The New Yorker recently ran a painfully funny satirical piece about social media and publishing in the modern age. Yes, it’s mayhem. Time to jump on board. So, I got my Facebook going (hate to admit it, but it’s addictive) and even Twitter (no idea how to use it). Not that chaos is anything new. Reminds me of going climbing, actually, especially the early days back in Missoula, when we knew nothing and threw ourselves at everything. Nobody epitomized the ideal better than The Chief, and somehow I keep returning to a trip we made to the Canadian Rockies…
His dented, pea-green hatchback with its plexiglass side window sped way too fast into the Canadian border patrol station. The interrogation began immediately. No “hello,” no “where you going,” nothing. First words:
“When was the last time you smoked pot?” the woman cop in the booth asked The Chief.
The twitchy redhead, with his scraggly, unkempt beard, long hair and tattered clothes snapped his head to the side.
“Oh, dude. Like, years, man. Years!”
God damnit, Chief, I thought, burying my head in my hands.
“Please pull into the port on your left, sir.”
The Chief’s continued, incessant chatter answered the search-guard’s questions before he finished asking them (yes, The Chief had been through this before). The dirty-sock stench wafting from the gear-pile trainwreck in the back of the small car elicited only a sigh. The search cop’s head hurt from the Chief’s ongoing barrage. He just wanted it to stop.
“Well, I guess you’d have to be pretty stupid to bring anything across, eh?” said the guard.
“Yeah, that’s right, man, I mean, look at me! Dude, like, you don’t think I get searched every time I come up here? And another thing—”
“—OK, ok, enough, just…stop. Yeah, eh, so…just be on your way.”
We hopped in the High-Speed Pod and sped up the Icefields Parkway, The Chief not missing a beat.
“See, that was my plan – hey, grab me another beer, will ya? – I knew that he was going to ask about…” and on, and on, and on.
Johnny Cash bellowed through the speakers, competing with our prattle over climbing objectives and the regular sound of cheap beers popping open (this was back when we were all stupider than we are now). We sped north, trying to decide.
A-strain? Exit pitch missing.
GCC? Too big, too far.
Humble Horse? Wait, which one’s Diadem?
Edith Cavell? A 4,000-foot north face, only 5.7. Plus, the guidebook said something like, “A competent party can climb the face comfortably in a day, given an early start from the parking lot.” Competent, early…sounded like us.
We rolled in to the trailhead in the dark and drizzle, low clouds obscuring the face. We set the alarm for 3 a.m., woke at 4:30, stumbled toward the face and promptly got lost. Thirty hours later we were still lost.
And so it continues. When I feel like it, and maybe sometimes when I don’t, I’ll post stories, rants, and random thoughts. Like it or not, the world is changing, no? But maybe some things never do.