Weekend Whipper: Cracked Helmet for Rita Young Shin on “Cosmic Girl” (5.12+)

Rita Young Shin takes a penduluming whipper during the first ascent of Cosmic Girl (5.12+), on the north face of Middle Cathedral, Yosemite, California, May 2017.

By John Evans | November 2nd, 2018

Helmet, helmet, helmet! Wear one. If Rita Young Shin hadn’t been wearing a brain bucket during this fall, it would have been a lot worse. Guaranteed.

In May 2017, Shin teamed up with Marcus Garcia, a trad master based out of Durango, Colorado, for the first ascent of Cosmic Girl. Part of the Legacy Project—a multi-stage project to resurrect, restore and free old Yosemite big-wall projects—Cosmic Girl is a link-up that begins on Chouinard/Pratt and and finishes on on Central Pillar Direct on Middle Cathedral, in Yosemite Valley.


[Also Read Jon Cardwell, Sasha DiGiulian and Marcus Garcia Free Yosemite’s Misty Wall]


Garcia cleaned up the route before his and Shin’s trip up it, and placed a single lead bolt in eight rope-stretching 60-meter pitches. Garcia called it the “best long first ascent” he’s ever done.  He told Rock and Ice, “It was a privilege to give something back to a place that’s given so much to me.”

Shin fell on pitch 7, a 5.11+ that involves a tenuous transfer between two cracks—precisely the spot where she peeled off. She told Rock and Ice, “The last piece I had placed was a yellow TCU”—that’s pretty small!—“and it was roughly ten feet beneath me.

As she fell she thought.”‘I’m gonna die.'”

She ended up flipping upside down when her legs caught on a vertical seam in the rock. Shin smacked her head on the wall pretty violently.

Later on, inspecting her helmet, Shin found that the inside had cracked—a testament to how large the forces were. Luckily, she walked away without any head injuries, just a sore hip and a bruised ego.

Happy Friday and climb safe this weekend!


John Evans (photographer): @johnevansphoto

Rita Young Shin (climber): @ritayogarock

Marcus Garcia (First ascentionist of Cosmic Girl): @mgclimber1


Also Watch

Weekend Whipper: Failed Bail, Broken Heel, Dislocated Shoulder

Weekend Whipper: Taking a Long Rip on Spliff (5.13c) 

Weekend Whipper: Coarse and Buggy Trad Fall


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