Small Man

Sometimes I write the paragraph I have in my head and hope it leads somewhere. This one led to a 240-word description of the first ascent of "Deprivation" on Mount Hunter, which is not where I was headed.

After 21 days of waiting out Alaskan storms in the small tent, our partnership is on the brink of disaster. Frustrated ambition strings us taut as guitar strings. Every event is magnified. Each small incursion into my own personal space makes me cringe in self-defense or counterattack foolishly. I hate it most when he slurps his soup; I never thought it could be so loud. Each alpine style darting onto the mountain has ended in failure so meaningless things take on great importance. I've made the coffee six days in a row. It's his turn but he hasn't offered to wake up first and boil the water...

Success, when it finally comes, is the result of speed and a perfect synergy between us. We communicate without words. We are inside each other's head. Interdependency is total. A 72-hour burst. 41 hours of continuous climbing on the second "day." It was the most intense mountain experience I've ever had. Back in the relative safety of our tent the little things don't matter anymore. The risk, effort and reward have put everything back in order. I even enjoy the way he drinks his soup.

Alaska, USA - Mount Hunter (4556m) North Buttress

1st ascent of "Deprivation" ED+, 90°+, Alaskan Grade 6

15-17 May, 1994 Scott Backes & Mark Twight

Mark Twight
Mark Twight