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Archive | Climbing

You’ll Get to the Top and Remember James Garrett

Holed up in a traditional dance club, Garrett was immersed in Ethiopian dancing, shaking his shoulders and jumping up and down, the energy levels of this 63 year old climber defied nature. The next day, Garrett flew solo to Namibia, roped a random German guy into helping with belays, made the long trip out to the Spitzkoppe and put up a route. How many sexagenarians are doing this with their time, resources and abilities? Nobody I know is like James Garrett.

Dodging and not Climbing Rocks in Ethiopia

At the top of the 20m routes were the remnants of the group’s bolts, obliterated into a flat strips of metal pegged to the rock. Each one reminded me of the penny smashing machine, and I half hoped to find shapes of Ethiopia’s national monuments etched into the steel. Most likely the children of the village smashed the anchors with rocks. Owning a piece of metal in a landscape so overwhelmed with rock was seductive to a mischievous ten year old. Some hangers were completely missing, others intact hidden from the children’s view.

Life in the Hamster Tube: Tigray’s Off Width Towers

The Koraro towers rise and fall like pistons of a car engine and pose like a lineup of disfigured criminals. It’s hot, we see few climbable cracks, a series of bolts aiding halfway up the middle tower and He-Man chooses a chimney on the east face of the largest tower. Nobody knows where the chimney will lead, but a deep layer of bird shit tells us that if you are squeezed out of a vulture’s ass, you will probably hit the ground.

The Rock Orphans of Mekele

After another 8 feet, I reached the next chamber where Samy was wedged between the walls, smiling. I could no longer see the entrance to the cave and looking above resembled a narrow mouth of crooked teeth leading to an ever tighter esophagus, suffocating and desperate. I put my head into high gear, arm wrestling thoughts of claustrophobia. Thoughts are the catalyst for disasters in these types of situations, and steady breathing and silence are like medicine.