|The author soaking in the|
views. Photo: Stephen Hirai
by Jamie Anderson, Mazama Membership Services Manager
Every month, a copy of Rock and Ice arrives at the MMC. I flip through the glossy pages, look at photographs, and think: Nope. That’s not me. I’m not a real climber. I “sort of” climb. The easy stuff. The local beginner’s routes. Nothing big.
I will let you in on a little secret, however. Deep down, I am proud of those routes. An even deeper secret: each of these routes, all alpine rock, scared me. I have been listening to our executive director talk about “shared growth experiences in the mountains” for over two years now. For me it is alpine rock where the boot-rubber hits the rock and this concept makes sense—it is where I have felt my comfort zone expand the most.
This could be called the True Confessions of a Novice Climber, or, What Has Made My Knees Wobble:
- Scree. I used to think that scree fields were benign, stable rocks that one hops across. Not anymore. Now I have a four-fold classification: 1st class: deep and sandy (easy, if exhausting); 2nd class: deep, largish stone (easy to move through but can cause some danger to climbers below or from climbers above); 3rd class: small pebbles on a steep, hard substrate (Wiley E. Coyote on ball-bearings; can I keep control?); 4th class: large, moving rocks on a steep, hard substrate (everything moves, and fast. You can’t trust anything above or below you; getting out of control or being smacked by a boulder are equally unpleasant possibilities.)
- Fourth-class scrambles. I loved the idea of scrambling until I discovered scrambling with exposure. Something about heights makes me want that rope bad.
- Rappels. These were fun, AFTER I got started. The first step off of an edge wondering if I put my system together correctly and if that creaking tat is going to hold? Not so fun. My first climbs I ran through BARK at least three times before trusting it, and then I still held my breath on that first long step.
- Pack weight; or, can I possibly keep up? This is more trepidation than fear. A full day’s gear for all weather, water, food, group gear, up a steep approach has led to the concern of can I cut the cardio mustard?
- Down climbing. Going down is just like going up in reverse, right? I remember the first time I looked down a stiff scramble and thought: “I have to go back down that?!?”