Monday, August 20, 2007
The Lion Queen
You've seen The Lion King, right? Well, maybe not if you don't have kids. But if you have, picture the Lion King at the beginning of the movie, standing on top of the rock above his dominion as everyone sings up to him.
Many of the places I climb at regularly are rock formations that sort of pop out of the landscape, yet are not very high. So you can do a 2-300 foot climb and see forever. I did one such climb this weekend. Actually, my husband and I did one together - a four pitch climb for which I did the last two pitches. A classic climb we were able to do because it was a Friday, and a gorgeous gorgeous day.
I got to the top and set up my anchor and belay, lengthening the belay so that I could stand almost on the very edge of the rock. As I belayed I looked nearby to the black vultures circling on the drafts *below* me, and watched the wind move the trees. A moment that is worth all the dirt and bruises. I also looked over the landscape into the distance and saw the trees, occasional pond, cars, tiny little houses, and clouds in the distance.
Now imagine the Lion King wearing lots of metal, and chained to the top of his rock. And look into the distance at the clouds I mentioned, which are bunching up. See the wall of rain in the distance, heading towards you. Hear the thunder. And know that you are the highest point with a lot of attraction for lightning. And know that you cannot move until your follower arrives at the top of the climb. It's a little nerve-wracking. The clouds and wall of rain coming ever closer, as I say, um, you might want to go a little faster.
And when all are safe at the top you have to move fast, but not so fast that you endanger yourself. Panic is not an option, because that leads to mistakes. And mistakes kill. A large number of climbing accidents are related not to the climbing itself, but to the time afterwards - messing up a rappel for instance. It's why I carry water and food with me always, as my body is very high maintenance and I can bonk and lose all ability to think for myself and take care of myself.
On this particular day, the storm just missed us. Which was lucky, as a piece of gear in my anchor was stuck and we had to spend some time getting it out. But for a few moments I did feel like a chained up Lion King.