Disabled Ascent of Nose in a Day

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Post-polio syndrome sufferer Wayne Willoughby high on the Nose during his one-day ascent in June.Photo courtesy of Wayne Willoughby.

Disabled Ascent of Nose in a Day

Wayne Willoughby, who contracted paralytic polio as a baby and has suffered numerous surgeries and debilitating post polio syndrome ever since, climbed the Nose of El Capitan in 22 hours with Hans Florine and Tico Allulee in late June. Willoughby, who climbs with a modified jumar rig, had previously ascended El Cap a dozen times, but the Nose in a Day took his suffering to a new level. The Valley was in the midst of a heat wave during the ascent, and Willoughby, who was lowered out from the belay by his teammates before jugging most of the pitches, estimates he jumared around 5,000 vertical feet.

The going didn’t get any easier during the 8.5-hour descent. Florine wrote in an email, “I cringed many times watching the laborious efforts Wayne took to descend. I could catnap every 10 minutes for about 8 minutes while waiting for Wayne. One guy from the [Alex and Thomas] Huber crew asked if Wayne was dead when he was laying in a clump at the top for a little break before we started the descent.”

Willoughby, 53, witnessed the first ascent of the Nose as a 5-year-old, and he recalled, “From my vantage point in the meadow that day, with a heavy metal leg brace on my right leg, I told myself that I would really like to follow their line someday. Comment on this story