Ciao ragazzi, our own Eleonora “Lola” Delnevo has written Part 2 & 3 of our El Capitan, Yosemite 2018 adventure for us. Today, we are sharing Part 2 of the story: from the Yosemite gathering at the Valley to the climb of the first six pitches by Antonio Pozzi & Diego Pezzoli.
Pssst… In case you’ve missed Part 1 (whoa!) you can read about Zodiac preps and Yosemite greetings in our previous post: EPIC Zodiac. Part 1.
Enjoy Part 2, written by Lolì with a small collaboration by me (Laura). We’ve also stolen some words from Timmy O’Neill’s Instagram stories 😀
EPIC no other words are needed to describe my latest trip. It’s not just intended in the sporting result, which by itself is great, but in the whole experience that developed around us since the moment that we set foot in Yosemite.
Day 2-3. A climber’s summary
We arrived in Yosemite Valley on a scorching Wednesday afternoon, with an unwelcoming news of a storm heading our way between Monday night and Tuesday morning the following week. We planned our climbing trip thinking we had about 10 days to see our project through we now had less than a week!
As soon as we arrived at our destination, we barely had the time to make Camp 4 our temporary home in Yosemite, when we soon decided that we had to start to arrange everything in order to aim to be at the base of Zodiac ahead of the weekend.
As a matter of facts, on Friday night (day 4 of our trip), I was already at the base of the wall sleeping my first night in the portaledge.
I met Timmy (O’Neill) at the end of Thursday, during one of the Yosemite Facelift events at the village, with my sister and my adventure-mates. Timmy is like… TNT-energy-man! In a very short while, he turned around Yosemite for us: giving us support and taking head-on, all the responsibility for taking me to the base of Zodiac, and from its top down back to the El Capitan Meadow.
To us, it really felt the whole Yosemite came alive and together to support our own project. Timmy announced our project and looked for volunteers both through his personal contacts and in between his presenter’s duties at the Yosemite Facelift‘s events.
He reached out to his incredible network of local connoisseurs, Yosemite Rangers, and the amazing Yosemite Search and Rescue Team (YOSAR).
Day 4. Climbing up the first six pitches
Our day started before sunrise. The whole climbing team (Antonio, Diego, Mauro) together with Francesco and Verdiana brought the big bags and the equipment up to the base of Zodiac. Laura & I had a lucky escape and slept a little bit longer!
Antonio and Diego would remain up all day to climb the first six pitches of Zodiac. Francesco (Pozzi) would carry up 2 more BIG bags on that day alone!! Talking about teamwork and team support: Francesco went up and down the Zodiac trial 4 times that day, as he even went up after dinner on Friday night to bring more water supply to Lolì and Mauro for their overnight stay on the wall. He deserves a medal for that alone… wouldn’t you agree?
Whilst at basecamp, preparation were starting to bring Lolì up to Zodiac, Antonio and Diego did not have a moment of rest. They started from the early morning to climb Zodiac and will not stop until later afternoon.
In fact, once we realized, how strong of a climber Antonio (Pozzi) is, and following a few quick conversations, our new strategy to climb Zodiac became clear very soon: Antonio, “The Master” Pozzi would lead the way all the way to the top! Diego and Mauro will follow suit, in order to be able to help with pulling the equipment (bags, portaldges) up, whilst allowing Antonio a fast way up, as fast and clean and possible. I will pull myself up for the whole 550m-long granite wall on that fixed rope.
Antonio and Diego worked relentlessly that first day, reaching the sixth pitch by sunset. By late afternoon, the whole team was together at the base of Zodiac: myself, Diego, Mauro (Gibe), Antonio but also the important helpers who stuck with us every step of the way: Francesco, Verdiana and Laura.
That afternoon, our great friend Paolo Pompanin drove from San Francisco with his wife Cari. More of their friends joined the party in the hope of being able to help during the weekend. Paolo becomes to be a fundamental link in the organization of Lolì’s descent from El Capitan, being an incredibly efficient coordinator between our climbers and the YOSAR team.
Everybody in the Valley seemed to be keeping an eye our team: four Italians who were attempting something epic. The team was climbing. Yosemite was watching. The Yosemite spirits were alive and kicking.
On Friday night, just Gibe and I spent the night up Zodiac, a great night and a wonderful starry sky. Diego and Antonio headed back to Camp 4 for the night and came back at sunrise the day after with Laura and Verdiana. Our girls come to wish “All the best” for my second attempt to climb Zodiac.
The following day (Saturday, day 5) we climbed till the sixth pitch: a long way of pulls
up! [More on this in the next blog post]
My mind switched the moment I started to pull myself up. My mood sparkled with happiness and joy, and freedom, and great memories. I was ready and eager for the next days to come!
Day 4. Loli Back To The Top (BTTT)’s party to the base of Zodiac
Our date with Timmy was on Friday at noon at the El Capitan Meadow. Within 15 minutes from parking our car, we witness an army of volunteers arriving with Timmy, the YOSAR & Yosemite Climbing Rangers leading the way. Timmy quickly shifted our minds to a powerful, positive mindset: changing the way we spoke about the support we were receiving to the greatest party in Yosemite! Where else would you want to be if not here, on Friday afternoon?!
The 30-people party turned out to be an international gathering of the kindest humans and mountain lovers, calling upon volunteers from the Yosemite Facelift project, local climbers, even weekend tourists who just wanted to be part of something truly unique and special, even if only for a few hours.
We certainly met great people along the way, with whom we hope to remain friends in the long run. Like Oli Warlow aka Classic Rock by Bike, who this year cycled the length of Britain in 72 days whilst completing 82 climbs; all in memory of rock climber Jamie Fisher.
Similarly to my first attempt in 2016, the new Yosemite crew arrived with a stretcher so to make me lie on during the ascent of the trail. This time though, there was an extra piece of equipment: they brought along what looked like a giant version of a wheelbarrow’s wheel.
After securing me to the stretcher, they lifted it with myself in it, then attached the wheel underneath it, and off we went!! Lead by Timmy, Nick (YOSAR), Brandon (Yosemite Climbing Rangers) and their teams, our 60-legs powered group marched to the top!
Never in my life. I would have thought that this scale of support would have been possible: in less than 1 hour, 30 guys and girls (yes, girls, there were so many of us!) brought me at the base of Zodiac
It was incredible to see how the knowledge, coordination, and strategies of the professional crews were fundamental to get us up in no time: find the right pathways, directing a group of strangers with clear instructions, foreseeing the group’s formation of where pullers and pushers needed to be positioned, the mastery of the ascent was fantastic! We couldn’t have made without you guys, certainly not at this speed-record time.
People just wanted to be part of the hard work too, my sister told me. She had to wait up until halfway through the top before finding the confidence and a spot to become a puller. Some people were more at ease in this environment than others, and they were there to lend gloves, or simply be just a few steps away for a quick change when the fatigue was kicking in.
Laura remembers fondly one moment, just as soon as we reached the cave that is a few steps from the base of Zodiac and where the team got me off the stretcher. One of the climbers who wanted to join the (best Yosemite) party that afternoon arrived just when the group was sharing snacks to re-energize themselves for the descent back to the Meadow. He came up with a good tempo, and slightly out of the breath and just said: “Aw man, I was just 5-min late down at the start. You guys were so fast coming up, I just couldn’t catch up with you. I missed the party!”.
Featured photo by Timmy O’Neill
Photos by Timmy O’Neill, Eleonora Lola Delnevo, Laura Delnevo