My neck was stiff. I had been looking upwards for what seemed like hours following the morning mist as it rose like a curtain. Foot by foot the great face was slowly revealed. It was so high! It was so steep! I had never seen a rock wall like it.. I used a skyhook for the only time in my life on that climb. It was like putting a fish hook on a pimple, then standing up on it.
I was leading. I had a hand jam in a crack on the left of a block. My right hand found some small holds above. I pulled up on the jam and the block began to move! The block slowly started to slide out on unstoppable slow motion ball bearings. It was the size of a dustbin. I screamed a warning to my partner belaying on a small ledge twenty feet below. I couldn't hold it in place any longer. It was pushing me off! I just managed to move to the side before the block crashed down onto the tiny ledge. The explosive noise! The acrid smell! Echoing reverberations bounced back and forth among the mountains. Then total silence. My friend was surely dead and I was frozen in place a thousand feet up with another thousand feet to the summit. Time stood still.
Then his voice faint and trembling. He was alive! Whats more he was unhurt. It really was a miracle. Somehow he had avoided the falling block. The ropes however had died the death of a thousand cuts. They were chopped into bits and welded into strange shapes by the heat of the impact. The longest piece was 15 ft. We tied all the useable bits together and climbed the rest of the way to the summit with short pitches and no runners because of the knots. There could be no falls, the knotted rope was still cut and nicked in numerous places. It took an age to get to the top. On the summit we waited. There was no way off without many long abseils, an option not open to us now. Time lost any meaning. We had no food or water left. Through salt stinging eyes I could see birds circling far above. My partner said they were vultures. He croaked through cracked lips that bears and wolves also roamed these mountains. I dreamt that wild animals were scaling the cliff below, looking for us....I woke with a start! A bear was standing over me. I saw it's shaggy head and felt it's warm breath on my face. It spoke. " Estas bien?" it said.
The spanish climbers who found us tended to our needs. They were amazed that we'd climbed most of our route on a rope that resembled a single Incan quipu. It's knots recording the history of our ascent. When we had recovered enough they let us abseil down their ropes. It took another age.
As I finished writing this I decided to Google my climbing partner. We had lost touch and I hadn't seen him for forty years. The news article said he had died some ten years previously in a cycling accident, a sport he had taken up after an adventurous youth as a mountaineer it said. Unknown to me he had been living a few houses away from my daughter while she was at Uni. I must have passed his door a hundred times.
The spirit of Goucho lives on.
Good writing have a like
I like your stories - keep them coming!
It's a great story indeed, but so great I'd say it's a bit hard to believe without evidence. After increasingly smelling a rat on Goucho's (invented) contributions to UKC maybe I'm being a little jaded, but it might be a good idea for someone to confirm they know the OP and that this actually happened.
I have to say it saddens me that you feel this way. The stories happen to be true. I gain no benefit from spending time posting them on here other than a good feeling when I get nicer comments and a sense of being connected to the climbing community again. I enjoy writing about these things as it takes me back to a time when I led a more adventurous life and I had some good friends. With regard to evidence what would you have me do? Contact my dead friends widow and get her to confirm the facts? Maybe send you bits of the rope in question as I still have them. Or get my daughter to contact you to confirm that she did indeed live near my friend? No. I am not going to do any of those things. I am not claiming a first ascent that might need verification. I am sharing my stories for the hopeful enjoyment of the reader. Nothing more.
Keep posting. I'm of a similar age and find past exploits more and more a source of strength and comfort. Did we really do those things? Without the internet, smartphones and other modern things? I'm often surprised to have survived as long as I have.
I've trashed a few ropes but not in as dire circumstances as yours. I do recall falling onto a relatively new rope (circa 1986) and lowering to the ground. Keen to get back on I was just about to launch upwards once again when Chris pointed at the rope just below my harness. The sheath had completely parted revealing the inner strands. What did we do? Just re-tied further along the rope. After all, we had a route to climb.
Thanks. Maybe we are trying to recapture those times.
I'll happily apologise if it becomes clear this story is true (as constructive advice, talk to the moderators or maybe someone very trusted here like Mick Ward). If it were not for the fact we were all tricked by Goucho on UKC (and elsewhere...he got some of his work published), I wouldn't have posted.
I've known a few people who compulsively invented 'stories' and their motives ranged from the warped psychology of pathological liars, to clever & dedicated trolls/jokers.
I'm not too stressed about it to be honest. And I'm not trying to trick anyone. I just thought that my stories would be light relief from a lot of the more serious discussions on here.
>If it were not for the fact we were all tricked by Goucho on UKC (and elsewhere...he got some of his work published), I wouldn't have posted.
We weren't all tricked but our views were suppressed for a long period following his sad demise.
> We weren't all tricked but our views were suppressed for a long period following his sad demise.
What's the back story there?
They are very good stories (as were Goucho's). I vaguely remembered an early post of yours that I read with scepticism and just re-checked it...the ex-SAS climber with the metal plate in his head who behaved dangerously with you on The Runnel because he didn't like people overtaking him.
You should watch this movie (or read the book) if you are telling the truth.
That was true about the metal plate as well. I will watch the film. Just realised I've seen it.😊
if you keep saying things like 'if you are telling the truth' I really will take offence.
The best man at my wedding was with us the day the ex SAS guy tried to push me. It was his car in the car crash story and he was the climber with me in the story Glimpse of a Legend. He is highly respected climber and one of the top officials in the climbing establishment. I could ask him to verify stuff but I' m not going to do that. You will just have to take things on trust. After all I thought that was what climbing was all about. The events in all the stories are all true. I might change names to preserve anonymity. I definitely try to draw out the humour or drama as any writer would. If those who doubt the credibility of the stories aren't satisfied then read them as fiction and gain some enjoyment if you can, or don't read them at all. It is your choice. I won't continue to try to defend myself after this post. Whatever you choose I wish you well.
Truth in climbing is important. Too many climbers have been accused of exaggeration or deflection to some accused of outright lies. That doesn't mean they didn't 'know their onions' or in some cases despite it being obvious (like the allegations around Rich Simpson) they were up with the strongest around. Goucho clearly knew hard climbing from experience.
I'm glad to hear of your close links to the climbing establishment. Makes things easy to clear up as anyone important from the 70s onwards will link to a few forum members (myself and Mick included) through one climbing friend at the most, so it's easy to clear up if those two stories are not exaggerated for effect.
I'm enjoying your writing and, as I don't see what possible harm could arise from posting stories on here, please keep them coming!
> I'm enjoying your writing and, as I don't see what possible harm could arise from posting stories on here, please keep them coming!
This morning's short lived story had a clear potential for harm, caused a bit of a rumpus and thankfully disappeared. Hopefully a lesson learned.
I too was deceived by Goucho, and there are two things in this story which I don't get:
1. I don't understand the mechanics of the cutting of the ropes into pieces, none of which was then longer than 15 feet. They must have been lying on the belay ledge, but that was "tiny" - doesn't seem to fit. How did you get back to the ledge; downclimbing?
2. A very concrete question: which mountain, which climb? It sounds like a 2000 foot needle, being only descendable by abseil in all directions.
> I too was deceived by Goucho, and there are two things in this story which I don't get:
> 1. I don't understand the mechanics of the cutting of the ropes into pieces, none of which was then longer than 15 feet. They must have been lying on the belay ledge, but that was "tiny" - doesn't seem to fit. How did you get back to the ledge; downclimbing?
> 2. A very concrete question: which mountain, which climb? It sounds like a 2000 foot needle, being only descendable by abseil in all directions.
Yes, I don't think anyone's anonymity is threatened by revealing the location of the climb. Can't have been a 2000ft needle though if there was a danger from bears and wolves. The rescuers were Spanish but that doesn't mean it was in Spain...
Who cares if it's "true". If it were fiction it would still convey truth. Good storytelling; especially as it was presented as a story.