Having taken the time to get over myself and the fact that my “welcome back” to Zion involved getting my ass handed to me, I have accepted whatever humiliation may come my way as I get over irrational fears and tighten up my wig in preparation of sending harder.
With this in mind, Stefanie and I have begun discussing the benefits of my climbing with more partners who will push me and who will have a different impact on my climbing rather than my simply staying in a comfort zone. I have several friends here in Zion from the days when I worked as a guide at Zion Adventure Company, and I have recruited our former neighbor (and current host) Rob Schwarzmann to climb Moonlight Buttress with me.
Moonlight Buttress is bigger than anything I have yet climbed and it will be a multi-day ascent, meaning that we will be spending at least one night up on a porta-ledge suspended hundreds of feet up–sleeping, eating, climbing all without coming back down in between.
I have been wanting to climb a big wall with Rob since I met him. To say that he is a character would fall far short of the truth. You might know him though–if you have ever been in Zion, there is a good chance that you have been heckled from afar by Rob as he frequently addresses passers-by from his perch hundreds of feet up a wall. He talks to strangers like he has known them for years, gives up his seat for little old ladies, and never misses an opportunity for a smart-assed comeback. I have never met another person who enjoys suffering quite as much as Rob and his climbing style can only be described as furious. While many people in our society today live quiet reserved lives, sipping their experiences from a teaspoon of social convention and accepted etiquette, Rob drinks straight from the carton.
When there is a question of suffering or things are looking grim, he is happier than a pig in shit and loving life more than ever; it is so infectious that you are forced to stop panicking and relax long enough to actually sort things out and escape the paralysis of fear–and when you’re back on the ground, he will give you a place to crash for as long as you want, and the pants off his ass. Literally.
I am wearing a pair of Mammut pants that he just decided that I needed to have (this is not the first time this has happened) and so bestowed them upon me. I have given up on trying to compare him to anyone else or trying to understand what makes him tick. I am just psyched that we will share a rope for a few days on a wall and I know that there is a lot that I have and will yet learn from him.
On a different note I have concerns about my tendency to freak out over my blood sugar and I am worrying that it will suddenly turn on me once I am suspended between heaven and earth. I am not used to being so exposed and vulnerable. I know that I can complete this climb and deal with being isolated on this wall through the same principals of making good choices and being aware of my blood sugar and prepared for highs and lows. I am my own best caregiver and I know Rob will keep me on task as he has done many times in the past.
Still there is a great deal of uncertainty that goes with hanging it out there—but that is what I am here for. So while I can’t control what is going to happen out there, I can make sure I have all my gear situated, my glucose tabs, and a glucagon kit for good measure!