Training to climb this magnificent wall did not start in a day or in an attempt to impress anybody. I have had a passion for climbing since I was a little kid. My mother said during an interview about me and my ambition and how it had been so far in my chosen career. She had explained what had attracted me to the gym where I started my training. I just decided that I wanted to go one day and she had taken me.
My trainer, who also owned the gym said I was the youngest among his climbing students but from the first day I had started to show more courage and passion than any of the others who had started training long before I did.
I had won many climbing awards since I started and when I informed my team that I intended on climbing the wall, they supported my ambition.
My coach said, “We believe in you Joe, we really do. You have brought lots of good memories to this gym since you have joined us and whatever you endeavor to do you can be sure of our absolute support.”
It is an awesome feeling to stand beneath a wall and feel so overwhelmed by its hugeness but knows that like an ant that you might feel you can conquer the wall. Standing beneath the Yosemite made everyone feel quite small, and when I looked up, it almost seemed like an impossible task to embark on. But as long as something can be done, impossible becomes a word that cannot be found in our dictionary.
“What you need is a sponsor, and we have been doing some thinking on who is better at sponsoring such huge task you are undertaking,” the gym manager said. “I will speak about it to one of my guys over at Adidas if I could win their interest.”
I knew this endeavor was going to put me to test, unlike other walls I have climbed, but I was mentally ready for the challenge it was going to pose. I spent more time training with smaller rocks with cuts that were similar to the Yosemite. It is always important to get the positions right in climbing. How and where to place the hands are also important skills.
Adidas decided to promote the climb, and they called in National Geographic. In a short time, it became an even a bigger project than I had thought.
And as the project became bigger, my training intensified. There were many reasons why this must not fail. Not many other reasons mattered that much to me like fulfilling my dream and achieving my set goals. The Yosemite wall was my goal this time, and I had to see the climbing through.
Many a time I would go down to the wall and stay beneath it for many hours as if I was trying to compare and test our strengths and determination against each other. The longer I stay beneath that wall, the more confident I became at succeeding.
I made the forest my second home, acclimatizing myself with the atmosphere out there. The first thing I realized was that, unlike in the town, where people lived, their houses built, smoke and pollution, one could easily predict the weather as it changed; as the night passed for the day, rain comes in spring, and the sun shines as well.
Out there in the mountains, one can not predict what would happen in the next 5 minutes: the weather can go from being bright and encouraging to sunken heart darkness, from being warm and comely to fierce cold and rain.
All these I tried to make myself get used to as I stayed back at the hills. I would get home sometimes, and my mom would complain that I reeked and my hair full of oil because I would go those several days without bathing. At first, when I started staying back at the hills, it was frightening and getting used to it was not easy, but as the days passed, this sudden change of weather did not surprise me anymore.
My childhood friend, Paul, who first fell in love with climbing and invited me to join him, was part of the project. I had invited him on this one, and he was so helpful with preparation. We would be making the climb together.
When the set day came, the whole team had become bigger from my coach to other gym assistants, to the Adidas representatives, who had brought the deal that we signed a couple of days before the climb, to National Geographical representatives who had brought their own side of the deal too. The media crewmen from each of the sponsors were also part of the team, the emergency and first aid response team, and many more.
At the end of the day, the project that had been a single person’s dream at the beginning, seeing a wall that was yet to be conquered and wanting to do that from sheer love of climbing, had become later the project of the whole world. If I had wavered at any time before, seeing that number gave me the courage to go on.
Everything I needed had been set before that day, crosschecked on that day and certified that it was a go and everything was in proper shape. Paul and I embarked on it, each of us with several cameras planted on us. A resting nest had been prepared halfway to the wall. There we rested before making the rest of the climb.
When finally I emerged at the top of the wall, I was filled with so much joy. Choppers with media men hovered over the air with cameras. The moment we all had been waiting, preparing, training for had come. I must say it was not easy. It was easily the most challenging climb of my career, I must say. It took so long, but the 3,000 feet wall had been conquered. Although it was not the end, but for now I would celebrate and enjoy the moment.