After El Capitan: Admiring these iconic ice formations

What was your best day on Yosemite National Park? What kind of hiking trip did you take? How many times have you climbed El Capitan? I’ve climbed over 10,000 vertical feet of rock (El…

After El Capitan: Admiring these iconic ice formations

What was your best day on Yosemite National Park? What kind of hiking trip did you take? How many times have you climbed El Capitan?

I’ve climbed over 10,000 vertical feet of rock (El Capitan) in my life, and when I’m climbing El Capitan, it’s like living a fantasy. I can dream of certain layers of rocks and be able to climb to the top without a rope. I want to travel the world — and El Capitan gives me that opportunity. The summit is right there in my backyard.

When did you start to climb? When did you start climbing El Capitan?

I started climbing in my mid-20s. My first climb was on El Capitan. My whole life, I’ve been on the lookout for the second or third act of a dream. When I got into climbing, I thought, “This is it. I’m going to be able to reach the top of a mountain.”

I knew early on in my career that climbing is a goal-driven field. If you want to be the best, you have to try harder and do more of the thing you think is important. Now, I put El Capitan on my bucket list, so every single day I go out and set a goal. The desire to do more climbs drives me forward.

Who would you rather have, Grace Jones or Tom Chubbuck?

Tom Chubbuck. Tom was my climbing partner. He taught me to love what I’m doing, and being with him is incredibly valuable to me.

When did you become a national park ranger?

When I was a lieutenant in the Marine Corps, a commanding officer recruited me as a park ranger. It’s been a lifelong dream.

What is one thing that no one sees on Yosemite trails?

How the seasons change. Once it gets really cold, the ground will take on a metallic, new look.

What do you wear when you’re working in a chilly park?

I have a lot of layers to keep me warm, and then I layer up for hard climbs.

So you like to check your skis off and try to find a free moment on El Capitan?

I take all the avalanches and rocks that have fallen on El Cap and when I’m climbing on a hard descent and see a pile of rock that looks like a snowman or a staircase, I’ll dig a hole in the ground to look like that. It helps to see it.

What is the hardest part of climbing?

The speed. Skis pick up so much momentum as you climb. To pick up speed in Yosemite is like trying to climb a 12-story building that’s moving at 30 mph.

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