Vertical marathon

When I was a young teen, I read a book about the challenges faced by climbers when ascending the north face of  Switzerland’s “The Eiger”, historically recognized as the most dangerous ascent on the planet. Teams of men roped together would routinely fall thousands of feet to their deaths when one lost his footing, dragging all over the precipice. All the while, the well to do guests of the hotel at the base of the wall would observe through the high powered telescopes thoughtfully provided by management. Another common occurrence in the two or three days it took to reach the summit was for them to be frozen to the wall while bivouacked overnight when storms unexpectedly blew in from the Mediterranean, forever entombing them in ice as a permanent part of the mountain, to be negotiated around by future climbers. Casting about for a hobby to replace skateboarding which I was quickly outgrowing, the book convinced me at the time that I would rather become the he-bitch of a fat fingered Texas penitentiary guard than take up rock climbing. I ultimately adopted boating as a happy compromise.

It appears that the climbers have gotten better since then. Or at least faster.


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