Squeamish


Ceri: Saturday mornings are a quiet time in the Squamish ER.

A Canadian home makeover TV show was playing on mute on the flatscreen above the waiting area. A solitary old man sat in one of the identical blue chairs positioned in two rows facing the TV. It was unclear if he had a medical emergency or what his agenda might be. Perhaps he was waiting for someone, or perhaps he was one of those people who revel in the misfortunes of others. For him, this was something akin to catching the matinee at the local theater.

As Cady and I approached the check-in desk, we stepped around a woman who was using the early morning quiet as an opportunity to mop the floor. Behind the desk, a woman in scrubs was leaning over, explaining how to locate a file on the computer to a woman whose pedestrian clothes identified her as the one manning the desk.

Neither woman looked up as we approached, and we had not approached silently. They persisted in their file-locating conversation as Cady shifted from foot to foot, clutching her hand to her chest. The woman mopping was forced to leave a little island of unwashed floor around our feet. I gave these women the benefit of the doubt, choosing to believe that had Cady been bleeding profusely from a place visible above the counter and/or screaming in pain, they would have sprung into action with something resembling alacrity. But I wasn’t entirely confident.

Just as I was about to launch into a fit of clichéd throat clearing, the woman manning the desk looked up and asked how she could help. Cady very politely explained our trouble.

“ID card,” the woman extended her hand. We then explained that we hailed from the US of A.

“I should tell you you’ll be charged a $765 entrance fee,” she replied. This fee did not include doctor’s fees or procedure costs. We would later learn that the average emergency room visit in Canada costs $1,500.

“You could try the walk-in clinic,” she offered.

“I can call them,” said the woman in scrubs, still standing behind her.

At that moment, a person so covered in medical wires and tubes it was impossible to identify them as anything more than a mound was wheeled in on a gurney.

“I should go,” the woman in scrubs said, somewhat unnecessarily.

In the end, the woman manning the desk gave the clinic a call. We learned they would not open for another two hours. Cady stepped outside to discuss the matter with her parents. I remained in the waiting room and took a seat a few chairs to the left of the old man. A large poster read “Please clean your hands so we won’t need all these posters.”

I looked at my hands. They were covered with bruises, half-formed scabs, and a layer of dirt the same shade as JFK’s skin. The crease between thumb and index finger was zombie gray from where our very dirty rope would pass over my hands when I belayed. It felt like this poster was speaking directly to me, so I got up and washed my hands in the bathroom located to the poster’s immediate left.

Cady returned, and we made plans to head north to a walk-in clinic in Whistler, a ski town on route to Anchorage. Feeling a mixture of annoyance and regret, we returned to our campsite in Chekamus Canyon and packed up, leaving the granite walls of Squamish to continue our journey northward.


Cady: As Ceri collapsed the tent at Chekamus, I puttered around the campsite looking for items I could toss one-armed into the car. In the campground, only a few other sites showed signs of life as sport climbers crept out of their tents to greet the morning.

On the road northward, the morning’s events played on repeat in my mind.

“Hey…Ceri? I uhh….” I had gestured to my clenched hand.

“Do you want tape or superglue?” she’d asked, the way one might ask if you wanted the radio on or off.

The fastest way I could think of to explain the severity of the situation was to just show her. I’d opened my left hand while looking away and trying not to think about the deep, fleshy gash at the base of my index finger.

“Oh! Oh, wow!” She’d replied.

“I think I might need stitches.” She seemed to get it then and started throwing things in either the car or the tent in an effort to make a speedy exit. Under the rain fly, she’d placed the cast iron skillet, still warm and coated in oil, ready to receive the eggs we’d intended to cook. As she was putting away the food, she paused and asked if I wanted anything to eat.

I’d shaken my head. Something about seeing my finger cut open like a chicken fillet had left me without appetite. Ceri grabbed an apple and held it with her teeth as she’d finished shutting the trunk.

On the way to Whistler, I tried to find some consolation in excuses like “well, this was going to be our last day in Squamish anyways” and “it’s still supposed to rain this afternoon…probably?” but these were far overtaken by imagining a number of what-ifs that would have diverted us from our current predicament.

What if I had been more careful? What if we had opted for oatmeal instead of eggs and leftover burrito filling for breakfast?

I thought about the halved avocado, pit intact, now sealed in a Tupperware somewhere in the trunk, and hoped it didn’t have blood on it. I shifted my hand a bit to try and get it to stop throbbing.

Ceri: The woman behind the desk at the walk-in clinic had neon blue hair and was very attentive. When the doctor passed through, she pointed to us saying, “these are the girls from the phone call this morning.” The doctor peeled back the paper towel Cady had clamped to her wound and gave us confirmation that this was an injury they could deal with on site.

We then began the interminable wait I associate with medical emergencies as the doctor saw to patients who were on a first name basis with the blue haired woman behind the desk, the ones, I assumed, with scheduled appointments. Cady and I passed the time scrolling through social media on our respective devices.


When Cady was finally called in to a room, I asked if she wanted me to come with the way my mom does when she accompanies me to a medical appointment. I always say “yes,” afraid that if left to my own devices, I’ll forget to ask the important questions. Cady does not suffer from this same complex and declined my maternally-inspired offer.

Alone in the waiting room with thoroughly scrubbed hands, the only productive thing I could think to do was walk to the nearest coffee shop, buy myself an Americano and muffin, and call my mom.

Cady: I was led to a small room just off the waiting area, where I plopped onto the examination table and waited for the young, polo shirt wearing doctor to reappear.

He soon did, and followed his apology for the wait with a “so you had a bit of a run in with the kitchen, yeah?”

“Well, err, campground actually.” My response prompted some questions about what I was doing in BC as he checked my finger mobility and the integrity of my tendons. Having learned I was a climber, he instructed me to crimp down as he assessed the tendons at each joint and compared them to my right index finger. I squeezed my eyes shut to avoid staring at the crevasse on my finger, a habit I would continue through most of my time in that room.

The doctor apologized again for the wait as he cleaned and froze my finger. “Scheduling is hard in a walk-in clinic, you never know how long appointments will take. I always like to keep people in the loop as they wait.” Earlier, when Ceri and I were hanging out in the waiting room, he had darted in to tell the blue haired front desk woman that he’d need ten extra minutes or so to finish up with a previous patient. “This morning, we had some complex cases come in. I like complicated issues because they’re interesting, but you never know what to expect.”

I didn’t ask for an elaboration, in part from some idea of patient privacy, but mostly because I was concentrated on not feeling slightly queasy as he started stitching. But he went on to describe how between regular scheduled appointments and emergency visits, the psychiatric cases were the hardest, as patients would sometimes just say they needed someone to talk to and would refuse to divulge why.

The doctor kept up a steady stream of chatter. By the end of my visit, I had heard about everything from his cousin’s PhD in astrophysics to the wonders of the hands-free exam table lamp that meant he never got blood on the light switch.

I wondered if the doctor had these sorts of conversations with many of his patients, or whether my out-of-town-ness gave me special access to his stories of walk-in clinic life.

Five stitches later, I finally opened my eyes to assess the handiwork and snap a picture to send to my parents.


I was ushered back into the waiting room to get my receipt and a cup of water from the washroom (I had been told the tap water was high quality, as it came from an alpine lake) before wandering back outside to find Ceri, who looked pleased for having saved a dollar on parking.

Ceri: It looked like Cady’s gash was being held together by five large mosquitoes. I asked if it hurt, but she said it was just tingly as the local anesthetic wore off. Some time later as we drove between steep, snow-capped peaks, she asked if we had any ibuprofen, so I figured it had worn off.

Like Cady, I mentally retraced my steps that morning, searching for desision points that might have led to a different outcome. There’s a sense of power that comes from being able to look back and say “this is where I went wrong; if I’d done things differently, everything would be fine.” It preserves the fragile feeling that we are in control of our lives.

Periodically, we bump up against events that make this comforting illusion a bit more difficult to maintain, events where the culprit is ambiguous and possibly non-existent. Like avocado de-pitting, trad climbing is an inherently dangerous activity; even when you do everything right, you are still putting your life (or hand) at risk. And that’s really scary.

The last time I’d worried about the dangers inherent to climbing, I’d talked about the issue with a coworker who’d pointed out that I could just as easily die driving a car; I might as well die doing what I loved. That didn’t really make me feel better, but I guess there’s some truth to it. Our trip to Squamish had ended with a knife glancing off an avocado pit, but it could just as easily have ended on a gurney, under a pile of medical wires and tubes. Today we’d been unlucky, but also very lucky.

Day 53 (July 27): A Change of Pace

Post-Opal, we were ready for a change of pace. We briefly discussed booking it to Smith in Oregon to finish out the trip, but quickly realized most of our time would be spent driving. The best we could do was drive north half an hour to the Cheakamus area. Unlike most of the climbing near the Chief in Squamish, Cheakamus consists almost entirely of sport routes. Mico was able to revisit and ultimately send a 5.13 he’d tried on a previous trip. I proved to myself that, while I can usually do all the moves on a 5.12a climb, I’m still not a 5.12a climber. We met a local named Dale, a large, barrel-chested dude who, in peak condition had climbed 5.12 while weighing somewhere between 215 and 230 lbs. For me, a woman built more for rugby than rock climbing, this was inspirational. I’d thought that all people who climbed 5.12 and above were of a naturally stringy build.

That night, our final camping dinner, we tried to finish most of our food, but failed when it came to consuming a tin of canned mushrooms and bamboo shoots, our two worst food purchases the entire trip. They were slimy and chewy in all the wrong ways. Would not recommend to a friend, or even a recent acquaintance. We spent the evening talking about friendship and fears. Though I’d joked about some of my fears in the past, I think this was the first time Mico realized they were serious concerns, that I am someone who will joke about the things that cause me the most pain. Perhaps this is an indication that I need to reevaluate the way I express myself if I want to be understood by those close to me.

Day 52 (July 26): In Which We Prove Unsuccessful at the Basic Task of Giving Up

You thought we were done with The Opal, didn’t you? Actually, to your credit, you probably didn’t. You’re a smart reader, and, if you’re reading this, there’s a 99.9% chance you know one of us personally and a 75% chance you’re a member of one of our nuclear families. For a while, though, I think we’d convinced ourselves that we were done. I was still entertained by the first three pitches of The Opal, mostly because I was laboring under the idea that through enough repetition I would eventually send the second pitch (the 5.12a layback). The moves that had seemed impossible when I first began now felt doable, though they still involved a large amount of sweating, no matter the external temperature. I was at a point where I was only falling twice on the pitch (usually once from fatigue and once due to inattention). This probably had a bit to do with improved technique and familiarizing myself with the pitch, and a lot to do with the fact that we’d tied off the second rope at the top of the third pitch, so I was no longer climbing with a rope in my pack. Mico was bored of climbing the first three pitches now that he was sending all three consistently, but was still struggling with the fourth pitch. We were running out of time in Squamish, and there were many other rocks to be climbed; why continue beating our hands against a wall?

On some level, it’s the kind of people we are. The ability to beat your hands and head against a wall for a sustained period of time and enjoy it is an ability that proves quite useful in the Ivy League. I think we also felt that, while we’d given it a good go the last time, conditions had been less than ideal. Hopefully, the time we’d taken off had given the wall time to dry. There was no rain in the forecast, so our only limiting factor was daylight. We also realized that the grant Mico’d received to climb The Opal required action shots of him on the wall. We didn’t have anything that fit this description, so we were going back up The Opal whether we liked it or not.

The days off had not made The Opal any drier. If anything, the wall was even wetter than the day we’d climbed it in the rain. How this sorcery was possible was entirely beyond me. Maybe the water had pooled at the top and slowly seeped down the climb over the course of the week. The black algae coating the wall had rehydrated, and was now thick, spongey, and very slippery under foot. The night before, Mico had asked me if I wanted to lead the first pitch. I said “yes” without hesitation, which seemed to surprise him. One of my goals for the trip was becoming comfortable enough placing trad gear that I’d be willing to fall on it. With 4 days left in the trip, I decided that now was the moment to become comfortable. What was the worst that could happen? Probably death. Or maybe life-altering injury. Below is the tearful goodbye I recorded for my parents.

Mico also documented what, at any moment, could have been my last moment.

And below that is a video of me decidedly not dead at the top of the first pitch.

The only thing that died on the pitch was Mico’s yellow Metolius cam, a piece which I’d tried to eliminate earlier in the trip by getting it very stuck in the rock. I was foiled that time by Mico who managed to extract it. This time, however, there was nothing to be done. I’d placed the yellow Metolius right before I attempted to pull the corner, the crux move for me on the pitch. I hastily stuffed it at an awkward angle and prayed it would hold as I threw my left hand out for a jug sidepull around the corner. My left hand came an inch short of the jug I was aiming for, and I fell. The force of the fall jerked the piece to the side, bending some of the wires. When Mico pull the cam out of the rock, all the lobes were fixed at slightly different angles. Through this experience I learned that 1) trad gear allows for some margin of idiocy when placing, 2) a nut would have been more appropriate in that situation and likely would have survived the force of my fall better, and 3) a yellow Metolius cam retails for roughly $60.

The next couple pitches were a battle against the black algae. Both Mico and I fell on the second pitch, so by the time we got to the bottom of the fourth pitch, it was clear Mico was going for the summit, rather than the send. You can see the opening moves of the second pitch here.

After a few attempts, Mico finally succeeded in stringing together the lower crux sequence of the fourth pitch. His arms were shaking. He looked ready to peel off the wall at any moment as he climbed, but he was able to push through the muscle fatigue of 52 days on the road, keeping his hands and feet on the wall in an amazing display of willpower. He came up short of the hold at the top of the second crux, and had to repeat the moves a few times before sticking it. Having completed the two cruxes, though not in sequence, he made it to the top of the fourth pitch and, for the first time, set up a belay station. It was now my turn to climb to the top of the fourth pitch. I was excited to cover new ground, but also anxious because I’d be aiding my way to the top (pulling on draws and other gear attached to the wall in order to skip moves that were too difficult) while climbing with the heaviest pack I’d ever had (rope plus two liters of water plus all our food for the day). Moves on the pitch that I’d completed with relative ease in the past were now a struggle. I aided whenever I could, but sometimes the draws were too far apart and I had to pull on the thin, sharp holds that gave the pitch its grade. I fell a lot and cried in frustration, feeling weak and useless. In these moments, I was reacquainted with the fact that The Opal would have been a lot easier for Mico if he’d had a stronger partner. I reached the top of the pitch exhausted, with obvious tear tracks on my cheeks.
“Are you okay to continue?” Mico wanted to know. No, I thought. No, I do not want to limp through another two pitches at my max (5.12a and 5.11d). I can’t. I want to go back to the car and wallow in self pity. I said none of this because getting to the top of The Opal was Mico’s goal. He’d been so patient this trip, climbing 5.6 multipitch trad routes so I could practice gear placement, giving me long belays as I freaked out on 5.9 trad or fell repeatedly on 5.12c top rope. I’d held him back in many ways on this trip, but getting to the top of The Opal from here was within my power, so I said, “yes.”

The next two pitches were scary runout sport climbs, a mix of face and slab. Mico did not send them cleanly, and through this experience learned that one should not leave the last two pitches of a route unclimbed until the last day. I aided and cried my way through the last two pitches. As I pulled draws, I marveled at the 20ft spacing between bolts and Mico’s courage. By the time I reached the top of the climb, feet numb with pain, dripping a mixure of sweat and tears, I’d decided that I was not cut out for rock climbing. I don’t know what Mico felt in those moments at the top. Maybe some sense of accomplishment, some disappointment too. He says it’ll be a while before he’s ready to try and climb The Opal again. His main concern at the top was whether our 70m rope would allow us to reach the bottom of the 6th pitch (we left the second rope at the top of the 4th expecting that we only had 35m repels ahead). We were climbing on his new bipattern rope and had crossed over from one pattern to the other while on the 6th pitch, an indication that it was longer than 35m. Thankfully, rope stretch allowed us to make it. This was the first time I was fully able to appreciate the use of stopper knots.

The rest of the rappel was uneventful. Mico reclimbed the fourth pitch while I took photos. We walked down the south gully for the final time that trip on tired, shaky legs.

Day 49 (July 23): Tug Munchers

July 23rd began like any other Sunday. The alarm went off. I was mid dream. Ceri rolled over, shook me awake, and I got groggily up. The day continued with breakfast, oatmeal because it’s fast, and then an early start at the Smoke Bluffs. Ceri wanted to fall on trad so we choose an easy to protect 5.10, Flying Circus, but, given its popularity there was a line. We moved on to Crime of the Century and then later returned for her successful attempt. There was a little hiccup up as she fussed with gear nearly 2/3rds up. Stressed, fearing for her life, Ceri plugged in a yellow alien (choose your own adventure yellow alien or yellow alien), made two moves, then popped in the yellow metolius. I thought, now that’s silly to place the same sized gear within a 3 foot span. A few feet higher Ceri had a fright. No gear would go in. The red alien was too big and the green was too small. The orange and blue metolius wouldn’t fit either. Ceri started shaking. A bystander would think she was doing an Elvis impression (video), her legs twitching uncontrollably. At that point my frontal lobe connected elvis legs and no gear, she was terrified. “Use the black nut!” I shouted. It’s the same size as the yellow cams, the cams that fit in cracks that fall between green and red aliens and blue and orange metolius cams. She slid in the black nut clipped a carabiner, sighed a little, and continued to shimmy up the wall. That was how our Sunday started.

A little later we found ourselves racing back to O’siyam park in Squamish. We had a 1pm tug of war team selection and rules meeting to attend. Ceri and I formed a partnership as team Light Weight. We’d be randomly paired with another, hopefully larger male-female team, and, legs willing, tug our way to victory to win one Maxim 70m rope each. At 12:49 we parked and walked, with a bit of a hop in our step, to the park where we checked in and found shade near Cynthia’s LYO dried fruit’s tent. There we ate and scoped out the competition. Ceri saw this big girl with good strong legs. “We want her,” and then “Maybe not,” she said as the women walked from the tall burly red headed man (not Will Stanhope, he’s too skinny) towards a smaller, thin, one. It was unclear who this gold standard tug of war machine was partnered with. Was it the other, gold, maybe diamond standard male or the bronze?

Teams were drawn. Tug Munchers was paired with Pull My Finger. The audience let out a groan. The two biggest dudes, the burly red head and another shaggy man Ceri deemed The Hulk, were paired together. This meant Ceri’s friend, the gold standard tug of war machine with arm and leg muscles, was (i) with the biggest dude and (ii) now our enemy. The officials conferred. They looked at instant replays of the team draw (was it rigged?), checked body weights, considered bell curves and percentile graphs. A new rule was made: Tug Munchers and Pull My finger could not partner up. Tug munchers got a new partner, team Light Weight. Yes! Whoopy! We got the best team! Our Aussie and New Zealand teammates, Shane and Victoria, were gold standard for sure. Maybe we weren’t but that didn’t curb our enthusiasm. Like us, they had looked up tug of war strategy. We’d put our best in the front (Shane) and then Ceri in the back. Victoria and I would go in the middle.

We saw 7 matches before our turn. Strategies ranged from coordinated tugs (effective most of the time), alternating line ups (only one team used this), pulling with the arms (not so great), and lying down (perhaps a result of slipping on the grass).  It was our turn. We lined up, set our feet, and pulled. I’d like to make this sound dramatic, like it was 50-50 for a bit or maybe there was some grunting, but we just walked backwards and sealed our advance to the semifinals. That match was pretty much the same and finals was equally boring. Matt, Victoria’s boyfriend, summed it up well, we had “the biggest girl legs”. That was crucial. Then we had the biggest guy and a lot of focus. My legs weren’t the biggest. I think I was about average.

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Day 48 (July 22): A New Hope

The first thing Mico did after quitting The Opal was shave the “beard” and mustache he’d been growing. He hadn’t touched a razor to his face since the beginning of the trip, so this was kind of a momentous occasion, a rebirth of sorts. He didn’t have a razor of his own, so I let him use the pink one that had been languishing in my toiletry kit. I wanted to capture the whole event on film but was limited by lack of storage space on my phone and my subject’s lack of enthusiasm.

The Arcteryx Academy was happening in Squamish that weekend, so we declared the day a rest day and headed into town. We met up with Mico’s friend Cynthia who was hawking freeze dried camping food at the gear fair. I spoke with a 5.10 rep who told me the rapid decline of my pink anasazis was likely due to a manufacturing error and would likely be covered by the warranty. We did yoga in the park to loosen up our limbs. Mico engaged in a dodgeball game with many other grown men, and a handful of women and children. As compensation, he received a 5.10 hat and much needed clean t-shirt. The Squamish farmer’s market was taking place next door. We took advantage of this, purchasing potato thyme sourdough bread, maple candy, and chipotle yam hummus. 

In the evening, we returned to the Arcteryx Academy to see the results of a photography challenge and listen to live music. While listening to the music, we observed a lanky ginger moving through the crowd with a lager in hand. Periodically, people would stop him to shake hands or get their picture taken with him. The lanky ginger was none other than Will Stanhope in the flesh. I told Mico I’d give him $20 if he went up to Will and asked him for his shirt as a memento. Mico had other, more mature ideas. In 2015, Will Stanhope climbed The Opal (evidence of this can be found in the form of a photo on Will Stanhope’s personal website). If anyone in Squamish could provide us with the beta to unlock the 4th pitch of The Opal, it was Will. With this new hope, we spent the next half hour plotting the best way to introduce ourselves to Will while following him from a distance. Again, I offered Mico $20 to ask for his shirt, but Mico did not feel that this would be the best introduction. We observed Will purchasing another beer and making out with his girlfriend, but had yet to come up with any good ideas for an introduction. Our opening came when we saw Will talking to Cynthia. We walked over, greeted Cynthia rather awkwardly, and then Mico turned to Will and asked him about The Opal. The conversation went something like this:

Mico: I’m trying to climb The Opal.

Will: Huh?

Mico: What’s your beta for the lower crux on the 5.13 pitch?

Will: Huh?

Mico: The fourth pitch.

Will: Is that the hardest one?

Mico: Yeah.

Will: Uh. I don’t really remember… I think you just gotta bite down on the holds and go for it.

Me (in my head): This could describe the beta for pretty much any climb on the planet.

Mico: So you dyno for the hold out right?

Will: Maybe. Yeah.

Mico: I think I’m too short for that move.

Will: We’re like the same height.

Mico’s eyes are level with Will’s shoulder. Will is quickly losing interest in this conversation. We thank him for his time, say goodbye to Cynthia, and speedwalk to the car. I am reminded of a piece of advice from the talk Hazel Findlay gave the night before, “don’t ask for beta.” Hoping is a sad, sad business to be in.

Day 47 (July 21): Mission Accomplished

Conditions were less than ideal. It had rained the day before, so the wall was a little more slippery than it had been on previous days (the wall smelled like tide pool because all the black algae on it had been rehydrated). When I reached the top of the first pitch, Mico informed me that he had to poop (though I hadn’t experienced the urge to poop on a climb since making my pilgrimage to the top of Boogie ’til You Poop, I could still sympathize with Mico’s pain). Wet conditions combined with a strong urge to poop would have caused me to throw in the towel, but Mico is pro. He’s able to set all these minor to major annoyances aside and focus on the climbing task at hand. He sent the first three pitches, and got ready to tackle the fourth, the 13a crux pitch. Because of his progress on Day 44, we hadn’t been speaking in terms of if, but when he made it to the top. Before we started, Mico announced that this could be our last day on the climb. Before he started on the fourth pitch, we put all the stuff we wanted on the upper pitches of the climb in the smaller of our two back packs, planning to leave the larger one with the excess gear at the top of pitch three. After instructing me on how to tie the second rope to my haul loop, Mico began the fourth pitch. The first third of the climb consists of fun moves off ledges that I am capable of doing. Mico cruised through these, making his way to the slopey ledge at the base of the first crux of the pitch.

My favorite part of watching someone talented climb are the moves that look like sorcery. I have no idea how Mico manages to pull off the two mediocre holds at the base of the first crux, yet somehow he does and is able to hike his feet up to some pitifully small footholds. As according to plan, Mico did this first move and proceed to the 1.5 moves of right-facing layback. He looked really strong; there was no hesitation in his movement. The next move requires reaching out for a sloper with your right hand. It was here Mico paused. And continued to pause. Finally, he started to move his right hand toward the hold. At that moment, his left foot popped off the wall, followed closely by his entire person. As he fell, he yelled a four letter word beginning with “f” that I will refrain from printing here in case there are children following our blog. He then proceeded to repeat this foul four-lettered word five times before falling silent.  He was thinking hard; this much I could tell. What he was thinking was beyond me. If it had been me, it probably would have been something like “I am the worst. A pox upon me and all my relations. I am a disgrace to my ancestors and any future life partners or cats I ever have.” However, as I said before, Mico is a class act when it comes to climbing, so I imagine his inner monologue was something a little more positive. After hanging on the rope in silence for some minutes, he got back in the wall and attempted the move a second time. This attempt went much more poorly than the first attempt. He instructed me to lower him to the belay ledge, so he could eat, pee, and regroup. On the next attempt, Mico punctured his index finger on one of the holds. He taped up, vowing that this was his final attempt. As he made his way to the ledge below the crux, it began to rain. We knew there was a chance of rain starting at noon, but figured it was always safe to bet against weather people. As I noticed the first drop, I looked down at my watch. 12:00pm on the dot. For once the weather people were right. The smell of tide pool grew stronger. Despite dwindling odds, Mico made it through the 1.5 layback moves, reaching out toward the sloper before falling on the foot match. Instead of lowering, he aided his way through the section and continued to the top of the climb. At the top, he told me he was going to pass the rope through the chains and pulls the quickdraws as he lowered. We would not be coming back.

Day 46 (July 20th): No Climbing

Sunday the 16th was easy. We slept in, waved bye to Sylvan and Ben, went up three boulder problems in Pemberton, picked and ate hundreds of berries, and played Scotland Yard with Vic and Deborah.  Ceri was Ms. X, and while wily, we caught her around move 36.

Monday and Tuesday were big climbing days. Wednesday we rested, had fun at the grocery store, packed our bags for an early Thursday ascent, and prepared a pre-climb meal of vegetable lentils flavored with the bacon substitute salt cured pork. The bacon look alike contains over 2000 mg of salt in 1/5 a package. We added 1/2 package to our lentils, about 130% our DV of sodium a piece. 

That night I didn’t sleep well. Perhaps it was excitement about the climbing day to come (last attempt on the opal?), or maybe a caffeine high from the earl gray tea and cup of coffee, or the brief period of rain. None the less, we cut down on salt pork. Only 1/4 cube a day or about 50% DV of sodium each. 

The lack of sleep and sporadic rain showers meant we called off our climb and went for a steep hike to wedge monte lake and to the theater to see Spiderman. We recommend both, the lake to those who like steep hikes and mountain views and the movie to pretty much anyone. Some photos on instagram and videos below.