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John Fine on his way up El Capitan

Where in the World is JL?
On El Capitan with John Fine

     John Fine spent the last week of October climbing up the Shield Route on El Capitan in Yosemite.  He wore this stunning JL High Vis tech shirt.
     John writes computer software and currently lives in Hood River, Oregon.  He does most of his climbing at a local cliff in Hood River but makes it to Yosemite twice a year to climb El Capitan.  "I just love climbing that particular cliff," he said.
     "That particular cliff" happens to be a 3,000 foot flat granite over-hang that requires 6 days to climb up.  John said it's like being "a fly on the side of a refrigerator."  The cracks are too small to fit fingers into so climbers use "beaks-" thin fishhook-like slices of steel- to help them scale the wall.
John Fine and Mark Hudon on El Capitan

     John spent one of his days on the cliff waiting out a storm on a "portaledge."  He was smack in the middle of the cliff where conditions were most extreme.  Wind was blowing up and down the cliff as well as side to side.  Fine and climbing partner, Mark Hudon spent the day huddled in their little tent drinking coffee and beer and reading poetry.
     If I were suspended on the side of a humongo cliff with wind swirling around me I may not be as calm as John and Mark.  I asked John what it was about him that makes such an activity enjoyable.  "It's part luck," he told me.  "I just was not born with as strong a fear of heights as most people.  A lot of it is having a systems style of thinking.  It's also what drew me to computer software.  There's a safety system composed of parts.  When you understand all the rule and how they connect you can understand in your emotional mind it's going to work.  I feel relaxed and comfortable.  I know the system's in place."
      As for the JL High Vis tech shirt, John said, "the shirt was awesome."  It was particularly appreciated by Tom Evans who makes a hobby of photographing climbers on El Capitan.  John said Tom has a reputation for complaining about climber's earth-toned climbing gear, but actually complimented John on his JL High Vis.  John reported the shirt was comfy and great for sweating in.  He only regretted that he didn't stumble upon JL sooner so we could make him a custom pair of High Vis pants.

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Lou Kinder - November 8, 2010