Training is Gaining, October 17 2015 - Mark Rafferty
Climbing Joshua Tree 2015

From the first day I arrived to now almost a full week here in Yosemite Valley I've seen and met so many climbers. Putting asside the compact tent space in camp 4, almost everyone I talk to is a climber/fellow dirtbagger. The one thing you notice though is that most lie between the ages of late twenties early thirties. Most of which are climbing in that 5.11-5.12 grade. The only other teenage I've seen here was in camp 4 and he has just started to climb at age 19 from New Orleans. He renovated a sweet conversion van as well. I look at my ability level on trad climbing and see how much potential I have to be a great free climber.

I believe the last time I was climbing hard was almost a year ago. Working to get money and building the van I set aside climbing for a while. Besides the occasional classical crags I brought people up just to get outside. Vedauwoo and Yosemite are the only places I've been starting to climb hard again. Like the Stonemasters in the 1970s who trained everyday to become these outstanding free climbers. With that drive and motivation I'm taking this time in Yosemite as tofollow their footsteps and really work my ass off. Gaining strength in different developments I normally don't put myself into. I started that process today on a well known crack called "Generator." Generator is set at a 5.10c off width crack and has its major use for taking laps on. Locals saw that this off-width crack is one of the hardest here in the Valley, and once your able to get this route clean you can tackle almost any off-width crack here in Yosemite. Hearing this I was stoked yet very intimidated because this off-width get a lot of traffic from hard 5.12 climbers looking to get in a good burn. Once I hopped on the first run I couldn't even move a foot. Hearing the beta on how to get the technique I started getting higher and higher taking breaks almost every 5 feet. A little ways up it starts to rain on us which made me want to move faster and to avoid missing this opportunity to climb this route.

For those who are having a hard time understanding off width crack climbing here it is. An off width crack is a crack that is too wide to be able to fit a single fist in which forces you to either stack your hands against one another or arm bar inside the crack, however the crack is also too small to fit your body which makes you unable to chimney up the crack. This makes off width the hardest body workout in all of climbing.

As I topped out my body was exhausted. Setting foot at the base I instantly wanted to try again, but there was a second party behind us so we had to switch. The few guys in the other party said that they have been here about 2 to 3 times now and still haven't been able to get past the crux. Once I heard that I was psyched that I ripped it first time. As soon as we got in the car it started to downpour. Getting back to the van I spent the remaining of the day reading, cooking up some food, researching different crags, and finding where else I can train on down days. Seeing my progress even this week starting at V1 bouldering to V3 and leading 5.9 to 5.10d trad gets me super pumped! Can't wait to hop on some 5.11 single and multi pitch.

The weekend doesn't seem too promising as the forecast shows rain and thunderstorms. The valley really does need the moisture but I really want to climb. Haha we will see.