Away

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Away

 

Elegance 

In the warm, brown smog of Los Angeles, I pedaled my pimpled body the long way 10 Stony Point, place of crumbly sandstone, abandoned car bodies, dust clouds and trash. Here, alone or with Russ McLean and Bud Couch, I first pretended to rock climb. We belayed the twenty foot boulders with hemp ropes, imagined we were surmounting big cliffs, pounded pitons to hear the ring, and relished the sound as if it were rebounding from mountain towers. In the infrequent rain, we fashioned parkas from plastic bags picked up from the dry cleaner. Ah, the exhilaration of alpine storms wailing only in the mind!

So it was that climbing began as a dream. Part of the dream was a vision of alpine starlight and storm, of soaring granite. But another part was a desire to be drenched in wilderness away from the ways of ordinary people and living. The more odd my affair with rock seemed to family and friends, the more brightly burned the dream. What chill and wonder there was when Yosemite or Tahquitz seemed ours in a secret and lonely way. When our ropes drawn from the car brought stares from campers and hikers, we were fired with the romance of leaving common ways behind.