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Return to the Challenge - July 23, 1999 - Day 5

July 23, 1999 - Day 5

Mark and Mike are moving faster now. They reached their day's objective, the imposing mass of El Cap Tower, by 4:30 in the afternoon.

"We're feeling great right now, healthy, strong and really working well as a team," said Mark, resting airily on his Portaledge, about 1200 feet off the ground. "Mike is back in full "stonemaster" mode, cranking off the pitches and working the loads with a big smile on his face. I can hardly tell you how great this feels, but I'm really glad to be up here."

Joining the cheering section in El Cap meadow this afternoon were two paraplegics and a quadriplegic in their wheelchairs. They had just driven to Yosemite from the San Francisco Bay Area to watch Mark and Mike. "Does the general public have any idea how incredible this is to have a para climbing El Capitan?" asked Gary Hughes, a full quadriplegic from England. "I mean look, 90% of the able-bodied people in the world don't have the strength to do this. And another 90% don't have the psychological ability to overcome their fear of heights. So here's this cripple up there, doing it all. I'm proud of him.. Tell him he's crazy, and I usually don't give out compliments that freely."

Michael Patton, a paraplegic for one year and two weeks added, "Seeing Mark up there proves that nothing can stop us."

After four days on the wall, Mark and Mike are fully accustomed to the vertical environment. It's dangerous, demanding, and dry up there, a hard, merciless world whose only compensating virtue is a beauty so stunning that climbers come back for more, year after year, decade after decade. Now, Mark Wellman has proven that here, too, is a world accessible to the disabled.

on to day 6...


Return to the Challenge - Daily Report, Day 5


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