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General Climbing Discussion

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A short story 3-Aug-2004 At 10:41:53 AM Damietta
Not sure whether this should go in the trip reports or here...but here's a wrap up of last weekend

We both turned to watch the standard issue Browning 9 mm bounce down the wall. Alex, from the belay ledge, and me, while leading through the overhanging corner on the second pitch, on Eurydice. I had watched on in horror as he calmly reached out to catch the pistol as it toppled out of my chalk bag. Luckily, it was out of reach and sailed past him before coming to rest in the scree and shrubs at the base of the climb.

Alex was still facing the ground from the belay ledge, as if deep in thought. He remained that way for what seemed like minutes, as I watched him from a precarious stance on the rock face above. Eventually, as if in slow motion, he turned to face me with a wry smile, as though he comprehended the punch line to a joke that had eluded him until now.

“Um, I think we have a problem Damien” he sniggered. “Or more precisely, now – you – have – a - problem - Damey” placing careful emphasis on each word as if he was talking to a child.

I was a couple of metres above the last piece of gear. There was no one else around this part of the crag, or at least not within sight. Neither of us spoke for some time – just looking at each other, waiting. It seemed like a million thoughts were running through my head. Should I untie and solo the rest of the route, should I try and talk my way out of it. I was in no doubt that I had been fully compromised. I would be seriously underestimating him to think otherwise – a dangerous move.

>>Never underestimate your enemy.

Before I had come to any decision he began reefing in the rope from below, as if trying to pull in a big fish. I was able to maintain my position for a moment before the weight on my finger tips became too much and I was off. I was surprised when the number 2 friend blew straight out of the rock. As I fell past him I stuck out a foot that struck him in the upper body, knocking him from his belay stance.

I hit the rock hard. The Bruce Lee move in passing had flipped me upside down. My left shoulder bore most of the impact. I was aware that at some point my head had hit the rock. I momentarily hung upside down in my harness, a tangle of hardware, bruised limbs and blood. I quickly got back onto the rock. I was only a couple of metres below the belay ledge where Alex had been standing.

Eurydice was in the sun now, and the rock was warming. It was turning into a beautiful day – any other and I would be happy to be here.

>>Damage control.

I felt the back of my head. My hand came back covered with blood. I had a decent gash in my left shoulder and it hurt immensely when I moved it. However, I was not losing much blood from either wound. Apart from what seemed to be a weak sprained ankle and numerous other small cuts and rapidly forming bruises - I was still in the game.

>> It’s a game.

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