Day 23: Real Rock

I was promised a rest day. My fingers were thin. Not so thin that blood oozed out but thin enough that I could count three distinct layers of skin and watch as little droplets of sweat, pin pricks of crystal, condensed on my tips. My back ached. Long moves on big pockets, twists, turns, knee-drops, heel hooks, had strained my stringy muscles.

On a day of many mistakes, I tried to push through these pains and found a much greater suffering: the formidable forearm-bicep cramp, a shooting pain that locks any arm above the heart in full extension. These cramps are frequently experienced by climbers on low sodium diets (i.e. those that forget salt and shop at health conscious grocery stores) and render a climber in a zombie like stance, arms straight from the chest. Only a vigorous shake can transform the zombieafied climber back into their human form. These cramps I dearly wanted to avoid and with no masseuse or hot pad (only white tiger balm to soothe my aches) I was out of commission.

I can only assume Ceri was much worse. Her visible injuries were many: a julienned pointer, a flayed ring finger, a scorched face, and countless bites. The invisible ones, the muscle aches, the queasy stomach, and what ever else I could only guess at. Yet she wanted to climb.

We awoke to an oven like tent. Confused by this sudden change from the frigid mornings we staggered from the tent and quickly made breakfast (eggs and hash browns). Temperatures seemed to drop but we heeded no warning and set off for the crag in only a base layer. Winds picked up. Across the valley gray dark rain clouds moved in. It was three days on, twenty three days into the trip, and Ceri started to climb…

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