EDZILLA: Queen of the High Desert OW (OW, not OT)


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Just surfin' the tsunami of life...
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 4, 2010 - 06:09pm PT
So there I was...standing in the Hidden Valley parking lot, hands bleeding, tips shredded, pride MIA.

I’d just been spit off of Sphincter Quits—again—because yes, indeed, my sphincter had quit. As had my fingers, forearms, foot jams and lead head. And then my right rotator cuff started whispering nasty little words to me like arthroscopic and men in masks. Not one to ignore these gentle hints, I’d bailed on my friends and was heading to Crossroads, planning to dilute my high-gravity frustrations in an afternoon of very expensive cheap red wine.

As I slung my climbing pack into the Honda hatchback and bled more onto my once pristine white Stonemaster knickers, a strange sound assailed my ears.

I looked up. The sound came again, a bit more continuous this time.

It drifted gently through the thin Joshua Tree air, unaffected by the chill temperatures. A lilting, melodious sound, tied together with musical notes.

The strains were weaving in and out of earshot. One minute I’d hear nothing, then some bouncy, upbeat chorus would suddenly—wait a minute......I knew that sound. SHOW TUNES!

As I turned towards Intersection Rock, Hello Dolly! erupted from the chollas and Joshua trees, and sash-shayed down the road towards me. The melody was being tailgated by a dusty white VW Westfalia van, its windows open and streaming a dozen or more gossamer chiffon scarves in all the colors of the rainbow. As it drew closer, I was able to read the license plate: 510 OW.

So there I stood, unabashedly staring (spanked and bloody catastrophe that I was), as this apparition pulled smoothly into a parking space not three cars from me. Louie Armstrong was gravelling out “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong...” as suddenly, those diaphanous scarves were sucked back in the windows and those windows slammed shut. About this time the van’s sidedoor slid wide and various ropes, gear bags and climbing packs were methodically disgorged onto the parking lot.

It was, however, the driver of this rainbow trawler who commanded my full attention. A head covered in salt-n-peppered Weird Al Yankovic curls, a Harrison-Ford-gone-Fugitive beard covering swarthy features and, of course, owner of the OW license plate—this could be none other than the legendary Edzilla, Queen of the High Desert OW!

Like bobbypins to a cheap dimestore magnet, I was drawn to the van. Barbara Streisand belted out “I’m so glad to be back home where I belong...” as the passenger-side door swung open, and all my suspicions were confirmed. Out climbed Gaybro, legendary Valley and Balch Camp hardman, and affable run-a-muk, wearing his signature black beret and barely recognizable once pristine white Stonemaster knickers.

My chalice of rockgod sighting fantasies was full to the brim. It was to overflow.

From the bowels of 510 OW came a battalion of off-width luminaries the like I’d never seen before. Squeezin’ Yorkie—the famous Bay Area squeeze-master, who could squeeze into the smallest OWs imaginable.

Puffy b—the legendary City of Rocks honemaster, whose amazing ability to inflate himself like a chuckwalla had kept him safe and snug in many a desperate off-width crux.

Halfdomeupyernose—the iconoclastic inverted climber extraordinaire, whose multidirectional use of feet and head was constantly making friends wonder if he was coming or going.

Ditzo—the carless legend of both Joshua Tree and Nepal, whose ability to flail up off-widths while shooting superb photographs made him a local hero in Josh and a national hero in Nepal.

And finally, Rhodochrosite—the Los Angeles Hottie, who’s other nickname was Mistress of the Off-Widths...cause she used cams instead of whips, but the pain was the same!

I stood there in mute admiration as this herd of OW heavy-weights calmly milled around the van—just like normal people. Edzilla looked up from his gear sorting, smiled and said,” You’re bleeding profusely from that one...three...make that five gobies and ruining your pristine white Stonemaster knickers. Need some tape?”

If a burning creosote bush had just spoken to me, I wouldn’t have felt more highly honored. “Oh...well...uh...thanks, but...well...no thanks—I’m done. High gravity/low backbone sort of day,” I stuttered, sounding lame even to myself.

He nodded sympathetically, almost as if he could almost understand, and went back to digging through his pack. I was thinking it would be a cold day in the Congo before any of these Paragons of the Wide would have a high gravity/low backbone sort of day, when Edzilla pulled out a little zip pack, opened it, took out five or six large band-aids and handed them to me.

“Would hate to see your pristine white Stonemaster knickers start to look like Gaybro’s,” he quipped, as Gaybro walked up. We both grinned, Gaybro grunted, and I sat down and started wrapping my lacerated appendages.

“Where you guys gonna climb today?” I asked with all the nonchalance of salivating paparazzi.

“The Wart Formation,” Gaybro muttered, deep in the task of figuring out the non-workings of the world’s smallest camera. “Puffy’s going to show us his way of climbing The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.”

“The GBU…solid Josh 10a,” I breathed in reverence. “I’ve always wanted to see someone do that thing...”

Pulling the perfectly placed band-aid from my knuckle and delicately repositioning it, I was able to keep my eyes strategically averted, hiding the painful longing those guys had probably seen a thousand times before from a thousand other star-struck OW rockgod groupies.

“Well hell,” Gaybro exclaimed, snapping closed the cover of his camera in defeat. “Come on along. The more the merrier!”

“Really?” I asked.

“Sure,” said Edzilla, “we love spectators. Only one thing...”

Gaybro and I looked at him.

“You might want to change into pants that don’t make you look like a refugee of a Freddy Krueger movie...if you know what I mean.”

And that’s how it all began: One of the greatest non-climbing climbing days of my life.

I’ve seen some gnarly route thrashing in my life, but nothing like what I witnessed that day. Those guys were pros when it came to finding the least likely quartz-monzonite candidates for the human body to ascend, and then throwing themselves with gay abandon into ascending them.

In fact, it seemed that the more painful and contorted the climbing became, the happier that troupe became.

Raspberries, gobies and vertical roadrash were badges of honor—and they were all honored many, many times over the course of those 5 hours.

Now, just for the record, off-width was the bane of my climbing existence. I called them Offal-Width for a reason. I’d never been in one that didn’t hurt like the devil, nor had I ever been in one that didn’t scare me silly, even on toprope. Thus my adoration of the BA/JTWC was solidified and enhanced by the smooth way they each made The Good, The Bad And The Ugly look like a cake walk...a piece of park...easy as pie with a no-cook crust.

And then they proceeded to display the same flawless technique and dauntless courage with several other Jaws of Death, filling what would have been a dismal day (for me) with jovial camaraderie.

As the light was fading and the wind picking up, we packed up and slowly made our way back to the parking lot. It was one of the best days of my life as an OW voyeur. There’d been a lot of laughing, climbing, and BITD story-telling; I felt I’d made some wonderful, down-to-earth friends. As the day had worn on, I’d eventually figured out where Gaybro got his nickname: the guy was upbeat and lively as a stand-up comedian. And Puffy b: once I saw that amazing chuckwalla inflating thing he did at the crux, the reason for his nickname too became quite obvious. That left me with only one burning question...

So it was that not long after we got back to Edzilla’s van, I asked the question which had been frying my neural circuitry all day. “Edzilla,” I said, “why do they call you Queen of the High Desert OW? Is it because of all the off-widths you FA’ed on Queen Mountain? Or was it that one at Queen Ranch? The one that’s illegal to climb? Don’t worry—I’d never tell a soul!”

Edzilla gazed at me for a long moment, pondering something. In the fading twilight, his eyes held a devilish twinkle in them. He transferred his gaze to Gaybro and raised his eyebrows.

Gaybro stared back at him, then looked at me, then at Puffy b, who’d just walked up and set his pack down. Puffy b looked at Gaybro, then at me, then finally at Edzilla.

“What’s up?” he queried.

“LSD wants to know why I’m known as Queen of the High Desert OW,” Edzilla replied, a mysterious grin beginning to curve his lips.

Puffy b looked at me, then at Gaybro, who was grinning too, then back at Edzilla. He shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, I think you should tell her. I mean, why not?” he said, sounding very much like Eddie Haskell.

Gaybro gave a Snidely Whiplash sort of chuckle, something I’d never heard him do before. It made me laugh. “Maybe we should show her instead.”

“LSD, have you ever been to Disco Nights—there in the back of the JT Saloon?” Edzilla asked.

“JT Saloon...the place with toothless women and meth heads?” I shuttered.

“No, no—Disco Nights. It’s in the back. Exclusive private club. You have to be a member or accompany one to get in.”

As the last rays of the setting sun burnished the faces around me, I shook my head and innocently replied, “Nope. Never even heard of the place.”

“Get in your car, LSD, and follow us,” said Edzilla, jumping into the 510 OW. “It’s time to create a myth.”


So there I was...sitting alone at a dingy little table in a dingy dark hole-in-the-wall—the backroom of the JT Saloon. “Disco Nights Private Club” said a dimly lit sign above the dingy little bar.

Disco Nights my ass, I thought belligerently as I slurped down my second Gold Cadillac. It’s dark. It’s seedy. I hear mumbling voices all around me but can’t see a damn thing. And Edzilla and the boys disappeared almost 20 minutes ago, telling me to sit tight while they “made a phone call”. What a bunch of shite.

I was getting that uncomfortable feeling of the dupe who’s left to foot the dinner bill after his newly acquired friends have dined and dashed...only...well, it wasn’t exactly like that, because I was the only one who’d done any ordering. I took another slug of my margarita and sunk further down in my chair. Well, I thought philosophically, if I’m gonna get hazed, I’m glad I’m getting hazed by the best off-width climbing—

Suddenly, about a thousand colored strobes started flashing around the room, shredding the darkness like lightsabre shrapnel. The armpit of despair transformed itself into Saturday Night Feverland—I had to quickly shield my eyes from the painful brilliance.

The theme from Rent filled the air just one octave below deafening.

Through the cracks between my fingers, I watched as footlights blazed up on a tiny stage not fifteen feet from my table, a stage previously hidden in the stygian darkness. And then...

much to my utter amazement...

out onto that tiny stage...

strutting and sash-saying...

came a woman...

came a...

no—not a woman!

NO—it couldn’t be!

OMG! It was!

Edzilla, Queen of the High Desert OW!!!

He was decked out in corset and French stockings. His face was shaved and so were his legs!

And he was immediately followed by—Gaybro!

And after Gaybro came—Puffy b!

Well, I won’t bore or excite you with the details, but just let me say that those bay-area cross-dressing off-widthers know how to party! It was a night to end all nights, what I recall of it, which isn’t much. I stopped counting after the third margarita, and starting dancing on the tables after the fourth. People came and went in a hallucinogenic haze, similar to that scene from Zoolander with the Little Kings and Matilda and Owen Wilson and the sherpa. I don’t remember anything after the conga line...but damn—those BAWC guys had moves that put RuPaul to shame!

I awoke the next morning around 10am, sprawled on the couch at The Compound. I had no idea how I got there, and silently prayed to the god of Hondas that if I did drive there, that I hadn’t driven over anyone along the way.

My mouth tasted like a litterbox and recycled tequila. I had a strange desire to lie on that couch for a week or two...maybe longer.

“Here, you need this.”

Edzilla was standing above me, holding out a mug of steaming coffee. With herculean effort, I pushed myself somewhat upright, reached out a shaky hand and took the mug…then slowly raised it to my shaky lips and took a shaky sip. Aaaahhhhh…Starbucks to the rescue.

“You gonna live?” he asked amicably, sitting down in a chaise across the room from me with his own cuppa joe.

“Jury’s still out,” I croaked, trying to crack a smile, but cracking my face instead. We sipped our reviving beverages in silence for a few minutes, then I glanced over at him.

“That’s amazing.”

“What?” he asked.

“Your beard...last night.”

Edzilla was looking at me rather curiously.

“You guys...jeez...I would never have guessed...” I shook my head, which hurt like hell, and trailed off as a flashback from the evening—Edzilla in high-heels and French stockings—blazed through my soggy brain.

“Never have guessed what?” he asked, eyebrows slightly raised.

Looking at him over the brim of my cup, I chuckled. “Never would’ve guessed that guys who climb hideous off-widths like you bad-asses do would dig dressing up in women’s lingerie and dancing around on stage in that stuff.”

He stared at me for a full minute, his brow slowly drawing down. Finally, in a slightly puzzled tone, he said, “LSD, I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about.”

I thought he was pulling my leg and began to giggle. “Last night. Drag Queens. You in stiletto heels and a corset. Gaybro in a g-string. It boggles the mind...”

My giggling died away in the face of his continued frowning.

“What the hell are you talking about?” he asked, this time more perturbed than puzzled. He glanced away from me as Gaybro walked in and sat down.

“You know, cross-dressing. Puffy b in a tutu...” I trailed off, the words starting to sound strangely perverted in the light of day.

Edzilla and Gaybro were staring at me. Very deliberately, Edzilla said, “I don’t know what you’ve been smokin’, LSD, but we sat here last night drinking Sooze’s margaritas and watching a movie. All of us. All night.”

He sounded dead serious, and looked it, too. Like living on the fault-line when the San Andreas shifts, I felt my reality hiccup. I swung my legs over the edge of the couch and slowly sat up.

“Are you saying we didn’t go to Disco Nights last night after climbing and dance till dawn?” I asked incredulously.

“Disco what?” Edzilla and Gaybro said in unison.

“The private club—in back of the JT Saloon...” I replied slowly, looking from one to the other of them.

“You couldn’t get me to go into the JT Saloon for love or money,” stated Edzilla quite simply. “Ever.”

“Yeah, that place is filled with toothless women and meth heads, from what I hear,” Gaybro tossed in.

The theme from The Twilight Zone was growing louder in my head. I felt somewhat like a drowning person going down for the third time. I heard movement behind me in the kitchen, but couldn’t take my eyes from the two frowning faces staring at me.

“So you guys....didn’t dress up last night...in push-up bras and barely-there panties—?”

Edzilla cut me off without ceremony. “LSD, every single one of us sat here the entire evening watching that abysmal B-grade flick ‘Pricilla, Queen of the Desert’. The highlight of the night was when you downed an entire pitcher of margaritas and had a violent vomit-fest in the far-too-near bathroom, which—I might add—we were all able to hear far too well. The aftermath of that gay interlude was you being thrown fully clothed in the shower to save this home from contamination…after which you somehow managed to find your incoherent way to that couch and proceeded to pass out and snore loudly. End of story.”

“Last night was pretty sedate,” tossed in Gaybro. “One might even say boring.”

It took a moment for these words to sink in—more than a moment, actually—but eventually they made it through the boneyard of dead brain cells to the part of my neocortex which registered chagrin, humiliation and unadulterated mortification. I stared at them. They stared at me. I slowly nodded, the blood starting to creep into my face.

I’d fabricated the entire thing. Whether from REM sleep or alcoholic stupor, I’d dreamed up a scenario so ludicrous as to border on dementia. I attempted to laugh, but nothing came out.

Where can you go after telling an OW climbing icon that you just dreamed about him in 5” stilettos and women’s panties? Best to just crawl back in your wormhole and pull the dirt in over your sightless head.

I left JTree shortly after that. Another day of climbing with the LA friend I’d initially arrived with didn’t sound like fun, and hanging out at The Compound wasn’t in the cards, that was for sure. Although the other BAWC were as amiable as ever, I was pretty certain they’d been apprised of my perverted cross-dressing fantasy and were viewing me as the freakish pariah I was. I said my goodbyes as quickly as possible—I couldn’t even look at Edzilla—and hit the road.

It was a long, humbling drive back to Los Angeles, and this was the outcome:

1. I swore off ever drinking tequila again.
2. I swore off ever even drinking again.
3. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was persona non grata with the BAWC, so I swore off ever climbing in NorCal again—although I’d only done it once, years ago.
4. I also swore off climbing OW anywhere—not that I could climb OW anyway, because I sucked at it—but I didn’t want to take the chance of encountering one of them somewhere there in JTree or anywhere in the world and renew the humiliation.
5. Since Sooze and Russorilla would find out about my perversion (not to mention the blitzkrieged bathroom episode), I swore off ever going to The Compound again, too.

In other words, there was a lot of swearing going on during that drive back to the city. I felt lower than naked molerat droppings. Vacillating between utter despair and utter humiliation, I figured I would probably not recover for years...if ever. That whole crew thought I was a perv, and what was worse—I thought I was a perv. Yessiree...naked molerat droppings...that’s me, I thought to myself...and drove off into the Californication sunset.


Two weeks later I received an email from Edzilla. It was simple and to the point. It said:

LSD—you show a lot of promise.

Here’s the photo Gaybro took of you during your Don’t Cry For Me solo—one of the best in the bunch. Yep, you show a lot of promise.

But you have to learn to keep a low profile, especially at The Compound. We were sort of poaching The Fish’s territory, if you know what I mean.

Thanks for a sizzling evening. Let’s do it again next spring.


The End

Disclaimer: This is a work of complete and utter fiction. Any similarities to past or present persons either living or dead is just a happy accident or unfortunate coincidence depending on your orientation and I don't mean sexual. All names are fictitious as are all nicknames and stagenames. All names have been changed to protect the identities of the fictional characters this story isn’t actually about. All photos were from either Gaybro, Squeezin' Yorkie, Edzilla, Rhodochrocite or MisterT-Fool! and couldn't be individually credited because my inconvenient memory leaves a lot to be desired and I apologize if you didn’t see your fictitious name attached to one of your photos. All non-climbing photos were poached from the Internet and are fairly easy to source if one of them turns you on enough to search for her/him. For a plethora of reasons I won’t bore you with it has taken me a year to honor my commitment to get around to finishing this thing and as such it will very likely be considered my swan song. No animals were harmed in the writing of this story nor were any off-width climbers or dingy dive tabledancers injured as it is purely fictional and therefore of no danger to anyone. If you are under the impression that any part of this story is about you or has anything to do with you or your heirs or might be construed as something relevant to you in any way shape or form you are incorrect. I made it up. Totally. Every word. Hope you laughed. Thank you.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Mar 4, 2010 - 06:15pm PT

Nice compilation!
scuffy b

Where only the cracks are dry
Mar 4, 2010 - 06:29pm PT
Worth the Wait.
Nice twists and turns, there.

Lower than naked mole rat droppings, indeed.

A tour de Force, sez I.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 4, 2010 - 06:31pm PT

Where's the SHARK????????

YAY, L, our puddy tat, is BACK!!!!!!

(you need to follow those boyses out to the Boogaloo at
Vedawoo this summer, ms. L!!!!!


Trad climber
Fresno CA
Mar 4, 2010 - 06:32pm PT
Too funny -- and very clever.

Thanks for the entertainment.


A long way from where I started
Mar 4, 2010 - 06:32pm PT
I knew it. I just knew it!

Off-width masters, My Ass.

I mean, I've known for quite a while that the jstan avatar is actually a group of Japanese schoolgirls carrying on something that started as a project for an English class, but although I worshiped the abilities of the BAWC, there was always a tiny doubt whispering in the back of my mind.

You know, the doubt that goes, "I've tried to climb off width cracks, and never been able to move one inch. So how is it possible that I'm so useless and these guys are so god-like?"

Well, I'm happy to see the truth come out. I knew nobody could really climb that sh#t.

Next step is to dig a little bit and find out who is really behind the TKingsbury avatar. Hah! Probably some overweight mall-shopping-cart wrangler from Miami, living out a total fantasy.

Just surfin' the tsunami of life...
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2010 - 06:37pm PT
The truth is always stranger than fiction, Ghost!

Glad you guys were entertained. I was laughing myself stupid a times...don't ask me why. ;-)

Trad climber
Mar 4, 2010 - 06:42pm PT
Hey L, thanks for the fun read!

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Mar 4, 2010 - 06:54pm PT
fact or friction

Trad climber
Southern Tier, NY
Mar 4, 2010 - 07:03pm PT
hilarious! thanks for sharing!

Social climber
Hercules, CA
Mar 4, 2010 - 07:05pm PT
Two bloody thumbs up!!
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 4, 2010 - 07:16pm PT

And, of course, it may be that physics is known as the queen of sciences for a reason.

Hangin' by a thread and lookin' for my wings
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2010 - 07:23pm PT
Good one, Mighty Hiker! I'd never thought about that parallel before...
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
Will know soon
Mar 4, 2010 - 07:25pm PT
You're a gifted writer L.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 4, 2010 - 07:27pm PT
Great! Really funny, reminds me of that weekend in.......

Hangin' by a thread and lookin' for my wings
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2010 - 07:28pm PT
LOL! Thanks Lynne--hope you laughed and didn't get toooooooo embarrassed. ;-)

Edit: Go ahead and TELL, Jim! I don't mind thread-drift. Not from someone like you! ;-))

Smog Angeles
Mar 4, 2010 - 07:52pm PT
Another L-Cat CLASSIC!
You are good, really good.
Please don't say it's your swan song.
This virtual pot-luck supper is all bland casseroles until you show up with the gourmet 6-course offering.
Loved it, L

Please more?

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Mar 4, 2010 - 07:55pm PT
Now that it's on the Internet, it is true!
It happened just like you said, pictures prove it.
Anyone can see through that lawyer-talk at the end.

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Mar 4, 2010 - 08:00pm PT
That was good!

Shouldn't that be G'heybro ?


Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Mar 4, 2010 - 08:17pm PT
Very nice L!

I need to read this again after some "nerve tonic."

So many new thoughts and images for an Idaho guy to work through.

Thank Goddess for the etchings of my moral magnet mentor, Sheridan: that guide me.

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