This fall, Timmy and Sean O’Neill set out to tackle the Regular Route of Half Dome—a 2,000-foot climb up the northwest face. It’s a fairly common big wall attempt for serious Yosemite climbers, but the O’Neill brothers were trying something different.
Sean O’Neill aimed to be the first t-12 paraplegic to climb the Regular Route (Mark Wellman claimed the title of first paraplegic to climb Half Dome by a 13-day ascent of Tissack more than 20 years ago).
Timmy strapped Sean to his back and the brothers, along with 23-year-old climber Ben Lepesant from Luxemburg, made the 9-mile trek from the valley floor to the base of half dome. Once on the wall, Sean made his way up the route with thousands of pull-ups and by pulling his body "over the coarse granite and through narrow slots," according to the Timmy's blog post.
They completed 6 pitches (700 feet) of the climb before the route became too difficult and they decided to turn around.
The O’Neill brother's experience on the wall shows the wisdom people should–but often don’t–use with big wall climbing or any other extreme sport.
“It is said that the better part of valor is discretion and we chose the frustration and humility of retreat instead of the abuse and toil of the 11-pitches ahead,” Timmy wrote.
While it may not have been the most triumphant end to the story, it sets an important and admirable example. The brothers are considering a return to Half Dome in 2013 for a wall-style ascent of the Direct Northwest Face.