Monday, May 27, 2013

A Second Chance

I just learned about the death of Mason Robison, a Montana climber, on the Muir Wall on El Cap last week. I didn't know him but his death affected me greatly for some reason. Robison was an experienced aid-climber who just had shitty luck. He had placed a cam behind a loose flake/block which dislodged under his body weight. As he fell, the block cut his lead line, and Robison fell 230 ft to the end of his (static) haul line. As I read more about Mason and learned more about him as a vibrant life and not just a fatality, I felt incredibly selfish about my feelings. I'm alive and still have the ability to experience joy and beautiful things; Mason is not.

I listened to a lot of James Taylor after reading this thread. That song, "Shower the People" is stuck in my head.

There were many poignant posts on SuperTopo following this accident. Here are a few passages that stood out to me:

“It's hard to explain why we put ourselves at risk. It's just.. what makes us happy and if we don't follow our dreams then we don't feel fully alive. Perspective on life slaps you right in the face when contemplating a hard or dangerous move. The love for my family and friends and the love I have for them becomes crystal clear. It becomes the only thing that matters.” – ElCapPirate via SuperTopo

“Being able to persue (sic) ones dreams is the gift we all have, but those with real courage are the ones that follow that dream.”  - Delhi Dog

"This week's accidents hit closer to our climber' cores as they can not be chalked up to inexperience or a mistake. The thin veil of confidence between us and oblivion is dissolved and we get a view of true reality. We feel bonded to each as climbers but also to our fallen brothers because our fallen brothers are us. If you are a climber you have no choice but to answer the call and if not for luck and grace there go everyone of us a thousand times over. I have often thought if I should get the chop while riding the wind and granite on the sharp end that my only wish is that it be quick and absolute.
I take comfort in knowing my fellow brothers had quick deaths and did not suffer.
I do not feel waste in these deaths the way I do so many others. Sometimes during the course of living our wonderful lives accidents just happen.
RIP brothers and to the families please find peace in the happiness your loved ones found up on those glorious walls. It is an experience in ridiculousness, in magic and in the absurd and it is a spiritual epiphany and celebration of being alive greater than most people can imagine." - Riley Wyna 

"Mason's death is a terrible and sad reminder that our skill and experience is not always enough to control nature's vagaries. I agree that risk is an intrinsic part of the appeal of adventure climbing, but the appeal comes from our ability to neutralize risks with skill, cunning, and self-control. The trouble is that we don't always succeed, and even when we do we may be mistaking good luck for evidence of our ability to control our environment."- rgold

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