Wired: The Bighorn Writers Convention

Posted on: February 9, 2016


John Harlin III on Woolsey When We Get There (5.10, 10 pitches, Harlin- Jenkins-MacDonald, 2015), a probable new route on Mt. Woolsey (12,978'), Bighorn Mountains, Cloud Peak Wilderness, Wyoming. "This being Mark's backyard," Harlin noted (referencing climbing partner Mark Jenkins) in the American Alpine Journal, "we honored his mantra: no bolts, no pins, no hammer.... Love every minute, no matter what." [Photo] Mark Jenkins

IGNORING THE RAIN, John starts leading. The granite is streaked in wet blackness, the route unknown. Gothic towers loom above us, vanishing in waves of white mist, momentarily reappearing, then vanishing again. Like monks beneath an immense cathedral, Dougald and I peer from our hoods into the darkening sky.

John isn't looking up. He's focused on what's right in front of him. The first fingertipsize fissure he tries is slick with emerald moss. He down climbs and starts in an adjacent crack with a doorjamb rib. The rain changes to snow for a bit, then back to rain. John climbs upward, one careful, practiced move followed by another, like a writer composing one sentence at a time. He doesn't know where he's going; he's just going. By the time he sets up a belay, we're all soaked—our pants and our packs, our climbing shoes and our stiff fingers.

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