The Climbing Life | Red and Blue

Posted on: February 26, 2015

Pete Harrison hangs on for the onsight of Wide Open (X, 9, 60m) established in late December 2014. [Photo] Geoff Bennett

We were nineteen and drunk, and Jake was performing a ceremony to sanctify his view of the world. Shadows from the university buildings surrounded us, a grand Gothic scene undercut by some administrator's decision to locate a kitschy fountain, lit by a revolving sequence of red, blue and white lights, smack in the center of the courtyard.

Barefoot, I stared into the shimmering water as Jake kicked off his shoes and rolled up his jeans. When the fountain glowed red, he clambered in, and I followed. The water was deeper than I thought; my pant legs dragged as we sloshed to the far side and out. "Red is for passion," Jake intoned, while the puddles collected at our feet. "For life at the extremes of emotion. Tonight we make a vow—better destruction than the tyranny of moderation."

Then he splashed back in, floundering through the now-blue water. He vaulted out, droplets flying and catching the light, and waited until I stood beside him again. "Blue is for detachment," he said. "To life with nothing you're afraid to lose. To living without the weakness of love or fear. You understand, man? You swear?"

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