|Lewis, Haggle & The Boys on The Desert Rat's maiden voyage to Ibex|
|Ibex on an eery night|
Drudging up the courage, I slip out the covers, let the dogs out, and step outside. Bathed in a sheet of stars I stand there, taking in the façade of an alien world comprised of other-worldly rock formations & spires. We are in the middle of nowhere, with no signs of human life.
|Lewis leading an unknown route in Ibex|
In the dream I am wearing a harness on which quick draws are clipped and dangling. I am in a sterile desert: a white, spotless stage that stretches beyond the capability of my vision. I remember being hot – sweating with desire. There is nothing to see. White space with a white horizon – it is bright so I shade my eyes and look forward and backward. Desperately, I want to climb. Climb anything and I say so in a muted fashion: I want to climb.
I finger the draws and they clatter in a deafening sing-song-sing, as, from somewhere, a stale, whispering wind answers: you are climbing…
…The report of Messner’s bark, one of our dogs, shocks me out of a daze. I call to him, hearing my voice reverberate off the massive cliff walls and return to me; it feels as if I just yelled during a church service and I immediately feel embarrassed and guilty, despite being the only one around. As quietly as I can, I slide the side door of the Rat open and the dogs jump in. I follow, closing the door. Slipping back into bed next to haggle, my head now against a pillow, I begin to doze off; I do not fall asleep, but fall somewhere between the obscure – that line between waking and sleeping…
…I look down and I am no longer wearing a harness. My clothes are changing - disappearing and reappearing every few seconds. A suit and tie now. A work shirt, no shirt, shorts, pants, sandals, shoes – they do not flicker on and off but rather, bleed in and out slowly. I have a beard now. And now, I am as smooth as an infant. My comprehension cannot keep up with the pace of change and I become wildly frantic. Wildly discombobulated and anxious. All my possessions come & go. & so it seems, with them, my passions and desires as well.
I take a deep breath, calm myself down, and allow it to happen. In a second, I become a thousand different version of me yet they are all the same in one way or another.
In my slumbered stupor something occurs to me: everything we have in this world is on loan to us. We own nothing. Our loved ones, our possessions, our health, strengths, dreams, will eventually go away; it is all a fleeting cup of coffee. This does not mean I should not enjoy and/or cherish what I have. I should & I do. I live a fortunate life – one filled with great love and great passion. But with this comes a responsibility to learn to let go. To form a non-attachment to those things which I love.
|Ewe Betch Ewe, 5.12a - Route follows the shallow crack/seam on the right|
In that moment, I let go of the reason for this trip (at least the reason that has formed in my mind).
Almost a year ago to the day, we had come to this exact spot, and I tried EWE BETCH EWE, 5.12a. I had failed miserably. A year later, stronger and more driven than ever, I was going to send the line. As I lay here thinking about all this, I give up and into the idea that it doesn’t matter whether I send or not. We are here, in this beautiful dreamscape with the ones I love the most. It was time to have fun once and for all and to experience what come what may.
With the decision made, a heaviness lifted off my breast, and I slid into a dreamless sleep…because I AM climbing…
(Author’s note & Description):
|Lewis nearing the chains for his successful send of Ewe Betch Ewe 5.12a|
My breathing was frantic like a horse’s. My skin was hot and sticky with sweat, my feet ached. ‘Dammit!’ I said under my breath. I could vaguely hear my brother, who was belaying, saying something like, ‘calm down, you got this. You can do it.’ But I had just done the moves. No, I couldn’t do it. Shit, just take and lower, let someone else climb. It sounded like a good idea, and I was about to succumb to the desire. Then the previous night’s cognition dawned on me. Let it go. Who cares? If I was going to fail, well, hell, why not fail having fun? Do the moves for the moves’ sake. Fluid. Somewhere along the line, I gave up on the send, Forgot about the desire to finish the climb; I just wanted to climb, and that was what I was doing. With a clear mind bereft of insight of success, I launched back into the final crux: undercling match, cross over left to sharp, small edge, right hand up to terrible side-pull, and this time, scare-the-pants-off-you high feet, off and to the right. I was slipping, but still feeling strong. Sure I was going to peel off, I resigned myself to the fall, so went for it anyway. What I went to was nothing. I slapped left then right then middle, still nothing except slopey mind-fuck-you goodness. With no other options, I shifted my weight down low, and made a series of traverse movements out left……. I was clipping the chains. Smiling. Clipping the chains… with the newly formed non-attachment to the climb, I ended up sending it on my first attempt… Somehow, in some way, those routes you send that you have learned to let go of come in a sweet euphoric dream. They are the best sends of all: The least expected ones.)