Trip Report
A solid companion
Thursday July 5, 2007 12:56am
It was mid-December of 1983. I'd gone to Nepal with Earl Wiggins to try new routes in winter conditions on Pumori and Nuptse. Pumori, at about 23,400 is an inspiring neighbor of Everest with an almost perfect pyramidal shape. Earl and I wanted to do a climb between the South Ridge, and the French route on the S.E. Spur. If we were successful on Pumori, we planned to follow up with an attempt on the huge, elegant and obviously difficult S.E. Spur of Nuptse East, whose summit is just less than 26,000'.

Earl and our sirdar on the walk in. Note the Spock ears Earl is sporting. We alternated wearing those to see the reactions of the Sherpas and porters as we passed. There were some classic double-takes!

Almost immediately our plans were thwarted when, the very first night after we arrived at our 17,000' base camp Earl developed a life-threatening case of pulmonary edema. In the middle of the night, the L.O., the sirdar, the cook and I started walking Earl down to Pheriche at 14,000, where we arrived just after dawn. At the little "hospital" there was bottled oxygen for Earl to breathe and a yak for Earl to ride as we continued down to a little Village alongside the Dudh Kosi at about 9,000'. After a night there, Earl was obviously out of danger, his lungs were clearing fast and he was breathing freely.

We had a discussion and decided that Earl would stay with the L.O. at his current location for 5 or 6 days, and then if he was feeling good, he could slowly make his way back to base camp, taking as much time as necessary. In this way we hoped he would not suffer a second bout of pulmonary edema, and perhaps even be able to climb higher. In the meantime our sirdar, cook and I would head back to our unattended base camp and wait there for Earl. Traveling fast, the walk back up to base camp took my two companions and me about eight hours of mostly silent hoofing.

We probably each had our reasons for not speaking much. Mine were primarily centered on the presence of some unsettling thoughts: Knowing Earl as I did, I doubted he would wait the full allotted time before starting to gain altitude again. I expected he would be back in base in probably half the agreed-upon time, raring to get up on the hill. I could then imagine the two of us getting three or four-thousand feet up the big face - then Earl's lungs would fill with fluid on some cramped bivy ledge - and I would be unable to get him back down the steep and difficult terrain. It seemed an all-to-plausible scenario. I decided the only thing to do was to quickly solo the mountain before Earl got back to camp, and hope to be able to explain my reasoning to him when he arrived.

The plan almost worked.

The day after arriving back in base camp, I packed the minimum of gear I thought I could get away with, and in the afternoon hiked the mile or so of glacial debris up to a bivouac at the bottom of the French SE Spur route, which I thought would be a safer solo than the gully and ramp system Earl and I had planned to climb. This five or six-thousand foot mixed rock and ice spur had only had one previous ascent ten years earlier by a strong team of Chamonix guides using expedition tactics. They strung ten-thousand feet of fixed ropes, established a number of camps, and spent more than a month on the mountain. I was hoping to climb up and down in three or four days.

The French SE Pillar is near the righthand skyline.

The first two days were great climbing on good ice and rock, never too difficult, but challenging with a pack. Just right for keeping the interest up and the concentration focused. At the end of day two I found a natural ice cave that made a commodious and sheltered bivy. Since I guessed this was at about 21,500', I figured it was high enough to leave my pack and bivy gear and sprint to the summit and back the next day.

The next day was a bone-shattering cold but perfectly brilliant winter day in the Khumbu peaks. Every ridge was precisely scribed against a sky so deep blue in contrast to the snowy cornices that the dividing line seemed laser-etched. The terrain now was mostly hard and glassy brittle ice. Front-pointing on the stuff was incredibly demanding - the previous two days' efforts also were taking their toll on my reserves. After gaining about five-hundred feet I began to have doubts as to whether I could make it to the top and back safely.

I was resting; leaning my head on my hands which were gripping the shafts of my tools; when out-of-the-blue I raised my head and said: "I'm pretty wasted, do you want to lead for awhile?" I turned to look back over my shoulder as if expecting to see my partner's face. Of course there was no one there - I was alone. My conscious mind registered that fact quickly with a small, embarrassed giggle. But my subconscious seemed to be boiling to the surface, more accessible than ever before, and in my uncommon rising awareness there was a warm and familiar - not quite identifiable presence.

Strongly, it was easy and natural to accept this apparition, which became my partner for the rest of that day and into the night. As I climbed I found myself describing to my unseen friend the moves I was making and the mental processes of the decisions I was taking. By the time I topped out on the face and walked the last few hundred low-angle meters of snow to the summit, the spirit beside me had become my solid support for what was turning into a massive effort.

We stood together at dusk on the summit, surrounded by a 360-degree ring of the world's most powerful mountains. We had a quiet one-sided conversation there; me talking, he listening. Soon a burning wind began to blow. "We better get moving," I said, "It's a long way back to the ice cave."

Night descended much faster than we did. It was dark already when we reached the top of the wall. We stopped so I could don my headlamp and uncoil the 200' x 7mm rope I'd brought for rappelling. Then began some of the most trying hours I had ever experienced in the mountains. The intense cold was sharpened into a cutting blade by the wind that whipped pellets of snow and ice all around, coming at this moment from that direction, a moment later from another direction. Where we could, we used old rock anchors left by the French. We hacked laboriously at the ice to cut a dozen bollards. It was all taking too long. We were losing core temperature to the frigid, star filled black night. We stopped rappelling and started down climbing. Periodically I asked my friend to be strong - to keep me strong.

It must have been about midnight when I stepped down and my left foot went into a hole. "We're here," I shouted, "we're at the cave". Shivering uncontrollably I removed my crampons and climbed into my sleeping bag as fast as I could.

Inside the cave, I shivered for a good half hour with no signs of warming up. "We've got to have something hot to drink", I said, and started fumbling with the hanging stove set near the head of my sleeping platform. I'd left it filled with ice chunks the previous morning, ready to go. I fumbled for the butane lighter I kept warm and dry in a chest pocket and after several shaky tries got the stove going. In ten minutes the ice was melted and I dumped the contents of a packet of dried soup into the luke-warm water and stirred it around. In another five minutes the soup was quite warm to my tongue, so I turned off the stove and set to getting the life-giving elixir down.

"Ohh, man that feels good", I said, after several long pulls from the pot. The soup was immediately sucked up by the tissues of my parched throat and the warmth as it hit my gullet felt like I had just swallowed the first rays of the morning sun. In another ten minutes I had downed the whole quart, then laid back contentedly for a few minutes more, literally feeling every cell in my body being re-hydrated and nourished.

Then things became awful.

I barely had enough time after realizing I was going to be sick, to turn my head away from my sleeping bag. Projectile vomiting began immediately. While I was still turning my head the vomit splattered an arc across the ceiling and walls of the cave. I don't know how long the retching continued, but when it was all over, all of the soup I'd consumed and any dregs of bile that could come up had melted a big hole in the floor of ice. "This is going to be a long night, my friend", I said. My words proved to be quite prophetic.

I hadn't slept at all when the entrance of the snow cave began slowly to take shape in the pre-dawn light. I felt like a fetus looking out of the vagina. I had absolutely no strength of my own to do what needed to be done. My spiritual friend was going to have to take on the role of midwife, and deliver me from the icy womb.

That must be exactly what happened.

Somebody pulled me out of my sleeping bag. Not me. Somebody shoved the things I needed into my pack and put the pack on my back. Not me. Then somebody forced me through the narrow entrance to the cave. Not me. I found myself facing the slope, standing on front points, my ice tools planted before me. The Sun was rising over Everest and its' rays were warming my back. We were all set to continue the descent.

"OK", I chattered to my partner, "Lets get down from here"

The descent from the ice cave unfolded like the petals of a miraculous flower opening to great the winter sun.

The first petal brushed my cheek as I started backing down the ice-face below the cave. That petal perfumed the day with the welcome smell of survival. The sweet scent cleared my brain of confusion and shocked me hard into the reality of what needed to be done. Carefully, step-by-step, I started the long process of down climbing...

Late in the afternoon I stumbled into a surprised welcome at base camp. The sirdar and cook came rushing up to grab my pack and hug me, ushering me home with true concern and happiness to see me. It wasn't long, however, before the sirdar handed me a note on a scrap of lined paper. The note was from Earl:

"Hey, Jello-

I felt good, so I came back up sooner than we planned. I watched through binoculars as you reached the summit yesterday. Congratulations! That's a beautiful big hill you've just climbed. I'm going to head up today and try to do the route we originally planned to climb. Should be gone about four days. If you want, I don't mind if you move base camp over to Nuptse. I'll catch up with you there.

But hey, would you mind waiting for me this time before doing the climb?


Upon reading this my heart flopped like a salmon caught in a net. This was way too fast for Earl to be back up in base camp, let alone starting solo up a giant Himalayan wall. But there wasn't much I could do about it. Earl was already somewhere up above at the start of his climb. It was almost dark and I was exhausted from my climb. I let the Sherpa’s feed me a little dahl-bhaat and tea, and then usher me to bed. Immediately I fell into a comatose, dreamless sleep...

One word, and one word only - "HELP!" - startled me instantly from sleep and that salmon began flopping around in my chest again. The cry had not been loud. In fact it seemed to have originated inside my head rather than coming in through the ears. One thing was certain, though - it was Earl's voice. But that was not possible. Earl was bivied over a mile above camp at the base of the face. Whatever the case, he had called for help, so maybe he had tried to descend in the night and he was close to base camp.

I roused the Sherpa’s and the LO. They hadn't heard a thing and were reluctant to get up in the middle of the night to go looking for a phantom. I insisted that we had to go find Earl. Finally they got up and gathered a few necessary things and we headed off in the direction of the mountain. Four headlamps bobbed and weaved an erratic course through the boulders, and shouts of "Earl, where are you?" were swallowed by the night, seeming to scarcely penetrate the vast space.

We had been searching and yelling for hours. Several times one of the Sherpa’s or the LO came to me and suggested that I couldn't have heard Earl, and we should go back to our beds. I had no doubt I had heard Earl, though, and insisted we keep looking. Eventually, we were getting quite close to the bergschrund at the base of the face, where Earl had indicated to the LO that he was going to bivouac. I began to despair that we'd ever find him, he really could be almost anywhere in all the vastness. There was just enough light from the stars that if you turned off your headlamp for a moment and let your eyes adjust, you could make out shapes and objects in the distance. I did this one last time to try and scan the line of the bergschrund in hopes something might clue me in to where Earl might have found a place to stay. Scanning back and forth, however, I could discern nothing. Feeling defeated, I turned around and looked back toward base camp...and the salmon leaped in my chest!

Not twenty yards in front of me; a car-sized boulder was backlit by a faint but definite glow. There was only one possibility, the Sherpa’s and LO were off to one side and behind me. The glow had to be from Earl's headlamp. "Over here, you guys," I yelled, already running toward the rock. When I rounded the corner of the big stone, there was Earl, lying curled on his side, the last photons from his nearly dead headlamp barely illuminating a frothy substance drooling from the corner of his mouth and making a dinner-plate size puddle around his cheek. I dropped to my knees to check for signs of life. When my face was a foot away from his, Earl made the best joke I have ever heard:

"What took you so long?" he whispered and weakly coughed. He was alive!


The Sherpa’s and the LO had arrived at the scene by this time. "Hang in there, Earl, we're going to get you down," I said. "Just stay with us, old man." Earl couldn't even stand, let alone walk. Time was of the essence if we were to save him. The only way to do that would be to get him down to a much lower elevation. I dispatched the LO to the nearest village, Lobuche, which he could reach in about two hours and hopefully get a yak and some man-power to help, there.

Earl had a nearly empty expedition-size pack on his back. I removed the Earl's pack and cut two leg holes in the bottom. Then the Sherpa’s and I loaded Earl into the pack, threading his legs through the holes. The sirdar took the first turn. The cook and I picked Earl and the pack up and held him in the air so the sirdar could slip into the harness. Then we draped Earl's arms around the sirdar's neck to help him stay upright, and the sirdar literally began to speed downhill using short quick steps. The cook and I stayed on either side holding onto the sirdar's hands to help with balance.

After about a quarter-mile, the whole procession stopped and I took my turn carrying the load. When I became too tired to efficiently do the job, the cook took a turn. And so it went for four hours. The night gradually faded and dawn turned to morning, the great peaks reassembling themselves on both sides of the valley, forming a massive corridor down which we struggled. struggled. For a while I tried to talk to Earl and keep him awake, but the overall effort became too great and eventually I just focused on the task of moving downhill.

The LO met us with help in the form of a yak not too far above Lobuche. As we thankfully loaded Earl onto the yak and secured him in place with webbing, the LO told us he'd tried to radio from Lobuche for a helicopter to fly from Katmandu and come pick Earl up. But he couldn't get the message through, so It was up to us.

Below Lobuche, the trail drops steeply down for several thousand feet to Pheriche. By the time we arrived in Pheriche, the doctor manning the little hospital was there to greet us with an oxygen tank and mask. The hospital hut was equipped with a hyperbaric chamber. It looked something like a small submarine with a little round portal to look inside. We loaded Earl into the tank, shut and sealed the door, then waited while the doctor brought increased the pressure in the tank, effectively decreasing Earl's elevation by another six-thousand feet or so.

The results were miraculous! Within an hour Earl was giving us the thumbs-up from within the tank and mouthing the words "Thank you!" The doctor felt Earl was out of immediate danger at that point, but felt Earl needed to stay in the chamber overnight to gain enough strength to continue the descent. Then the doctor showed me to a room with a bed and sleeping bag and assured me that he would watch over Earl for the night.

I went into the room, closed the door behind me, crawled into the sleeping bag, and passed out.


"Chai sahib? Chai sahib?".

Groggily I opened me eyes, sat up, and accepted the cup of tea from our cook (I feel guilty that I still haven't been able to recall his name). Leaning back against the wall I sipped my tea and reviewed the amazing sequence of events that had unfolded within the last week: Arriving at base camp, Earl and I full of piss and enthusiasm for our route. Earl getting sick and the first retreat to lower ground. My well-meant plan to climb Pumori and get down before Earl got back to base. Almost pulling it off, only to find Earl had already come back and was on his way to solo a new route. The knowledge that he had probably been goaded into action by my climb. Then the whole trauma of the second scare and rescue.

Personally, I had never been put to such a physical and emotional trial.

I finished my tea and got up to check on Earl. I was surprised to find him sitting on a low rock wall outside the hospital in the chill morning sun. He was wearing an oxygen mask and breathing O's from a tank, but his face brightened when he saw me and he raised his right hand in a sort of casual salute. He pulled the mask to one side and said, "Morning, Jello. I thought you were never going to wake up".

I sat down on the wall next to Earl. We talked a little, but there wasn't a lot to say. "You gave us quite a scare, lad," I said. "Thanks for rescuing my sorry ass," he said. Then we sat for at least half an hour, soaking in the sun and letting the details of a winter day in Pheriche infuse our senses.

Later, I ate breakfast and then had a shower in a little room with a bucket full of hot water draining from a dozen smal holes. It felt great, even though I had to get dressed in the smelly clothes I'd sweated and worked in for the last week. In the afternoon, Earl, with extra oxygen bottles and suckings O's through a mask - accompanied by the LO and a couple of Sherpas - began the trek down to Lukla, where he could catch a flight to Katmandu.

We hugged goodbye. It was the last time I would see Earl until a month later, back in the US.

Over the next week, the Sherpas and I went back to base camp, where we whiled away a couple of days waiting for a handfull of porters and yaks to arrive to help us transport our gear back out of the mountains. When I arrived in Katmandu five or six days later, there was a letter at the hotel from Earl explaining that he'd met a girl and they had gone off to explore the wilds of the jungle. All that was left for me to do before catching a plane back to the States, was to make my final report to His Majesty's Ministry of Tourism.

As the debriefing ended, the Minister handed me a stack of four or five letters that had arrived from the US while we were in the mountains. The third letter I opened was from my father:

"Dear Jeff,

I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits. Your mother and I are wishing you all the best on this latest adventure. I can imagine how beautiful the Khumbu is at this time of year. Not too many tourists, and lots of cold, clear, windy weather.

I want you to know just how much you impress me with your committment and drive to do the things you do. You have chosen a hard path in life, but it seems as if you accept the difficulties that come with that choice. You can do the things you do because you believe you can. I can imagine the climbing on Pumori. Cold and steep. Brittle ice and intricate rock. I wish I was climbing with you.

My own health problems in the last few years have effectively squelched any more personal climbing dreams. I want to encourage you to do the things you want to do, now, and not put them off for some indefinite future. I also want to encourage you to continue to develop the side of yourself that loves people and cultures of all different stripes. It's diversity that makes life so interesting, and makes the planet spin.

Your mom and I look forward to hearing great stories upon your safe return home. Be sure to give our best to Earl.

Your ever-lovin' parents,

Ralph and Elgene"

At the top of the letter, Dad had put the date and time. After reading the letter once, I looked back to the top to check that date and time. My growing suspicion was correct. Accounting for the time difference between Utah and Nepal, Dad had begun to pen the letter at the exact same time as I had first turned to greet my unseen partner on the summit day on Pumori.

Dad was a solid companion throughout my life while he lived. He died four months after the Pumori climb, but his spirit still guides me.


  Trip Report Views: 2,168
About the Author
Jello is a social climber from No Ut.

Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report

Social climber
Lida Junction
  Jul 5, 2007 - 01:05am PT
thanks Jello

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jul 5, 2007 - 01:14am PT
Well, I'm hooked

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Jul 5, 2007 - 01:18am PT
Thanks guys. The good stuff is yet to come, but I'm tired, now. Hope you had a good 4th.


  Jul 5, 2007 - 01:37am PT
This is a great story Jeff.

Put the soul back into the machine, make it alive, and give it life.

Thanks ...........

  Jul 5, 2007 - 01:42am PT
Very nice read Jello. Thanks. Can't wait for the next chapter.


edit: What a great story. Thanks for sharing it with us Jello. I was holding my Dad's hand when he died a few years ago and definitely feel his spirit especially when I need it.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Jul 5, 2007 - 01:55am PT
nice story...
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
  Jul 5, 2007 - 02:45am PT
Thanks Jello. Just before reading your post I was getting ready to go to sleep...suddenly I am wide awake. Looking forward to the next chapeter!

Trad climber
new york, NY
  Jul 5, 2007 - 08:06am PT
I sometimes say "wasn't that funny?" when watching tv alone.

Awesome story.

Social climber
  Jul 5, 2007 - 08:31am PT
We want more! pleeeease.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Jul 5, 2007 - 08:39am PT
Interest is up and focus is tighened, oh yeah.

I love your understated style Jeff. I imagine meeting this guy, standing in the desert, eating a cheese sandwich and drinking water, shirtless and deeply tanned. Someone asks,

"Whaddaya been doing?"

"On nothing much," replies the man, "I just finished building that." The man points to one of the great Pyramids of Egypt.


  Jul 5, 2007 - 09:55am PT
Good stuff. Write more please.

  Jul 5, 2007 - 10:27am PT
Ditto on the great story Jeff, love to see some Earl climbing pics accompany it if you can dig them up for part 2!

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
  Jul 5, 2007 - 11:43am PT
Now there's some 'tall' tales I can sink my teeth into and be damn glad I'm sitting behind keyboard while doing it. You definitely need to keep writing...

  Jul 5, 2007 - 01:27pm PT


Los Angeles, Ca
  Jul 5, 2007 - 02:09pm PT
more! please.

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Jul 5, 2007 - 03:50pm PT
You could have ended the story there, and it would be good. We all know who your partner is. But it's nicely provocative, in that the reader can participate imaginatively. The writing draws the reader in, as though we are your partner, the unseen one. I'll watch for part two.


Trad climber
  Jul 5, 2007 - 10:37pm PT
I'm in! Can't wait for the continuation, Jello.

Also, Ouch! That's got to be the cutest illustration you've done to date.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Jul 5, 2007 - 10:41pm PT
Double excellent.

Jello AND Ouch

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Jul 6, 2007 - 02:15am PT
Just had time to add a bit to the story tonight (tagged on to the OP). I'll keep working as I get the time.


Big Wall climber
South Side Billburg
  Jul 6, 2007 - 10:14am PT
What a story, please Jello, give us more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is reeeally good stuff, thank you sincerely for sharing...and keep'em coming please!


Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
  Jul 7, 2007 - 02:43am PT
It was beautiful, until the projectile vomiting and the vagina image. I will bear with it, though, since the story is compelling. I suppose not everything can be beautiful. That soup had nurtured me too, just reading about it. But all was undone quickly. I think I am a kind of empath (to use a Star Trek word), because I was right with you every step until the wretching... at which point I had to put up a big fight not to experience that kind of thing along with all the rest. I guess this is why I've never been a mountaineer.

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Jul 7, 2007 - 04:34am PT
I've added a bit more to the OP

Trad climber
Lee, NH
  Jul 7, 2007 - 09:17am PT
I like this adding-to-the-OP style of update, so we can read your great story as it flows.

Social climber
WA, NC, Idaho Falls
  Jul 7, 2007 - 02:53pm PT
You should publish this stuff.... it's that good!
You put the soul in this web site... Thanks

Trad climber
  Jul 7, 2007 - 03:27pm PT
Fantastic reading Jeff.


Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Jul 8, 2007 - 01:10am PT
Just added another little bit to the OP.

Thanks for all the good comments!


  Jul 8, 2007 - 02:49am PT
Coolest thread of the month award!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jul 8, 2007 - 03:58am PT
simply stated... thx for doing what you do.

  Jul 8, 2007 - 01:33pm PT
Thanx Jello that is some of the most engaging reading ever on the taco stand. I was gripped and enthralled and of course want more.

A few lifetimes ago my friend and partner Scott Gilbert was lost to an avalanche. For years I felt a beneficent presence I attributed to his spirit. During an ascent of the north face of Pyramid Peak I felt that presence most acutely. My partner and I were simul-climbing unroped with packs on when I lost my balance mantling on to a mossy scree choked ledge. Starting to flail my arms I knew without doubt that I had passed the recovery point and was headed for a thousand feet of eternity. My partner Bob was well above me and unable to do anything other than watch in horror. Suddenly I clearly felt the thumb and five fingers of an unseen hand in the middle of my back under my pack pushing me back onto the wall. So distinct was that impression that when I recovered I turned to say thanx to only clouds. In stunned disbelief Bob asked me what happened. My one word reply of "Scotty" was understood without question. A solid companion in need indeed.
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
  Jul 8, 2007 - 02:05pm PT
Thanks Jello, this is great stuff.
bob d'antonio

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
  Jul 8, 2007 - 02:13pm PT
Great stuff Jello. Intense, thoughtful and real.

Sad about Earl...he was a wonderful person.

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Jul 9, 2007 - 12:48am PT
More added to the OP.

This is becoming an epic, recording this epic!

Gunks Guy

Trad climber
New Paltz, NY
  Jul 9, 2007 - 10:18am PT
Wow! This is one of the best reads I've had in a long time. Thanks Jello and keep it coming.

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
  Jul 9, 2007 - 01:54pm PT
Just 'bumped' into the latest installment.


Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Jul 10, 2007 - 02:26am PT
I've posted the last installment of this first draft of the story to the OP.

Thanks for your patience!

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Jul 10, 2007 - 02:37am PT
wonderful story Jello...

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jul 10, 2007 - 03:17am PT
I just now read the whole thing, first time I'd gotten back since the first part. Amazing stuff. Thank you very, very, much.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
  Jul 10, 2007 - 05:00am PT
Very inspirational on many different levels, too.


Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jul 10, 2007 - 08:15am PT
Thank You.

Sport climber
  Jul 10, 2007 - 08:42am PT
Thanks for telling us that story.

Trad climber
  Jul 10, 2007 - 08:44am PT
What a great story, Jello. At first, I thought the companion was your father, but then my mind switched to it being Earl, and a worry that he had passed and his spirit was with you. Then, to find him ok - then NOT okay....all the while in the back of my head wondering "So, who's the companion, then?" It was very intriguing, and reading it in the installments made it even more so.

Your dad's advice in the letter is good for all of us - about not putting off doing what we love, and also to develop our relations with other people so our world is full.

Thank YOU!


Big Wall climber
Ashland, Or
  Jul 10, 2007 - 12:48pm PT
amzing story, THANKS!
Anne-Marie Rizzi

  Jul 11, 2007 - 12:27am PT
Excellent. Thank you.

Carolyn C

Trad climber
the long, long trailer
  Jul 11, 2007 - 11:46am PT
Such a beautiful story. Thank you. My dad was my hero, and though he died 6 years ago, I still find myself talking to him and asking his advice, and I often feel as if he is here trying to help me. Thanks, again, for sharing your heartfelt story with us.

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Jul 11, 2007 - 12:14pm PT
Thanks for all the appreciative comments. It was interesting to know exactly who my audience was (you guys). Made getting it down easier, even though it's just a very rough first draft. Ill let it sit for a bit, then edit and add photos.

Riley, I have to say I'm very sorry to hear about the terrible thing that happened to your Grandma. Indeed, there are obviously many things going on under the surface that we call reality. My best to you.


Sport climber
Portland, ME
  Jul 11, 2007 - 01:05pm PT
Wow - excellent, well-written story! Thank you for sharing it!

Social climber
kennewick, wa
  Jul 11, 2007 - 01:09pm PT
Thanks Jello, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

You have been an inspiration to some of us for many many years. Your gift of writing (once you are done with your book) will be a source of inspiration for many future generations of climbers for years to come. And that is a gift to us.

a fellow former Utahn,

Gym climber
  Jul 11, 2007 - 01:11pm PT
gripping stuff! well done.

Trad climber
  Jul 11, 2007 - 01:19pm PT
Very well written and inspirational story. Thanks for taking the time to share it . Put me down for a copy of your book when complete.

Also, I live in Ut. county and if you ever need a hand on any of your projects (i.e. a laborer for the day or whatever) I would be honored to help...just email me. Thanks again.

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
  Jul 11, 2007 - 01:37pm PT
Thank you Jello, I enjoyed reading each installment,looking forward to seeing the photos.

right here, right now
  Jul 11, 2007 - 02:06pm PT
Most excellent Jeff!
Your writing comes so alive in the mind, I might just run outside and click my heels.

I just saw this post.
Jee-Zuss, does stuff ever fly off the front page fast.
'Good thing for the installments, and the bumps.
Brutus of Wyde

Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
  Jul 11, 2007 - 06:36pm PT
Thank you Jello.

Incredible, visceral writing that had me right there.

Descent unfolding like a flower.



Trad climber
  Jul 13, 2007 - 02:44pm PT
I also just found the whole story after having only read the first installment the day you put it up. Thanks loads Jeff for sharing experiences I am never going to have.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jul 13, 2007 - 03:08pm PT
Good stuff, Jeff! Thanks for posting the rest of it. Your dad sounds like he was a great man, very inspiring.


So Oregon
  Jul 14, 2007 - 05:43pm PT
What a superb story! Thanx for sharing this with the forum, Jeff. Your writing is just phenomenal.

(More?.... Please?)

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Jul 14, 2007 - 08:23pm PT
Great story! Thank You

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Jul 23, 2007 - 12:13am PT
Added a couple pics to the story. More to come, as I find them.

Just livin' the dream on the California coast
  Jul 27, 2007 - 04:34pm PT

My friend Randy kept referring to this story and I finally--belatedly--found it and read it.

I still have goosebumps!

You are an amazing writer, on top of everything else. I would love to hear more about your adventures, as would everyone else, obviously.

  Jul 28, 2007 - 12:38pm PT
Welcome to JelloWorld L.

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Jul 28, 2007 - 10:29pm PT
Thanks, L, and Philo. Appreciate your compliments. Although JelloWorld might actually prove to be a pretty saccharin place - I'll try to keep it real, and bittersweet.

  Jul 29, 2007 - 03:39am PT
Jello thank you. Your writing is some of the most lucid and engaging posting on the Taco stand. Please keep it coming.

Social climber
  Jul 29, 2007 - 01:11pm PT
Right on Jeff!
I don't know how I missed this thread until now but I'm glad I did. I wouldn't be able to handle the suspense after reading "TO BE CONTINUED".....
Great! Just great!

I like how you refer to yourself as Jello in the story. Will your book be the same or is that just for us ST'ers?

Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
  Jul 29, 2007 - 02:20pm PT

Couldn't ask for a more solid companion......(I don't trust him to belay me yet.....)

Just livin' the dream on the California coast
  Jul 30, 2007 - 01:43am PT
Although JelloWorld might actually prove to be a pretty saccharin place - I'll try to keep it real, and bittersweet.


Bittersweet, savory or saccharin--as long as you're writing from your heart, it will always be a literary feast for your fans here on ST.

(No pressure there, eh? BTW, the ST smorgasbord is a bit depleted these days...ante up, partner!):-)

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Jun 2, 2011 - 10:35pm PT

Just saw this for the first time and I remember Nancy and I sucking down some large, cold Star beers with you and Earl on the roof of the Vajra Hotel. We had just come out and you were headed into the mountains.

Great report.


Trad climber
  Jun 3, 2011 - 12:15am PT


Trad climber
Can't get here from there
  Jun 3, 2011 - 12:16am PT
This is the third time I've read this.

Having lost my own father in the recent years, I get a tear in my eye when you describe how close you and your father were.

Thank you for the tears of joy Jello.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 21, 2011 - 11:11pm PT
Bump for the real deal Y'all!!

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Jun 22, 2011 - 01:53am PT
thank you for that

Trad climber
going big air to fakie
  Jun 22, 2011 - 02:27am PT
This is the first time I've read this, fantastic, thank you!

Social climber
  Jun 22, 2011 - 09:39am PT

Thanks for sharing Jeff- That was intense


Trad climber
Chicago, IL
  Jun 22, 2011 - 02:20pm PT
nice piece. Kept me reading..

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Jun 22, 2011 - 02:37pm PT
Thanks for the great story. Absolutely terrific writing.

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jun 22, 2011 - 02:47pm PT
Thanks for sharing Jeff.

You're spirit shines brightly and inspires many more than you can see.

Social climber
  Jun 22, 2011 - 11:42pm PT
Jello Shot bump

Just to keep righteous writing about the real deal onna' first page.
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report