the Black Canyon with Kor, by Pat Ament

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Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 26, 2013 - 09:17pm PT


I doubt Layton would want us to portray him as a Greek god, a man without flaw, who was the best climber ever, and so forth. He was human, in that most lovely of human ways. That was why we, his closest friends, loved him. He was unique, his personality and spirit large, his humor unrelenting. Sometimes we laughed just as hard when he was deadly serious. Everything we did with Layton was an adventure. We knew we were in the presence of a wonderful madman, as much comic genius as heroic figure. After everything, Layton was a gentleman. That was a progression, from the somewhat typical selfishness and ego of youth to the more refined sensibilities of experience.

More than a few people have wished I would post the following piece. It is considered in some circles a climbing classic and has been published in a dozen places or more. It might be one of the most famous climbing pieces. It first appeared in Mountain Magazine in about 1977, then in the anthology "The Games Climbers Play." Of all places, it made it into a Czechoslovakian anthology of best climbing articles. The editor wrote me that everyone thought it the best piece in the collection. I made a video reading of the piece, by request, for the Taos film festival, and so forth. I have heard from people far and wide who have told me how much they enjoyed this article or how it affected their life. It was a bit controversial initially. One fellow thought I portrayed Layton as malevolent. Those who have known Layton realize I captured his essence with a certain unwitting precision. Self-conscious, Layton never liked portraits of himself, especially physical descriptions, but in time I think he understood and at last did appreciate this piece.

It is important to remember I was young, and this was an early attempt by an aspiring writer. It is not terribly well written, from a true literary standard. When I look at it I realize how much could be improved, how much shorter I might have made it, and obvious things I now see with the eye of a more experienced writer. In typing this piece, I have made a few small edits at minor, obviously awkward places. Mostly it is the same quickly-scribbled piece I wrote in about 1977 and that people have praised for its mad fun. At the time I wrote it, I had been reading Poe's story about Pym and patterned my words after that somewhat ecstatic language.




THE BLACK CANYON
WITH KOR


By Pat Ament


"I...let myself down rapidly, striving by the vigor of my movements to banish the trepidation which I could overcome in no other manner ... But presently I found my imagination growing terribly excited by thoughts of the vast depths yet to be descended ... It was in vain I endeavored to banish these reflections and to keep my eyes steadily bent upon the flat surface of the cliff before me. The more earnestly I struggled not to think, the more intensely vivid became my conceptions, and the more horribly distinct. At length arrived that crisis of fancy, so fearful in all similar cases, the crisis in which we begin to anticipate the feelings with which we shall fall -- to picture to ourselves the sickness, and dizziness, and the last struggle, and the half swoon, and the final bitterness of the rushing and headlong descent. And now I found these fancies creating their own realities, and all imagined horrors crowding upon me in fact. I felt my knees strike violently together, while my fingers were gradually but certainly relaxing their grasp. And now I was consumed with the irrepressible desire of looking below. I could not, I would not, confine my glances to the cliff; and, with a wild, indefinable emotion, half of horror, half of a relieved oppression, I threw my vision far down into the abyss. For one moment my fingers clutched convulsively upon their hold, while, with the movement, the faintest possible idea of ultimate escape wandered, like a shadow, through my mind -- in the next my whole soul was pervaded with a longing to fall ... "
--Edgar Allan Poe


The passage of Poe's from his Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, brings to mind certain feelings I had the misfortune -- or fortune -- to experience in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison at age sixteen under the unique guidance of Layton Kor, my climbing partner, who at that time was twenty-five. The adventure was a complete fiasco and has become somewhat of a legend among climbers. The story has undoubtedly been exaggerated or capriciously altered over the years, but it nevertheless retains without error the underlying fact that an extraordinary, absurd, humorous, stupid, and altogether dangerous ordeal took place. It is with partial guilt, partial urging of conscience, and a desire to reveal vintage Kor that I give this pseudo-Poe narrative of the unsuccessful trip to, and our preposterous flail upon, the walls of Colorado's Black Canyon.

Layton had recovered instantaneously from an unbelievable, backwards, head-over-heels leader fall off the Bastille Crack in Eldorado. My hands, however, were blistered nearly shut from the serious rope burns I suffered when I caught him. I was warned by a doctor to stay away from the rock for at least a month, as the blisters were in danger of becoming infected, but Layton was impatient and wanted to depart immediately for the Black Canyon. He showed me a fuzzy snapshot of a two-thousand-foot vertical and overhanging wall called the Chasm View and reassured me I was tough. I wanted to be with him, and Layton's wide eyes and warm laugh were very persuasive. Just the thought of such a first ascent was enough to take my mind off the burns and diminish, in my idiocy and immaturity, all pain.
It was early summer, and the three hundred or so mile drive from Boulder was hot. The old, blue Ford had bald tires, and Kor gunned it up to eighty miles an hour most of the way. His eyes widened, and his face contorted, as he drove. His huge form leaned over the steering wheel, and he gazed nervously ahead. He held a peanut butter sandwich between his long legs and knobby knees and shook to the tune of rock n' roll which blasted out of the radio. I sat gripping the seat, made peanut butter sandwiches at Kor's command and, at one point, agreed to take part in a handshake contest. Two hundred pounds backed up his grip and about a hundred and thirty were in mine. My blisters burned at the thought, and I was squeezed out like a flame. A poor, hapless chipmunk was flattened as it attempted to cross the highway.

The final part of the drive was a fifty-mile dirt road above cliffs and steep drops which were the beginning of the Black Canyon. I was terrorized by this road, its unending, sharp curves, and the drag-racer behind the wheel. I couldn't chew or swallow, and a lump of laughter and peanut butter stayed in my mouth for what seemed like an hour.

We arrived at the north rim of the canyon late in the day, parked, and after a brief walk were able to peer down our wall. The eerie, distant roar of the Gunnison River which flowed far below, combined with the peculiar, lonely fragrance of sage, the desert-like silence, and hot wind, began to stir in me a fear of the remote area. My heart sank at the thought of having to catch another Kor fall or of encountering one of the huge, horribly rotten, sickly pink, pegmatite bands Layton had described, during the drive, with dread and superstition.

Layton snatched me up into his arms. He pretended to have gone mad and to want to throw me over the edge. His fun soon was over, for I shot away from the exposed place like a rabbit... desperate to escape his mock chuckles. I returned and was from then on prepared to bear with personality and fortitude all further absurdity which was destined to occur.

After briefly exploring a steep, alien gully which appeared superficially to be a feasible descent route into the canyon, we spent a bad night on the rim. It was anticipation of the climb that kept us awake, also hunger. We had practically depleted our supply of bivouac food -- the peanut butter -- and would have been foolish to break into a small ration of meat Layton brought in addition. Kor was immensely energetic and would not be discouraged by heat or hunger. Conspiring to stimulate me in the morning with a cup of boiling tea, he exploded his small stove and nearly burned down a picnic table. This put him in a bad humor, and he stared at me with a look as insidious as a sly sun that rose and began to draw the first beads of sweat from my forehead. We sorted pitons, slings, and carabiners, loaded bivouac gear into a large haul bag, filled a couple of water bottles, stuffed bolts and provisions into an old pack, and headed off to descend the steep gully.

He was obsessed. He wanted to get at it, to purge his soul on rock. He loved to go out on a limb, to be cleansed and dirtied by the deep shade and undiscerning power of his singular, high asylums. A sensation of emptiness, almost anger, flowed through me, as I questioned my role in the game. All doubt, all shadow, fell prey to fear -- fear of Kor! He stared at me silently.

My thoughts were to face the fear, to move into Layton's world. I needed to help him find this route and if necessary be led blindly by the master. The descent was hideous! The sultry gully into the canyon was filled with soil and sticker bushes. Small whimpers in a fretful, broken voice were my sound of protest. As we proceeded down into the expanse of the gully, we found it suffocating. It was a treacherous sort of chute, eventually becoming slippery walls on all sides. Layton had loaded onto me what seemed an enormous amount of rope and hardware -- plus the old pack. It was not easy to breathe, as slings choked me and pack straps tore at my shoulders.

The heat was unbearable. An hour into the morning, I was ready to consume our entire two-day supply of water in a sitting. I was anxious, as I watched Kor climb downward without a belay. He moved smoothly down the precipitous, slabby walls of the gully. The weight on my shoulders and around my neck made it impossible to duplicate his steps without great strain. At one difficult section, a tiny slip would have meant a fall of about eight hundred feet. This took a lot out of me, and I worked up a horrible sweat. My burned hands stung as they scraped across crystals. I listened to the river crash over boulders below. The sound slashed at my thoughts. I groped at loose flakes, contemplated the anguish of one coming off in my hand. I wanted to do well, to win respect, and cling successfully to Kor's dream. My muscles quivered. Layton lowered himself down bulges, over ledges, and around bizarre heaps of gravel. He descended confidently, no trouble with his load. He ignored my struggles. He was full of hope. I was a scorpion. Light, gray rock, the blue sky....

Layton was for a moment outside his utopianism and thirsty but could not relax for his thought about getting to the base of the route. He carried the bottles of water in the haul bag, and I prayed he would save a sip. I licked the parched lining of my mouth. Who was this maniac? Why did I permit myself to go along with him?

At last we were at the base of the route. We dripped with sweat and tried to solve the puzzle of rope and snarl of slings that bound me like a squid. My hands were soft and white and oozed with puss that drained from a couple of broken blisters. Kor allowed me a swallow or two of water, which only antagonized my thirst, then tied-in and led upward. A towering illusion, tall as a man, with white T-shirt and white pants, long socks, and kletterschuhe, hung on an overhang above my head. The jeweled light of the sun scorched my thoughts. I had, above me, a kind of surrealism -- a creature whose ability on rock matched his vision -- Layton Kor, spread-eagle and silhouetted, his senses suspended momentarily but bodily powers frenzied. I squeezed the rope, then fed it out as he led swiftly up an awkward crack. The man was driven, afraid to fall, afraid to fail, tormented, all-powerful in a search for rich experience. He ascended with imagination, inclined to go the hard way when a choice existed, tense, uneasy, jumpy, jittery, critical, happy. He was awesome -- more so than the wall -- and disappeared up into the lair of an overhang. I sat like a piece of cactus, sweltering. Stifled in a furnace of talus, I awaited the restless cry, "Come on up!" The river was a hundred and fifty yards below and glistened even in the shadows. To scramble down to it for a cold drink was an idea dismissed in view of the long uphill hike back.

As I followed the pitch, attacking strenuous pulls and long reaches, my worst opponent, I discovered, was the old pack. When I thought I was in perfect balance, I would start to fall backward and expended precious energy to recover. My hands were already a mess, and it was difficult even to hold a piton hammer -- much less pound out pins. I was unable to retrieve the first piton, although I worked at it to the point of exhaustion. Convinced Layton had over-driven the thing, I left it. I began to feel extremely insecure and yelled for tension. I received slack. My voice was overruled by the superior authority of the river. When I reached Layton he asked, "You get that pin out?" I trembled and replied, "I have it here somewhere." He was too big for belay ledges and looked uncomfortable hooked into one. He complained of aching feet and insisted he do the next lead. I was too busy contemplating my lie to argue, so belayed. He stemmed over an impressive overhang and vanished into the heights.

The route seemed to have been built for Kor, the holds, I found, always out of reach. Layton suggested I take the third lead. It was incentive to forget for a while the sorry state of my palms. The hammer was too painful to hold, but the rock, while steep, relented in difficulty. I was able to climb unprotected to a stance about one hundred feet straight up. Kor was impressed with this but irritated when I could not haul the bag. My hands simply could not take it. He hurried up the pitch, and together we tugged at the clumsy duffel bag. That was the end of my leading, I was informed.
It was at this point war began. Suddenly and unexpectedly, Kor yelled, "Where’s your hard hat?!" I answered, "My what?" He thrust a handful of rope against the wall with such force I thought we would both fall off. He kicked the wall and, looking as if he was going to strangle me, shouted, "No one climbs in the Black Canyon without a hard hat!" So intimidated by this outburst, I failed to notice he was not wearing one either. I indiscreetly let pass, at this moment, a bit of silent although untimely flatus of so foul and putrid an odor that all oxygen was removed from the vicinity of our perch. It took but an instant (which seemed an eternity) for the very bad message to reach Kor’s nose. Now I almost unroped with the intention of jumping rather than face the frightful demon that stood gagging so near at hand. He hovered over me, his face puffing with rage. He let out a chilling scream and raced up the wall, not bothering to place pitons where he knew I would need them. I nearly vomited when he threw the right side of his body into a ferocious, dizzy, overhanging crack and forced his way up it as the rope and haul-line dangled down to me like cobras.

He would climb this conscientiously, I reasoned. There was no desire to die here ... was there? I was delirious and needed water. It was surely a hundred degrees. I removed the pack from my back and set it atop the haul bag which sat comfortably on the stance without an anchor. I forced a hand and arm into the bag and pulled out a bottle. As I belayed with one hand, I twisted the top off with my teeth and began to guzzle… A muted "off belay" from above told me I had best get the bottle back into the bag fast. To steal water might be punishable by more unprotected leading. As I fumbled with the bottle and bag, the haul line grew tight. Just as the bottle disappeared into the opening, up went the big bag atop which my pack teetered, to my horror and dismay, where I had set it. The heavy bundle remained intact and was dragged over a bulge and upward into a place hidden from my view where, by all indications, Kor was losing his mind with anger. "Oh my God, my arms are numb," he raved.

I had to keep my wits about me. A display of skill, I thought, might save me from the wrath of the fiend above. But it was all I could do to gain an inch on the pitch without tension. All flexibility had gone out of my fingers. I very skillfully wore my voice out, bellowing for the tight line. My hands were two blobs of dirt, puss, and shredded skin. "Heel and toe," Kor shrieked. I was encouraged but slipped several feet down, trying to figure out what he meant.

Adrenaline flowed, and as I found myself following the obstacle -- this 5.10 crack-chimney affair -- I was bewildered and inspired by techniques I applied but did not understand. There were expressions of struggle so deeply found they would not transpire again. I drew upon untapped resources and stretched my limbs through a hundred variations of divine bumbling. One thing for sure: the pack and I would not both fit into the slot at once. Kor advised me to try the "Yosemite haul." I was to hook the pack to a long sling, then the sling to my waist loop (swami belt), and drag the pack as it hung well below. I regretted tackling such a scheme, for it was 5.11 just to get the beast off my back. Then the buckles of the straps caught on every conceivable projection until I was certain the tension from above and immovable weight below would tear me in half.

I somehow achieved Kor’s position. He had regained his composure but did not speak to me. Layton hung from slings attached to two feebly-looking knife-blade pitons he was eager to get away from. He did not delay in leading one more unbelievable, obscure pitch… a slightly overhanging, left-facing dihedral, all direct aid. Jumars (prusik handles) not yet invented, as a means by which a second man could follow, I stretched from one carabiner to the next, each reach an extreme effort. As usual, Layton could not see me and was unable to determine whether my winded gripes were that I had fallen, was trying to get tension, or simply pain. I gave each piton a few hard taps before I decided it was over-driven and a permanent fixture. I had no hands left, no voice, no spirit, only hope we could bivouac, drink the water, and somehow rejuvenate. All the pitons stayed in, and I was ashamed but kept fighting.

As I drained the last of my will to surmount the belay ledge, I caught sight of my companion. Kor’s hair pointed in every direction. His mouth and eyes were full of dirt. Sweat rolled down his cheeks. His famous buck teeth were the focus of an inimitable grin… He was a rebel with a bit of a temper, supremely talented, a competence fueled by sheer force. He was set off from other climbers by a light -- an illumination or charisma. He asked, ‘Did you get all the pins?’ I had none with me but seemed to feel the summit was near and that a few of the little iron strips would not be missed. I was unable to speak but simply nodded my head in the affirmative, as I reclined in a kind of fetal way on a slope of rock and gasped for air. We were seven hundred or more feet above the gully, a little less than half way to the rim. Kor gave me a worried glance and observed, "You look bad, Ament. You’re pale." He then ventured up onto the next formidable pitch….

What was I to do or say? I regarded life at this instant as an illness for which help was not available. I dreaded the thought we would continue but also feared retreat. To go down would mean Kor would find the pitons still in place. It meant we would have to thrash our way back up the horrible descent gully. To my amazement, Kor returned and, with no explanation, made preparations to rappel…. This abrupt decision filled me with questions. It was only later that I would know it was Kor's genuine concern for my condition that caused him to turn him back. He placed a lone, quarter-inch bolt. I watched the small thing bend in its hole – a few inches from my face – as he applied his weight to the rope. I listened to the binging of hammer against piton as he discovered and, on rappel, removed the pitons I had left. Small, indistinct curses drifted up to me and, finally, "Off rappel." I was not sure I could hold onto the rope – even with my carabiner break-bar – but resigned myself to try. Layton kept guard over the rope ends, in case I picked up speed. In the course of the rappel my blisters became mangled cuts. Sharp throbs pierced my cramped fingers and hands.

Kor detested my lack of candor about the pitons, and so did I. That was half the hurt. His smiles gnawed at me with excruciating clarity. For an instant he was understanding, and I remembered other sides of him, patient, insightful sides. My wretchedness and misery permeated the desolation of his stare, and my dejected state brought upon Kor an eagerness to escape the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and all of southwestern Colorado.

A quick, violent rainstorm gave us relief but was accompanied by several disturbing bolts of lightning and thunder crashes. After a few more agonizing rappels, we stood at the bottom in dark. The ominous, forbidding, evil gully rose endlessly above. Melancholy of night and uncertainty filled the gully. Disappointment, with cruel psychic and emotional meaning, overcame my crucified mind like the heat.

Kor withdrew upward into the night, leaving me to the demons of allusion -- as well as with a rack of hardware and heavy, rain-drenched rope I could barely lift…. I had let my heart be molded by him and, strangely, knew I would do so again. I loved Kor and hated him and in no way could deny either. The gully was a horrid task, and I was alone in it. Kor was somewhere far ahead, maybe almost to the rim, possibly in pieces below. I persevered toward a glimmer of sky, up steep slabs, through mud and stickers, over loose boulders, as if steering my bones through the grave. I clawed in the direction of a dim glow – the headlights of the Ford…. My exertions became greater. I stumbled through sage, got into the car, shut the door, and fell asleep. Layton was determined to grind out the drive back to Boulder this night.

I wished not to awaken out of my dream and into the nightmare of his speeding along the scary, dirt road. He sailed around corners in the wrong lane and demanded I sing songs to keep him awake. There was only static on the radio. I groaned a few hoarse and sour notes while leaning slowly over onto his nervous lap, back to sleep. He woke me several times, and I would sit up, only to slide rigidly back over onto his lap like a corpse, still dutifully humming.

My eyes opened in the town of Gunnison. It was past midnight, we had stopped, and Kor stood outside rapping on the door of an A & W Rootbeer stand which was closed. He looked like death and for all practical purposes frightened the janitor into letting him in. The fellow was obliged to fix the apparition a float! I went back to sleep. Was it really happening?

About an hour later, Layton pulled off onto what appeared to be a turn-out, stopped, got out of the car, and threw his sleeping bag, me, and my sleeping into the dirt. There we slept for the rest of the night. At the crack of dawn we made a quick dash to the Ford to deliver ourselves from a rancher's perverse sense of humor and two thousand hooves of five hundred cows being herded toward us.

Kor said nothing to me all the way home but, upon arriving in Boulder, reported to a number of other climbers. His account of the ordeal was marked by a lack of particulars and was simply, "Ament ... left all the pins in, so we had to come back." I recalled saving his life on the Bastille in Eldorado and wondered if he was being ungrateful. I began to realize how hard I had pushed on the wall of the Chasm View and in the exposed gully. Through young eyes and foolish insecurity, I saw Layton as the dishonest one. With a bit of reflection, I returned to my senses. He had told the truth, really. I understood and forgave him his madness. He had shown me the Black Canyon, perplexed me, and tortured my will and ego. But following our adventure he made plans to climb with me again in Eldorado, forgot for a while about the Chasm View, laughed, and, after all, was my friend.

Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Apr 26, 2013 - 09:21pm PT
Thanks Pat! I always thought this story was one of the best accounts of climbing ever written. So sorry for the loss of your friend. Thankfully we still have you to bear witness to history.
goatboy smellz

climber
Nederland-GulfBreeze
Apr 26, 2013 - 11:06pm PT
Keep up the good work Pat!
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Apr 26, 2013 - 11:18pm PT
I understood and forgave him his madness.

That is what friends do.
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
Apr 26, 2013 - 11:19pm PT
Thanks for this, Pat.

It was great to see you last weekend. Glad you enjoyed the cooked! Salmon :)
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 27, 2013 - 03:07am PT
Very grateful for the good people and good spirit
at sushifest Indian Creek. You
made me feel so welcome, and yes that salmon was something else.
I might have to start living on salmon. It seems the perfect food.

And thanks for the comments about the article. I was a bit rough
around the edges, to say the least, when I wrote it. But it seems
to stand up pretty well through the years.
redrocker

climber
NV
Apr 27, 2013 - 05:13am PT
Suddenly and unexpectedly, Kor yelled, "Where’s your hard hat?!" I answered, "My what?" He thrust a handful of rope against the wall with such force I thought we would both fall off. He kicked the wall and, looking as if he was going to strangle me, shouted, "No one climbs in the Black Canyon without a hard hat!" So intimidated by this outburst, I failed to notice he was not wearing one either. I indiscreetly let pass, at this moment, a bit of silent although untimely flatus of so foul and putrid an odor that all oxygen was removed from the vicinity of our perch. It took but an instant (which seemed an eternity) for the very bad message to reach Kor’s nose.

LOL! Thanks Mr. Ament!
steveA

Trad climber
bedford,massachusetts
Apr 27, 2013 - 08:25am PT
Pat,

I have never read this tale, and in fact I have never been inclined to read much about climbing lore in general.

I thought this was a stellar piece, and really conveyed the mood of both you and Layton, at the time.

Bravo!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 27, 2013 - 08:39am PT
My heart sank at the thought of having to catch another Kor fall or of encountering one of the huge, horribly rotten, sickly pink, pegmatite bands Layton had described, during the drive, with dread and superstition.


http://www.rocksandminerals4u.com/pegmatite.html

That's fine writing from a (now ancient) teenager. Your talents obviously blossomed after the Canyon epic.

I'm happy to hear you got to mingle and laugh at the Sushifest the other day...and I'm sad to hear of your loss.

And may we keep to the trail that got us here and lap up the praise while we may...we'll soon be the ones that once was.
PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Apr 27, 2013 - 10:39am PT
Excellent, as always, Pat.
Magic Ed

Trad climber
Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Apr 27, 2013 - 10:48am PT
A great piece of writing, Pat. One of my favorites, along with the short piece you wrote about playing mental chess with Royal Robbins during a climb.
TwistedCrank

climber
Dingleberry Gulch, Ideeho
Apr 27, 2013 - 11:43am PT
This tale is vastly more than the sum of its parts. Pat Ament should be very proud of this work, even decades after the fact.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 27, 2013 - 11:54am PT
Thanks Pat, I always loved this piece.

Dumb question, what route would that have been?
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Apr 27, 2013 - 12:08pm PT
Thanks Pat, that was one of my favorites also!

I used to live in a trailer in a trailer park behind that infamous A&W in Gunnison. They used to have a chili dog special on (I think it was Tuesdays), we would go down and watch the locals and the WSC football team eat themselves silly, into stomach purgatory, on those things.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 28, 2013 - 01:55am PT
Jaybro, I think our attempt followed near or to the left
of the Cruise, maybe a pitch or two touching that... My best
memory and understanding.
Thanks to everyone for the good words on the piece.
I haven't slept for four days, thinking about Layton.

Pat
rick sumner

Trad climber
reno, nevada/ wasilla alaska
Apr 28, 2013 - 02:09am PT
Even though you feared revealing the truth of the pins to Layton Kor you are brutally truthful in the telling of the tale. Awesome article Pat, all the better as it differed from the typical in describing the anatomy of a failed, though valiant, attempt on your part and the humanity of a giant in Kor's decision to retreat.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Apr 28, 2013 - 11:34am PT
I just went rushing back to my youth, when I first read this great tale.

Faced with poverty, rotten unclimbed overhangs at Smith Rock, little skill, and inadequate gear, it seemed as though Pat were almost writing about my friends and I!

I felt right at home in that story.

Thanks Pat.
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Apr 28, 2013 - 12:44pm PT
My finger tips are sweating and burning...
CalicoJack

climber
CA
Apr 28, 2013 - 02:11pm PT
Thank you so much for sharing this piece - I had never read it before and am astounded. My sincere condolences for the loss of your friend & mentor.

Andy
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 29, 2013 - 02:03pm PT
Thanks again for the comments. I may post part or all of a
couple other pieces on Layton... if people don't mind.
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