Humphreys Ledge, summer 2002

"Don't clip that piton," I called to Dave as he led into R country above the roof. "Thread a sling through its eye, so the biner won't lever on the flake." His position did not feel secure enough, though, for my advice to sound helpful. He slapped a draw into the fixed pin and kept going. A few yards higher, after committing to the wrong holds, he pitched off and came flying back over the roof. The biner bent across the flake but did not break, which sort of proved both of us right. Annoyed at having fallen, Dave regained his high point, found better moves and quickly completed the lead.

The next day I gave him the bent biner to keep.

Each of us had his own theory about how to pull the rappel rope so that it would not hit the poison ivy thriving next to our stance. Since I was holding the end, I ignored the other guys and put my theory to the test. I was imagining a mighty whip-like motion that would fling the rope clear. Instead the rope landed right on the ivy and stayed there. Disappointed, I recovered it and set up the next rappel. Aaron later gamely coiled the rope, but he did a bad job because he was trying not to touch it. We all jumped in the river.

The next day I took my rope to the laundromat.

Earlier that morning, I had complained that my pitch was slimy -- but what did I expect on a black streak right after a rain? Crystals stood out just far enough to be dry, while the wall behind them remained wicked slick. I climbed awkwardly, and afterwards decided to pull the rope and lead it again with more style. Only then could the glow come on.

The next day I was back at my office, where no one had any idea.

Larry Hamilton, 2002