A big up to Dave Mac, he just finished his new route on Ben Nevis. Echo Wall Project. It's reported to be his hardest traditional lead ever. Good for him. There is nothing more rewarding than trying harder, getting pumbled, getting back up and trying hard again until finally you break down that little bitch of a barrier. Climbing teaches us a lot about nature sure, about the bigger picture, but I think (like most challenges life presents) it teaches us more about ourselves, who we are, what makes us tick. Do you know what I mean? I could care less about comparing any of my routes to what other people think or other climbs I've done, that's not the point at all. It's about process, it's about passion and it's about being deeply in the present moment – when you realize there is no other place on earth you'd rather be. Climbing is love and love is fuel for the soul.
Speaking of love, I have a little mistress of my own these days. I've yet to give her a proper name, but she is outrageously beautiful, charming, spectacular, difficult, frustrating, tall, slender and flawless. She gives me what I need, what I long for. She satisfies my desires and when we dance together, protection is never far away, I feel safe in her embrace.
I spotted her last year with a good friend of mine Nick. We both fell for her instantly, but never fought. Instead we dicided our chances for success would be grately enhanced if we worked together. The next day we hiked up with ropes, drill and a sack full of bolts. Three commiting days later, she was scrubbed clean, chalked up and waiting patiently for an intimate encounter. I had one good attempt last year and she spat me off from the crux move. 5.13b/c. Annoyed, I turned my back on her for an entire year, for things to feel more natural and for our relationship to simmer.
This year, I got back on, from the ground up. I cast off with 12 quickdraws, trying to recall her intricate moves. She seemed to warm up to our presence. The first pitch went smoothly and without struggle, then on the crux second pitch, she got testy and a foothold snapped. I fell into the open sky. The line overhangs for four mega pitches of orange european like limestone. We kept our momentum going and I reaquainted myself. We topped out with a few minors scrapes and bruises, but with shit eating grins on our faces. It's a great feeling to stand on a mountain top. This is one of the most extreme routes I've ever tried to do, not because of its difficulties, but because of its position. A two hour approach brings you to the base of this beast, then you have to climb 4 lengthy pitches of 5.12 and 5.13 to the summit. It's a buzz not soon forgotten. Two days ago, I went back out to Yamnuska, and tried the latest line my friend Nick had discovered. This one is even bigger and badder, SEVEN pitches, all overhanging, if you drop a quarter from any point on the route, you will hit nothing but atmosphere. I decided, before getting in over my head, I need closure with my mistress. Tomorrow, I am heading back up for another stab. I am draggin Nick up whether he likes it or not. We started it, and damn it, we are going to finish it.
These pictures were taken by non other than Keith Ladzinski. The master of climbing photography. If he wasn't such a damn nice guy, he'd be someone I'd love to hate, because he doesn't know how to take a bad photograph, he may argue that, but his website speaks for itself. The world could use more Keith's. I thank him for his energy, his creativity, his generosity and check out his site, www.keithladzinski.com