EPIC Zodiac. Part 3 [EN]

Hey guys, Part 3 of our adventure is now ready for you to read.

Heads up! As this is the last and most hardcore part of the story: the actually Zodiac climb, as narrated by Lolì.

Enjoy the read, and if you missed our previous post you can read Part 1 & Part 2 here!

3.5 days and 3 nights up Zodiac

We worked hard, all four of us, everyone with his/her own tasks.

Our strategy worked a clockwork. It worked so well, that we did not need to change anything in our tactics, from our first day until the very end: Antonio (Pozzi) was always tirelessly and quickly leading, Gibe (Mauro Gibellini) climbed up as second, lifting up the haul bags. Then it was my turn, climbing up the fixed rope whilst the guys were taking the portaledge at the next belay above us. Last but not least, Diego (Pezzoli) climbed up whilst cleaning up the pitches.

On the wall again, after two years, but this time with my two best climbing mates and dear friends. And with Antonio, a very special person who despite leading the challenge with his great skills, actually thanked me for having included him in our project, for having created this opportunity: as this was his first holiday, after a long time, that he spent such a long time with his  dear brother, Francesco (Pozzi), doing something they both really love. 

I will never have enough time, nor words, to thank these three awesome guys for what they have done. Being there, with them, was truly special. They made me feel like if nothing had changed since my days ahead of my accident (3.5 years ago): we climbed, we talked, we laugh We lived these days with great intensity. We took decisions together in order to find the more convenient way to get to the top as fast we possibly could. We eat, drunk, slept hanging on our portaledges from the amazing El Capitan wall.

We spent 3.5 days up there, not exactly with great calm, as we knew that on Tuesday the weather would turn on us – and so it did! Our days on the wall were quite long: we would usually climb from sunrise to after the sunset, usually until 8PM. during our last night on the wall, and with a big effort, we decided to just not stop: we climbed in the dark and lowered out in the dark.

Then, my “favorite” moment of the climb arrived. No, wait! I was actually frightened to death (just in case the sarcasm didn’t come through my lines, lol). We lowered out in the dark. Can you even believe it?! We were challenged, tired, we were not exactly fresh at this stage. We maneuvered relentlessly in the dark. The physical conditions we were in, the upcoming storm heading towards us… all of the factors made this maneuver even more epic and memorable. But, I have to admit, once at the last pitch, I was almost collapsing with fatigue!

On Tuesday, just ahead of dawn, I was at the top of Zodiac with Diego and Antonio. Just Gibe had yet to arrive, as – at the very last – the hauls bags decided to get stuck in a crack, creating so some problems to the guys for pulling them up. I, in the meantime, I was trying to start breathing again, after my pull-up effort, hahaha!

With the rising of the first lights of that great Tuesday morning, we were all at the top, together! We had no time to romanticize the moment, nor too many minutes to spend celebrating our Zodiac climb, as the storm was hitting us quite hard already, 

The rain arrived fast, and strong. So strong that we decided to open one the tends of the portaledge to get some shelter. Water started to come down quite energetically through the rocks and the slabs, so much so that soon we started to see a small waterfall just behind us, where the water was streaming through. This blocked us in and our rappelling plan, out and over the ridge was not an option anymore!

Our “bad luck” moment carried along that morning when we came to learn that the YOSAR team had been diverted to a major rescue at the top of the Half Dome since the previous evening. That was not ideal for us as we were counting on the help of a few strong extra arms and legs to help with my descent.

Our (good!) luck struck again soon though when we saw two other climbers descending from The Nose! We caught Yannik and Stefano’s attention. Together with Antonio, Diego and Gibe they help each other to bring me far from the endangered area we found ourselves in. Funny enough, we had to move upwards, to the top of El Capitan and quite a long way into the Tuolumne Meadow. As we didn’t have the YOSAR tools at hand, we made our own makeshift stretcher with the raw materials at our disposal.

And then we saw them! During our (very) long way down, we spotted in the distance silhouettes and voices. After a few seconds, we could just not believe our eyes: a dozen of young guys and girls from Camp 4 where coming to our rescue with the stretcher. The joy, the anticipation of the heart-warming moment that they were unconsciously embracing us with: finally, we were back in the valley!

I have so many other anecdotes to tell you, but I don’t really know where to start with them. I’d need so much more time and so many more pages! For now, I want to thank all the wonderful people that have taken part in this project and that made it possible:

Starting from the three guys on the wall with me – yes, you guys: Diego, Gibe, Antonio. All the people that helped us and fed us uninterrupted support from the ground: my sister Laura, Verdiana, Francesco, Paolo e Cari, Timmy, Nick & his mates, Brandon, the guys at Camp 4, the Facelift volunteers; Tom Evans and Marek “Regan”. Last but not (at all) least, Niels: you man, you have been on my side for all those days; I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

EPIC climb, EPIC days, EPIC people, … just EPIC Zodiac

Enjoy our pictures below but don’t forget to check out the amazing shots from:

 


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🍻 to @lolibacktothetop on her ascent of #elcapitan via the #zodiac with her three #italian team mates. She topped out yesterday morning in the 🌨 that gave way to 🌞 ••• On a big wall everyone experiences the disability of life in the vertical, without weightless bird wings or minuscule lizard claws we are all encumbered by gravity. ••• We climb for the challenge, the raw beauty and the unknown outcome, if it were easy we’d quickly forget the lessons and not return for another visit. ••• I always go back and learn anew the wisdom of the big stones. #yosemite is my favorite higher education. @paradoxsports @patagonia_climb @ospreypacks @petzl_official @clifbar @zealoptics @lasportivana

A post shared by Timmy ONeill (@timmyoneill) on

 

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