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Nerve Wrack Point

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Pat ponders, Tom chuckles atop Daff dome in Tuolumne 

By Pat Ament and Tom Higgins

Higgins: Life-giving sunlight, positive and harsh on the polished rock, soft and trembling in the grasses. The streams, in their persistent way, oblivious to us, finding the sea. Tuolumne, place of lush, blooming swaths of meadow, of granite domes surrounded by alpine peaks. Summer after summer, a handful of climbers come here for the exhilaration of moving on high-angle faces, of teetering a little breathless and spellbound near a sky so blue it seems almost black.

After a short hike, Pat and I are able to get a close look at the southern margin of Lamb Dome, a crackless, six hundred foot wall. We scramble on to a ledge at the base of the wall.

Climbing this season in Tuolumne has new meaning for me. As I discover more and more my friends, this place, and myself, challenge and difficulty become less insistent, fellowship and encounter more important. I have thoughts of the descent: returning together from the summit, holding and knowing a chosen experience, a chosen day.

It is good to be with Pat. The morning is exquisite. We sort gear and lace our shoes. Feelings are right. We are eager and yet relaxed. Each of us knows the other to be a capable climber. Perhaps I sense a bit of uncertainty in Pat. He is wondering if this will be a non-competitive ascent. We rope-up. Pat chalks his fingers. I burrow behind some boulders and a tree and secure the belay.