Also in This Style
Posted on: January 1, 2010
Fraser Spriging's getting ready for the dragon's fangs on Wicked Wanda (WI4+). [Photo] Ryan Creary
The Makings of Our Dreams
Soon we'll be tapping thin ice on a frozen cascade, the sounds of our axes and crampons muffled in the forest quiet. But for now we're swinging from hold to hold, up dappled walls, in the company of good friends—while the faint scent of juniper draws our awareness down to the valley, and out across the snow-draped meadows, through the golden shiver of winter sun and the brisk shadows of approaching night—pursuing, as always, the simple pleasure of movement, puzzling out the best combination of handholds and foot-edges, of tension and balance, our focus burnished by the void beneath our feet and by the breadth of the sky above. What more could we want? Weekend after weekend, year after year?
Something keeps drawing us back, through all this joy; as Cedar Wright envisions it, something "more than ambition and a desire for adventure: a Siren's call from the cliff itself." For Barry Blanchard, it's the chance "to live the process of getting there" on a mountain that "defines the borders of [his] imagining." With "near-religious fervor," Lisa Hathaway searches for "those cryptic paths up the rock" of Mill Creek, Utah. As a young boy, Jens Holsten longs for "an icy spire of golden granite"—and he climbs it, ten years later in Alaska. On Robson's North Face, Pat Callis finds the sensory expression of his hope: "Our crescendo of inner excitement seemed to become tangible.... Thousands of small ice crystals danced down the Face, forming a shimmering, tinkling haze." And immersed in the storied climbing culture of New England winters, Majka Burhardt rediscovers "an unfolding of endless new possibilities."
A soaring mountain wall, a prow of flint-hard sandstone, a perfect procession of cracks up a flawless spine of alpine rock, a gossamer thread of ice suspended down a hidden canyon—these are the makings of our dreams. And on awakening we'll seek, as Andrew Querner does, once more to "extend ourselves deeper into the unfamiliar," where "the whirlwind of emotions grows still." Why would anyone ever want to quit?