Effortlessly Through Fluffy Clouds

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personal

This is something that happened to me in the days when I went climbing. A friend and I were climbing in France, and I decided not to attempt a particular climb without being roped in from the top.

The reason was that the very first foothold was a tiny nubbin of rock, smaller than the tip of my little finger.

If my foot slipped off that I would crash onto the small boulders that were littered all ever the ground.

That nubbin of rock was only a metre or two off the ground, so if I slipped off that I could just see me falling on the edge of a boulder and twisting my ankle.

So I decided to climb an easier bolted route to the side of this particular hard route. The idea was that I would clip in at the top of the harder route and let myself down and then climb that route roped in.

When I got to the top, I made a mistake and I unclipped in the wrong direction. I should have first reversed and down-climbed and then unclipped starting at the bottom until I had worked my way up. But I didn’t.

I started unclipping from the top and that meant that when I was at the last clip I was on the end of a thirty-foot length of rope. When I unclipped that I would swing like pendulum. And I did.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but the swing was huge and fast. I was swinging, high on adrenalin.

After that I don’t recall anything of the harder route except that very first foothold on the nubbin of rock. It was so easy and I just climbed so fast and so easily.

I remember that the walk back through the trees and down to the campsite was breezy and easy. I was laughing and smiling and just happy and interested in everything.

Back at the campsite I showered and dived off the edge of the pool and started swimming. The adrenalin was still pumping and my arms and legs felt no resistance in the water. I could see fluffy clouds reflected in the water and I was swimming through and on them.

It was truly like swimming absolutely effortlessly through fluffy clouds.

2 Comments

  1. Were you alone climbing or were you in a group? My husband had some similar experience, in his youth, in Germany. He went with a few others, Germans, his German wasn’t all that good at the time. They’d asked him whether he had any issues with vertigo, but he wasn’t familiar with the word they used, so he just brushed it off. He’d never been climbing before.

    Adrenaline is a very powerful ‘drug’ 🙂 I can understand people that become ‘adrenaline junkies’.

    • It was just me and my girlfriend at the time.

      I sympathise with Gerry – I have felt very exposed when the rock I am holding on to starts to wobble a bit lose.

      Quote from a book on climbing – ‘Nothing gives confidence like technique.’

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