Jennie and I did an El Cap workout on Thursday. Not a full El Cap (64 laps, 3200 feet), but about half that.
Working in the sun on a hot day, we were slow, and a few of the laps were tough, but I changed some things up and made it interesting.
First of all, I didn’t climb a single pitch on the column I have the most wired, the 4th Column. Instead, I started in an area where I rarely climb, then moved twice to locations I don’t know too well either. Then, and this really threw me off, I changed up the difficulty of the climbing.
Normally, my friends and I climb mostly in the 5.7 to 5.10b range on our El Cap workouts. And those ratings aren’t arbitrary. If we were truly on El Cap, that would be the range in which we’d actually free climb. After that, it would be aid climbing. So, normally, we’d split it up fairly evenly in the moderate range.
But this time, I started climbing 5.10 + for a few laps, then, at laps 20 and 21, climbed two 5.12s. And those routes – normally not much trouble during a shorter workout – completely destroyed me. I tried to get right back on a 5.10+, and suddenly I couldn’t climb. My form was broken. I felt like I was trying to wrestle a bear in a phone booth, biting and clawing and sadly over-matched. My fingers were slipping and I had to work to keep my feet pasted to the basalt.
Then Jennie yelled, “You better get to 30 laps. That’s your number.”
And because of her, I did. But not easily. And now, we look forward to another full El Cap-in-a-day.