Testing the Vitality
Driving up the steel grey keel laid road along the dale - crags rising
like bulwarks from a wrecked ship on the valley floor
Just as the pilgrim makes an annual visit to that force outside himself
which he credits with creation so each year the climber makes the
journey to the foot of the cliff. To test faith in his
ability to respond to the challenge of these vertical
survival games -to exert his self reliance and renew a vision for next
The slow careful lacing of boots - the essential contactors of the
earth’s striations (wrought out of geology specifically for
this motive purpose) once fitted then forgotten as transmitters of
adhesive security signals - the green light for upward motion.
The cautious, halting start - deep breaths - heavy
heartbeats. Sweep sweat from palms and take stock, move on
- the rhythm develops - total recall of muscle patterns -
each movement new but shaped from the mental template formed at birth
and now matched to the task in hand.
The pulse slows as the climb unfolds - absorption in the immediate
space and time domain, Two hemispheres encompassing a vertical slice,
half air - half rock.
For the climber suspended on the interface nowhere else exists right
now. Each touch of fingers on rock recharges the life cells -
each movement renewing the contract with life.
The risk of fatal fall - small, but sufficient to hone the cutting edge
that decides between success and failure.
An issue balanced on the fine line of holds that flow upwards and
constitute the climb - a climb - no more than a transient existence in
the mind and body of the climber.
The final moves evolve - the problem solved - easy ground and
a surge of energy. The concentration tightens - so easy to
falter on the breaking wave of success.
His intention measured, the living gauge recalibrated and a sense of
direction regained tha vital course proceeds, reasserting that this
pure joy of movement on the face of the rock is part of something
deeper than emotion - more a communion directly with the spirit.
© Keith Ratcliffe - 1992