It does not always have to be the „El Capitan“. On November 17, Nina Williams manages the first free ascent of „Father Time“ (VI, 5.13b) at the „Middle Cathedral“ in Yosemite. Nina was belayed and supported by Katie Lambert, who originally planned on trying to free it herself as well, but injured a finger during the ascent. The route was first ascented by Mikey Schaefer in October 2012 starts from ground-up. The route is over 600 meters long, splitted in 20 pitches. This time up the route, the girls worked the hardest pitches on fixed ropes before committing to a ground-up push on November 12.
Nina by Facebook: ‚Father Time is a 20-pitch gem on Middle Cathedral, established ground-up by Mikey Schaefer over the course of two years. There are three 5.13b crux pitches and four 5.12’s, with the remainder being run-out 5.10-5.11. Katie Lambert and I tried FT earlier this spring but got bouted by the tricky sequences combined with the effort of hauling 5 days worth of gear during the send attempt. This time called for a different strategy. Over the past two weeks, we fixed ropes to the bivy (pitch 10) and hauled our porta-ledge with sleeping gear and a couple day’s worth of food/water. We recon’d the moves and figured out beta, building confidence for the upcoming 6-day push. We rapped down after one night and rested for two days. In that time we had our friend Allen haul the rest of our food and water for us in order to save energy. On November 12 Katie and I set off from the ground, alternating leads for the initial 10 pitches. Julie Ellison came along as well, filming for Never Not Collective. We worked through the 5.13 cruxes over the next few days. Unfortunately, during this time Katie caught a finger between two carabiners which forced a gnarly blood blister. The blister ripped, exposing a raw hole on the tip of her index. This freak accident cost Katie a day of climbing as she waited for it to heal over, and continued to plague her on the nails-hard crimping. After giving it her best effort and trying hard to push past the circumstance, Katie put aside her send so that she could support mine. The amount of planning and physical labor, on top of the actual climbing itself, is what makes big walling equal parts satisfying and insanely frustrating, and I know the decision was not an easy one. I can’t thank Katie enough for making this sacrifice so that I could have the chance to push on. I led the three crux pitches (pinkpointing the middle insecure layback pitch) as well as the two remaining 5.12’s. On the day we topped out, Julie asked me how I felt. “Well… we still have to get back down,” I said. I was happy but tired, physically and mentally drained. On November 17th, our 6th day on the wall, the three of us rapped to the ground with all of our gear, porta-ledges, poo, and 1300ft of rope. Now I’m back in Colorado, showered, rested, and able to reflect more clearly on my first big wall send. I learned so much about rope systems, gear placements, style, and ethics. But the most valuable lesson of all? Teamwork. Sharing a goal, a rope, and a million laughs with Katie meant more to me than anything else. Being on the side of a wall with her and Julie, cracking up about nothing at all half the time, is what I will remember the most. Katie’s decision to support me to the top is one I hope to return on her next effort. The TEAM will prevail!! I’m looking forward to sharing a rope with her again in the future and planning my own big wall objective as well. But for now, I’m very much enjoying being back in a real bed.
Photo: (c) Julie Ellison Black Diamond Five Ten Alpine Start Foods ORGANIC Climbing‘