Bernie Boettcher January 17, 2013 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Midlife Crisis - Page 2

Storms flashed lightning as we ate lunch quickly and began to descend. It started pouring. The granite and loose gravel were worse now. I sent so many rocks tumbling hundreds of feet below that I thanked the gods no one was there. My ice axe never came in handier. I cut handholds in the snow, and kicked steps with my running shoes. I was cold, soaking wet, shaking and exhausted from the intense effort. But when I glissaded down the end of the snowfield to a boulder field, I felt alive!

Dennis arrived as the rain stopped. With adrenalin still controlling our thoughts, we immediately set off to attempt another peak, Mount Wilson (14,264 feet). We spotted a distant cairn and aimed for it ... across a narrow, icy couloir laden with loose rock, marble-sized gravel and steep sides.

What the hell was I doing here? (The adrenalin was wearing off.)

I wanted to turn back, but Dennis crossed over and up. If he could do it, I could, though at that moment I found myself questioning his sanity. And as I followed, I wondered who was crazier, him for leading this way, or me for following. I picked a higher line, and that was a mistake. My life depended on a quarter-inch axe-poke into frozen dirt to reach the next handhold. I took the chance, and never felt more alive ... at least for an hour.

We summited, found the correct route down, and hiked back on an easy trail.

The next morning we climbed Gladstone Peak, and I felt the fear all over again on the north face, picking a route through the wobbly boulders and scree that pulled loose at every turn. We finally summited, then had to descend a solid but exposed ridge and a crumbled-rock couloir into safety. Relief overcame us at the bottom after the intense effort. I can’t tell you how glad I was to go back to a runable trail. Some midlife crises are short-lived.

Bernie likes finding the edges, and running around them.



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