Alex stroked the biner, running his fingers along the curve and feeling the metal. He wanted to grab it, pull, and safely complete his ropeless ascent of the Regular Route on Half Dome. He danced on a pair of tiny smears on the final slab of the route, a mere hundred feet from the top and a long fifteen hundred feet of the ground. Finally, Alex placed his foot, forgot about the carabiner, and finished the route. A hundred people crowded the summit but none of them noticed Honnold's remarkable solo. No gold medal for Honnold, though a few hikers commented that his barefoot hiking sure was badass.
Two days ago, a 5.14 climber fell soloing in Eastern Washington, lobbing off a thousand foot cliff to his death. "At least he died doing what he loved," Isaac told me. I could only think, "Yeah, but he still died."
The same day at Goldbar, Mikey Schaefer, Keri Carleton, and I stood under a twenty foot slab boulder problem. Mikey tried it first, dancing his feet around then falling onto the pads. I climbed to his highpoint with a slightly different sequence and grabbed the jugs heading to the top. The top of the boulder was dirty and covered with moss. I stood carefully up, ready to top out. Then I slipped. I fell twenty feet. Flashback to Joshua Tree. I screamed, thinking I was going to die. I crumpled into a ball, narrowly avoiding breaking my ankle. My butt slammed into the rock leaving a large bruise on my quad. There are teeth marks on my tongue from biting down so hard on impact.
My hand still hurts. I should quit climbing. I wish I hadn't come to Washington. Last night when I told Matt about my regrets he responded, "Yeah, I told you so."