Wednesday, August 1, 2012

rope-a-dope

Part two and the point is: a hand off the rock is a hand on the lion.

I have a babysitter above who's done the hard part for me; relative to the risk he takes—or even in absolute terms—mine is very small. Consequently, Real Climbers are dismissive of my play-acting in their most basic terminology: there are leaders (bold) and there are followers (ba-a-a-aaa); a bolted climb is just sport, just a game; and there is supposedly nothing you can't do on toprope.

Alas, fear isn't contingent on being entitled to it. Which is why, from my perfect vantage point over a spectacular panorama of California love, I have narrowed the world to a four-by-four-foot square of granite immediately in front of my face. "Don't forget to check out the view," says Alean. He tends especially wry over radio. I am inching gingerly along the traverse. Yeah, no.

I swear I'm not scared, exactly, it's just that I'm working comically hard to keep it that way. Details I might find charming on the ground—the curious shiver of a pale shrub protruding from the crack, the moan of the wind, the emerald glint of an incongruous hummingbird suspended in the void like some apparition from the tropics—are here just woozy reminders that I'm 400-something feet up. Reptile-brain hates that shit. I sing to myself.

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