Beyond Pratt

Supertopo Post, June 2009

I’m struck by how the best of supertopo comes with tributes and remembrances. Contrast this thread with one of the longest tangling, spitting, firefights on supertopo re the South Face of Half Dome. Both this thread on Pratt and the recent one on Frank Sacherer brought deep, honest outpourings of respect, love and admiration without pulling any punches on foibles and flaws. Chuck nearly strangling Jan. Chuck exuding an enviable union and calm on hard rock, and selflessness in the competitive, ego stoked climbing camp of the day. Chuck listening respectfully to women. Chuck drinking to oblivion. Chuck writing from the heart with incisive perspective on climbing and knowing and reflecting on the power of writing way beyond his years. Chuck saying, "I think I’m at the hard part." O, the summation of his being in that line. And the parallels with Frank, himself besieged with his own devils, yet so driven and masterful and obviously taken by the mountains

Me thinks there’s a lesson here for all of us about how to be with climbing and its community on line and off. We are at our best when caring, honest, humble but with critical facilities still cranked up; striving to walk calmly with both the wondrous and the terrible in climbing and in our other lives, eyes wide open, and glistening too along the way, just as we see Pratt doing in our memories and, of course, imaginations. And what else better can the gone figures of Chuck and Frank and more to come do for us than inspire and shape our own paths, our ways of being and thinking, and not just within the climbing world but outside it too? Turns out, if we take time to step back, reflect, share, respect, climbing teaches deeply. We shall not forget Chuck – nor, I hope, what remembering him means.