This past week in Yosemite has felt more like home than anything has in a while. The Camp 4 community is supportive, generous, and ever welcoming. The friends and acquaintances I am making are from all around the globe and I am appreciating my time with each new friend. I know that I have a limited amount of time to get to know them but I am doing my best to learn from their life experiences.

The Australians (Hamish, Alex, Jay, and Matt): This group of guys are the fellows Jamie and I met while climbing “The Nutcracker.” They have become climbing mentors to us. Their efficiency while rock climbing is incredible. They came to Yosemite to climb “The Nose” on El Capitan under 24 hours and succeeded. They saw that my hands got ridiculously scraped up after two days of intense climbing and jumped to preparing salt water to soak my hands in. All of a sudden it became a group effort to scrub my hands and then to bandage them. I obviously was the one scrubbing the dirt from my hands but all the needed supplies and knowledge were thrown my way. Each one of them are caring, nurturing souls with the little bit of crazy that is needed to do big wall climbing. I appreciate every bit of life or climbing knowledge they provide. “ALWAYS tie a knot at the end of the rope.”

Josh and Steven: These two guys are cousins from Maryland that Jamie and I shared a campsite with in Camp 4. Josh is one of the most charismatic people I have met. The first day I met him we went bouldering  and practiced cam (active gear used in traditional climbing) placements on a beautiful boulder with a problem called “Back Breaker.” Steven, although quieter, is filled with good humor and patience. This was my perception of Steven but I feel like he’d disagree to an extent. He witnessed me laughing hysterically at my own joke and then choke on spaghetti. He was laughing at me the entire time yet still spoke to me after all of that ridiculousness. So, I think it is safe to say he is patient and good humored.

Yuval: I met him by the messenger board at Camp 4 looking for a climbing partner. I gave him my contact information but honestly didn’t expect him to be willing to climb with me because he climbs at such a higher grade than I do and his goal for being in the Yosemite Valley was to climb “The Nose.” A few days later, I ended up climbing a 5.9 route called “Absolutely Free,” with him. I’m about to finish the end of the first pitch of the climb  and I can’t see Yuval but I hear, “Woo! Yea! This is such an awesome route!” After each pitch it was the same thing. No matter how many noises I made trying to get myself up the route, I could still hear the support and positivity of my climbing partner. I was sure that after seeing my skill level on cracks he’d find another person to climb with the next day.  To my surprise, next day we were off to climb “Commitment” a 5.9 and “Selaginella” a 5.8. We combined these two routes to total 7 pitches, a full day of climbing. My body was tired and bruised from the climb the day before but I made my way up the routes, pitch by pitch. On the last pitch I was unable to clean a cam from the crack and the tone from my frustrated and exhausted voice yelled above to Yuval more harsh than I’d like to admit. I made it to just below the ledge where Yuval was and where solid ground awaited me yet my climb was not yet over. I still had a couple more moves to the top and I was on the verge of tears. Exhaustion and fear was eating at me almost uncontrollably and I asked the constant question of, “Why am I doing this?” I beach whaled on top of the ledge (this “move” was exactly what it sounds like) but my backpack was stuck on the tree and I had no footing. My face was face down in the dirt and I was stuck. Yuval can’t help but laugh but he remained calm and encouraging as I inch wormed my way off the tree and further onto the ledge. My remnants of energy were expended in these last movements and I was mentally and emotionally hanging on by a thread yet there Yuval was patient as ever helping me gather myself.

Karol: He is a boulderer from Slovakia that is constantly smiling and has a light gleaming in his eyes. When people say that the eyes are the windows to the soul I think back to this guy. I officially met him while I was bouldering with Josh (see above) and he needed a crash pad. I was happy to share the crash pad and add another boulderer, much stronger and experienced than myself, to our little group for the day. That night at the campfire we tried to split wood with a forearm size hatchet and Karol came out of nowhere and wanted to give it a shot. Everyone stood back and obliged. He got in a squatting position, aimed the hatchet, swung back and got the hatchet stuck in the wood. He wasn’t finished though, he then swung the hatchet, still stuck in the wood, around to where the back of the hatchet hit the stump and the hatchet blade drove up into the wood. Never in my life had I seen that technique before. The wood was much too hard to be split but this process continued several more times and each time a smile rode on Karol’s face.

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