Friday, December 5, 2008

Dragontail Madness

The cold outside my sleeping bag is piercing; almost scary. It keeps me from sleeping much, which gives me plenty of unwanted time to think about what I'm doing up here. My alarm goes off before my frozen brain connects the dots and the question goes unanswered. I hop out of my bag, lace my boots, stuff my pack with some gear, and move through dark, slippery talus. Before I know it I am kicking steps towards the base of the route. Dawn lights up my objective, an unrepeated route which tackles a terrifying 2,000 feet of climbing. I seek the shelter of a large boulder, turn my back on the mountain and stare west. Bathed in the pink of the rising sun, the gentler peaks in my view almost help me forget what lies behind. Even though I'm scared, I feel enough comfort to begin. Very carefully I climb over stone and ice, focused on what is directly before me. The climbing is tedious, but I'm making progress; one move at a time. 700 feet up the face I find myself stemmed between frozen blocks. The situation seems quite precarious and I am jostled from my focused mind state. All of the sudden I feel the overwhelming hugeness of the wall. I look around around and suddenly feel very, very small. It is only a minute before I take the rope from my pack and start the single rope raps that will take me to saftey. I want out. Now. The rappels go suprisingly smooth and soon I'm on the ground sipping icy water. I sit there for a bit and let the adrenaline subside. I notice the beauty of my surroundings and feel blessed to have been part of this landscape for a day. Walking out my knees hurt, but my heart is light. In climbing terms I failed, but I'm happy to have faced my fears, given the mountain my best, and kept the climb in perspective. Later in the evening, after a warm shower and a beer, I have the opportunity to hang out with some people I hold very dear. I conciously recognize the beauty of life. Exciting climbing and close friends. What a perfet day.

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