Shrinking the World

Life is simply too big; the Internet, multi-national corporations, global trading partnerships and hundreds of TV channels to watch the action on. My primate brain just can’t cope with a social group of more than a hundred.

It’s just gone 3am when the alarm goes off. Just as I start to move another vehicle pulls up and someone gets out. Paranoia says it’s The Man out to ticket me for sleeping in my truck so I sit tight. After a few minutes I figure out they’re just other climbers and I crawl out of my pit. They pass by as I chug tea and granola bars.

I set off at 3.30am from the Icicle Creek road. The night sky was slowly clouding over but the temperature is cool. Orbital tripping through my headphones. As I get to the base of the route it starts to snow lightly. The clouds are sitting just above the lake, the first couloir disappears into them. I put on my harness and start clicking steps…,

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow.

The pair behind slow down to belay as I start to figure out the best line though the linking couloir. They probably have me pegged as some sort of elitist prick anyway as I’ve ignored half of what they said, content to focus on the music and the task in hand. Skinny Puppy kicks in and I jam the earphones in tight.

The left side of the first gully allows me to avoid the worst of the spindrift. The gully ends and the ice on the rock above is rotten. I delicately traverse further left across a snow covered slab to another groove system on the edge of the face. My inner dialog kicks in “If you fall now that’s it”, “so don’t fall” end of conversation.

We’re there; my world has finally shrunk to something I can manage. Two tools and a narrow set of ice runnels to put them in are laid out in front of me. The cloud and spindrift cut visibility down to twenty feet.

The runnels end and I and pull into the second couloir. There’s this weird river of snow running down the center fed by a continuous veil spindrift moving down the face. I head on upwards – somewhere above me is the linking pitch to the final gully high on the north face. The rock is banked out so getting to the second gully goes easier than expected but there’s more snow in the third gully than I’d like. A small slide here would precipitate a rapid and terminal descent of the whole north face.

I kick steps up the final few feet on the third couloir and step into the maelstrom that is the summit. Zero visibility and a vicious wind tearing across the summit plateau from the south. An hour of staggering around on the summit finally ends when I get a clear view of the pass through the weather and start the descent.

Perry Farrell gets me down to the lake and eventually down the eight miles of road to where I left the truck. The unmanagability of the “real” world starts to creep back in.