Trip ReportOther Voices, Other Canoes
Sometimes a canoe is not a canoe. It could be a slab of rock possibly resembling a canoe, and beyond that any object of curiosity; a reason to get off your duff, go do a climb, and have a look.
Other Voices, Other Rooms is a novel by Truman Capote. I have read less than half of it but have found it contains lyrical and vivid descriptions of weather and landscape, sometimes in the same sentence:
Wooden bridges rumble like far-off thunder under a passing wheel.
My Visit to the Canoe has no reference to weather. Maybe California rarely has weather worth mentioning. A lot of TRs on this site are from California. If the weather is unremarkable, there is always the landscape:
At Almscliffe you can't get out of the wind. Being there is like watching an old elephant, dying split-skinned in its own ammoniacal reek, gazing patiently back at you in a zoo.
See? Now you know that British crags are about the size of an elephant and smell like a urinal.
Although really the goal is not to educate. The goal is to penetrate the reader's shell with a bit of noise and then let the reader's own imagination form it into a story.
None of the people you will see below asked about a canoe. They did take precious time out of their climbing to have lives. It is up to the reader to take it from there.
The Great Game/ Godforsaken Land
Smashed black blocks of rock balanced on one another like the remains of some civilization whose observances grew so monolithic in the end there was nothing to do but fall back into error, decline, barbarism.
In fact The Squaw is more like a House of Mirrors. Gray ramps run under white reflective corners. Trying to zigzag between the steep and the sloping, a climber loses track of the vertical and runs the risk of suddenly finding an indicator that shows how far the disorientation has mislead him, like a cartoon character walking off into the air at the top of the cliff and then looking down.
"Where do I go above the roof?"
Follow the crack over to Right Wing.
"I thought you said to go right."
Just climb back down and get over here. And don't fall.
The Grand Wall
The instant of petrified violence that sometimes foreruns a summer storm saturated the hushed yard, and in the unearthly tinseled light rusty buckets of trailing fern which were strung round the porch like party lanterns appeared illuminated by a faint green inward flame.
Here is a woman belaying at the start of pitch 2 of Cruel Shoes, while the man in the hat is coming down after getting lost on the second pitch of Cruel Shoes. As witnessed from the top of The Flake.
Here is beta to prevent getting lost on p2 of Cruel Shoes.
Now we are back at the top of The Flake, getting the sort of reaction we like to see.
Now we are at the base of The Split Pillar looking down at the 2 guys who got lost on Cruel Shoes. Unfortunately we told them that we "climb like the wind." They are wondering, "What kind of a wind?" Reminding us of the importance of descriptive weather language.
These 2 guys from Sacramento are now downwind. White hat is at the top of the Split Pillar and blue helmet is just above the mantel on The Sword. They asked a question about Canadian healthcare, and got a long answer. The girls on Cruel Shoes have not got lost. They are on the pitch leading to the base of the Pillar. Number 1 is belaying and 2 is leading.
Also, this is lonesome country; and here in the swamplike hollows where tiger lilies bloom the size of a man's head, there are luminous green logs that shine under the dark marsh water like drowned corpses; often the only movement on the landscape is winter smoke winding out the chimney of some sorry-looking farmhouse, or a wing-stiffened bird, silent and arrow-eyed, circling over the black deserted pinewoods.
We got a late start and met up with a slower party ahead. This is Angel Crack.
He is from Capetown, now living in Korea. She asked questions about the route, and about whether we had seen a bear. In hindsight we should have asked him how well prepared they were to spend the night.
Now we are on top with the sun about to set. We hope that the couple found their way down but realize that that isn't likely and sure enough we see them emerge from the woods below the Acrophobes. We hear a loud outburst we can't understand, probably Korean. We are pretty sure we catch the emotional sense of it.
When Bob Almanac told me about the Variety Club children, I felt a sudden unbearable compassion for their adolescence as it passed: the mornings by the pool, the light blonde down on the arms, the eyes narrowing bemusedly in the bright sunlight. I asked him: 'What happens when they grow up?'
'They become people like you and me,' said Bob. 'They reinstate themselves slowly into human affairs.' He winked. 'After a few years no one knows.'
On our way up the backside trail we passed a gentleman answering his cell phone. Because we were headed for Sunblessed my partner worried that we might be in competition with him. The cell phone man was young, fit, and answering the call in a language that sounded Eastern European. He had nothing substantial in the way of gear. I was therefore sure he was not in competition with us and felt there was no reason to hurry.
Sunblessed is a great route with bold face-climbing up a steep dyke, a long beautiful hand crack, and a choice of 3 pitches to finish. It gets sun almost all day, dries quickly, and always looks spectacular, but the strong contrast of sun and shadow has always thwarted my photography.
An early defeat showing the start of the long crack on pitch 2.
Eastern European guy breezed past us, no worries, mate, smiles all around. Three minutes later, though, we came across a young woman carrying a large pack. And a few minutes after that I realized we were in competition for Sunblessed.
We won, thanks to knowing the way and the large-pack-on-a-small-woman handicapping.
This set us up in good position for taking pictures. The high contrast lighting and too much distance interfered but didn't stop me from trying.
Afterwards I took a climbing trip and when I returned there was a message on the phone from Katarina, asking if I would send the pictures of her and Petr on Sunblessed. I was surprised they could track me down. I wonder how they described me to whoever gave them my number.
And now dusk was coming on. A sea of deepening green spread the sky like some queer wine, and across this vast green, shadowed clouds were pushed sluggishly by a mild breeze.
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