Cathedral Ledge, summer 1978

Image of Albert Dow in summertime, early in his climbing career, on the last pitch of Repentance:

The ascent had gone smoothly up to this point. A cheerful college-student climber with obvious ability, not yet great experience, Albert ran out fifty feet above the belay without finding protection. There, just a few moves short of good cracks, the rock steepened and his confidence faltered. He could not place any gear, doubted that he could downclimb, and feared the overhanging moves above. Casting about for solutions, he asked whether his partner might be willing to come join him on his footholds, and lead through to the top. The partner was not willing. Albert's other options were an unprotected downclimb, or unroping to wait an hour on his holds while the partner rapped off, hiked around the cliff and somehow got down to him from above. As his choices sank in, Albert went quiet. He must have felt deeply alone.

After long minutes of thinking, head against the rock, he made a decision. Visibly pulling himself together, he leaned out and stemmed up a few feet to where he could fit in a poor nut. Committed now, he moved higher and soon reached a fixed pin. The crux became easy, and the forest was just above. As the two climbers coiled rope on the clifftop, Albert said in a tone of wonder that he had never experienced anything like that in his life. Then, because the day was still young, he suggested they do one more climb.

Larry Hamilton, 2002