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right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 25, 2008 - 01:53pm PT
My intent for this thread was for us "average, regular, everyday supertopians” to share our experiences and writings in an uninhibited way.

Of course, average, regular, everyday supertopians is a misnomer, because what we have here is very special: it's the confluence and aggregation of our tribe at large. A lot of us, at one time or another, put quite a bit of ourselves into climbing, then went "back into the world" and are now rejoining in this reflective space. We've also got some neat writing being shared by young people, people such as James. And we have so many "greats" here on the forum, with the likes of Doug Robinson, Pat Ament, Tom Higgins, Peter Haan, and oh gosh, John Gill -so many have passed this way with their thoughts…

So, this thread has worked out well.
I encourage all who read and post in these pages to share some words and leave a little piece of yourselves here.

new york
Apr 25, 2008 - 02:12pm PT
Bonne Chance (Part I)

August 25th 7:00 AM I’m scrambling right down to the wire, as usual. The Alps await and we leave for the airport shortly. My partner Gerry is due to show up any minute. He’s been awake since 5:00 AM going through his own last minute checklist. For both of us, today is the culmination to months of thought focused on streamlining what will fit into two checked bags and a carry-on. Give me a month to prepare, and it’ll take a month. Give me an hour, and an hour’ll do. It really doesn’t matter, though – something always gets left behind. As I make the final zip on my bags, I wonder what will be forgotten this time as Gerry suddenly arrives ready to go. Time’s up.

This current adventure, however, is no ordinary trip for us. We take extra pains to predict what we need. This trip is to be our grand transition to the major leagues. It’s our time to step up to the plate to find out if we’re worthy of our daydreams. A desire to measure ourselves against a bigger yardstick has compelled us to place our hands on the very stone that our heroes have built their legends on. We leave the local crags behind to pursue bigger and better things.

“Hey, Brian, you’re drooling,” Gerry laughs. The glaze vanishes from my eyes, and I snap out of it immediately. The time is at hand, and we’re off. Sixteen hours later, after hurried goodbyes to my wife Kym and son Conor, we arrive exhausted in Zurich. Although we are sleep deprived and delirious, we are spurred on by that euphoric anticipation that only the brink of adventure provides. We point the car immediately toward Grindelwald and head to the mountains. The scenery along the way is magnificent if only for a glimpse of the sheer scale that lies ahead of us.

“Where the hell is Interlaken?”

“Oh, OK, turn here.”

First coming into view of the Monch, we chorused, “Hey, is that the Eiger?”

GRINDLEWALD. It was simply incredible that we were finally there, and we tried to take it all in. The day was beautiful and the Eiger followed us everywhere, dominating the town and our consciousness. We explored around the village sensing the rich history among the blend of the old and the new. While surveying the hordes of tourists, we marveled at the random assortment of people who flock to the legend of the Eigerwand, ourselves included. We spent our first full day stumbling around Grindelwald trying to somehow shake off the New York time zone.

It was during one of our fervent attempts to acclimate by consuming alcohol that we met some other climbers who could speak English. Shep and Robin from Canada joined us at an outdoor café with Eiger view. They had spent the summer roaming throughout Europe climbing, and we hoped to gain some insight into what may be in store for us locally. We wondered what secrets they knew of the Eiger, and almost immediately we bared our souls to them, revealing our intentions to warm up on the mountain. Well, the West Flank anyway.

Once we laid our plans on the table, we searched their eyes trying to gauge from their reaction the feasibility of the endeavor. The Eiger aura had us fully in its’ snare, and we wanted assurance that even the modest West Flank would be reasonable for us. Well, rather than counseling us to some other course, they beamed smiles and suggested they’d come too. Then, incredibly to me, they asked us if they might need boots and crampons!
Well, not to sound too uninformed, I advised I had some vague suspicions that the top-out might require some crampons, and maybe even an axe. Inwardly, I knew that there was no remote chance of me going up there without them. I silently marveled that they would consider taking it on with just rock shoes. What were we getting into? I’m not one to mention climbing projects idly. The Eiger, especially, holds some historically sacred value to me that would not allow its’ name to be casually bandied about. I needed the firmest of convictions just to broach mention of getting on it. Yet, casually the words, “Eiger, Monday” had floated from my lips and breezed across the table to Shep, Robin, and Gerry. The words then drifted off to the very heights of the mountain which lay within our gaze, as beer and wine fueled the night.

Monday came quickly. We caught the first train up to Klein Scheidegg with no sign of the Canadians anywhere. On the train ride up, we craned our necks to seek out the legendary features of the North Face familiar to any dreamer. We mixed in with the other climbers, catching those measuring glances that transcend mere language barriers, and we too wondered what lay in store for each climber that day. At Klein Scheidegg, everyone got off and reboarded another train for the next leg. It seemed rather decadent taking the train but somehow it fueled our eager anticipation. The train hauled us up, stopping at Eigergletsch Station, and we stepped off into the gloomy shroud of a Sherlock Holmesian fog. We were the only ones to get off and the train soon disappeared into the thick fog. It seemed that all the other climbers were heading off to some more intelligent destination. Gerry looked over to me and shrugged. I returned a vapid smile saying, “Hey, it’s early yet. This will all burn off in awhile.” When the fog did lift, it revealed the West Flank newly pasted with a fresh layering of snow on what had been sunny dry rock the day before. Echoing down from the loftiest reaches of the mountain the wind carried the faintest whisper reminding, “Eiger, Monday.” We each stood a moment to pause with our own thoughts, and with surprising ease, the idea of “Eiger, Tuesday” came to my mind.

“Hey, Brian, you’re drifting”, Gerry said. I snapped out of it immediately, and we began the approach to the base of a legend. OK, well, really we were gonna sneak up on it from the side.

“Looks great,” we said. “We’ll rope up anytime it gets, you know, too out there.”

The skies eventually cleared. Along the way, the day unfolded to glory and grandeur with the Monch and the Jungfrau to our right as majestic companions to cheer us on. A hanging glacier on the Monch unleashed a powerful noise, and our heads jerked up to watch what seemed the smallest bits of ice rubble dislodge and give in to gravity’s sway. It defined the power and beauty of this mountain playground, a power that dwarfed the scrambling efforts of those who wander through hoping to emerge from its’ shadow unscathed.

Indeed, we, too, moved along with a renewed sense of respect for this power. We picked our way through terrain that has been described as layers of broken dinner plates piled atop each other, but loved every minute of the adventure. As the lower third of the mountain yielded easily to us, we chased doubt back into dark recesses, and began to envision a successful outing. A moderate snow slope led us up to the beginnings of the real rock trickery. Delicate climbing and traversing with the packs was required, but not quite enough to warrant a rope as of yet. We passed a meager belay, continuing to puzzle our way along, happy to see some confirmation that we might be in the right neighborhood. Above some minor difficulties, the angle relaxed, and, still unroped, I took off my pack to recon the leftward traverse to the ridge that would deliver the summit. Rather than wait for Gerry a minute, I figured I’d scope out the best way to gain the ridge.

Moving along throughout the day, I had gone from measured caution to a full blown state of hubris, defying the elements. I knew it was icy, and all it takes is a patch of ice the size of a matchbook cover to kill you. Within a lightning streaks instant, my world unhinged, as my left foot shot up like a circus clown on a banana peel. A seering pain charged through my foot from the ankle to midway up the outside of my calf, and I took three quick dance steps on sloping ground toward oblivion. The quickness and severity of the strike surprised me. In a moment it was over and I had danced around almost fully 360 degrees with those three recovery steps. Amazingly, though stricken and wounded, I was still on my feet, facing out into the void. Had I gone down, I don’t think I would have had much chance of avoiding the bigger plunge.

Gerry hadn’t caught up yet and I was still absorbing what had just transpired when he came into view.

“Gerry, I’m so sorry, man. I have to go down.”

Gerry laughed and smiled at me. I took a deep breath and Gerry still stood there with this huge smile that demanded that I let him in on the joke.

“I’m not kidding, Gerry. My ankle is done.”

We stood across from each other on the sloping ground, and he began to grasp that I was serious.

“And I’ve gotta go now.”

The ridge leading to the summit was tantalizingly close. I wondered if I could scrabble up, but it was coming down that really bothered me. I knew that regaining that meager belay to rap from would be the key to getting me off this thing. There was no way I could downclimb the first hard key sections with this ankle.

On the train down, Gerry said I looked so crestfallen and robbed that he could hardly feel bad that his own trip was likely ruined, too. Getting down off the mountain was slow but workable. On making our way to the hospital, I found I could walk. I was happy I could walk, but I could only walk straight on. The slightest twists on the way down had me clenching my teeth and growling anguished sounds to join the whisper of “Eiger, Monday”. As we waited in a small side room for a doctor, I dreaded the prospect of taking off the boot. I convinced myself it would be better to wait for the doctor. We waited ten minutes. No doctor. Another twenty minutes went by and impatience took over. To hell with waiting, it was time to ease off the boot. I braced for what I imagined might be a mass of swollen purplish flesh, while the boot removed easily. When I pulled off the sock my foot looked fine. In fact, it felt fine. I was amazed and astounded. How could this be the same source of misery that had just tortured me all the way back down the West Flank of the Eiger? It seemed nothing short of a second miracle for me today. We asked the nurse if she minded if we just left and she blinked at us as we turned to leave. The lounging ambulance drivers with cigarettes dangling from their lips just stared at us as we walked out and let the door swing closed behind us. They had my name and address, but that was about it.

So I could walk, sort of. Naturally, it was an easy leap to suppose that if I could walk, then I could probably climb something. It was Gerry who suggested that we leave Grindelwald, and head for Grimselpass. I couldn’t have been more pleased. Grimselpass was said to offer some fine granite climbing and it sounded delightful to me. At that moment, it was difficult to say which might have made me happier: the simple fact that I was still alive, or, perhaps, just the mere prospect of salvaging the climbing trip.

GRIMSELPASS provided the ideal testing ground for a troubled ankle. The granite was beautiful and the climbing varied. We opted for first trying me out on that most treacherous of crucibles: the slab. This particular medium of granite offered the ideal proving ground to gauge my ankle’s tolerance for footwork. The slab does not generally allow brute strength to cheat your way through. It demanded enough finesse and foot control to truly judge what I could get away with. Gerry’s experience as a quarterback in high school and later coaching football, assured that I had a pro tape job to keep my ankle on the straight and narrow. Gerry was happy to lead on and allowed me experiment on second. I guess miracles come in threes for me because I was ecstatic to be grimacing through V+ the following day of the injury. We spent two days sampling the granite of Grimselpass. I was encouraged enough to be able to hike and climb that we decided it was time to head for the main event of the trip. We said goodbye to Grimselpass and aimed the car towards France.


new york
Apr 25, 2008 - 02:17pm PT
(part II)

CHAMONIX for me was always a magical name that evoked greatness. I could hardly contain myself when we slipped over the border into France and rode into this fabled and incredible valley for the first time. The distractions of the town’s bars and restaurants alone have ruined many a trip for climbing. We soon found ourselves struggling to maintain focus. I had to stick to a plan that involved more recuperative climbing while sampling a bit of the good life that Chamonix offered the eyes and the palate. I was hesitant to foray out into any mountain setting until I had a good handle on what my ankle would allow me to do. It turned out to be a blessing that we were treated to all the marvelous valley climbing opportunities that abound. Taping my ankle allowed climbing the easy access local crags. We spent several days climbing at Servoz and Balme, both within easy striking distance of Chamonix. A little farther beyond we hit the Giffre Valley and other areas like Chapelle Saint Gras that provided just the ticket to get me back on track for the big mountains. Climbing in the valley boosted my strength and confidence. By degrees, it seemed plausible to bring the ankle out into the mountains for a test. Well, maybe something on the tame side. Rebuffat’s “100 Finest” describes the Aiguille de L’M as “a pleasant little outing without the stresses of the high mountains.” We looked forward to it as our first venture in the mountains proper. OK, the lower reaches of the foothills, anyway.

At last we were on the Telepherique de L’ Aiguille du Midi, stepping off at the midway cablecar stop, the Plan de Aiguille Station. As we were getting our bearings, a woman asked where we were to climb that day. We told her and she lit up saying she had met some other guys who were going to climb it, too. They were on the next car behind. Both our heads jerked up and we stared at the incoming cablecar preparing to stop and unload. Thank you m’am and we were off ! We quickly shouldered our packs and launched out into the boulder strewn terrain. This wasn’t exactly what I had planned for the ankle, but the race was on. We had a two minute head start thanks to our lady friend. Scrabbling over loose boulder fields, crossing over five ridges and two little ice fields, we couldn’t shake the team behind us. They couldn’t catch us, either, though, and never closed the margin between us. We secured the route and linked the first two pitches. Classic moderate Chamonix crack/chimney jamming followed for a fun route. The way off was a deep gully fraught with loose boulders including a section of iron ladders down the back side. Before long, it became apparent that we owed that team behind us a huge debt. We were now racing the clock to catch the last telepherique down. We never would have hustled without them dogging us earlier in the day. The penalty for missing the last car down amounts to about a few hours steep trail descent, supposedly, and we were glad to avoid it.

All in all, we were pleased with our performance, though. My ankle had held up due to what had evolved into a daily masochistic taping ritual. We had decided to bring our game to the top of the Aiguille du Midi to climb the Arete de Cosmiques the next day. During dinner, however, we learned that all of France was suddenly gripped by a strike protesting the summer’s surge in gasoline prices. No trucks were to refuel the service stations and we had less than a quarter tank left. We only had a few more days left in the trip and we decided we had to drive into Switzerland in the morning to fuel up. The morning was effectively shot. When we finally arrived atop the Midi in the afternoon we were laden down with heavy packs. The dismal weather outlook had prompted us to load up. We soon found out when the sun emerged that the Vallee Blanche was an efficient reflector oven and we were saddled with superfluous heavy gear and extra clothes. Most who exit the Midi Station to approach the Vallee Blanche, pass through an ice tunnel leading to a gate that guards the catwalk of a precipitous ridge. This ridge slopes down about a hundred yards leading to safer ground. On this ridge, to the right looks like a survivable fall down into the Vallee Blanche. To the left was the abyss. You don’t want to fall down the left side of that ridge. Right from the start it spoke to us saying, “You’d better be on your best game here, boys.” It was all so wild as we marched down that ridge ignoring the exposure on either side. I felt that first rush of excitement, the one that tends to fade with familiarity, and I reveled in it. As we rounded down back toward the right into the Vallee Blanche, we eyed up the gorgeous South Face of the Aiguille du Midi. We stopped to pick out the classic line of least resistance, the Voie Rebuffat, pioneered as the first line in 1956 by Gaston Rebuffat with Bacquet. What a grand undertaking it must have been to put up the first route on that amazing expanse of beautiful rock. There are the S-curved cracks on the slab, and the clean, sweeping lines-

“Hey, Brian,” says Gerry. Hold on, wait. I was not drooling that time, though the South Face provokes Pavlonian responses for many.

“Let’s get acquainted with the Cosmiques Ridge today, and if tomorrow’s weather looks good we’ll come back up for the South Face.”

As it turned out, we were making our ridge acquaintance pretty late in the day. It was probably about halfway through that we realized we weren’t going to make the last telepherique down as we’d hoped. We would be spending the night somewhere up here. The Arete du Cosmiques Ridge rises up to the Midi Station, presenting a few gendarmes along the way to make it interesting. There was nothing for us to do, but try and enjoy the rest of the climb. Tomorrow was our last climbing day. I guess we were gonna be in good proximity for the South Face no matter what the weather held.

We arrived at one of the station’s observation decks where the climb finishes up a ladder. We took a quick inventory of the supplies we had to get us through the night. Two Clif Bars, no cigars, no beer, no food, no guide book, way too much climbing gear, and luckily some long underwear for the long night ahead. Down in the valley, our bivy gear was resting comfortably in our paid hotel room, while we looked forward to a long night on cold cement. We were lucky to have cement, though, and access to the cold corridors inside an unheated back part of the station.

We were not alone by any means. We had a varied crew for companions that also slept in the concrete stairwells of the station. We met some Czechs who worked in Germany for Boeing, a couple of Spanish climbers and a big contingent of paragliders who were there to compete in the Coupe du Monde. One older French climber stood out in particular. I had swung the platform telescope around to narrow in on the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses, and he confided to me that he had ascended that majestic route many years ago in his prime and his youth. He may have been in his seventies or older. He was there to climb Mont Blanc alone. He said long ago he had established a custom of climbing the mountain every two years in his own style. He said that it was his personal tradition that he must climb the mountain every two years without fail. He had vowed that the year he failed to do so would be his last year in the mountains, and he would never again return to this pursuit that had given him so much joy and rich experiences over the years. If he failed tomorrow, there would be no other chance. We knew from the internet that tomorrow promised to be a glorious day, but, somehow, the Czechs and I agreed that it was this old man we should thank for the weather. It surely had to be for him, and we left him to sleep with a heartfelt, “Bonne chance.”

Most of the people were there by design, and were well-equipped with sleeping pads, cookers, bags, etc. Gerry and I each took a coil of rope to try and escape the cold of the cement that worked its’ insistent way through anything contacted. A long night followed. At 5:00 AM Gerry confessed he hadn’t slept a wink. I retrieved my two contact lenses I had stored in separate bottle caps I had hastily scrounged and jammed them back into my aching eyes. We recharged ourselves watching a procession of lights wending their way in the darkness up the distant flanks of Mont Blanc. All in all, though, our chief complaint was the lack of cigars, so we stocked up on water and readied ourselves for the South Face. Well, let’s not leave before the restaurant opens, though. They might sell cigars you know. Yesterday, when we thought we were going back down to comfortable beds, we’d vowed how much weight we were going to cut from the packs. Of course, our impromptu overnight didn’t allow us the chance to offload. We’d have gladly staged a tag sale to rid ourselves of the overburden, but instead resigned ourselves to taking it all with us again on today’s harder climb. Live and learn. Comically we moved out saddled with huge packs filled with all sorts of cold weather gear and useless weight on a glorious day of sun and blazing rays. Man, it was a beach day in the mountains. The first pitch went nicely, and apparently, like so many others before us, we baked in the sun at the belay under the first roof. After cooking there for a bit, it soon became evident that this was where people decide to break out the sunblock. The first pitch is lotion free, but the second pitch is a slimefest of lotion, a testament to people’s newfound respect for the alpine sun. It seems regularly people dive into the sunblock before launching out onto the second pitch S-cracks. It could be said the crux of the climb is navigating the lotion soaked holds, but the climbing is beautiful, with the balance of the climb lotion free. Pitch after pitch brought us up through awesomely gorgeous granite and we soon felt we must be approaching the top. Some Germans were rapping down, and casually, we asked how far to the top. Certainly, we had just one long pitch to go, and we’d catch the last telepherique down. They replied at least four or more to go. Whoa!

“Four pitches! We have to catch that last ride down or… Quick gimmee the rack and let’s rock and roll!”

You bet we did, spurred on by the threat of another forced night at the station. We still don’t know what routes we may have variated to mongrel our way into the finish of the Voie Rebuffat, but the climbing was absolutely tremendous. Nothing was sweeter than running in, carrying our gear and ropes tangled in our arms over the finish line to manage the last telepherique down. As we plunked down in the car to catch our breaths with our own victory complete, our thoughts drifted once more to the Frenchman in his seventies with his own outcome uncertain. Then, in the noisy telepherique, along with my weariness and relief, there escaped from my soul yet another secret hearty echoing of “Bonne Chance” for his hopeful success as we headed down to Chamonix to collect our own rewards.

Brutus of Wyde

Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
Apr 25, 2008 - 02:26pm PT

Quiet dark canyon of Oak is spanned by a soaring
steel-and-concrete highway bridge. Illumined by a
moon nearly full, I trot beneath in the hush, while
overhead the lamps and rush of occasional cars grow
and fade against the soft background of breeze in
leaves, the starlit sky, and the distant voice of the

In this evening where the blazing stars are
washed away by the awakened moon, I seek the silence,
the stillness, a place of quiet beauty and deep
magic, where liquid crystal streams leap laughing
among the jumbled canyon boulders, while above, the
brown parched hillsides frown thoughtfully in the

I reach a place where a trail winds, corkscrew-
like, down to waters' edge.

Startled, like a jolt of energy through me, I
sudddenly recognize in the dark another moving shape,
small, skunk-like. Oh God. Please don't spray...

The half-grown kitten walks up, sniffs my air,
out of arm's reach, and joins up with me.

My naked legs part the waters of a deep, icy
pool just above a waterfall: A place of silence and
power; the seemingly placid water soon to explode
into the roar, the spray and the mist, the chaotic
turbulence of the falls, then to find another
reservoir of repose; the moonlight dancing on the
rippling waters below.

The kitty sits on the bank and watches me,
purring, her eyes dancing in the moonlight as I dip
and dive.


Three AM. I stumble through the dark forest
after two hours' sleep, feeling wretched. I blunder
around another bandit camper, apologize. He sits up.


"Let's go climbing!"

At seven I start up the first lead, shivering
slightly in the frigid air.


Feast or Famine. After blasting up the first
five pitches,, I am confronted with a thin seam in a
steep corner, so steep the runners hang away from the
rock. After several cranking explorations into the
5.11 section, I stem and lieback over the top onto a
sloping belay slab and ancient bolts: Palming,
underclinging and swinging off thin flakes, ballet in
the sky.

More 5.10... Solid face gives way to flake-loose
crack, kenn hunkering below on a tiny stance. We fly
up several pitches more. Feast or Famine.


Far above me now, Kenn stems wildly across a
vertigo-inducing dihedral, bridged between smooth
holdless wall and an invisible bump at the lip of a
roof, blue sky above as I in the shade fidget and
fear my coming lead.

Kenn's lead, 5.11, leaves me pumped and scared.
I shake despwerately while following the 5.10d finish
to his pitch. Definitely all Feast here.

The Big Roof cuts across the sky above us, a
grim traverse 5.8 through looseness, fist jams and
fingernail flakes, the climbing equivalent of
clearing yout throat before a song.

I have moved in here. What a place to live. Two
loose, lichened foot holds and a slot behind a flake.
I shoulder against rthe flake, and eye the 137 pieces
of protection I have placed just below the 5.11c
crux. Webbing festoons the lip of the roof. The
equipment courage is not working. Finally I commit to
sidepulling opposition between two worthless seams,
crank the crux, move the foot, slip, scream, reset,
and grab the pin at the end of the crux. Wasted, I
clip, clip, and contemplate the 5.10 above.


Pitch black night. We peer into the darkness and
listen to the sweet music of the stream as the
Sentinel Canyon Orchestra tunes up: Crickets,
whirr of moths' wings, the quiet river of air moving
down the tilted descent chute behind us, stirring
pines and ferns. We add our percussion as the crackle
of rockfall from our bivy preparations echoes off the
canyon walls.

Gently the Yosemite sky lightens as the unseen
moon rises over an unseen horizon. The sparkling
lights of Yosemite Lodge twinkle in the thin slice of
valley floor visible from between the steep walls of
our canyon. Slowly the slice is bathed in milky
moonlight, while we, our canyon, our steep and
tentative descent slabs below, remain cloaked in

Lest we forget what these romantic, adventurous
bivies are really like: My back alternately lumps and
curls, as do my sides, on the tangle of ropes and
gear that is my mattress. Three feet away, Kenn
raises his voice with the Sentinel Orchestra,
wimpering as his legs convulse in body-wrenching
cramps. Next time, we'll maintain our electrolyte
balance with ERG or Gatorade or something.

Although we have no sleeping bags, we still have
"food" and water, and could actually build a fire if
we really, really needed to. Midnight snack time: We
divide four almond M&Ms amongst us, a feast. Mid-
morning (3 AM) we halve the peanut butter Kudo.
Shivering, we watch the morning twilite turn into a
new day.

Breakfast: we munch on the last remaining food,
1 1/2 lifesavers each, as we stuff gear into our
single day pack. Kenn takes one last look around at
our remarkable (remarkably sparse) jagged granite
bivy site. He reaches down, picks up an M&M wrapper,
pockets it.

"Thanks for doing the dishes," I say.

Brutus of Wyde

Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
Apr 25, 2008 - 02:43pm PT
Here's another, a short poem more more about a winter peakbagging trip than a climb. Dingus Milktoast, of course, is the main character.

Red Lake Peak, 27 March 2004

Dingus swings on angel wings
linking turns like serpent strings
while Brutus and the Ratchet Nurse
crater, biff, and yard-sale curse.

He swishes down with master's skill
his upper body quiet, still,
and shouts to us "Just hop and hope!"
Ratchet shakes and recoils "Nope!"

We think this tour will never end:
Researching ways that legs don't bend
with fractured skull and twisted spine,
we hear the call "Just SKI that Line!"

Slowly, with a swishing sound
the sky and mountain turn around
I rocket headfirst down the slope
a soft runout my only hope...

Finally we're at "Crater" Lake --
I pray the Lord my soul to take;
Another turn, another dive...
we'll never make it out alive.

Eventually our free heel woes
stagger to a painful close.
No sign of Dingus, he's long gone,
as night brings thoughts of distant dawn

with Brutus sprawling on the snow
and Ratchet singing songs of woe.
But wait! we see his car draw near!
Craig hands us each a frosty beer.

Thanks for an awesome day!


Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 25, 2008 - 02:45pm PT
rockanice & Brutus,

Awesome you guys. I'll be reading those again!!
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Apr 25, 2008 - 03:01pm PT
Good Reads Guys! If this is the end of this thread I'll have to start working. Anyone else have something to post?

Social climber
Apr 25, 2008 - 07:54pm PT
I wrote this piece earlier but I think its one of the better things I've written and so I would like to share it again.

1986 spring break comes and I have just bought my brand new off the lot Toyota truck $5500 bucks. So for the first time ever we have a vehicle that WILL make it across the Dakotas with out a break down.

Devils Tower

We scrape off the winter rust by going to do the Durrance route. There are about 15 people hanging out at the base and its a good scene until some guy from Bozeman cries out Rock! and then silence and SCRAPE- real low-the rock goes SCRAPE and then it goes BOOOOOOM! and THOOOOM! and its getting louder and closer. I crawl into a hole about the size of coffee cup and this pig keeps coming down bouncing wall to wall down the bowling alley. This guy had just run for cover. All of the safe places to hide were taken and he was forced to crawl into his own ass to hide, when this big assed rock lands exactly where he was sitting. like an X on some comic cartoon pirate map It smashes into a million fist size pieces. After the obligatory cry of fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!, like munchkins we all come out of the flowers to get back to Oz. The climb was finished with no other theatrics
We then go over to Walt Bailey and enjoy the small to big fingers to hands
After rapping Walt I am stoked to go back to camp and drink beer when Shawn sez- We are going to do Hollywood and Vine and YOU are going to lead it.
Good move on his part because I never would have come near this part of the world if I knew we were going to do something so stupid.
This is a 10c route and what makes it a little different is that its crux is a thin face instead of the usual tower crack.
Its pretty low angle and I am thinking that I'm the best for the first 50 feet and then things run out. I am about 10 feet above a wired stopper. There is a three finger hold/jam and smearing feet and reaching and reaching and then BANG I get a pretty good finger lock and I twist until I hear bones cracking and then pull up and get in a good jam and man I felt like a star about to Nova.
I thought that move was one of the hardest I ever did.
You go from complete terror to being totally satisfied because of a rock climb.
What a stupid sport-but for a long time I kept going because I was not just a nobody, half assed, college student, on academic probation
NO! I was a nobody, half assed, college student, on academic probation who had led Hollywood and Vine with no falls!
In the '70s Henry Barber had a bad scene soloing this route. i can only imagine
Brutus of Wyde

Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
Apr 26, 2008 - 03:04pm PT
Another winter peakbagging trip.
Next one will be about climbing.
I promise.

Rubicon Peak
Desolation in Winter.

“Things often look their darkest just before it gets pitch black”

After 1 p.m., Frank Tarzannin and I strap on skis after a half-day drive to Tahoe. The sun blasts down as we skin up the hollow slopes: 4 feet of fresh, bottomless powder is the winter’s first crop of snow, concealing a minefield of manzanita and buckbrush; my rental Randonees pop off at each sweltering kick turn until I set the tension release up into the realm of fully-cured concrete. “The manufacturer disclaims all responsibility for any injury that may result from incorrect binding settings” as I reach down and twist my leg to extricate yet another buried ski tip from an unseen, hooked shrubbery.

Summit. The thin afternoon sunlight provides no warmth. We huddle in the lee of the icy rocks, cold wind slicing through sweat-chilled pile, and scope out the lack of ice on the north face of Crag Peak. The shadowed face remains dry in spite of the mid-winter snow. A westering sun highlights the upper snow shoulder of the peak as if to remind us of the waning daylight. Time is slipping by.

A short icy downclimb lands us back at the skis, fools who have overextended their stay. Frank swoops off down the slopes, linking graceful turns, as I tremble, face-plant, sideslip, cartwheel and awkward my way down the slopes, a pinball crazy-bouncing off tree bumpers toward numerous and inevitible craters. TILT!

Late night. Frank is somewhere behind me, following my tracks, patiently kicking through the dark powder. Hopelessly lost, I sob desperately in the blackness and hug another tree to stay upright. Not the way we came. I used to at least think we were descending toward Lake Tahoe. The faded twilight of the burned-out sun lingered long in the sky behind us. Or still is. Unless that is the moonrise soon to come. Or maybe the lights of Tahoe city?

Fading headlamp shows dark, trackless snow, dim and grey, impaled by trees, with only the starry sky overhead to hear my bleak helplessness.

Disoriented, the twilight now to my right up the gully I have followed, (I don’t remember the gully changing direction. We are SO LOST!) the bottom drops out of my stomach as I realize I must have chosen the wrong way, long ago, up there somewhere on the summit ridge. We’re headed into the backcountry of the Desolation Wilderness, miles between us and civilization, with a cold, wet unplanned bivouac ahead. I don’t want to be here. I blink back chest-clenching tears as I top the ridge and stare, uncomprehending, at a street light.

Back at the car, we sip Pete’s Wicked Ale. Frank shakes his head again in amazement. “That” he says, “was incredible route-finding.”

“Nah... Piece of cake.” I smile, fingers crossed in the darkness, and we resume loading gear into the car.

Apr 26, 2008 - 08:39pm PT
A wise person once said, "Speak, only if you wish the people who believe you a fool - finally to have proof."

Managing Improvement on a Production Line - Part I
John Stannard
At least since the early eighties when I first came, the Company's holy grail has been to "transition engineering into production". As a sound byte the phrase worked extremely well with the customers. The reality has been more conflicted. Even as late as the year 2000, Production believes the Work Instructions are frozen and can not be changed. Indeed believes all problems can be traced to changes that were made. The engineering camp asserts we have yet to make two units the same way. That all the hardware is in reality, a series of experiments and nothing has actually been built "To Print". Will the twain ever meet? More importantly, will the twain meet while we are yet on this earth? Our function here is identical to that performed by the father of the bride-to-be in The Graduate, who in a conspiratorial manner said one word to Dustin Hoffman; playing a character almost as confused as are we. "Plastics."
Production and Improvement can meet, if but one word is said. No reply is needed. "Statistics." The two can be brought together, but at a price. We can bring them together,

but we cannot do so while also giving everyone all they would like.

A natural limit is, after all, posed simply by the number of parts we process. This limit is just as real as the physical principles we have studied all our lives.

The number of process changes must be limited.

Engineers love a physical principle; to death generally. (In general it is the principle whose exam the engineer aced in college, that will control all the processes they later study - whether they actually do or not.) Nobels are awarded whenever someone constructs a physical realization so perfect that we know only one physical principle is operative. Doing so directly proves the physical principle. By some leap we feel infrared detectors are perfect realizations and that we know what principle is limiting them. We can make them in quantity and when the performance or yield is too low we can change the process in agreement with the controlling principle and gain fame, if not riches. This is the first thing we have to give up.

We can’t.

It really would be nice to get a Nobel for each detector we make. All we need do is push our yields to 100%. While Alfred Nobel may be able to afford this, I doubt the US government can.

Statistics is a branch of study dedicated to the proposition doing an ignorant thing a thousand times instead of just once, makes us thirty times smarter. Given a choice, we unfortunately prefer to talk about what we know, as that makes us look good. That weakness disadvantages future planning in the management of a production line. Good management requires us on a production line to admit publicly that we are using statistics to compensate for our ignorance. For a manager to take that leap he has to have confidence higher management knows it is possible to be good while not exactly looking good. They have to know

there are times when looking good - is bad.

In the above we have set apart what we take for the conundrii by which we are enslaved. We will get to Statistical Management of Improvement in due course, but first a couple of realities:

Production lines obey the Uncertainty Principle. If engineers go into a production line and study at great length the process by which indium is deposited, they learn the process's present location to a high precision. But by so doing and making changes they lose all information as to where the process is going. They themselves generate a series of desired changes, all with unintended consequences. More subtly, the people on the line assume they were doing something wrong, and so start doing it "better". There is more. If we once cease assuming our work instructions and engineering knowledge are perfect, we have to admit there are factors on the line about which we do not know and which blink on and off in the line. Recognizing this leads us to the next reality.

A set of Work Instructions is not sufficient to define a baseline. Work Instructions represent inputs and so are a measure only of what we perceive is important.

What is actually important may be quite different.

Some element of reality, such as an output, needs to be included in defining a baseline. When defining a baseline process we need to include all the statistical stuff such as yields and distributions at different assembly levels. Using those we have a chance to discover whether or not we have left our baseline, and maybe even where.

We are painfully edging closer to a real discussion of Statistical Management of Improvement, but first an illustrative look at the guises assumed by process changes clamoring for the manager’s attention.

Grandstand Play: An engineer interested in improvement asks to have two wafers redlined to a new technology assured of giving a factor of two improvement. You should:
A. Give him one wafer
B. Give him two wafers
C Ignore him and start complaining to your management about this person. This will make it easier on you when he leaves.

Normal Production Program: The manager for the program composing fully half of your volume in the line wishes to process their parts in two wafer lots, each lot to a different redline. You should:
A. Say," you are the customer. The choice is yours"
B. Send the program to a competing lab because "our equipment is old"
C. Submit capital requests for all new equipment
D. Send out your resume
E. All of the above

The Mob: The manager has assigned either improvement or god-help-us tasks to five people. Each one comes back saying a change is needed. You should:
A. Make all of the changes
B. Make some of the changes
C. Make none of the changes
D. Maneuver your manager into making the decision

Part II finally gets to the central point of how to vary processes on a production line while still building parts "To Print". There everything rests upon the integrity and adequacy of your production data.
Ed Bannister

Mountain climber
Riverside, CA
Apr 26, 2008 - 11:44pm PT
Great thread Tarbuster, thanks!

I dance on the still waters at sunset
or race as wind on a cloud.

I seep down grass valleys as fog.

In evenings still, I pause, as air,
to glide back down canyons from whence I came.

I am the chill of winter’s first snow.
I glisten at dawn.

I am the romp of an otter,
the hilarity of a woodpecker drunk on fermented sap.

I am the solitude of oceans of steep clean granite,
and the wonder of glaciers.

I play in desert sand,
bask in the quiet.

I am the singularity of winter's lowest spring tide.
I am thunder’s explosion,
lightning’s cleaving power.

I am the majesty of the ocean’s waves,
and the lulling peace of waves lapping on alpine lakeshore.

I am soft wet moss,
shaded by eons of trees and rock.

I am the rhythm of the seasons,
recorded in tree rings, in bedding planes,
by the erratic miles from a canyon.

I am a quiet moment,
as a kingfisher pauses,
or the thrill, of a golden eagle gliding close by.

I am humbling, as swallows show how it is done,
inches from the cliffs, inches from death, fearless.

I am ephemeral blooms in hard and remote places.
I am timeless.

Brutus of Wyde

Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
Apr 27, 2008 - 07:06pm PT
South Central Route, Washington Column

24 April, 1998. 12:00 noon. Old Climbers' Home, Oakland, California. Michael "Betamikester" "Bro" Brodesky has not arrived. I check out a chrome-plated walker from the front desk, then move my piled packs to the porch of the Old Climbers' Home so we can load Brodesky's car without him seeing the disaster area in the catacombs where I currently reside, a hybrid of garbage dump and exploded haul bag.

1:30 pm. Bro finally shows up, and mentions that his brakes are smoking. Sudden change of plans, we shovel all our stuff into the back of the Cave. Shove off along Highway 580 at 70 miles per, eastbound from Oakland, California toward the Valley of Dreams. Brief stop at the Oakdale Taco Bell to choke down roadkill. Bro takes the wheel. I snore with senile satisfaction in the shotgun seat, spittle staining my shirt, confident we are safe from attack for the moment.

Somewhere on Highway 120. As Mike brakes hard and swerves, I jerk awake. The pavement is covered with a thin layer of slushy snow. Truck is fishtailing around an overturned SUV, narrowly missing oncoming traffic. Several cars are stopped. A group of lean, honed sportclimbers loiter beside the road as the snow drifts down, one miming the beta of the accident to the others. The immediate problem seems under control. We pull into Crane Flat, Mike reports the accident. I return to the snooze.

Yosemite Valley. The incessant rain is a dreary homecoming after my two-month absence. Brodesky feels ripped off. Just another beautiful day in Patagonia. "Hey," I say. "Tomorrow is another day." As the evening gloom deepens, we retreat to the Curry Village Pizzeria and down our sorrows with cholesterepperoni.

Awahnee Hotel. Dusk. Headlamps out, I totter my walker ahead of me behind Michael as the sky sprinklers shut down. I've slogged this stench of forest so many times this year that I remember the places where I made handprints in the snow, the locations of coyote dung, the blue gear-marking tape where Nurse Ratchet and I joked about trail markers, remember where to turn, where to rest, where I left the food stash two months ago when attempting a winter ascent of the Prow; where I peed, pooped, and puked. An attempt that was pre-doomed to failure due to storms and the flu, under the sleet sheets and snowy blankets of the Upper Pines Hospital Ward, our week-long physical therapy trudging-haulbag-heavy up and posthole-portaging down the slop to the Column, weak and wasted. Ya pays for yer ticket and ya takes yer chances.

Presently Bro and I bivy at the Astroman base at 9 pm. We slip into the sacks, sinking snoozeward, alarm set for some ungodly hour.

4:00 am, 25 April 1998. Deep sleep interrupted by the dreaded beep. Sluggish, yet aware of need to move. Breakfast. harness. Carefully stretch the old body. Stash the walker and the packs. Slug last glug of water, force-march the gully to the base of Washington Column South Face Route, where our adventure is to begin. I retch. Betamikester looks concerned. Guess he'd forgotten about that part..

Dinner Ledge. 7:30 am. Mikester sped us here in virtually no time at all. My turn. We're leading in blocks, selected for our relative strengths. I get a last blast of beta from Brodesky and totter out 120 feet left to the base of the first steep section, a 5.9 offwidth/squeeze chimney. Bro follows, another brief conference and gear transfer, then its up the offwidth, belaying at bolts [OH, the IMPACT!!!] 130' higher. Mikester follows as if on wings, dumps the pack and rack, and I'm off again. This time it's a tension traverse to a 5.10c crack which feels a lot like A1 to me ol' geezer bones after the first few moves, feet skating on flakes and flying bits-o'-rock. Slow swim upward in aiders, over the bulge, to cut into 5.9 free climbing up to the belay.

Yet again. Step right, 5.9 (loose and grainy A1 to the geezer) up a bit, pendulum again, gulp gulp in fear, place place pro pro, long traversing runout below, then creep, mewling, up the vertical C2 crux through flakes exfoliating and clenching my crawling incontinent bowels to a bolt, another pendulum, and finally stance at the base of a 40-foot high, 3-inch thick granite wafer held in place by inertia; morning sunlight finally sweeping the face.

Mikester appears, wrapped in pack and tangled rope like a confused beetle bound in spidersilk, awaiting a last meal on the web. He stumbles to the stance, muttering it might be quicker if the Duffer heads up first, giving him time to unstrangle. Done. What follows is a terrifying 5.8 jam/cryback up the flakexpanding, a 5.10 romp up the offwidth, power pulls through loose and wobbly, to a leftward traverse over unprotected face. Pins would get me a pendulum, but that is unthinkable as I thoughtlessly find myself pinned to the wall in a half-mantle-half-flail, feet-slipping 20-foot pendulum fall ahead taketakeTAKETENSIONTAKE!!!! and the rope tightens, I winch myself back into the corner, and reassess. This time the rope is my handhold, tensioning across the 5.11 face, liebacking off nylon and nubbins Oh Dulfer.

Crimp and slap and i reach a fixed pi and easyaid up to the Top of the Mark and the end of my leads.

Mikester arrives and heads across unprotected 5.7 face we call 5.7+ [translation "feels like 5.10c"] to yet another tension traverse, then a ledge where he stops to bring me across, the 80-foot pitch having netted us a vertical elevation gain of two feet.

Now Bro's on a thin crack the topo calls A1/5.9 meaning after you aid up tiny brass where the crack disappears into the featureless face you launch into 30 feet of 5.9 mandatory face climbing thinking only of how-far-below-are-those-last-two-brass-bits-nestled-in- the-crack and I'm so very glad you led it and not me, thank you Bro. Mike ends the pitch where the rope does, and I romp upwards, giving the lead line a shake to dislodge the few anorexic pieces. This pitch is scantily decorated, and janitor Brutus has little to do but jug.

Next are roofs which resemble chockstones resembling roofs in our gutter/gully/corner, and Bro, a bubble working around seaweed to the surface of the fishtank, swings upward in aiders, backcleaning until out of sight. "Fixed!" echoes down and I confirm he's off belay, then abandon the stance to the moss, the oak, and the teetering death block; jugging roofs, chimney and rubble onto a wide slickery pineneedle ledge. Mikester craftily heads out before I can dump gear onto him, then brings me up to the end of the climb. Quick sort and we scratch up over the top of the Column, stumbling across the brush ledges, thrashing for the gully.

We find a fixed rope at the top of North Dome Gully and, grinning and not proud, rappel the steep dirt clear down to the stream. I dig out the headlamps and we head down the slabs, racing the end of the day.

Arrive at the base of the Column at last light 14 hours after we started, unearth the packs and the walker, chomp bootybeans, swill beer, and from our sleepingbags greet Doctor Coomer who is carrying loads for a solo attempt on Southern Man; sleep, totter out, sort gear, and return to the Old Climbers' Home 48 hours after we left. I check my walker at the front desk, until next time. Nurse Ratchet peers over her spectacles: "So how was your walk?"

All in all, a nice little stroll.


Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Apr 28, 2008 - 01:32am PT
adapted from another unwordly place. Inspired by a frozen Sardine Falls...

Ice: The final frontier
These are the voyages of the Starship Tacoma
Its lifelong mission
To explore strange new areas
To seek out new climbs and new first ascents
To boldly go where Royal, Tom and the gang has not gone before

que trek music... aaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaa

Social climber
My Inner Nut
Apr 28, 2008 - 09:45am PT
The Doctors Office

Climbers’ office, our cool playground
in the desert.
I miss the claustrophobic feel
of narrow slot canyon
in the heat of summer,
laughing, respite from the sun

Hot, hiking up
in the blistering heat
of Oak Creek Canyon

Crossing the creek passing
tourists, families
some watch our heavy packs
as we disappear
into the dust above them

Sounds fade, dust remains
hiking steep drainage,
labored breath and buzz of heat
sweat stinging eyes, then the Tree:
the place where coolness
from the slot canyon above
sweeps upon us
cooling brow

The walls steepen to hundreds of feet above,
and narrow sharply
casting permanent shade
and further freshening:
Swamp Cooler Canyon.

The effect is such
that eighty-five degrees
in Sedona is the minimum temperature
or it is too cold
in The Doctor’s Office

At the foot of the canyon
lies a micro-environment
all mosses and sword ferns
in this desert world,
air almost cold now

Also at this oasis
inscriptions from the past
chiseled into sandstone:


Much can be gleaned
from this simple statement:
The man was a doctor
played rugby
probably at Notre Dame
The stylized lettering
from hammer and chisel
indicates a skilled hand
we scrub the moss
out of the letters
trying to know
B Frankson

Our own Doctor
the canyon’s namesake
looks upward
pointing out
new routes to climb:
the now, the future

We scramble into the fissure
walls looming
merely five to thirty feet
vertical waves of sandstone
comforting, or cloying

In places we touch
both walls, straining
pretending to keep
them apart

All day we climb, play
enjoy the acoustics
of the canyon
from mini stereo to
catching odd sounds from
people, creek below
birds, planes above

At two-thirty
comes the half-hour of sun
we bask, watching the beam move
across our path
and gone

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 28, 2008 - 09:59am PT
Mister E,
Wonderful writing, I could feel it...
I have had very similar experiences in hot places. Great.

Dr. Frankson....
He could've played rugby at Notre Dame.....
or he could've been from Rugby, North Dakota...

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Mar 16, 2009 - 03:20am PT


Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Mar 16, 2009 - 11:51am PT
Thomas had immediately regretted not staying longer at the meager rest spot now far below him. He had fiddled for a couple minutes trying to work in a small nut, which only made the spot less restful, and then continued, sure that he could see better nut placements higher up.

But the wall had steepened almost imperceptively, and the hoped for placements had dissolved along with the subtle shadows that had made placements look bigger and less flared than they were.

"Why didn't I get a decent rest or at least let go and fall onto that good cam when I was so much closer to it?" The thoughts had raced through his mind in his last moments still clawing at the cliff.

He knew that Mathew didn't have the experience necessary to catch this fall, or to deal with the aftermath. But his ego and his confidence in his own ability to pick this plum of a crack that he had spotted high on the wall days before, had forced such thoughts out of his mind.

The sweat had stung his eyes and trickled down the middle of his back as he had struggled to keep his fingers in the shallow bottoming jams so far above his last acceptable piece of pro.
He knew the little RP sort of halfway grabbing the back of a flare twenty feet below him had no chance to chance at all.

The good cam that he had gotten in before the rest was at least twenty feet below that nut. It wasn't nearly close enough to keep him from hitting the flake. He knew it...

"Damn!" He had thought, "Why was I fooled by those shadows, why did I continue when the going got so bad, why didn't I rest when I could've, why didn't I let go when I had a chance, why didn't I wait for Steve to show up, at least he would've known what to do, why was Matt whimpering as badly as I was right before I came off, why was that good jam with the incut next to it just out of reach as my fingers had finally and screamingly come out for good?"

Thomas was amazed that he could feel the wind cooling his back and his forehead as he picked up speed. There was a small "tick" as the RP had popped without even slowing him down.

The world was strangely silent for a micro second as the flake roared toward him. He "heard" the flake crash into his side and back rather than feeling it. The sun grew smaller and more faded, almost eclipse like, as he heard Matt scream.
The world went black.


Trad climber
Mar 16, 2009 - 12:24pm PT
I just discovered this thread. Awesome! In some of these epic stories, my heart starts pounding and my hands get sweaty, and for a minute I was there pulling over the top of the Nose in a snowstorm, major cluster going on, cold and wet, freaking but handling.....great writing gentlemen.

Trad climber
Mar 16, 2009 - 01:01pm PT
My contribution
I was in England on business for about the 20th time, and had been making it a habit to drive out to Wales and Snowdonia National Park on the weekends for some climbing and hiking, usually by myself. I had it my goal of hiking up Snowdon Peak(highest peak in England, but thats not saying much) by the old miners trail which is this incredibly beautiful hike thru the old mine trailings and fallen down buildings past beautiful little lakelets and unknown cliffs. It lies on the opposite side of the crag from The Black Cliff, "Clogwyn du'r Arddur" or Cloggy as it is known. It can be a lonesome wierd and spooky place when it is rough weather which it usually is up there. I had on a pair of hiking boots, vibram soles of course, which is what I normally wear in Liverpool and surrounding countryside. You know why if you have ever spent much time mucking around in the cesspools of Liverpool or the farmyards of the countryside. The boots don't fit in with the suit and tie crowd of England but I am American and they love Americans in England so I damn well wore what I pleased. Anyway, hiking up the trail that I had done so many times I decided to do some exploring to find a different route to the summit. It was cloudy and damp but not raining. The summit was hidden behind swirling clouds. I decided to start up a rock ridge that looked fairly low angle and see how far I could get. At first the going was fairly easy. Lots of loose rock, and a few moves here and there but nothing to out of control. Then I came upon a section where I had to commit and go for it. I powered thru it knowing I did not want to try to downclimb it and pulled over the short face onto a ledge and found myself completely whited out in the fog. Knowing that up was the way, I blindly continued upwards, the angle much steeper then it looked from the ground, and my focus razors edge, as nothing else mattered but me and the rock. I could see nothing else, hear nothing, just black damp rock and fog, and the way was up. I must have climbed another couple hundred feet of moderate damp class 5 when I came to another difficult bit. It was wet and steep and fierce looking. I had to calm the racing of my heart. Here I was alone, no one knew where I was, alone in the fog, hell I didn't even really know exactly where I was. Down climbing seemed out of the question at this point due to the previous sections I had bypassed. I gave the moves a go and then reversed the moves back to the ledge. I must have tried the moves 5 times and always when I came to the little bulge I backed off. The quiet was errie and there was no exposure as I was in a cloud. I decided to hydrate and eat a energy bar, and then for a couple minutes I focused on meditating to slow my heart and breathing down. Rejuvenated, I stepped up and fired. Pulling over I grabbed first one loose rock, and then another, dropping them into the void as I desperately tried to find a solid handhold, the noises coming from down below as the rocks bounced down the cliffs and crashed into the scree were unnerving. At last with strength draining, I had no choice and commited to a loose block and pulled, as I brought myself over the top it came free and I released it into the void like the others. Looking up I could see nothing, just more rock but less high angle, and a few more minutes brought me to a false summit, and a few more minutes brought me to the tram station and people. yes, a tram station. Very strange, they run a tram up to the top of the peak from one side. Walking among the tourons, I gave thanks for my safe passage and reflected how very different my experience of coming up the mountain was from these peoples. Unable to handle the scene much longer, I turned and disappered into the fog, and down the descent trail back from whence I came. For a minute there, I had felt like Joe Brown or Don Whillans breaking new ground, but the pump faded, and I was left with the knowledge that some choss is better left unclimbed and it was luck and not skill that had carried me thru. A lesson learned. Cheers mate!

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Sep 10, 2009 - 11:40am PT
Back to the top with thee oh thread of many great writings!!

So many great tales here, including some really good ones from our dear departed Brutus of The Wide.

Read and enjoy..............and put your story down.
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