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Return to the Challenge - July 21, 1999 - Day 3

July 21, 1999 - Day 3

"The winds were so fierce today, that Mike and I had to shout to each other from ten feet away, and we still couldn't make out the words," said Mark Wellman, tired but happily resting in another hanging bivouac on the side of El Capitan. "This climb is turning out to be tougher than we expected," said Mark from his North Face portaledge, an aluminum-frame and nylon cot, hanging perpendicular to the vertical wall of rock. "We thought the route would take eight days, but it could take ten or twelve. We don't care. We're not on any schedule. This climb isn't over until we get to the top.". Fortunately, Mike is starting to feel stronger, getting over his bronchitis, and starting to get into the flow of the climbing. Mark is feeling stronger, too. After a full day of effort the two are now about three hundred feet higher than they started this morning. This route is turning out to be particularly tough for a paraplegic. Instead of climbing straight up, there are hundreds of feet of sideways moves that require long pendulum swings, tough on the rock chaps and tougher on the nerves, grinding long arcs across empty stone with a thousand feet of air underneath. On the bright side, every day they spend up there, reduces the food and water supply, which lightens the 250 pounds of gear they have to haul up the wall.

Mark's biggest puzzle of the day is trying to figure out why an insurance company like the Hartford is sponsoring such a tough and risky adventure as this. "I guess the Hartford figures it's more important to keep people motivated and fully engaged in the challenges of life, than scared sick, hiding out at home every day. It took a lot of guts on their part to help this expedition, and I'm grateful."

The plan for tomorrow is to reach Dolt Tower and a few square feet of flat ground.


Return to the Challenge - Daily Report, Day 3


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