Tuolumne, 9/13-9/14

“Why do you climb when you don’t even like it?” 

Went to Tuolumne again, set off for Guide Cracks on Sunday with every intention of practicing hand-jams until I broke myself of either the fear or the inclination—or, more plausibly, just plain broke.

Instead we got lost. It took a while to figure out we were on the wrong rock, but less to realize that we ought to walk to the top of it. So we did, and it looked like this:

Not the top of Daff Dome.

Top of … well, definitely not Daff Dome.

Gasping for air under the weight of gear I hardly know how to use, I looked around and saw the reasons that I’m trying to learn—which are, oddly, also the reasons that it doesn’t matter whether I ever do. It’s another of the mountains’ tricks of perspective: that the whole world can contract so violently around a single knot or finger or knife-blade edge of rock; and then explode into infinity again on these summits, subsume the memory of the fear in space and light.

Three years ago and three years even less self-conscious about what I put on the Internet, I wrote,

There’s a vertigo in the view, something that pulls me out of and over myself so that the scene spins below me even as I’m looking to the shore. The sensation of smallness is a comfort and embrace; I’m at once enveloped and untethered and it’s peace. Why only out here? Why, elsewhere in life, is insignificance a worthlessness, a wound?

Ignore for a moment the writing and fact that in both cases I’d simply walked where I was going; that’s not the point. I think it’s still the reason. I think it’s still enough.

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