In 1986, climbing legends John Bachar and Peter Croft made the first successful link-up of Yosemite Valley’s El Capitan and Half Dome in less than 24 hours. The feat was so far ahead of its time that it would be another decade before anyone even attempted to repeat the link. Since then only a handful of big wall’s best have been able to climb The Nose and The Regular NW Face – floor to floor – in less than a day.
Earlier this summer, PG hard man/route setter Fernando Motta teamed up with Libby Sauter to successfully add their names to this short, prestigious list. I sat down with Fernando to find out a little more about the route, his training and what’s next for him.
A Well Earned Beer in El Cap Meadow.
So, the word abound is that you and Libby did “The Link” a couple weeks ago. When did you decide you wanted do El Cap and Half Dome in a day?
Well, ever since I moved to the U.S. from Brazil, really. When I first heard that people were doing two big walls in a day I thought, “Wow!” But, I only started training for this link up in June.
What was the hardest push on either of the routes for you?
For me it was the hiking. I didn’t drink enough water the night before so I went to the store to buy some Cytomax, but the store was out. On the hike from El Cap to Half Dome my legs started cramping up. It had never happened to me before so I had some doubts about whether I could finish or not. From the very beginning of The Dead Slabs it was just really painful to move my legs. I couldn’t high step at all the whole way up Half Dome. It was a huge challenge just to keep going.
That sounds brutal. What was the flipside – the best part of the climb for you?
While we were on the wall we saw two guys flying past us in wing suits – base-jumping off of Half Dome; it was amazing! I thought, “I wish it could be me!”
You’re into base-jumping, too, right? So what about jumping instead of hiking for the link ups?
Well, I got caught base-jumping in The Valley a couple years ago. I definitely cannot jump there anymore! I had my time, but it’s in the past for me, now.
Fernando leading the Pancake Flake on The Nose.
I spent the last year and a half just bouldering, so my first day on El Cap I got beat up so bad by the Salathe. It’s been a big transition from bouldering to wall climbing. To train I’ve just been doing a lot of laps when we’re setting during the week. Whether we’re setting boulders or routes I try to get as many laps in as possible. On top of that I’ve been running and teaching the Power and Endurance class with Mick. On the weekends I go to Yosemite and climb.
How’s the Power and Endurance class been going? Do you feel like it’s been helping your training?
Yeah, it’s been tiring, though! But, I think it’s been helping because it means I’m always working out. I think as long as you rest when you need to, your training will always come back and be an advantage to you. I try to listen to my body, but always push my limit. Sometimes my body doesn’t want to keep going, but I say, “Come on! Let’s do it!”
So what’s next for you in The Valley?
Next is a triple link up of Half Dome, Mt. Watkins and El Capitan (First done by Timmy O’Neill and Dean Potter). After that I want to free the Salathe (5.13b 35 pitches). The Salathe is my biggest goal for this year.
There’s always time for a photo – even on the speed ascent!
Alright, and finally, why Salathe?
It’s one of the first lines put up on El Capitan and I know it’s going to be a big challenge for me. It’s also one of the most famous lines in Yosemite.
When he’s not in the Valley cruising big walls, Fernando is helping the mortals around here stay psyched and get strong by setting full-time and co-leading the Power and Endurance training sessions here at PG.
Special thanks to PG San Francisco staff Jason Crase for taking the time to interview Fernando!