Hit snooze… damn! it goes off again…Turn Alarm off…I stretch my legs and still feel tightness in my quads and calves. A reminder of the torture they went through 72 hrs ago. Hiking on a ridge to a high mountain lake 6 miles away with our climbing gear. The sun is shining. All mosquitoes appear to be dead!
We reach our base camp at the upper bench lake a few hours before “The Storm” sets in. Eight hours of rain and what sounded like 50+ mph winds that make a jet plane sound like a mosquito are whats for dinner tonight. The entire night I am weak minded and have already set the plan in motion.I can see myself packing it up and hiking back to the car in the morning. “There’s too much rain, the rock will be too slippery and wet”. “Too dangerous” I tell myself. The other voice fights back! “You didn’t walk all the way up here only to turn your back to the objective and walk away”. The mind is a terrible thing!
Luckily for me, when we wake up my Paul has other plans. The Stur Chimney was calling him. He could not make the voices go away. At first I can’t believe it. I ask “How’s it look out there? Are the rocks are dry?”, not wanting to get out of my cozy sleeping bag. Dry rocks, and stars is all he can see. It looks like it will be a fantastic day for climbing! I snap out of my funk. Paul is heating water for caffeine and breakfast.. Lets do this!
It is a little after 7:30 am and we are off across the base of the west face where we heard so much rock fall the night before. Brain buckets strapped to our heads, we motor across the base making our way to the saddle.We turn left and make our way though the class III terrain. Slowly the route is making itself visible. within a couple of hours we finally reach the gully at the base of the route..The views up to this point have already been stunning. Only to get better as we go higher.
We drop one pack and consolidate some gear into my pack. I carry the pack since Paul is leading the climb, You see, it has been 15 year since I have done any technical mountaineering. I am jacked. I am calm and excited all at the same time. It is so good to have the harness back on, and hear the clinking of gear and carabineers snapping. I tie into the rope without even thinking about how to tie the knot. I rack gear just like I had done it yesterday. Strange how it all comes back to you….I can feel my awareness is heightened. We climb to the base of the chimney. I find myself squeezed in a small chimney just before the base of the chimney proper. Wait a second. No one ever said anything about this. Paul has taken it upon himself to do things his way. It’s a fun move.
Paul sets up a belay anchor at the base of the chimney. We are ready to tackle this chimney. It looks like a lot of fun. “No nerves yet”, I think to myself…Just a beautiful chuck of fractured granite, inviting us on a journey”. Wow I really have missed being tied onto the rope! The chimney frames a perfect picture into the heart of the Sawtooths. “Wow look at all those spires, look at all of those faces” Many unclimbed, and staring at me as if to say “ I am right here, I will always be here”. There are so many it just fills my mind with a sense of euphoria. I hear more clinking of gear. “You got this Paul!” He pulls over the crux move without incident. I have read a lot about this climb. I do this to minimize the possibility of surprise. The move looks to be easier than how it has been described, I think to myself. No feet hanging out in the abyss with high exposure. Reach high up to a bomber hold, and then move your feet high up. One last high step with your right foot, and stand. That’s it.
The last pitch is over easier terrain and the summit is beautiful. The weather is perfect. We snap off a couple of summit shots, sign the summit register. We high five each other and ready ourselves for the rappels.”It’s not over until I am safely home” I tell myself. The journey now unfolds in reverse. A few raps of the summit.
Three hours later and I find myself at my truck. Back in civilization and the zombies doing their thing.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!!! Damn! I thought I turned that thing off. Guess it's time to go back to work and dream about the next trip.