"Your lead," Vera says as she hands me the rack. She's just led the last five pitches and now it's my turn to do the same. I look at the upper dihedrals towering above us: still so far to go.
Vera on belay on El Capitan
"Thanks." My weary reply reveals the fatigue engulfing my body and mind."How's your water supply?"
"Gone." Monosyllabic responses are easier to muster and are all our partnership requires after climbing acres of rock together in many countries over the past few years.
We're out of water and food. This is when we must dig deep. Somehow I drag myself to my feet and start climbing. The first move is sheer will, but slowly my body takes over where my mind is too tired. My body understands the intricacies of granite climbing and moves instinctually across its smoothness. Soon I am 100 percent engaged, and the rock slowly passes beneath me. Four hours later I am crawling onto the summit under a full moon. The Nose in a Day: A dream come true.