The Cleanest Line

Recap on El Cap – Another Butt-Kicking

Recap on El Cap – Another Butt-Kicking

By Kelly Cordes   |   Nov 23, 2011 November 23, 2011

CaldwellR.2010.09.12576(rope end)
[Tommy recovering after a fall on one of the many crux pitches. Photo: Rebecca Caldwell]

The wheels of my van protest loudly as I hit the rumble strips on Interstate 70. My wife, Becca, bolts upright out of a peaceful sleep with a panicked look on her face.

“Did you fall asleep?” she says, her eyes the size of basketballs. Did I? I think for a second. I gaze toward the passenger seat. A bit of drool glistens on her cheek and her long hair sticks straight out from the right side of her head.

Wow, that girl is cute when she is irritated at me.

“I guess I was just daydreaming.” I shrug my shoulders and try to put on my best puppy dog eyes.

“Well be careful!” She curls back up in the seat and is asleep in seconds.

The truth is, I am not even a bit drowsy. The post-expedition mind is a funny thing. Both happy to be returning home, but trying to find a way to cope with something. A kind of loss of immediate purpose. And although the trip I am returning home from wasn’t exactly an expedition, it had a similar effect on my psyche.

Kc - dawn at dusk IMG_3472(LR)
[The Dawn Wall at dusk; Tommy’s portaledge camp (and him, climbing above, for those with sharp eyes) is visible in the lower right, just right of the large pine tree near the center-foreground of the frame, and about one-third height up the tree. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

Every time I find struggle, a love for the people around me overwhelms my mind. Thank you to the hundreds of people who have been rooting for me. To Josh, Brett, Kyle, Lincoln and Ben for being a constant, positive energy while documenting this epic. Thanks to Kelly and my parents for being there when I needed you most. But thanks mostly to Becca for being the bright shining star of my life. For supporting me regardless of the hairball schemes I dream up, and for showing me a love that inspires me more than any climbing project could. And thanks again Dawn Wall for kicking my butt in a way that leaves me hungry to be something more.

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