I have been moving and climbing all my life.
My mother says I kicked the "Begesus" out of her before
birth. She has told me of how she would grab a foot and try to keep
it still, only to have the other lash out in a different direction.
I think I was also provided a gaggle of guardian angels.
The day I was brought home from the hospital I was laid in the
middle of my parent's double bed. Babies were not an unknown entity
to my mother for I was the second born, she left the room for a
second to get something.
She tells how she ran back into the room and caught me, as I was
about to go over the edge of the bed.
Fast forward to 5-6 months old.
Mother walks into baby's bedroom to check on baby.
Baby is gone. Disappeared.
Baby is sleeping on the cold floor under the crib.
One or two more episodes of the disappearing baby and engineer
father fashions a lid for the crib. Child is now caged- only for
naps, but mind you, still caged.
Maybe that's one reason I climb.
I checked the map. This was going to be different. The first mountain
climbed I used tennis shoes. Climbing is really a misnomer, for
it was simply a really long walk up to fourteen thousand plus feet.
From the nine thousand-foot level the trail wanders 11 miles to
the summit. But this summit before me was more technical.
This was going to be different.
It was cold.
It was dark - it was the middle of the night.
A Solo climb - no safety rope tonight. All of 19 years old.
I had come this far, and the summit was only about the equivalent
of a 25 story building away. I had already come almost two miles
and only had hundreds of feet to go.
I decided to go for it, scaling the first obstacles with ease.
I became more confident and afraid at the same time. This was REALLY
REALLY REALLY STEEP.
The gaggle of angles hovered. I began the ascent. Because of the
cold I was wearing my down jacket, heavy gloves and my climbing
boots. Swiss climbing boots, they had already seen lots of walking
in their short life.
This was a hand over hand type of climb. On a simple "walk
up" your legs do all the work. This time I was taxing my arms
as well. Once I had reached only 25 feet from the plateau below,
the wind began to pick up. Wrapping my foot into a secure place,
I used one arm to pull my hood sung and then leaned into the side
of the slope while using both hands to tie the hood.
In the distance I could see city lights. One great thing about
heights is the view. The higher you go, the better the panorama,
and this night I had visions of a wonderful vista before me.
Up and up. My progress was measured by one foot at a time. Because
of the nature of the summit I only had a very narrow space in which
I paused often, and the wind began to howl.
The wind can play tricks on the unwary observer. Around one bend
in a trail, over one small ridge and you can be blasted by a cold
persistent wind. This night the wind was unrelenting.
I am not sure how long it took, I kept looking up toward the summit,
trying to gauge how much further. Look at the summit; peek out at
the view, hand over hand, one foot up at a time.
Finally. The last move.
There was one small opening to crawl through and a then a ledge
with enough room for maybe 3 people to stand on. Some summits have
a lot of room, this one was small.
I was tired, exhausted, cold, and my heart was pounding.
I turned to the north and looked over the fields far below. Spread
out before me were all the lights of the city.
This was doubly cool - maybe triple.
No one I knew had ever been on the summit, much less at night in
the middle of winter.
I smiled - this giant shit-eating grin and wrapped my arms around
the pole at the top of the summit.
For you see, the top of a 300 foot radio tower sways in the winter
The boy was out of the crib again.
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