“Take up!” A fat drop landed magnificently in the center of my eyeball. I had seen it falling from three hundred feet up, and was too tunnel-visioned to close my eyes for the inevitable D-Day.
“Climbing! Slack!” I yarded rope, feeding the hungry yanks of a scared clip. It’s been three years since I’ve really lead outside, and the result was terrifying.
Don’t fall – don’t fall, I told myself at first. It turned into a whispered mantra of “Don’t look up, don’t look up…” He always took, except twice. Day one of our venture, a foot broke on the finality of the crux. The day we filmed, the wall was seeping so loudly I could hear a waterfall in the right dihedral.
On day two, Duttle sent Sarchasm.
A 5.14b, at 11,500 ft or so, atop a steepish 4 mi hike, is no joke – Tommy must have loved it. I talked to Jim Redo about the story that he’d called up Tommy to dare him to FA the route, and he pointed to one of the pictures in Movement above the water fountain, at the very center, and said, “Yup. That thing right there?” (That picture had been my phone’s internal wallpaper for 5 months.)
I signed on as a partner the first day because hiking was a great way to get endurance in preparation for the World Cup, since I couldn’t afford a gym membership, and the BRC was full of strangers – so we hiked the 8 mi up and down, and Nick Duttle locked all the moves that day, until his foot broke yet another piece of the climb. Despite my brave comments on the hike – “This hike is-,” very heavy panting, “-piss!” – the hike destroyed my legs. All together, the three days added up to 24 miles. On the last day, I think Duttle was hiding the fact his bag was full of 5lbs of light clothing, until I lifted it just before hiking down and almost tripped into the large broken talice.
It was funny, being his belayer. From the beginning, I just wanted to hike. Then everyone kept asking, “Where you the one who belayed him?” “Yes,” I had replied – the feeling of pride rising from a warm fuzzy place in my ego. “I was the one who belayed Nick Duttle on the send go. I’m that one person. I belayed him. Hail me.”