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Mountaneering

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  • William
    If horse racing is the sport of kings mountaneering is the sport of warriors. It was Army that got me into it and the survival skills cross between the two
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2010
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      If horse racing is the sport of kings mountaneering is the sport of warriors. It was Army that got me into it and the survival skills cross between the two activities. Attacking a mountain is much like raising a city. You plan and plan knowing the enemy will have multiple suprises in store for you. The objective risks will always be there. I was particularly bothered by rock fall and tried to lead climb when possible. Also I liked to set my own hardware and I enjoyed belaying from above. I have skied the oberburne and the Alps. The european mountains are a bit shorter but the freeze and thaw cycles make them very tricky. I got lost above Lech and came very near death. Of course I was skiing alone which is stupid but no one else wanted to continue because of white out conditions. As a flat lander I hated to waste any days in the high country and took unreasonable risks. Skiing and climbing were very addictive for me and I had a number of bad falls in both. Altitude is such a sneaky bastard to deal with, judgement just falls away and you are left a decerabrate rock waiting to fall. When you cannot think all the planning just falls away .
      My worst fall was on Pyramid at Aspen. I had reached the upper coll but the others in the party were far below. It was far too late for the group to summit and so I tried a glassade decent through a snow field. I lost it and fell a long way as I was unroped. I kicked out on a rock breaking my leg but it stopped my fall. It took ten rope pitches to repell down and the whole thing recalibrated my concept of pain. I was on three different teams and we did all our own planning not using professional guides. I climbed in the Rockies,Tetons and Sierras. I skied Europe but never felt at home in those mountains.
      The risk sports test ones life philosophy as when you come upon some objective risk of snow or rock it is nothing like the little close lines on topo maps. Do you want to do something wild and free or do you back down? That tests your philosophy of lifes worth. That you have to make those decisions with about half your brain functioning makes it an even greater test.
      I saw spectacular things and had many unexpected experiences. Way back on Keystone Mountain It whited out and while standing still,holding hands with a companion the sky opned up and a person literally fell out of the sky ,flew over us and disappeared into the white as it closed back in. We couldnt move for about five minutes and we never saw that person again. We reported it but never found out what happned.
      At Aspen Highlands I came upon a woman with a compound fracture, bleeding badly.We were alone and I had to break the rules and leave the poor paniced thing. The runs were double black diamonds and I had never taken such risks to get to a patrol shack. The patrol said I probably saved her life as she had to be air evacuated but lived. I got a free lift ticket and at Aspen that is a big deal. I have seen ball lightning and had vertigo that terrified me in a way that is unaginable. So I link existentialism and high risk sports, you experience things that stretch you beyond average existance. Bill
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