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A short story

3:52:20 PM
On 29/07/2004 HEX wrote:
>Damo --- I true-ly appreciate the heart-felt comment/thank-you, you posted
>yesterday, re' Hex's contribution ( which you deleted today --- fear of
>association etc,etc,etc )

Yeah, Damo. I thought that was a good thing to see, (before you deleted it), but now I get the impression that you are not fond of Hex-Troll (again)?

10:41:53 AM
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.

10:42:45 AM
I had fallen at least 20 metres. I fingered for the personal tracking device (PTD) located under my harness. A black hawk with a special ops team would be scrambled and be here within minutes. It would be the end of the mission as far as I was concerned. I would almost surely be pulled. Whisked back to Melbourne and then posted to the other side of the world until the dust settled.

A few wires and shards of broken plastic were all that remained of the beacon.

I could see that I had knocked him upside down and he was desperately trying to right himself but he had become tangled in the rope. That’s what had saved me from an extra 30 metres of freefall that more than likely would have ended with me smeared over the first pitch and surrounds. Using my damaged limbs as best as I could I climbed up to the belay ledge. I was face to face with him as I mantled onto the ledge. I was greeted by the good news - a blow square in the nose that felt like I had been hit with a hammer. Blood started pouring from my nose almost immediately. Despite the shock of the less than pleasant welcome back to the ledge, I managed to cling like a cat desperately clawing to stay upright after being kicked and I was able to block the blow that soon followed.

The situation was not a good one. Unarmed except for a small knife, 30 metres off the deck, injured and up against an SAS-trained soldier with a fearsome reputation for eliminating anyone that got in his way - often using imaginative and always horrific methods. I had read Alex’s file from front to back numerous times, seen the photos of unfortunate victims and hoped that I would never end up in this situation.

Relax. Don’t show any fear. This is what you’re trained for.

>> Train hard, fight easy. Train easy, fight hard – and die.

“Who the f--- are you and what do you want?” He screamed at me as another fist was thrown in my direction, luckily this time I was just out of reach.

“That doesn’t matter, all that matters is we need each other to get down” I countered as I rigged up another anchor for myself on the ledge and clipped in. Try to calm him down and talk my way out of it. I was seriously outclassed in the physical confrontation.

“Bollocks, I’m going to break your neck and rap off here and there is nothing you can do about it”.

I pulled the knife from my pocket and grabbed the rope and prepared to cut through it.

“Don’t be doing that” he replied icily. He had now extricated himself from the rope and was again standing on the belay ledge.

“Look all I want to do is talk, Alex”

He cringed as I spoke his name. “How the f--- do you know my name?” I figured the only way out of this was to come clean, at least partly. This guy was far too smart and would see through any bullshit story I could turn out on the spot.

I told him how the government had made it top priority to reel in this ex SAS golden boy turned bad. It had been an embarrassment to the Australian Government that one of our own boys was now an international mercenary, freelance hit man and drug runner to Sydney for the Hong Kong syndicate. The aliases he had used were well known to us, I told him, and it was only a matter of time before he went down. I had been trailing him all summer as he had made his way down the east coast of Australia on his annual climbing tour, beginning in Frog, taking in the Blue Mountains and Point Perpendicular, until we had officially crossed paths at the Victoria Ranges climbing gym.

I told him that I had activated a PTD and that any moment we would be surrounded by special ops. As I was talking something caught my eye. A wedge-tailed eagle flew down central gully and out over the plains.

In an instant I felt a clamp around my neck and the knife had been knocked from my hand. It followed the pistol down the cliff. My breathing was compromised immediately. “Bullshit” he laughed, “I know you’re bluffing. You seem to forget that I’ve been trained just like you. I’ve read all the same books. That shit just doesn’t work in real life”.

I tried to counter with a jab to his groin, but this was deflected with his other hand. I motioned to kick and this gave me just enough time to make a blow to his head with the screw gate carabiner I had removed from a gear loop on my harness. The blow took him by surprise and as he fell back, his face showed hurt and strangely enough, a note of respect that I had managed to get in another shot.

>> A worthy adversary

The admiration was temporary and he came back strongly, throwing himself at me. This was not the position I wanted to be in, because he was much heavier than me, my only advantage being my fitness, agility and reflexes. The sling connecting me to the wall restricted any movement and we became interlocked in a bizarre embrace. But there was no love to be had today.

10:43:43 AM
He was trying to undo the ‘biner on my harness and detach me from the anchor I had hastily set moments earlier. I solid kick to the groin had him doubled over. I followed through with a knee to the jaw. I felt that things were turning my way and I moved in confidently.

The elbow came from nowhere and connected with the side of my head.

I came to on the ledge. Looking at my watch, about 30 minutes had passed. I looked to the floor of the gully below. The climbing rope was piled in a heap at the base of the climb. I recalled him looking coolly into my eyes as I drifted out of consciousness on the ledge a little while ago. “I’m going to let you live, because you’re a climber. But mark my word – if I ever see you again I’ll f---ing gut you – hear me?” I remember nodding compliantly as I rolled towards the cliff face in the foetal position and what felt like sleepiness washed over me – happy to be leaving this world of hurt and fear I had climbed into.

I now stood up and vomited.

>> Shock

I eyed the 30 metres of grade 18 over loose rock and birdshit to the ground and began down climbing.

I hobbled down to the pines, passing a Japanese couple heading up to the boulders. They looked positively horrified to see me. I must have looked like some sort of crazed, bloodthirsty and wounded dog on the loose. Some girl tried to follow me and asked if I was alright but I waved her off and I limped on doggedly with my head down.

Luckily Alex hadn’t found the car keys in my pocket and the navy blue Audi A6 was waiting faithfully. The tiptronic gear system responded with cold precision as I floored it through the pines. The Audi exited the campsite sideways leaving a cloud of dust over a long haired, muscular climber of German appearance at the telephone box.

On the way to Natimuk I overtook some guy in a dusty old Kingswood, it looked like Simon Mentz. He didn’t even register as the blue sports car went hurtling past at 215 km/h. I could have been imagining but looking in the rear view mirror, I was sure I could make out a big toothy, cheesy grin and a middle finger extended in my direction. He quickly disappeared from view.

10:43:59 AM
I had not made contact with op centre because I wanted to clean up the mess I had made. Otherwise I would find myself in Saudi Arabia for my next posting.

I was moving very fast as I blitzed the main street of Nati, with Moby cranking on the stereo system. However the Audi was well within its limits.

I was so focused on making ground on Alex that I didn’t see the hippy on the road.

I slammed on the breaks and the Audi went into a spin. All I saw was a pony tail and a tie dye vest…then…what the…..I thought I was dreaming as he calmly turned to face the Audi, now spinning violently out of control towards him, smiled, and like a scene from ‘The Matrix’, he leaped clear over it, a good 2 metres into the air. The car came to rest in the car park across the road from the general store. The zen master hippy ambled over and gestured for me to open the window.

It was Chris Peisker. I had met him last summer at Araps while I was working on the moves of ‘headless’ late in the day. He had danced across the traverse like it wasn’t there. “Hey man” He could see that I was worked up about something.

He smiled. “Let’s go across the road and have a milkshake”. In the background I could see the shitbox Kingswood pulling up outside the milkshake shop.

f--- it.

10:54:25 AM
totally sweet! a genius at work?

11:00:41 AM
You are a shortstoryaholic with a vivid imagination Damietta.
It was a good read, and should appeal to many, (particularly the younger male climbers?).

I notice the stories getting longer.
... What are the limits or are there no rules? (Since you started the thread).

>Not sure whether this should go in the trip reports or here...but here's a wrap up of last weekend
Mission Control probably already has some interesting trip reports from the legends in their own lunch-boxes. Keep posting here cyberfriend of H-T!

>awesome story.... are you ok?
Probably not! ... Thats why we are ALL here on this forum!!
11:00:46 AM
awesome story.... are you ok?

11:40:13 AM
thats the shit we need in rock!! :-)

12:48:34 PM
Great story!

Completly unrealistic though, no-one else near Euridice on a sunny morning? Surely the queue of people waiting to do the bard would have noticed! ;-).

1:33:22 PM
On 3/08/2004 A5iswhereitsat wrote:
>I notice the stories getting longer.
>... What are the limits or are there no rules? (Since you started the

No rules A5

8:27:12 PM
Who is man enough to step into the Mountain story room and take his place on the throne.

A rough and simple prose,
Will more'n suffice.
A tale or two,
From rock or ice.

Noble folk,
Mountain dwellers.
Denizens of the wild,
Be story tellers.

Leave your crampons,
Your weapons o'war,
And your battle scars,
There by the door.

Come on in,
To this humble nook.
And paw through the pages,
Of our story book.


Superb form Hexie. The boys running amuck at the Vic.....

9:57:11 AM
On 29/07/2004 Damietta retrowrote:
>Loved ' em, A5 & Hex
Good one Damietta.

5:15:15 PM
On 24/08/2004 Damietta wrote:
>It's not climbing, But a tribute to Sally and the rest of the girls
There is something poignant in there Damien.
(You DO actually have a tender side ...)


Post edit:
Upon re-reading this thread on 23/02/08 it appears that Damietta has deleted his entire post of 24/08/04.
This is a shame really as it was a good post, and I should have copied it entirely when I originally replied to it.

5:41:54 PM
Patience Kent, we going back to the kitchen wit dis one.

9:21:51 AM
On 16/11/2004 A5iswhereitsat wrote:

>>I thought I saw something*
>I enjoyed your insightfull (evocative) 'short story' there mate.
>(You should cross-post it to 'that' Thread for posterity).

OK Here it is, a good excuse to retrieve this fledgling thread from the archives for another Kent-style shooting spree. It's not much, but it's a start........

.......He had been walking the flanks of the mountain ever since and would continue until the end of time. Moving over talus, rock walls, ice-fields and cornices - sometimes at great speed. During dawn, day, dusk and night.

The life of men had faded into a far and distant memory. Faces, figures, names, facts, had all blurred into a dream-like and vague recollection - did it actually happen or was it a dream? As time passed it became more and more dreamlike, almost forgotten, only a small instalment in a moving picture that now seemed to have so much more depth, clarity and yet simplicity. All was understood now, without being questioned.

And he only knew that time was passing by the changing seasons. As snow turned to melt water and re-froze.The winter storms driven by bitter, cold winds that would tear, rip and steal. Large easterly-moving fronts announced the coming monsoon. Alpine grasses and small insects came to life during the thaw, encroaching on the mountainside, and then retreated to the valley floor as the white blanket of snow and ice re-claimed its place in the endless cycle of freeze-thaw-freeze.

Alpenglow, when shadows drew long fingers across the rock walls and snow covered peaks, marked the end of day and coming of night.

He often heard noises, sometimes the sounds of talking, shouting and laughter, but never saw anyone. Migratory birds and other animals made their way through the valley below, but never stayed long....

4:05:07 PM
Good one Damo.
'Tis a worthy location for it, as I found the concept intriguing.

Kind of in the vein of something I read long ago ...
I think Greg Child? has an article / story published somewhere referring to what the Nepalese call a Chowkidar, basically the wandering spirit/s of dead mountaineers in high places.
Eeery stuff hearing the scratch of crampons on ice outside the tent when conditions are abysmal at altitude, only to open up the tentflaps and find no-one there ...
7:08:11 PM
Yeah, I'll second that, nice one Damo. And welcome back.

On 30/09/2004 James wrote:
>.... if damo is ever let back in, perhaps he can write
>trip report about his time in exile...

Any chance of that? (Don't let criticism stand in the way of attempting greater things eh?)

10:14:03 AM
Yeh not bad Damo, a good but brief instalment.

In 1999 I spent about three and a half weeks by myself collecting rocks from Mt Luxmore (Fiordland, NewZealand) for a geology project. Apart from having the luxury of an 80+ berth cabin to come home to every night and intermittent helicopter support I would not talk to anyone all day.

When you're alone outdoors for a while you become quite attuned to all the birds, insects, weather etc, and simple things like the way the light varies through the day, and how your body changes - ie it seems to hit 'mint' condition for alertness, awareness and physical performance at about 4 pm.

One morning I put down my pack to go off and have a look at an old abandoned ski rope tow. When I came back I couldn't find my pack so I spent what seemed like hours scouring the mountain side for the pack, during which a few storms passed over, it was both dumb (on my part) and bizarre

Your piece reminds me a bit of one by Reinhold Messner, when he described his traumitized wanderings on Nanga Parbat looking for his brother who had passed away on the mountain. Also very Mallory-esque - there must be many ghosts traversing Everest's slopes

11:12:56 AM
Messner, Bonatti are great readings but damaging to the ego

Also the late greats Tasker and Boardman.

The two of them are in kahoots with Irvine and Mallory.

Still strolling the upper ridges and steps, enjoying the contented, peaceful haze of the alpenglow with chardonnay in hand.

Sharing a pipe with Rob and Scott on the western cwm.

Huddling together silently as darkness decends over the mountain and the evening stars make their way across the threshold of night and day.

The collection would not be complete without Greg Child. Bonnington for an insight into the glory days and the military approach to putting a man on the summit.

I note somone had posted a Vonnegut quote on another thread. So tere are some learned folk in here

Yep, dat dere's where we at. We got mo on da way, so you jus chill out in de departure lounge an da humble scribblins will follow.

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