Showing posts from January, 2010


I like scrambling: moving fast high above the valleys, almost but not quite climbing. Climbing, the real thing, can be so tedious sometimes: all that fighting for each metre of upward progress, all that belaying. I suppose free soloing would fit the bill for moving fast and still having it feel like climbing, but I am too chicken for the real solo thing. So when I want to cover a lot of ground in the mountains, for training, fun or whatever, scrambling it is. Katsutaka "Jumbo" Yokoyama on Mt. Baldy These days I have an additional reason to go scrambling. A shoulder injury (I have a related piece of advice: listen to your body and stop doing something if it hurts. Obvious, I know, but apparently it was not obvious to me.) has forced me to take a few weeks off from pulling down on ice tools. So, if the real thing is out, what does one do for a climbing fix? Go scrambling, of course. Yesterday visiting Japanese hardman Katsutaka "Jumbo" Yokoyama and I went scr

Saying no

I find it hard to say no, especially to myself. The twin forces of desire and pride have a way of propelling me into occasionally dubious situations. Desire is wanting to get up the pitch and complete the route. Pride is not wanting to go down, because to do so would show weakness. 1996. It was already September but a warm front was moving in, and in spite of the early hour the temperature was well above freezing. Polish Bob and I were on Shooting Gallery, a short alpine route at the Columbia Icefields, and one of my first "hard" routes. At the crux we were presented with a choice: a sorry excuse for an ice strip straight up, or a steep crack on the right. I figured the ice would be faster, and without giving the matter further thought made for the direct variant. Even when I discovered that the strip was wet snow stuck to the rock more than actual ice, I did not consider retreat. Without a single piece of protection between me and the belay, I continued upwards, hooking ro