National Geographic : 1985 Jan
my questions: "How could you risk your life and your family's future, while they all watched? And what about fear? Aren't climbers afraid?" His answers seemed more sincere and hu man than the cool accounts I'd read by some from Yosemite's climbing hall of fame. "Well," Joel thoughtfully replied, "before I did it-and I just had to do it, you know, I had this awful compulsion in me-I trained for a year. Then I bought enough insurance to support Candy and the kids for three years. In that time, I figured, she could find a better man." As for fear, well, there in the early hours of the morning, while his family slept, Joel let me read his diary. He'd kept it on El Cap, writing at night or even while belaying his climbing partner. It was full of fear. For three days he wrote about almost nothing but fear; by the fourth day he had gained confidence; on the fifth, as he approached the top, he knew exultation. "But I'll never do it again," Joel told me. "I don't need to. I'm one of the owners of El Cap now." S CLIMBERS attract crowds to El Capi tan, Yosemite crowds themselves at tract petty thieves and other criminals to the park. Most common targets are the purses, wallets, cameras, and radios left in hundreds of tents and cars. Today's rangers supplement traditional training with modern police skills and with radios tied to state and federal law enforcement computer networks. They love this park, furthermore, and they want it seen and not disturbed, by drunks or drugs or robbery, and they sometimes cram Yo semite's 16-prisoner jail beyond its capacity. I watched rangers at work on horseback and rode at night with one of them in a patrol car. Dan Horner and I started out after din ner, under a full moon that turned Yosemite Falls into luminous gossamer. The spray divided into a glowing spectrum-a lunar rainbow, John Muir called it-but that was our night's only moment of beauty. Dan ticketed two speeders, then arrested a drunk driver; at midnight we checked out complaints at a Merced River bridge, where teenagers congregate to flirt with Yosemite-Forever?