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#5741 - 01/26/10 09:52 PM The Bearable Lightness of Gravity
Walter Strong Offline

Registered: 11/14/09
Posts: 30
Loc: transient but i have a dream
Names have been changed to protect the innocent and to comply with a court order.

So there I was, leading the second pitch, the crux pitch, of Guinness Gully. Normally grade 4 but today in grade 6+ condition. There was a thin veneer of ice virtually spit over the rock. More frost than ice really; like a freezer needing a defrost. Screws were out of the question. In a gallant move of grizzled bravado meant to impress my new partner Julie, I had left the screws with her. She was impressed.

I was wearing new boots. They fit like a glove in the shop, but on the ice I started to feel my heel lifting. My heel lifted higher and higher until it finally levered the rear snap buckle off and released my crampon. I had recently removed my crampon straps to cut weight for an upcoming attempt on Reality Bath, so my crampon launched out into the void. I felt a chill. I was 15 ft off the deck, no pro in sight or even with me.

“Jul-lee, Jul-lee,” I yelled (Julie is French), “jay purdoo moan crampon”. But there was silence. I thought I might have heard some mumbled cursing, but it was just the wind. I knew this was for me to sort out and not for her. In the sagacious words of Hunter S. Thompson, “Buy the ticket; take the ride.”

Down-climbing sans crampon was unthinkable on this rock glazeé. There was nothing to sink a tool into; nothing that could support body weight. I felt doomed and began to give into that despondency that always precedes illumination, but in a flash of inspired observation I realized that I was surrounded by Burgess shale. So I dug out my pocket knife and slid the blade in between two flakes of shale and pressed it in with my thumb. I tied it off with a screamer and asked Julie to take on red.

She took on red and pulled me off the route. In my momentary glee I had forgotten to clip in. The snow was soft. Now laying prone on my back I gazed up at Julie who had a look of disdain mixed with disbelief that could only be described as Gallic. She then turned away and would not look at me. Which was weird. Very Gallic-Canadien.

Gingerly I wiggled my fingers and toes. I was pleased to have survived my ordeal and the sharp pain in my back suggested that I had found my lost crampon. I knew that Julie and I would never again climb together. She was already walking away to find a rappel. She left me with red to find my own way off.

If there’s a lesson to take from this, I don’t know what it is. Sometimes a person does everything right and the mountain bites back without reason or provocation. Chance is a cruel mistress, but to someone she’ll now be generous lover, as there’s a deeply discounted pair of boots for sale in the gear forum. Used once. Just barely.

#5751 - 01/27/10 09:09 AM Re: The Bearable Lightness of Gravity [Re: Walter Strong]
cread Offline

Registered: 12/19/07
Posts: 33
Loc: Calgary
Wow, that was pretty damn eloquent. You should consider writing for Gripped or another climbing publication.......

#5752 - 01/27/10 09:18 AM Re: The Bearable Lightness of Gravity [Re: cread]
Walter Strong Offline

Registered: 11/14/09
Posts: 30
Loc: transient but i have a dream
Maybe I'll write up Reality Bath when the time comes. If you can handle that kind of truth. cread.

#5761 - 01/27/10 11:55 PM Re: The Bearable Lightness of Gravity [Re: Walter Strong]
DrWho Offline


Registered: 11/27/07
Posts: 226
Loc: Trans Canada Hwy
hey that was a really good piece! so was the previous one too. fun reads!

#16149 - 11/03/14 08:04 AM Re: The Bearable Lightness of Gravity [Re: Walter Strong]
Greg McKee Offline

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 42
Loc: Saskatoon
I've gone back and read this a couple of times in the last couple years
. “jay purdoo moan crampon” completely cracks me up.

#16782 - 01/13/15 12:32 AM Re: The Bearable Lightness of Gravity [Re: Walter Strong]
Sylvain Offline


Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Canmore, Alberta
Fucking Hilarious "his hall I can comup witt"

Well done Walter! Julee will be missin gnout...

The "Old" French Guy

#17559 - 11/16/15 06:50 PM Re: The Bearable Lightness of Gravity [Re: Walter Strong]
Peter Way Offline

Registered: 03/09/12
Posts: 7
Loc: Portland OR
Heck Walter

I would climb with you
Provided you do all the leading

#17572 - 11/17/15 10:36 AM Re: The Bearable Lightness of Gravity [Re: Walter Strong]
Ben Stanley Offline

Registered: 11/01/12
Posts: 29
Loc: Kimberley
love that this thread got bumped... hilarious!

i'd call walter witty... but i think he would disagree.

thanks for the write-up walter


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