Postcards from the Ledge: Collected Mountaineering Writings of Greg Child
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Selections of the best writing from elite mountaineer Greg Child.
tendons strapping his arm into his shoulder socket got sloppy—and I watched him flip about on the ground like a trout plucked from a stream. Typists, keyboard operators, and women cradling babies were also among the ranks of the injured. They suffered from RSS, repetitive stress syndrome, caused by performing repetitious work tasks. No one was safe from the tyranny of tendinitis. Two-and-a-half years after the onset of my injury a surgeon cut open my elbow to see what could be done. He went in
algae. Higher up, in the icefall separating Combatant from Mount Waddington, ice chunks lie about where rickety seracs have collapsed and, we soon find, will continue to collapse, thunderously loud and as regular as clock-work, all throughout our climb. It is late August, the dog days of the Indian summer of ’94. The glaciers are tired, disheveled, ill-tempered; they itch for a cleansing blanket of snow and the brace of winter to make their bones strong again. Chopper time is pricey; so when
much further, and the true limit is infinity. A man throws a rock—his desire—into the unknown, into the mist, and then he follows it.” THE HOMECOMING Jannu had put Česen on the map, letting him quit his job as a steeplejack to become a professional climber, but Lhotse made him. It earned him a Slovenian national medal, and Messner nominated him for another $10,000 Snow Lion Prize. This amounted to a sizable sum when viewed in terms of the Slovenian economy. The Italian gear companies Scarpa,
believed that one of the golden rules of alpinism was respect for the word of other people. Everyone presumed innocent until proven guilty—as in law. Will we in the future have to produce proof of our achievements? If we, as alpinists, allow suspicion to intrude among ourselves, then we lose part of our soul. Alpinism will pass into the hands of the codifiers, the verifiers and all the other standardizers . . . You say Tomo Česen never got to the summit of Lhotse? Well, I would like to know who
this obstacle, with their heavy steel oxygen tanks, hobnail boots, and wool tweed jackets. Only the Chinese in 1960 were known for certain to have climbed this cliff. The official Communist-Party book of their ascent says it took three hours to overcome it and that they climbed “with the power of Mao Ze Dong Thought.” Even though I was using bottled oxygen, I’d been gasping desperately for the past hour. Scaling the ladder nearly made me faint. At the top of the step I checked the pressure gauge