Alpinist 53

Mountain Profile: Zion National Park

Posted on: February 3, 2016

John Middendorf on the first ascent of Radiator (VI, 5.10+, A4, 1990) with Walt Shipley. [Photo] Walt Shipley

WIND SAND AND TIME. Sand is one of those delicious words with a pronunciation that implies its definition. Loose, flowing, quiet, yet persistent. Shifting. Ssssssand. Its hiss poured from each piece of gear I fiddled into the crack, dragging it down until enough consolidated grains held it in place. I pushed my palm over a brass nut to keep it from smacking my face if it blew. I weighted it, slowly, listening to another hiss until steel and stone kept me in place. The rope hung dead vertical, an inch or so from the similarly vertical wall. Now, the only noise was the wind.

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