Another climber once asked if I knew the definition of mountaineering. I could have said a million things, I guess, but nothing came to mind. “What is it?” I asked.
“Moving slowly uphill while not feeling very well,” he replied.
Such moments of clarity tell me two things about climbers as a group: first, our chosen activity and its inherent unpleasantness, at least on paper, indicate a slight imbalance in our collective brain function. Second, and perhaps more importantly, we are aware of the first fact, and we have a sense of humor about ourselves.
Continue reading “Peaks and Pee Funnels: My Month of Mountaineering, Part 2”
I woke up at 3:42 a.m. on May 5 and quietly unzipped the vestibule of my tent. It was calm, clear, and cold in the Talkeetnas for the first time in five days. In eighteen minutes it would be time to start melting snow for water, for today it looked like we would finally get a window to climb. For now, though, my two tentmates were snuggled in their sleeping bags like so many giant, cozy caterpillars. I suddenly felt a wave of affection for these people with whom I’d weathered the seemingly endless snowstorm. Despite our cramped quarters, our mutual excitement over the increasingly remote possibility of climbing had been enough to pass the time, and our spirits had remained high.
Continue reading “Peaks and Pee Funnels: My Month of Mountaineering, Part 1”