When I woke up this morning I was my average self, 5'8" (maybe), 148lbs., near-black mop of hair, needing a shave, and hungry for granite. Before I lay down for sleep tonight I'll tower at 6'6", I'll shake the earth with my brutish mass, women will flock to my side, and best of all I will know that I am a NINJA for I have completed my greatest climbing project to date, the 'Yabo Roof'.
There is so much I want to say about this climb and this experience, but I don't know where to begin. I guess the logical place would be the beginning...
On my first climbing trip my friend Eric Schmidt took me to Bishop in the Fall of '02. We climbed sport routes in the Owens River Gorge and bouldered at the Buttermilks, the Happies, and the Sads. On my first day at the Buttermilks I climbed the 'Cave Problem' on the 'Cave Boulder,' it was rated v6. I was mighty pleased with myself but also quite humbled. Imediately to the right of this problem was Chris Sharma's 'The Buttermilker' v12 (since uprated to v13). I couldn't fathom it. I believe I told Eric at the end of that day, that I could see myself climbing a v10 some day but that I'd never be able to do a v12. He confidently shot me down and stated that he knew, judging by my performance that day I could climb v12. I appreciated the sentiment but quietly dismissed this as pure fantasy.
I don't normally talk about grades on this page because I feel like they receive too much attention in the lion's share of climbing media. I'm not some pretentious prick that insists that grades are worthless or some such nonsense. On the contrary, I think grades are valuable tools for measuring one's development as a climber, goal setting, and for the practical reason of informing the climber of an expected level of difficulty. Certainly they are not the end all be all of climbing, but there is value.
This all leads back to the 'Yabo Roof'. Last year I set the goal for myself to climb a v12. Not just any v12 mind you but something worth the effort. I wanted a 'Mandala', a 'No More Greener Grass', or a 'Yabo Roof'. Classics, that would be classics anywhere. This summer I found myself poised to start working on later of these problems. I had oodles of time, relatively cool night time temperatures and boat loads of enthusiasm. The process was a rewarding roller coaster affair as projecting tends to be and I'm glad it ended the way it did. On my two previous projects this past year, Pine Box and Narcissus, I sent them alone with the squirrels and the trees as my only companions. It was appropriate for those times and possibly necessary for my success. This time however I was surrounded by friends. Some of you, whom have supported me so much over the years, could not be there, but I assure you that you were there in spirit lighting my way through the dark, from hold to hold, onto the summit.
Tonight I walk on water, the star burn brighter, and the air is that much cleaner. Tomorrow it will be someone else's turn and I wouldn't have it any other way. I hope all of you can feel as good as I do right now, even if its just for a few hours.