So I was out climbing at Reimer’s Ranch in Austin, minding my own business and belaying my friend Jini (if you don’t know Jini, you need to get your happy ass to Austin as quickly as possible and hang out with her. You owe it to yourself, and I’m not even fucking kidding you) when all of a sudden, I saw a flash out of my left eye and heard a loud THUD. I was belaying someone, though, so I had no fucking idea what had just happened. Because I am that focused on making sure people as awesome as Jini are on a tight belay. Yeah, I know. I expected less of me as a belayer, too.
Well, it turns out this dude was at the anchors of the climb immediately to our left, and through some freak accident his belayer wasn’t actually on belay. Or something, ’cause he let go and fell sixty fucking feet. Evidently he landed on his feet and did some kind of fucking ninja roll or whatever, that shit was fucking insane and even though I didn’t see it (I was belaying Jini, you’ll recall from earlier in our convo) I’m sure it must have looked fucking amazing. And he landed on his back. Or something, but again I didn’t really see that part. I heard that if he had let his head fall just another inch, he would’ve been talking funny for the rest of his life. Or maybe it was a half-inch, anyway you get my drift. Dude that shit was life threatening.
Anyfuck, I lowered Jini down (she was pretty shaken…I guess she actually saw the whole thing happen since she wasn’t belaying anyone and was able to focus) and turned my attention to the accident.
What I saw was ten people staring at a good looking guy who was shaking his head and trying to figure out if he was hurt or not. I remember thinking “shit, he’s not gonna’ climb anymore today which means that shirt’s not coming off” ’cause I’m selfish like that and he was actually kinda’ hot. I also saw his belayer, who was much worse for wear. The realization that she’d come very close to being responsible for another person’s death had very clearly set in. Her hands were red and blistered from trying to grab the rope in a desperate effort to stop his descent (which she did, at the very last second, perhaps saving him…but who fucking knows.) Did I mention he was on top-rope? Not that it should make any difference, but we all know it does.
So I thought about belaying for the rest of the day. I thought about the ramifications of giving someone a “catch”, and how frequenly…especially when that person is on top-rope…we lose focus on the climber and talk to our friends, or reach back to grab a drink of water, or even get so involved in laughing and joking with each-other that we forget for a second that we hold another person’s life in our hands. And how sometimes that second of inattention could intersect with the climber missing a key hold. Or something. I’ll repeat: I have no idea if that’s what caused this accident, I was catching Jini (I totes love her, y’all have to meet her!) but this is the kind of shit I think about when I hear about accidents like this. Anyway, it was totally serious and I wish I could convey how important it is to belay attentively, no matter what…but some of you mother fuckers are gonna’ do what you wanna’ do, and that’s fine. You will not be catching me while you’re doing it, or any of my friends. Don’t think I’m not watching, either, ’cause I’m totally shallow and judgmental like that, you can ask anyone.
Anyway then a second thing happened. Remember that game that we used to play when we were kids? The one where one person told another person something and you had to whisper what you heard to the next person until the last person said out loud something that in no way even closely resembled what the first person said? Yeah, that happened. As we walked to different walls and talked to people, everybody had heard about the accident, and everybody had a different story. The belayer wasn’t paying attention, the climber shit himself and some got on the rope which ate through and caused the fall, the belayer had a recalled “Grigri of Death”…everybody had a different story. So hot.
I didn’t think about that part too much. Climbers are gossipy. That’s why Austin is awesome…if you’re a douche, chances are everybody in town knows about it and doesn’t want to climb with you anymore. And all of the people with really low self-esteems will want to fuck you. Just remember it’s a double-edged sword, ya’ douche bag.
So, in conclusion, some shit happened at Reimers in Austin and I didn’t really see it even though I was standing right fucking there because Jini was climbing (that girl is a national treasure…) and I was paying attention to that. But it happened, and somebody got dropped. He lived but didn’t take off his shirt, which still kind if irks me, but I’m glad he’s alive to take off his shirt another day. Also, in a similar but un-related vein (since I have no idea how the accident happened), the business of belaying is quite serious, and failure to perform your duty properly could lead to someone else’s death.