Mixed Emotions, Mountaineering Writings of Greg Child
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Greg Child recalls the events and people that have shaped his climbing career in this collection of stories and essays.
formation shaped like a ship’s prow, I hung below him, secured to an array of gadgets wedged into a crack. I watched the deteriorating weather. Premonitions that the mountain was going to turn ugly on us invaded my thoughts. Mark inched carefully up a seamless stretch of wall on tiny steel claws called skyhooks, which he’d drape over pencil-thin flakes and hang on in etriers, or sling-ladders. Eighty feet into his lead, black clouds engulfed the tower. Snow began pouring out of them, then sleet.
when I attempted to speak. My stomach muscles were painfully cramped, my arms and lips tingled electrically. I was petrified by fear and overdosed with adrenaline. I shuffled behind a mound of river stones, out of sight of my friends—they didn’t need to see this, and anyway, it would be too hard to explain—then I dropped to my knees and let the emotions drain out of me in gasps verging on sobs. Like the schoolboy in the cave, like Winston in Room 101, I had plumbed the depths of the law of high
Hastily, Voytek buried their passports and money to protect them from being pilfered and, to explain the pair’s intentions, drew a picture of Hidden Peak with two climbers on its face on a piece of paper for the porters to find. Setting out before dawn, the pair climbed into a huge, potentially deadly basin laden with fresh snow. Wrote Voytek of this crossing: “We switched off our brains and moved steadily into danger. Ten minutes later we emerged.” Two bivouacs later the pair was searching for
surge hitting a pacemaker. Fillings in my teeth hum. A metallic taste settles on my tongue. I am a conductor of electricity, and I don’t like it. Roskelley, now a small dot at the end of the rope, hammers two snow pickets into the ridge, clips himself to them and then calls for me to descend. The pickets at my anchor vibrate like tuning forks and emit a bluish aura as I leave the ledge. I’m genuinely terrified. My breaths come in rapid spasms. We keep moving for a thousand feet, rappelling and
of total absence, momentary blackouts, when neither I nor the guy over my shoulder seemed to be around. I would wake from these blackouts a few paces beyond where they had struck me, which led to a concern about stepping off the narrow ridge. “Like a dream,” I murmured to Pete, but the wind snatched my words before he heard them. Ahead, the ridge dipped down and curved left in a long, even slope to the summit, perhaps a half-hour trudge away, yet just twenty vertical feet higher. But here my