Climbing Up the Walls

Having made space in my photo library, I, of course, had to fill it.  I did this by importing an old archive of photos into my favorite photo management tool, Aperture.

An interesting thing happens when you import an old archive:  you watch your life flash before your eyes in the most literal of ways.

As I sat there going through time, I was reminded of many amazing things I’ve experienced in my life.  Of course, I find a starling with white tail feathers (which still eludes my camera) amazing, so I guess I’m easy to amaze.  I consider that a virtue.

Among these memories are a few moments when I was scared and not sure I could do something, but I did it anyway.  I’m sharing one of those today.

I had traveled to Yosemite with some friends I’d been training with for my first triathlon.  We went to San Francisco first where some of them (not me) did Escape from Alcatraz.  That was above my pain tolerance level.

In Yosemite, at the base of Half Dome, I stood looking up at the climb to the top of the dome and nearly didn’t attempt it.  If I am completely honest, it was only pride that motivated me to do the climb.

It’s hard to describe the climb.  I guess if you imagined people walking across a rope bridge and then imagine the bridge is vertical, hanging down the side of a mountain, and only has a floor-board every 10 feet, that would be close.

The boards are flat against the rock so you can perch and rest for as long as the people behind you will tolerate.  It’s probably not quite as vertical as it seems, but I felt like we were walking up a wall.

You are not tied to anything and you do not use any special gear.  Gloves are highly recommended, however.  If you arrive without a pair, there is a pile of gloves at the start of the climb left by those who completed it.  These are simple work gloves–nothing special.

I don’t know how long it took to complete this climb.  I just remember feeling grateful that someone slower than me was ahead of me–that gave me the time I needed to recover between resting perches.

When I made it to the top, what breath I had left was completely taken away.  There is an interesting phenomena that the harder I have to work for a view, the more amazing it is.  Part of the amazement is the sense of incredibly great fortune that I, a mere mortal of lower-than-average athleticism, am among the few to see it.

When Pat and I went to Yosemite together a couple years later, I tried to talk him into doing the climb.  That was a non-starter.  We hiked to several other views that were probably just as mind blowing, but they didn’t come with quite the same sense of elation.

*Photograph Credits:  these are not mine (in fact, I’m in 2 of them).  I’m not sure which friends took them, but I’m happy to have them.  Especially since I haven’t found my own photos from this trip–they may be in print only.