Postcards from the Ledge: Collected Mountaineering Writings of Greg Child
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Selections of the best writing from elite mountaineer Greg Child.
thought, now I’ve got to go through this again for the finals. Back in isolation, I sat with eleven contenders for the big finale. For this round I had contemplated pulling a can of beer from my chalk bag, popping it with a flourish of spraying foam, guzzling it down, and then chowing into a Dagwood-size burger before stepping onto the wall. Just to show I wasn’t serious. But I wouldn’t. Four hours passed before I got my turn to climb. I spent the time sitting silently, visualizing the layout
but forgotten these spectral beings till one day in June 1994, while descending the West Ridge of Mount Hunter in the Alaska Range after a long ascent of a new route that became known as “The Wall of Shadows,” I felt the snowy crust beneath me dissolve, and I dropped armpit-deep into a hidden crevasse. It was a minor event on an Alaskan peak, de rigueur, I suppose. My partner, Michael Kennedy, and I had each plunged knee- to waist-deep into a half-dozen slots already that morning. Roped together
snow, writhing, screaming, leg cramping, seeing colors, shivering, verging on shock.” While Bill thrashed around in agony Carl set up the tent; then he took Bill’s boot off and got him into his sleeping bag. Every move was agony. The next morning, their seventh day out, they took inventory of their gear, food, fuel, and painkillers—“to see where the edges of our world were.” They figured it would take five days to reach base camp. They had four days of food, five Tylenol per day, and a few
as he called his Everest flight, is a hard act to follow, and a perilous one. He was killed a couple of years later while BASE-jumping off Angel Falls in Venezuela. 6. THE FIRST (FILL IN YOUR GENDER, NATIONALITY, STAR SIGN, SEXUAL PREFERENCE, ETC., HERE) Is it really a measure of anything to make the first dyslexic Taiwanese ascent of a mountain with a tongue-tying name such as Gyachung Kang? Try a bit harder! 7. THE FIRSTEST This includes first free ascent, first solo, first winter climb,
risked her life on big mountains, K2 was just one stop on an ambitious, well-publicized project: to be the first woman to climb the world’s three highest peaks—Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga—without supplemental oxygen. The Everest leg, in May 1995, had gone astonishingly smoothly. The Scottish mountaineer summited with the sun shining brightly the entire time. When she flew home for a few weeks of rest, she was hailed as a national hero. Meanwhile, Slater, her team’s expedition leader and a