Life is Amazing, October 25 2015 - Mark Rafferty
Climbing Joshua Tree 2015

Holy crap! This week has been a huge milestone in my life. Everything is falling right where I want to be. The Voyager, 5.11c 7 pitch, went better than imagined. Yes the 5.11 sections kicked my but, however my strength and technique for that style improved greatly. On the Voyager Hannah and I were in one party and Jake, Kellie, and Martina were in another. Hannah led all the 5.11 pitches and had me lead the 5.10s. Which was incredible because after the hard 5.11 pitch the 5.10d pitches felt much easier. Getting up to the end of the 6th pitch of the route we decided to rappel because Hannah really needed to use the restroom. I don't blame her I really had to go as well. But, that climb really pushed myself dramatically for trad climbing. Ever since the past week I've been comfortable leading any 5.10 pitches.

Mid week once Dakota was off work we decided to go up Royal Arches. Online It says Royal Arches is 5.10b, 16 pitch route that runs 1400 feet. When in reality the climb is at mist a 5.7 with maybe one hard move. The hardest thing about the route isn't the grade but route finding. More people get lost on that route more than any wall in the valley. Which made it perfect because Fakota has been up it more than 18 times so he knows exactly where to go. So what would normally take people 10 hours took us about 4. It was incredible. It's nice to have climbs not to be about pushing your self all the time and to simply enjoy climbing.

The following day Jake and I decided to go for a gas run. Since there is no gas station available in the valley you have to drive 14 miles out of the park to get gas. The past two week I've been pushing my limits gas wise. I think my gage was below the E for about 6 days so when we went to head for gas I was nervous I wasn't going to make it. Luckily the drive is mostly down hill so neutral was key. As we are filling up Jake comes up to me and asks "What do you think about climbing the Nose with me?" Of course I'm confused because I thought the crew was already set. Come to find out that Dakota decided not to go so they were looking for another person. Seeing the way I've climbed the past week he says I'm fully capable of climbing the most iconic route in all of the world! Being as excited as I was I instantly said "Hell Yea!" I can't believe that the rock I've been dreaming to see for years, I'm going to climb it. Now the training begins for The Nose.

Today was basically day one, we aid climbed a few short crag routes near camp 4 to get used to aiding. The climb itself of The Nose isn't a hard route if you aided the hard pitches. The hard pitches being 5.13/5.14. All easy aid. The plan is to practice a smaller big wall first to get a feel for that style. Work on our weak points then shoot for the The Nose!

As well as climbing my highlining skills have been put to the test against the Yosemite exposure. Meeting up with a few guys I met online in Wyoming I was able to hop on the Highlines they've been rigging the past week. Yesterday we hopped on the Taft Point line at 100ft and 170ft long with almost 4000ft of exposure. It was insane. The hardest thing about these lines is to fight against your head. Meaning fighting to get past your nervous uncomfortable block holding you back to just slackline. That was the hardest for me. Fighting against myself I was able to stand and get a few steps in before I would fall each time. Yet the guys said that it takes a lot of time to be able to get used to that exposure and be able to walk. There were some people there who have been highlining for over a year and a half and are still stuck where I'm at. Which makes me feel much better about my ability and progression. Tomorrow I'm waking up at 6:00 to help haul gear to the Lost Arrow Spire. One of the most iconic lines in the park and I'm gonna be on it! I can't wait to see how it will all play out. It's gonna be crazy to get on a 60ft line 2000ft up set with cams on one side! Dicey!

All my goals I set that I thought I wouldn't be able to reach til years later, those goals are coming to life right now here in the valley. My stoke is crazy high to be lucky enough to be offered these adventures to me. God is really helping me make my dreams happen right now in Yosemite. Now It's up to me to follow through.