I stopped running four years ago when the doctors reinforced my ankle with titanium. The metal makes my foot heavy and the best I can do is gallop, stomping heavily into the ground. So I walk as fast as I can.
The night hides the exposure and I feel almost comfortable. It is easy ground and I am able to relax and enjoy the moment. I scramble up the granite formation. After Six was my first free solo. I climbed the route ropeless six years ago just before Thanksgiving. Now, it is the end of November. The days are short and the nights are long. At six o'clock, the stars come out and light up the rock below El Capitan. It is beautiful.
The moment I grab the rock I let go of my insecurities. Hesitation, a lack of confidence, kills people. My headlamp lights the granite and I focus on moving, forgetting about my problems.
For an hour and a half I am free. I return to my car and drive the loop back to the center of Yosemite. I miss soloing.