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Fantasia in the Life of a Climber


Submitted by gjdesormeauxii on 2004-03-28

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Standing at the bottom of the crag, soaked in sweat, shaking with muscle fatigue, I look over at Mikey. “Nice climb”, he says in his South African accent. It was one hell of a climb, a climb I’ve been working on for quite some time now. It goes to show that hard work and perseverance can over come any difficulty one sets their mind to over coming.

Looking back in my minds eye I can remember every step it took me to get here. Each motion and movement burnt into my very bones. I can still see myself roping up, checking all of my knots, and peeking over at Mikey; hoping for a bit of encouragement or maybe just a bit of courage. Eying the red sandstone as it glows like Eldorado in the midday sun, committing every grip, every imperfection of the stone to memory, I chalk my hands and mentally prepare myself for my conquest.

“On belay?”

“Belay on.” Mikey’s required response.

Placing my hands gingerly upon the first holds and locating the proper foot placement, I commence with my climb. “Right hand up, left foot, right foot, right hand pop to the next hold, left hand under cling.” Like a Buddhist mantra, I internally and sometimes verbally talk my way through each memorized hand and foot position. From small crimps to large jugs I dance my way up the face of the rock, always looking ahead for what will come next.

I finally make it through the face climb portion. Knowing what comes next scares the crap out of me. Sliding two fingers into the small pocket created by the “V” shape of the two rock faces coming together, I transfer my body weight away from my feet. Pulling hard on the pocket and ever so gently placing my right foot on the right face, left on the left face, I slowly apply pressure to the balls of my feet hoping and praying they stick to the rock. “They stuck!” My silent exclamation screams through my mind. From here on out I know I’ve got it. Delicately I shift my feet upwards while finding tiny protrusions in the stone for my fingertips. Cautiously I work my way through the maze of subtle indents and changes in the surface of the crag, feeling my feet slip from time to time under my weight, knowing that the earth is a long fall below me.

Finally, I come to the last and final challenge in my endeavor. I press my body upwards reaching deep into a jug formed by the sudden jutting out of the rock face. With biceps and lats flexed, sweat burning my eyes, legs pushing me away from the surface while my fingers cling to their precarious hold, I move into the layback position. My forearms bulge to the point of bursting as I walk my hands up the crack in the rock. With the last of my depleted energy, I mantle the top.

Looking down at Mikey my pride swells with the knowledge that I have finally done what I have set out to accomplish; I have beaten Fantasia. I have reached the top, the goal I have strived for is now a prize for me to cherish; as I am lowered to the ground I spy my next feat and prepare to start anew.

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