I swear he had this look in his eye, this look that said “I got him!”
My ass (the left cheek, specifically) was stinging, a quarter-sized red spot that would have a pussy (that’s “puss’y”) head on it by day’s end.
I scratched my head and wondered what to do.
The rewards for climbing obscure and troublesome peaks are often hard to articulate.
A five-hour approach over loose terrain in the May sun to a short pitch of technical climbing on poor rock…followed by a bushwhack to the summit - what’s not to love?
Three hours earlier, following my partner across a catwalk, I put my feet down on a boulder … and it crumbled and fell into the abyss.
“Let’s find another way … around this section.”
The rock was bad, real bad. But what a ridge! Knife edges, towers, trees to climb, steep chutes, chimneys, all with fantastic exposure…with that ever-steepening headwall between you and the top.
It went easy. Somebody had placed a few bolts.
The summit had no views. But an iconic mountain.
We got ready to rap through the crux…
“Should we call for a chopper? They could land it on the mesa.” Well, no, that’s a bit premature…but aren’t these things poisonous? Cut an X and ask my partner to suck out the venom? No…
I took a picture.
Four thousand vertical to descend. With a couple raps, perhaps 3-4 hours. “Let’s just get down…quick.”
Days later…red with a head, but no worse.
I called the park. I google’d.
“…largest species in North America…active and aggressive…virtually harmless.”
That’s the second time something like this has happened to me.