But I never would have climbed El Capitan. It's the Big Wall among big walls, sheer pink granite rising thousands of feet from the Yosemite Valley. If you're a world class fast solo free climber you can be up it in hours, but most take a couple of days to make their way up the smooth rock of its vertical faces.
In Yosemite at the beginning of October we watched a small team half-way up the wall make slow progress across the exposed rock, inching up a crack to a ledge where they'd bivouac for the night.
Tiny dots, smaller than ants. It gave you a sense of perspective, of insignificance.
And of the beauty of it all.