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My Breakup Climb
Trip Report

My Breakup Climb

 
My Breakup Climb

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: California, United States, North America

Object Title: My Breakup Climb

Date Climbed/Hiked: May 6, 2006

Activities: Mountaineering

Season: Spring

 

Page By: MichaelJ

Created/Edited: May 8, 2006 / Oct 30, 2006

Object ID: 192734

Hits: 2454 

Page Score: 82.19%  - 15 Votes 

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In February I broke my ankle ice climbing and what I thought might have been the love of my life walked out of my life. It wasn’t a great month. But three months later my doctor let me out of my last cast and said that after two or three weeks I could go back to doing anything I wanted to. What I wanted to do was the breakup climb, the ferocious solo that would end my long forced inactivity and regain control of my life--both a lament for a lost partnership and an affirmation that once again I was the only one in control of my destiny.

Unfortunately, I bruise easily (see my Busted TR). So instead of a hardman test piece, I just decided to climb something I had my eye on since I started mountaineering in the Sierra a couple of years ago: Round Top’s Crescent Moon Couloir.

There was a symmetry to the mountain beyond its twin summits. She and I had driven up to Round Top in January. I had wanted to introduce her to mountaineering but we got a late start and instead tried to bag something else but even that fizzled out in a darkening mist--as did the relationship before too long. A few weeks later, I broke my ankle and she left. I was alone and on crutches, compulsively listening to bands like the Smiths and Whiskeytown, reading Himalayan climbing epics and thinking how happy everyone sounded. It was a dark time and even San Francisco’s record rainy season seemed to reflect my mood.

But bones, if not hearts, heal. In late April my doctor said goodbye and asked me to take it easy for a couple of weeks. I waited patiently for a week and an half and then I drove up to Carson Pass on a Friday night.

The auguries were inauspicious. On the way I stopped at the ranger station where the backcountry permit I had arranged to pickup was supposed to be waiting. It wasn’t. Then I tried to score a Snow Pass parking permit by stopping at every gas station and bar on the way to the pass, all to no avail. One restaurant I walked into seemed to have nobody there, even though the lights were blazing and music was playing. I was halfway to the bar when the power went out. I felt my way to the door and gave up.

At the pass, I parked in the empty lot and hiked a few hundred feet away from the road. I leveled a spot in the snow and threw down my bag. Above a half moon and a sky of stars lit the snow and hills. In the distance coyotes howled.

Since I finally realized what a profound loss her absence from my life is, I’ve had trouble sleeping through a night. I recently started trying melatonin, which is reputed to give some people weird dreams. I ate one pill before closing my eyes. I didn’t sleep well, but my surroundings were so peaceful that I didn’t mind. I was thinking of starting at 4 a.m. and trying to get up and back before the cops could leave a $75 ticket on my car.

In the morning the sun was high in the sky, the parking lot was packed and a cop was writing me a ticket. I hastily packed my gear and stumbled off.

Then I woke up. My bag was covered in hoarfrost and across the road Round Top’s double summits were covered in mists. I went back to sleep.

At 7 a.m., I drove to the gas station down the road to wait for them to open and finally get a Snow Pass. By 7:45 I was on the trail, leaving a little after a party of three. After an hour I was at the base of Round Top. I cached the snowshoes I hadn’t used and started kicking steps to the base of the couloir, where I put on my crampons and probed the snow. The last avalanche forecast of the season, four days earlier, warned of continued wet snow stability problems. My casual probing wasn’t very reassuring: the first foot of snow was nice and consolidated, below that it was mush.

I headed up the couloir. The climbing was just steep enough to be fun, the snow generally good—until I saw the first horizontal fracture line jutting from the right of the couloir toward the center. I moved left and climbed faster. I didn’t stop to enjoy the view or take photos. In the exit chute the snow was deep and loose. I’d kick a step and then sink several inches on it. After 25 minutes, I was out of the couloir and happier than I’ve been in months.

On the east summit I tried to send her a text message. Failed to send, my phone said. The story of our relationship, I suppose.

We climb mountains because they tell us things about ourselves, the good and the bad. Just like the people we love. I used to think mountains presented the ultimate test of suffering. I know differently now.

I descended the west slope, meeting the team of three I had seen in the parking lot on the way up. My crampons started to ball up, so I took them off and glissaded most of the way back to my snowshoes. On my way back to the car, I passed an army of skiers gliding cross-country.

Two hours later I was on the outskirts of Placerville when my phone began to buzz. I looked at it. Message sent, it said. I hope so.

Images

Crescent Moon Couloir

Comments


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Viewing: 1-7 of 7    

rhyangWhat this TR needs

rhyang

Voted 10/10

... is a Hank Williams song in the background :) Thanks for the beta dude, and good to hear you are healing well.
Posted May 8, 2006 6:49 pm

BeDrinkableRe: What this TR needs

BeDrinkable

Voted 10/10

"She's long gone and now I'm so lonesome blue - ooooooo".
Posted May 9, 2006 5:57 pm

DigglerNIce TR- didn't notice it until now

Diggler

Voted 10/10

Glad your bone is at least healed now. Sorry to hear about your breakup, & hope whatever has become of the situation is the way it should be (am unaware of the circumstances). You'll need to let me know (TR or otherwise) about the dealio(s?) in Italy. Hope all is well & take care. -D
Posted Aug 29, 2006 12:10 am

MountaingirlBChope ur all healed up

MountaingirlBC

Voted 10/10

... both your skeletal and cardiac systems. Thx for sharing :)
Posted Sep 6, 2006 10:33 pm

MichaelJMended

MichaelJ

Hasn't voted

Cardios never been better and the ankle does what I tell it to...
Posted Sep 7, 2006 7:00 am

climbing1Mountain therapy

climbing1

Voted 10/10

Truly a journey of personal expression. Thanks for sharing.
Posted Mar 26, 2008 5:58 am

aranhonest

aran

Hasn't voted

I appreciate it. Good climb, way to work it out and not pretend that pain ain't real, nor that it should stop us from living our lives. Well done!
Posted Feb 4, 2011 9:42 pm

Viewing: 1-7 of 7