized car (well, we were in America after all), and we drove through a misty San Francisco towards Mill Valley, where our BTTT friends hosted us for the night. We slept for a bit and recovered from the jetlag, but the excitement was so strong that we couldn’t wait to be on the road again.

Day 2. Our 4-hour road trip towards Yosemite started. We chatted, we sang (oh yes we did!), we stopped at the top of Big Oak Flat to devour a burger at the Priest Station Café. I couldn’t really understand Loli’s and Diego’s excitement for a burger (I mean, we did have breakfast after all); until it became clear that the café is owned by the Ankers: the family of the talented Conrad Anker. Climbers mania… I guess!

After our lunch break, happiness hit the roof of the car when Loli received the first message from the incredible Timmy O’Neill – of Paradox Sports, and Patagonia ambassador. When he messaged us the second time to offer premium seats for the Yosemite Facelift soiree at the Yosemite Village Theatre, we just… lost it! We turned into three screaming little kids! We just could not believe how well the trip was starting.

Late in the afternoon, the rest of the team was already settled at the legendary Camp 4 when we arrived. Mauro and his wife Verdiana, Antonio and his brother Francesco. In true Italian style, we got to better know each other whilst cooking some pasta and enjoying it over dinner with a few glasses of celebratory drinks.

Day 3. The buzz started to feel real! We slept off the remaining jetlag at pitch 26 of the camping site. We drove to the Half Dome Village for breakfast and a bit of shopping.

We then waited for the team to regroup at Camp 4 again and that’s when the final preparation took place: gear was laid on the floor, the route was mentally retraced to ensure the climbers had all that was needed, logistics for the bags and portaledge thought through, and maneuvers tried out.

In the second part of the day, I derailed Lolì to the Wawona Pass, as I was keen to see the valley from above. What a stunning view! We then headed down back to the El Cap Meadow to intake the beauty of the majestic granite wall.

Before heading to bed, we stopped at the village to meet Timmy O’Neill. We knew of him, we heard of his tremendous climbing achievements, we exchanged texts with him. But this was the first time we would come face to face with him: an experience that has truly blown me away!

Timmy is pure energy, with a sharp, clear mindset. An incredibly busy man, but equally and amazingly altruistic. It was transparent from the beginning that Timmy knows Yosemite, its walls, its people, its spirit inch by inch. Timmy: the man who pulled the Yosemite Valley together to bring Lolì Back To The Top!

I can’t wait to write up Part 2 of our Yosemite 2018 adventure in the upcoming days. Stay tuned for more 🙂

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