The Mountain Climbers Parts 1&2

Rainy Roadtrip 4



The oldest recorded climber was Otzi, the iceman. Thousands of years ago he staggered through the Alps, equipped with the rudimentary mountaineering equipment of another age, far above an elevation where humans lived. Scientists still struggle to explain what brought him there.



Throughout history spectators watched from the ground as the mountain climbers risked everything. 'Why?" we whispered to each other breathlessly. No answer seemed to work, they didn't seek fame, treasure, not even fitness. Indeed the mountains often broke the strongest of them; many returning, sick and weak, only to try again as soon as they were able. The onlookers shook their heads in confusion.

I remember how, as a child, my parents brought me to National Park ranger led talk about how the climbers were able to go up. In those days, their craft seemed as mysterious as alchemy; the dark, forbidding rock, transformed by their shining metal tools and brightly colored ropes. I didn't need to ask why. I knew then, that someday I would also learn their art.

Fate forced them to the ground but something indefinable lifted their eyes higher. They could not fly, and so they climbed.




To the Seattle climbers I went part way up with, thank you, hope all went well!

Part 2

I knew that this trip to the Grand Teton would be my last for a long time. After getting so close last time I was determined to reach the summit on this trip. I started the long way up from the mountain's base at 3AM.



The sun was beginning to rise when I reached the mountain's lower saddle, where the hike begins to turn into a climb. Here I met another group of climbers who were turning back after spending the night there, due to the shroud of clouds that veiled the mountains summit, still far above us. I needed to find a climbing partner because I had come alone. I brought all of the equipment a two person team would need, but it was not enough by itself. I needed someone to go up with and one group already turning back was disheartening.

I spoke with another group who was busily gearing up. They agreed to go with me as far as the upper saddle, just a few hundred feet below the mountains summit, but after that there were no guarantees. But soon even they turned back as the wind picked up and the clouds kept rolling in.

I was alone again with no one in sight on the rocky slope. The stinging winds brought tears to my eyes as I jogged in place and did jumping jacks to stay warm. I don't know how long it was before I saw a small figure climbing up from the lower saddle. I moved to intercept them, thinking that this was my last chance, however small, of reaching the top.

The figure moved fast. It wasn't long before I was introducing myself to a member of Grand Teton National Park's search and rescue team. He had been planning on climbing with a partner who had been called away and was now going alone as well. We agreed to climb together.

Before long we were making our way towards the summit once again, hoping to make the summit before the weather had a chance to get any worse. But it was not to be; pausing to talk with another group of climbers on a narrow ledge over a several thousand foot drop a massive thundercloud rolled in from the west. You know things aren't good when a park's SAR teaM member starts to say "This is bad guys, this is really bad."

Tossing all our extra metal gear into a corner on the far end of the ledge we rapidly tied ourselves off and clipped into the anchor I had built into a crack the ran perpendicular to the ledge. As the cloud rolled over the wind's strength re-doubled seeming to make an effort to blow us over the edge. A heavy snow began to fall, and whipped into a frenzy by the wind created white-out conditions. The drop that had been below us almost seemed to cease to exist, having been replaced by a churning mass of white snowflakes and fog.

I could feel the temperature plummet as I crouched on top of my backpack, clutching my knees in survival position. Just beside me a trickle of water had been steadily flowing down from ice further up towards the summit. In the plunging temperatures I watched as the drip quickly became and icicle, and within minutes ceased altogether as the water on the mountain had frozen solid. Shivering within my jacket and feeling exposed on the rock face I could imagine the same happening to me if I was forced to stay up here too long.

But the storm passed as quickly as it had come on. I watched my icicle return to its liquid state and return on its path down the mountain, and I shouldered my pack and began my way back up.

Despite the mad weather, a sky of forbidding clouds and crowds who had turned back, at 11:30AM after a scramble for the top we reached the summit of the Grand Teton. We paused only briefly to take a look around before beginning the descent, hoping to beat the next squall...




At the glacier's right edge you can see the silhouettes of two climbers. They are very small.









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See the world, they
told me...


-2016-
bayou goula towhead

-2015-
the sea test

-2014-
the circumnavigator pt5
the circumnavigator pt4
the circumnavigator pt3
the circumnavigator pt2
the circumnavigator pt1
falling dream
the darkness
one hell of a mile 3&4
he will return
the believers
the horror pt2
the horror pt1
traces
death valley
whiteout

-2013-
paradise of outlaws
the mountain climbers 1&2
brought to surface
one hell of a mile 3
primordial
the lost world
inner gorge
a ghost story
the riddle
slaying the minotaur
heart of darkness
bayou
public lands
organ music
two sought adventure
the virgin river
the road north
preparations

-2012-
steal the world
the end of the world
el dorado
the valley of the kings 2
the valley of the kings 1
one hell of a mile 2
one hell of a mile 1
the mountain climbers rr4
heroes rr3
rainy roadtrip 2
rainy roadtrip 1
the transgression
sandstorm
sinister 2
sinister 1
dehydrated
anatomy
sleepwalking
new chapter

-2011-
like sedona?
torn in two
blink
bridge to nowhere
the door
hitting the wall
elusive 2
elusive 1
harquahala
hole
pick up lines

-2010-
revisited 2
revisited 1
which way?
lost mines
chute
monolith
freeze
slice
in their footsteps
a dance with death


-2009-
goodbyes
undercurrents
casting the bones
mountain thief
the deer hunter
strange temple
sanctuary
burial pt. 3
burial pt. 2
burial pt. 1
the apparition
return to hell
forsaken
the lower depths
underground lake
stretch sewer
the hidden lab
shadow movements
meager rations
sw8: the conclusion
sw7: lost gold mines
sw6: the big tubes
sw5: gold!
sw4: el calderon
sw3: redondo
sw2: ghosts
sw1: westward bound
leviathan
formaldehyde dreams
the underdark
in the beginning





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