Joe Mills Takes on The Salathe Wall

We’re gonna need a bigger bag…


Running training laps on the Rocky Mountain National Park ultra-classic, The Wasp (13a).

Today my partner Chris Barlow and I will be heading out to free climb one of the most iconic chunks of granite in the world, The Salathe Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The Salathe Wall was first free climbed in 1988 by Todd Skinner and Paul Piana at 13b, becoming the first free route on El Cap and a true milestone in rock climbing. However, the duo split the headwall into multiple smaller pitches. A few subsequent ascents have linked the entire headwall into one monster 220ft pitch at 13+, constituting one of the most spectacular pitches of granite free climbing on the planet. This is our objective, to free the Salathe Wall ledge-to-ledge over 5 days between April 20th – April 30th.

I could not be more psyched for this overdue 2 week climbing vacation but with so little time we will have to nail our packing and logistics. Here is what we have to bring with us to make this happen:


5 days * 4000 kcal/day * 2 people = 40,000 kcal of food. Bars are great for eating on the move but real food for breakfast and dinner is essential. You also gotta bring the comfort food, my go-to’s are cookies and gummy bears.


All our climbing gear, ropes, and camping gear plus a porta-ledge to sleep on.


There’s no water up there so you’ve gotta bring it all…

5 days * 1.5 gal/person/day * 2 people * 8.4 lbs/gal = 126 lbs of water!


Force hydrating while packing, waste not want not! This is probably more water than is in the entire State of California right now.


Cotton has no place on a big wall! We will have 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of underwear, and 2 tshirts. The underwear and tshirt switch after a few days is a great little morale booster. We are working hard up there, sweating in the sun and then dealing with cold and wind in the shade. Synthetics smell REALLY REALLY bad after a couple of days and merino wool really is one of the best materials for multiday comfort in a variety of conditions.

My wardrobe: 1 pair pants, 2 Ibex W2 tshirts, 1 ibex W2 long sleeve, Hooded Indie and a Breakaway 2 hoody. Throw in a Meru beanie for those extra cold mornings, it fits great under a helmet.

That just about covers the basics, I could go on and on about all the intricacies of packing strategy, but I am running out of time and those bags won’t pack themselves!

Joe Mills is taking over our instagram during his attempt at freeing the Salathe Wall.  Follow his progress on instagram @ibexwool