So There We Were (A Climbing Farce)

Note: embedded links will forward you to various other bits of humor that have added to this story.

So there we were, stranded! Thirty feet from the summit, two thousand feet from the base of the route, six thousand feet from the valley floor, and 40 feet away from our car parked at the top of the cliff. We were a lot of feet from a lot of different thing. We had no food, no water, no headlamps, no bivvy gear nor supplies of any kind. It was certifiably bad. “Damn you Jimmy! How the hell did I let you con me into this!” The Austrian legend Fitzhermannmensch Von Uberfingerkraft was a world renown alpinist, big wall climber, sport climber, race-car driver, theoretical physicist and the proud owner of a small bakery whose claim to fame was a loaf of bread so delicious it caused the third world war, ended the fourth before it even began, and led to humanity’s first contact with extraterrestrial life. Given that Fitzhermannmench Von Uberfingerkraft was too long to utilize while shouting mid-pitch obscenities, most of his friends called him Jimmy. I mean really, how did I get myself into this situation?


Thirty days earlier:
So there we were, stranded! Thirty feet off the ground, a mile from where the car was parked, no food, no water, no headlamps, no bivvy gear nor supplies of any kind. We were benighted upon the summit of “The Frog” because Jeremy couldn’t throw a rope properly. The tangle was an incredible solid mass about the size of a basketball, we didn’t know how to get down. “Having some trouble!?” The voice sounded familiar. “Oh my god! You’re Fitzhermannmensch Von Uberfingerkraft!” I exclaimed. “Call me Jimmy,” he said. Jeremy couldn’t take it anymore and had to say something “what was it like,” he said. Perplexed, Jimmy asked what he was referring to. “The first free ascent of Mt Sauron!” He zoned out for a moment and he instantly recited “It was probably the most physically and mentally demanding thing I’ve ever done.” It was obvious that he answered this question on a daily basis. Given that the entirety of Mordor had been evacuated on account of the ongoing eruption of Mt Sauron at the time of his ascent, It was amazing that anyone could climb it at all, let alone free. Of course the media didn’t understand it, and simply tagged the affair with the headline “MAN FREE SOLOS VOLCANO.” He finally drifted back to consciousness 15 minutes later, “Sorry, I zoned out, I get that question all the time. Where were we? RIGHT! Rescue!”

Dramatic recreation of Jeremy's signature "Basketball Knot"
Dramatic recreation of Jeremy’s signature “Basketball Knot”

Four hours later:
So there he was, stranded. Thirty feet from his car, Fitzhermannmench Von Uberfingerkraft Jimmy had no idea where he’d put his keys. To this day I’m still not sure how he managed a three man rappel using only his moustache. He had consumed too many celebratory margaritas during our rescue and couldn’t properly explain the technique, or find the keys to his vehicle. Thanks to the wonders of Tequila it was now our turn to save the day! After we drove him home he gave us a coupon for “one free adventure.” And we happily cashed it in one month later. I gotta hand it to ya, Tequlia Monster, sometimes you do get things right!

We just wished we’d appreciated his definition of “adventure” before we made the decision to accept that I.O.U.

Getting margaritas with "Fitzherrmannmensch von Uberfingerkraft"
Getting margaritas with “Fitzherrmannmensch von Uberfingerkraft” Photo courtesy of Nathan Burns

29 days, 19 hours later:
THUD. “Shit, Here’s your corpse. Now we have the world’s first confirmed A5!” Jimmy almost seemed excited about it. Three hours earlier El Spaniard had set off on the lead for the crux aid pitch. We’d laughed good-naturedly at his predisposition for hard-aid joking “What’s hard about aid!?” Well, now that we had the world’s first confirmed A5, we finally had our answer. Given that El Spaniard had been sent to his death by an untimely fart, we all decided to concede that perhaps aid climbing was hard. The vectored thrust from his Chipotle burrito had been just enough to un-seat his hook from the dime-edge that supported his weight. We were stranded with no food, no water, no headlamps, no bivvy gear nor supplies of any kind so we couldn’t afford to waste a single minute. Jimmy untied the rope and pushed “El Spaniard” off the ledge, there was no time for niceties. “Who’s next?” We all agreed that Jeremy likely had the best sphincter control. Judging by his latest triathlon times we figured he was adept at utilizing just the right amount of vectored thrust for a particular situation. In fact, they say that Jeremy won’t drink Red Bull because he doesn’t need wings to fly. Finally, we all agreed that Chipotle had to be nixed from the breakfast menu going forward, and then Jeremy set forth on the lead. Thirty seconds later he reached the end of the pitch, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. I immediately regretted the intake of breath required to breathe that sigh of relief, but Fitzhermannmensch Von Uberfingerkraft wasn’t phased. Apparently that moustache doubles as a gas-mask as well.

"Jimmy" in the midst of another moustache-fueled rescue. Photo courtesy of Nathan Burns
“Jimmy” in the midst of another moustache-fueled rescue. Photo courtesy of Nathan Burns, the only known person to get a photo of Fitzherrmannmensch von Uberfingerkraft

We were so close to the top, when the worst happened. The top of the cliff was suddenly inundated by a flood of Boy Scouts, and it began raining boulders! I had feared all along that it was too dangerous to pioneer a new route on such a popular scenic overlook, but Jimmy had lobbied hard to assuage my fears. And he bribed me with Tequlia. Damn you Tequlia Monster!

“I don’t always drink beer, but when I do… I prefer Tequlia” – Fitzherrmannmensch von Uberfingerkraft: The first climber ever to be sponsored by Dos Equis

One of the boulders from the top smashed into our rope pile, severing the cord instantly, and Fitzhermannmensch Von Uberfingerkraft dropped our only hammer. “Damn you Fitzhermannmensch Von Uberfingerkraft! You’ve doomed us all on this godforsaken cliff!” I didn’t feel much like calling him Jimmy at this point, not after all we’d been through that morning.

So there we were, stranded! Thirty feet from the summit, two thousand feet from the base of the route, six thousand feet from the valley floor, and 40 feet away from our car parked at the top of the cliff. We were a lot of feet from a lot of different things, it was certifiably bad. “Alright Fitzhermannmensch, what do you expect us to do now!?” I was practically screaming at him, and I was mad enough to fight if I’d had the energy leftover for it. Dazed, he says “Rapell? Ve cannot Rappel… Ve only have thirty foot rope!” as if that explains everything, and without another word he began up the final 30 feet to the summit.

Now our rope resembled a falling spaghetti monster
Now our rope resembled a falling spaghetti monster

There were no holds, just a thin crack that would fit only the smallest pitons, and Fitzhermannmensch Von Uberfingerkraft was attacking it like a mad-man. With a bottle of wine in one hand and the rope in his other he hammered the pitons in with his teeth, a technique he had learned from Warren Harding. That final pitch consumed our last three hundred and seventeen pitons, and he ran out of gear four feet from the summit. We sat there stunned at our misfortune to be utterly benighted so close to the summit, I closed my eyes for a moment to think if there was any way out and I heard him scream “YEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHHHH WE MADE IT!” Unbelievably, when I opened my eyes he was standing triumphant at the top of the cliff! “Just had to pull a Donkey-Lock into a Figure-Pi, works every time!”

We’d done it! We’d made the first ascent of all 32 pitches in only 4 hours. Our speed we largely owed to Jeremy’s chipotle power, while our lives were owed to Fitzherrmannmensch von Uberfingerkraft’s signature Donkey-Lock maneuver, which still hasn’t actually been witnessed by any living human. We only know it exists because the maneuver earned him a sponsorship from “ShenaniGrams: The Breakfast of Champions,” which is guaranteed to supply 100% of your daily recommended value of Shenanigans in only one bowl. After jumarring the tattered rope to the top of the cliff, I saw Fitzhermannmensch Von Uberfingerkraft standing triumphantly near the car, holding something in his hand. “Hey guys, look what I found!!” At long last, Fitzhermannmensch Von Uberfingerkraft was reunited with his car keys. And that is the story of how I took the most terrifying car-ride of my life. In true keeping with the lineage of Warren Harding, Fitzhermannmensch Von Uberfingerkraft had consumed a bottle of wine after every pitch on our ascent, and something about hearing the proclamation of “PITCH 47, SOOOO DURNK!” at 137 miles an hour in a Volkswagen Beetle just doesn’t inspire a feeling of confidence in one’s life choices.

Dramatic recreation of the ride home
Dramatic recreation of the ride home

Post-Script: Months later we questioned Jimmy about the car keys. Tempers had cooled and I no longer felt the need to beat him over the head with his full name. As it turns out, he had already onsight-free-soloed the route buck-naked wearing only a hat at the grade of 5.15d-and-a-half after drinking an entire crate of tequila and named it “Hufflepuffy Jacket.” He’d lost his car keys at the top, along with his memory of the ascent. That damn Tequlia Monster just won’t give up…

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