Scarpa North America Blog

A Yosemite Schooling: “I Knew Nothing”

May. 23rd 2016

On Saturday, May 14, SCARPA athletes Jacob Cook and Robbie Phillips topped out on one of Yosemite’s test pieces, “El Nino” (5.13c). For Phillips, the funky granite cracks and corners of El Cap proved a serious test. Below is a reflection on his butt kicking and ultimate triumph from his blog. Read the full story his Yosemite experience and the ascent of “El Nino” HERE.

Robbie Phillips climbing in Yosemite.

Robbie Phillips fights with a 5.12 chimney pitch on “El Nino.”


“AGHHHHHHHH!!!! What is happening? I can’t hold on!? It’s IMPOSSIBLE! How on earth do you do this!?” his was my first experience of Yosemite cracks… The second experience was much the same. And the third. And so forth…

I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life dedicated to getting better at climbing. In the beginning it was on plastic. Then it was on bolts. Traditional. The cold stuff. Now it’s Big Wall! To me climbing is all the same… It’s mostly upwards, occasionally sidewards and with much reluctance, downwards. That last bit I try to avoid. The simple truth about climbing which holds no matter what type you’re doing is that it requires focus, dedication and heart! Without these three ingredients, no amount of apparent talent will get you up there.

Yosemite highlighted one MASSIVE flaw in my climbing; that much like the character Jon Snow from “Game of Thrones”, I knew nothing…

Climbing in Yosemite in early light.

El Cap in the early morning light.


I came to Yosemite fresh from a Catalan sport climbing trip, 8c fit and ready to bring the AMUERTE mindset to the Yosemite Big Walls. All expectations I had were then obliterated in the first week after a complete and utter spanking on the granite. And yet it didn’t affect my motivation negatively; if anything it made me more determined! The trip was not goal-orientated anymore, it had become a training camp!

Everyday I was throwing myself on Granite cracks, offwidths, corners and aretes! The grades don’t really matter but it’s funny to note that they weren’t 5.13 (7c+), they weren’t even mostly 5.12 (7a+), they were largely 5.9 – 5.11 (4+ to 6a+) and I was still flailing about on them as if I’d only just started climbing last week. I am reminded once again that you are never truly a master of climbing rocks; it is just too varied to ever master the skill wholeheartedly. The best you can do is try your hardest and accept that you’ll always be at least a little bit shit at some aspects of the sport…

Click here to read more.

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