Tales of an Incompetent Adventurer
by Ram

Several folks from this group have suggested that some story telling would be a fun way to share adventures and maybe offer a lesson or 2 along the way. Tom Jones suggested intelligent, humorous, and brief would work well. I’m sure of one, will try for two, but brief? Sorry. This particular story is about me. I wanted my first story to show to what a high level of idiocy I’m capable of, so that when I tell other stories in the future of friends and strangers, no one will accuse me of placing myself above it. Sadly this is not my only foray into foolishness.

10 years ago this coming March, a friend of mine and I were pushing a canyon in Cedar Mesa. The drops around there are not so large that establishing a canyon from the bottom is practical, safe, and pretty darn physical. This was my fourth day over two years pushing up this particular canyon. We had gotten further each time. On this day we pushed out the top. The crux had been my pal putting in some cams in a horizontal crack and placing aiders while standing on tip toes on top of my head while I stood in waist–deep water in a large pothole. Several of you heard this tale at the spot at the last rendezvous.

After climbing out the top and establishing the in/out route for future trips down and through, we started down. On my 3rd exploration of this canyon, the one before the successful one, I had soloed across a place we came to call the Spiral Staircase. Weave around some boulders and up to a knife–edge, boulder 30 feet directly over the canyon bottom. From here there is an exposed step over to a steep slab and up 20 feet to the ledge. A scary spot. On the way down, my friend who is an extraordinary climber and technician was somewhat spooked about this spot. Having been up the spot twice and down it once already, I had the moves dialed. Seeing my friend’s concern, swelled both my chest and my head a little bit and Smiled a smile of self–satisfaction.

As we neared the obstacle, my stride gained a bounce as I strutted toward the edge. I tossed my ski pole, which I expected to drop to the canyon floor. Of course it drops a dozen feet and stuck on a huge chockstone I had never seen, well off–the–deck. Can’t leave that there. So my pal and I went about tossing hand–sized rocks at the pole and were slowing edging it toward the drop. Needed a better angle. I down climbed the slab to the knife edge boulder and to a gravel bar along side it—good rocks, better angle.

After 2 dozen rocks taken and thrown from between my legs, I heard a rattling sound and looked down between my feet to see gravel drop and a hole open up a foot and a half in diameter, 30 feet down to the canyon floor. Jumped straight up and defied gravity until I landed on the side of the boulder. Pushed my stomach back down my throat and shook for a minute or two. An Island in the sky. Makes perfect sense in retrospect. Because of cockiness, I deserved to die. No great lessons here, except ... I’m not too bright

Can anyone, still alive, top that?

Jan 6, 2002

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