Tales of karma


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Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 7, 2007 - 07:20pm PT
I'm not sure that's the right word for it, karma, but I am fascinated by happenings that seem to tie us all into some higher spirit and show us that we in fact are connected. Indeed we reap what we sow. I'd love to hear some examples of when something special happened to you, such as the following:

Sometime in the mid-later 1980s I was utterly broke, no writng royalties, nothing. I went down to a store that buys used outdoor equipment and sold my three or four pair of climbing shoes. The little bit of money would get me some food for the next few days. When I got back to may small apartment, waiting on the doorstep was a box sent me by Heinz Mariacher and Luisa Iovane (they were at the time the leading reps for La Sportiva, and two of the best -- if not THE best -- Italian climbers). The box had a new pair of climbing shoes. It seemed at that moment my karma was such in climbing (if you want to use the word karma), that I was not to be without a pair of climbing shoes. Whatever spirits govern this planet would have nothing of it, or else my friends were tied to my psychically and anticipated the need...
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 7, 2007 - 07:49pm PT
Great thead

I've got THOUSANDS of em, but here's one I wrote

Meeting Yabo

In the early 1980ıs my best compromise between living and climbing in
Yosemite while avoiding poverty and parental heartbreak was to work for
Curry Company. For three years, I was the Night Housing Supervisor, in
charge of all the Curry employee housing areas between the hours of 5pm
and 1am.

In some ways, it was a dream job for a climber. I had a private tiny
cabin in Yosemite and was free to climb until 5pm every day. There was
a downside though. I was in charge of enforcing a plethora of rules and
keeping the company facilities free of exploitation by unauthorized
persons, particularly climbers.

I was a climber. Curry Company hated climbers. Resolving the dissonance
between these realities nurtured diplomacy in Karl and, eventually,
fostered tolerance within Curry Company.

Curry Companyıs strict grooming code made it easy to divine the
difference between the dorm residents and the Camp 4 residents. I
remember a funny cartoon on the wall of an employee bathroom. It showed
a guy with long hair and a crazy and confused look on his face. The
caption read "Before" Next to it was a drawing of the same crazy and
confused face but this time with short, clean cut hair. The caption
read "After" (employment) Years of the clean-cut company culture
inbreeding made it easy for long-term employees to adopt the attitude
that long hair or a beard were marks of dereliction.

The ex-marine president of the Company was chief among the those who
were pissed at climbers. After some random act of vandalism attributed
to climbers, he took a tour through Camp 4 to the boos and jeers of the

The behavior of the climbers sometimes didnıt help matters. Besides
snaking showers and drunken deli rudeness, some climbers would camp out
in the cafeteria and scarf leftover food, or shoplift from Curry

Worst of all, climbers seeking comfort and love as part of the same
deal would seek out girlfriends among the Curry Employees. Many a young
damsel would be seduced into supporting the lifestyle of a "Park Bum"
or PB as it was abreviated. Now it wasnıt as if there were enough of
these beauties to go around. These were OUR women! Just like in
Alaska, in Yosemite, if youıre a women, the odds are good, but the
goods are odd!

As for me, I definitely had friends on both sides of the fence. I lived
across from Camp 4 and climber friends would come hang out with me. I
tried to encourage a bit of harmony by taking different managers
climbing. I started taking the Manager of Employee Housing climbing and
he got pretty good. We even climbed the grade 5 North Buttress of
Middle Cathedral in a day. One time I had numerous managers and
supervisors camped out on Yosemite Point and dragged them across the
Tyrolean Traverse to Lost Arrow. I hope I played some role in teaching
the Company that climbing wasnıt intimately linked with acts of
vandalism and dereliction.

At night, I tried to strike a reasonable balance between protecting the
companyıs facilities and allowing people to live their lives with
minimum harassment. I wouldnıt bug John Bachar about his Saxophone
playing or hanging out with his girlfriend in the dorms, but when a
world famous cranker emptied a fire extinguisher in the hallways, we
ran him off.

One night I got a call on the radio that there was a violent
disturbance at the Womenıs dorm. I headed my company truck straight
over there with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Responding to
unknown chaos revs the adrenaline, but also the humbling anticipation
that some drunk idiot might be inspired to break beer bottles over my
head. As a standard precaution in potentially violent situation, I
radioed the NPS to send a ranger to the scene as well.

When I arrived, I met a muscular guy of medium height at the foot of
the steps of the dorm. He looked battered. Next to him was a high-end
road bike that looked battered as well. He was reasonably calm. I
asked him what happened. He said his name was John Yablonski and that
he BEAT HIMSELF UP! Naturally, I wanted a further explanation. Yabo
said that his girlfriend lived in the dorm, she dumped him and was with
another guy at the moment. He was so upset that he kicked his own ass!
I thought he was pretty lucid for a guy who just whuuped himself, but
Yabo said he was a non-violent kind of guy who wouldnıt hurt anybody
but himself. He really did an impressive job of hitting himself. You
could tell he was headed for black and blue.

I quickly confirmed the story with Yaboıs girlfriend (and her male
companion) and, since no more conflict seemed eminent, called off the
rangers before they arrived. It seemed like the last thing the
heartbroken Yabo needed was an encounter with the law.

I went back and met with Yabo again. He also managed to totally destroy
his $1000+ (1981 dollars!) road bike that he won in the "Survival of
the Fittest" TV contest. I told him to throw his bike in my truck and I
would give him a ride back to Camp 4. We talked about life, climbing,
and women. Before he got out of the truck he asked for $1 for a pack of
cigarettes. I gave it to him even though I am a cheap bastard and hate
smoking to boot. Somehow, my heart just told me it was the right thing
to do.

The next time I patrolled the womenıs dorm, I was surprised to find a
$1 bill lying on the ground at the very spot that I first met Yabo. It
stuck me at the time that I was being repaid by the Spirit of All
Things for my gift to Yabo.

In the course of years since then, I heard a number of amazing stories
of Yaboıs larger than life existence. Apparently, he would go
free-soloing in fits of despair over relationships. He wouldnıt always
make it. He would always miraculously survive. One time he was caught
in the branches of a tree after falling off an 11c crack! Werner Braun
said "The Angels were watching over Yabo."

Sadly, tragically, Yabo eventually took his own life. He said if
natural forces wouldnıt take him, he would have do it himself. The
incident involved a woman and a relationship, but ultimately, it was
just Yaboıs inner demons. I thought he was a great guy in many ways.
Unfortunately, we are all a bit nuts and those of us with an extra dose
of energy and passion can sometimes be even more nuts. May his Spirit
reach the Summit after a dramatic climb.



Trad climber
Jul 7, 2007 - 10:34pm PT
Quoting our local witch doctor: "You guys don't know sh*t about karma"

Jul 7, 2007 - 11:40pm PT
I once knew a guy who believed so strongly in Karma, he bought a wallet with his last ten dollars.

Jul 7, 2007 - 11:48pm PT
Karl is a cool dude of good disposition who cares about what goes on around him.

Bear 46 edit.....I think I put this in the wrong thread.

Jul 8, 2007 - 12:33am PT
This is a brief description of Karma in a nutshell

The law of karma describes the universe as an interconnected network in which every action causes a reaction to occur in the future. Material scientists understand the gross manifestation of this law in the form of physics, however, they have no idea of the workings of the same law on a more subtle platform.

The effects of karma are not limited to individuals, collective karma effects towns, countries and ultimately the whole planet.

Gym climber
the ground up
Jul 8, 2007 - 12:47am PT
I thought that there were 4 traditional ways to build karma.

Yoga karma, practicing charity, meditation? and another?

Here is karma from the perspective of a 60's post beat poet.

I once shared an article about deep meditation. It was a study that used FMRI scans on monk's brains. They found that an individual who had practiced deep meditation showed increased brain activity in a cortical region that is excited when happy. He wrote back "Imagine having that kind of power in your brain!!!"

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 8, 2007 - 12:51am PT
I wrote this not quite a year ago on another thread...

Mike, Lawrence and I were returning from our first trip to the Bugaboos in the mid 80's. We had rented a car to make the drive from New York, it was a Oldsmobile Cutlas Supreme. The climbing was great but we were ready to make the trip home at the end of a couple of weeks. For some reason, we had the idea that we would be less likely to get a ticket speeding in Canada than in the U.S., so we were driving Canada highway 1 east. We had had dinner in Calgary, the strategy being to get through most of Saskatchewan before the sun rose the next day. I've always thought the expansive flatness of the Canadian prairie was too much to take for a mountaineer's eyes.

The condition of the Cutlas was what you'd expect at the end of a trip. First, we had a large amount of gear stuffed in everywhere, the trunk was full, and the back seat was piled too, making a somewhat comfortable place to sleep. We had rigged the car with Lawrence's cassette player, running a pair of wires out the door and directly onto the battery. I can't remember if we had our own speakers or hacked into the factory installed speakers.... anyway, it was quite a sight. One of the secondary jobs of the "shotgun" position in the driving rotation was keeping the cassette player loaded and playing; the first being to keep the driver awake. The car was awash in junk food remnants littering the floor, seats, and really any horizontal surface.

I was driving, we were out in the middle of nowhere, absolute nowhere. The only traffic we had seen for hours was a freight train coming down the track running parallel to the highway. Lawrence was riding shotgun but had given up the ghost and was asleep. Mike was in the back totally bonked out. My only companion was Ravi Shankar playing some intricate raga with Chatur Lal answering on the tablas and the droning of the tamboura played by N.C. Mullick. You get into a strange space on a long drive late at night, and I was there....

So surprise was the emergent response of recognizing a car at the side of the road with people in and around it, a fleeting sight at our speed. But my mind quick to realize that the man leaning on the trunk of the car had his thumb out, and the two women in the back seat were watching us drive pass. I put the brakes on, Lawrence awaking grogily from his road torpor, stopped, and put it into reverse on the shoulder to pick up the hitchhiker.

"What's up?" Lawrence asked.

"Someone is stuck out here and we're the only car on this highway forever" I replied, the guy was walking down the road to meet us. Lawrence opened the door, piled into the back rearranging Mike and the guy got in, maybe slightly hesitantly.

"I ran out of gas," his answer to the unasked question, "just need a ride down the road to the next town to get a can."

"We can take you there and give you a ride back, we're not in a rush." I offer.

The sitar is still playing the soundtrack to this strange coincidence. We start to talk, his opening line: "you boys are sure a long way from home," he had seen the Florida plates on the rental, "oh" I said, realizing his mistaken impression, "we're really from New York" probably the difference between 1500 miles and 2000 miles... his response, "that's still a long way. What have you been doing?" and so we talked about climbing.

Eventually we reach the "town," two gas stations, a cross street heading off into some houses, a railroad crossing. The gas station lights are bright and harsh after driving in the ink black prairie night. He jumps out, talks to the attendant, comes back empty handed. "Let's go across the street" he says.

"They wouldn't give you gas?" was my rhetorical question,


"What if the other gas station won't?" I ask... "Well, I'll just go home and come back in the morning, I live close to here" was his reply. I never did learn who the two women in the car were, but I always suspected that they were his wife and mother-in-law. He probably did the "guy thing:" "don't forget to get gas!", "we have enough to get home," " are you sure?" "yes, stop nagging me, I know how far the car can go..."

We score a can of gas and back we go into the night. Arriving at the car, he is offering $5 Canadian for our help, "no, keep it, just pick some one up someday broken down on the side of the road." I am making a deposit in the karma bank.

Lawrence is back riding shotgun and we are racing east to the sunrise once again, on the wings of a sitar solo.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 8, 2007 - 12:55am PT
another favorite...

Hindu scripture, recited by J. Robert Oppenheimer to Vannevar Bush:

“In the forest, in battle, in the midst of arrows, javelins, fire
Out on the great sea, at the precipice’s edge in the mountains
In sleep, in delirium, in deep trouble
The good deeds a man has done before defend him.”
john hansen

Jul 8, 2007 - 01:02am PT
I try to invest as much as I can in the 'Karma Bank' each day.

Werner,, I think you finally nailed it!

The good deed's Yes indeed.

Big Wall climber
Jul 8, 2007 - 01:14am PT
Karma does go hand in hand with good climbing ethic's.

I just feel for those who don't have the ethic's established yet!

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 8, 2007 - 07:21pm PT
Ed I was expecting you to run out of gas down the road, and have those people stop for you, or something...

Monolith: If we know nothing about karma, that must mean you knowing something about it. We're all ears, ready to learn.


Trad climber
Jul 8, 2007 - 08:11pm PT
It's not about why I know, it's about what the witch doctor knows.

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 9, 2007 - 12:55am PT
If one is the author of a thread, is there a way to end it? But for a few entries, this has turned out to be disappointing, much like the regional rivalries thread. I think I need to find something else to do with my late nights.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jul 9, 2007 - 12:59am PT
You can delete your original post and make the whole thread disapear, although that wouldn't be very nice to the folks who took the time to write long and thoughful responses.

Weekends are low traffic days. People are climbing. Give it some time, and maybe you'll get the sort of story you were looking for.
Gunks Guy

Trad climber
Rhinebeck, NY
Jul 9, 2007 - 09:54am PT
Please don't delete the thread. I loved yours, Karl's and Ed's posts. Thanks.


Sport climber
Lexington, KY
Jul 9, 2007 - 10:36am PT
Instant Karma:

The year that I graduated from high school, my school won both the state high school football and basketball championship. I
didn't have much use for most of the folks in my school. You might wanna say that I hated both school and the jock-centric,
bully dominated, cliques that characterised my high school. I didn't fit in with most of the kids and kept mostly to myself,
passing silently under the radar so to avoid getting rousted by the young a$$ holes that dominated the institution. Once I
graduated from school I left that town, never looking back and tried to forget all about Carmel High School class of 79.
Flash forward to 2005. I'm on a flight from Cancun to Charlotte, NC after a nice vacation in the sun down in Mexico. Seated
next to me are two young, loud jocks. Tanned, drunk, and sporting the telltale golfware, they reminded me of the kinds of
kids that I went to school with all those years ago. I sat uncomfortably next to these future date rapists and thought of my
former classmates. Finally, after an hour of stewing in my own juices I asked "Where are you guys from"? "Carmel, Indiana!"
they replied in unison, obviously proud of their hometown. It all made sense to me then! They were just like the little
f*#kers that made my high school years a torture session. "I graduated from Carmel High School", I replied to them. Their
bloodshot eyes brightened and they both sat bolt upright in their seats. "What year did you graduate"? "1979", I replied.
"Holy $hit, you guys were state football and basketball champions that year!" These guys were obviously hip to sports
history. "Were you on the football team"? one of the youngsters asked. No, I wasn't on the damn football team. I didn't even
go to the games. I hated the football team. All these thoughts went through my mind but what came out of my mouth was "Yes, I was on the football team".
The kid seated next to me eyes lit up, he jumped out of his seat, turned to the back of the plane, and yelled as loud as he could...."Hey Dad! This guy was on your football team!"


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jul 9, 2007 - 10:57am PT

Laughed out loud at that one.

a luxury Malibu rehabilitation treatment facility
Jul 9, 2007 - 11:59am PT
My best example of Murphy's law is the bread and butter. When the slice of bread slips out of your hand and falls to the kitchen floor - it will invariably fall with the buttered side DOWN.

That's not Murphy's Law, it's Newtonian physics.

As for Karma, well, believe what you want but that's actually quantum physics.

It's how I explain the luck and adventures I had hitchhiking between Colorado and California back in the post-Oli on a freighttrain/pre-lycra on a Euroboy days.

A tent in the redwoods
Jul 9, 2007 - 04:17pm PT
I once posed as a famous North Face athlete to get my medical bills covered. I eventually ended up with a few bills of my own though.
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