Grand Illusion

Evening in the van – our home on wheels. It’s nice to come back to something comfortable after falling off the project all day. Grand Illusion, oh you are an elusive climb to me! Ben has had the patience to belay me while I try. What a hard job it is to be the belayer – wanting to be supportive, to say the right things, to give advice, to just make them do it, you hope they do it so you don’t have to catch the fall, or have to come back again. And then they fall.

My best go of the day was my second attempt. I made it all the way to the end of the roof, past the last placement. Arms and body pumped – screaming to hold on – trying to keep it together but being blinded by the searing lack of blood flow to my arms. At the last jams before I bust out into the stem at the lip. The anchors, they are there, they are just right there. I feel frantic – tryin, tryING,TRYING to hold on and then whoosh….The air whips past me and I come to rest ten feet below. I hang there and then yell “FucK!” I hang some more – gain my composure and then start to pull up on the rope but I am too pumped and too far out. I meekly ask Ben to lower me. I arrive back on the ledge and sit down. Looking out across the hills to the burned out and cut down trees – snags lie all around. Highway 50 cuts through just below – cars buzzing by all day, all day. Some swifts practice their acrobatics – so graceful, so sure. I wish I could be so precise, so light as they. I struggle to untie my rope – my arms still pumped. I feel dejected and week. I feel incredibly tired. How badly I want to clip those anchors – how badly I try to visualize it all coming together in one harmonious dance. I can untie now and I lay back against the cold granite – humbled once again, longing still.

I tuck myself into my sleeping bag and try to push away the depression of failure. I get a text message from our dear friend Jon Gleason. It reads, “Did you send that shit?” I send a simple “NO” back – but my reception is spotty and the phone tells me” Failed to Send” Yea, I know – thanks. I try to send it again, it goes through. He responds with words of encouragement. I sort of feel better. Ben tries to leave me alone – I know its hard for him to. I think about when will I have the opportunity to come back and try again. I get a little gripped about timing, I feel frantic in my thoughts. Deep breath, ahhhhh. I settle with the fact that Sugarloaf lies just up hwy 50, a half a days drive away. I will have the chance to come back, I will have the chance to try again. And after all it’s fun – the unknown of when it will go, the process of it.


About Katie Lambert

A Louisiana raised California climber. View all posts by Katie Lambert

One response to “Grand Illusion

  • Joyce Comeaux

    Katie and Ben–I so enjoy these notes and pictures. Please continue to send to me. I forward this on to my grandchildren and boyfriends as they are interested in rock climbing. Hope your wedding plans are going well. What an interesting life you have. Love Ms Joyce (Ms Bonzo)

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