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The 5th Ace: Death & My Greatest Crux

I found at the crux of the greatest challenge of my life . . .
I haven’t spoken of this story in years, and I carried the equilateral, triangular piece of basalt that I found back at the top, that had personality, would stand up on one side, in my pocket daily for 5 years. . .
I was waiting for the rest of the group to come back down off of the summit, and slipped backwards off of a cornice rock ledge into the scree field on the backside of a 14’r (14,000 foot mountain) in October of 2000 years back on a hiking trip and slid standing perfectly upright about 100 feet down, no resistance, just gliding with feet under the sand, submerged feet-surfing mostly.  Then I breathed and that movement made for another 100 feet, and another 100 feet, and then down over the 1st pitch from the top out of the view of my climbing buddies as I yelled “DON’T FOLLOW ME, ONLY ONE OF US WILL DIE, AND I CAN’T TAKE CARE OF YOU HERE, GO NOTIFY. . .”  . . .and eventually almost 2,000 vertical feet later at a 45-50 degree pitch found solace on a boulder bigger than my car that moved when I touched it, sand sliding out from in front of it.  I flowingly climbed on to it thinking that if it went I’d feel no pain. . .and might as well go out on a sports car of a fast-accelerating boulder ya know?!   Then after an hour of wonderful end-game tears and no way out at 4p in the afternoon when you were supposed to be off the pile of rocks by 2p. . .the temp dropped from 65 to 25 as the sun dropped below the rim of the summit, and I was day-dressed, long shorts and one sweatshirt.  Then, after smiling that “well, if I’m gonna go, I’m going out in my style. . .kickin’-and screamin’ in a long-form cosmic YAWP!”  Turning to look back up the steep pitch towards the top I couldn’t see, “And, if I’m going to go, I am going THAT way!!” I recited a poem I had written in 1991 on the hood of my car by headlights moving to Denver in 1991 in the middle of a blizzard snowstorm:

A Prayer

There comes one,

whom we know like wind,

like rain upon the water.

And, as winter comes

and our memories freeze together,

together may we sleep and dream.

So, that come the springtime,

as we embrace with open eyes,

may we melt

back together

in each others’ arms.

Amen.
And, I slid-flowed off of the boulder as more sand made its way down to the 2+ second drop-off, thousand one thousand two, CLICK the rock I tossed over sounded. Can’t survive a 2+ second fall that I had by the grace of all higher powers defiantly stopped short of. . .and I knew search and rescue couldn’t help with a helicopter until morning ’cause the storms were coming in, and even then the turbulence from the blades would avalanche the dry and frozen sands I was standing on in the scree field and they consequently wouldn’t try. . .I began slowly churning my feet chanting a word at each step “discipline   of   the  ritual     discipline    of    the    ritual” as I aimed up toward the next larger-than-my-car boulders knowing two things. . .1 the sand would be subtly more stable for upward movement, and 2 that if they went, again I would feel no pain. . . for 6 hours straight veering towards and then off from one to the next as the sand mini-avalanche cascaded up towards them in that flow of undermining the hill on its way uphill to the boulder . . .until at 10pm in the pitch black of night I was back at some snow patches near that 1st top pitch.  Except I remembered from the daylight when I slowly slid past them that the snow patches had tons of pink in them as I passed them earlier.  Ghiardia?, Pseudomollus?.  Not so good to touch or ingest. Can be fatal, and I had enough of that entree on my plate already.
So, I churned sideways traversing around them, and at midnight I was back at the summit.  Dead tired, looked up at the stars. . . BEAUTIFUL.  EXQUISITE.  And, dragged my right hand through the scree field at my feet to get a sand band-aid to stop bleeding that came from??, and something felt to stay in my hand.  I lifted my hand flat-palm up as a sand tea ceremony into the light of the stars and the sand cascaded off to reveal a stone, a triangular piece of basalt.  It would be my memory of this trip, and now, ALL I had to do was downclimb a mountain I had been on for the first time that day, in the dark, with sharp-edged rocks that would end up slicing through the thick soles of my hiking boots by the time I got down to near the top trailhead, and a 500 foot drop-off somewhere off over to the left, somewhere, somewhere over to the left. . . somewhere, too dark to tell. . . just don’t go left, I muttered as my lips cracked. More sand, at least some relief to keep focused as much as I could.  Clamping the triangle talisman memory-rock in my hand. . .moving down and to the right, at least right-ish.
At 3 am I, dragging my left leg as my left knee was totally blown and banged up and bloody as was my right temple from a rock somewhere, who knows where, sand probably too foot-trafficked dirty here to use, and the water had been in someone else’s pack ’cause I carried it up the climb, I saw campfires. . .base camps.
 I tried to shout and nothin’ but more cracking lips, the aphasia of dehydration anesthetizing my voice. No voice, no sound.  I kept creature-from-the-black-lagoonin’ limp-dragging my leg, the thought of which had kept a subtle grin but not so big as to crack my lips more through the last half of the down-climb — my Norwegian defiance of a joke on my lips kinda thing.  A woman walking at the edge of their campfire light shouts from way over “HEY EVERYONE. . .LOOK!!!”  and , runs towards me.  Search and rescue and my buddies had spread the word around the campsites. . .”Jordan? Are you, Jordan?” she said with her hand on my shoulder. . .and when I heard my name, I looked at her and my legs disappeared, collapsed. Unconscious k.o. by mountain.  Woke at after 4am to paramedics laughing that “Man, his vitals are VITAL!, 120 over 80 the whole time, and he’s waking up.”  I looked to my buddies and chuckling, lips salved or something, weird taste, said “Who’s gonna punch me, 1st?!!!”   One of my good friends shook his head and said “I’ve never been SO pissed off in my life!” ???  “HOW were we gonna tell your parents that you were the only one who didn’t do shrooms, and DIED?  We didn’t offer ’em to you ’cause you’re so damn vivid anyway we knew you’d laugh a no thanks.”  And, then put a gallon of water and a cold burger and fries in front of me they had gone into town to get for me waayyy earlier when they got to base camp.
I still love that story . . .NOW!  😉
BIG OLE :-)’s from here!  BIG OLE :-)’s  It was Mt. Democrat near Breckenridge, Colorado.  Guess I put in MY vote, huh.  😉

There comes one,

whom we know like wind,

like rain upon the water.

And, as winter comes

and our memories freeze together,

together may we sleep and dream.

So, that come the springtime,

as we embrace with open eyes,

may we melt

back together

in each others’ arms.

 

That was the best burger and fries I have ever had.  Thank You Mike Allison.

Jupiter’s Blessings,
Jordan
All images and text (c) 2010, 2011 Jordan Hoggard. Please be responsible and simply not an ass. When you utilize any of this information, cite your source.  Thanks in advance. When you do, expect a rockin’ smile.  If you don’t, watch out for trebuchets, the adult wrist rocket.
 
 

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