5cense A soul souring in a cave at Chasm Lake, a crack of Devil's Tower + the Needles (July 1994)


[19 Nov 2020> Not much going on on the homefront, no new experience to write about so we'll continue w/ our journal transcription, picking up from post 810, when we was summering in South Dakota in 1994:]

July 5 [, 1994]—Rocky Mountain Natl Park[, Colorado]
Bruce came back on July 2. I had to go to Rapid City to pick him up, figured I’d go early and do some writing at Oriana’s (wrote a border-crossing story that takes place near Nogales). Jorge Ben comes on their sound system, some interesting looking chicks work there, good coffee, good books, etc... I was was thinking it would be a good place to work. So I asked this guy Bob if they were hiring and he says, "as a matter of fact we are. This guy just quit on us." He gave me an application and said the owner (Oriana) would be out to talk to me. She interviewed me then and there and told me I could start work the next day! I was psyched, no more Chief. No reason to put myself through that shit. So I told Sam the next day and he snickered and said, "you know that's run by a bunch of dykes?" I said I would work til he got a replacement and he shrugged like whatever and started to walk away, so I just took off my apron and said "if you don’t care then I’ll just quit now" and walked out. I felt sorta bad cuz he’s Rusty’s uncle (otherwise I would have given him more of my piece of mind) but I wasn’t have been able to stand one more second in that place. Yeehaw!
         Saturday Bruce and I wet into the park and did Trojan Determination (5.8), a most excellent route. Some major runout to the 1st bolt. Definitely R (if such a thing exists in The Needles—almost all routes are rated R if not X). I was spitting pennies [climber speak for tasting adrenalin]. After 20-30 foot of 5.7 runout the rest of the route was sustained and run out. High quality moves. As I was doing it, an old time trad-climber stopped his car to watch. Ends up it was John Page. Afterwards we talked to him and he was talking about his 1st ascents with Bob Archbold. I guess he was impressed that somebody was doing Trojan Determination. He said he thought it was 5.9. Lots of tourists also stopped as usual. Bruce started to lead this well bolted sport climb that John said was 5.8 or 5.9. He got most of the way up but couldn’t pull the crux so I went up to finish it. Definitely stiff, we found out later it was 5.10 (a route called Sport Fuckin’). I guess there were some cool moves but it pales in comparison to Trojan Determination. These old trad routes are for more exciting. I talked Bruce to get Twyla to fill in for him and we took off for Rocky Mtn Natl Park, where we are now, camping out. We wanted to go to the Wind River range, but a front was moving in. We’re gonna do Keiner’s route on Long’s Peak if all goes well.

[the next page was written on a ripped out page pasted into our journal]
July 7, 1994 —— Chasm Lake, CO (11,900 feet)
Good thing Bruce Brough his journal cuz I forgot mine. There’s a snow bank outside of the cave in which we dwell. I scrawled on it, white on a dirty snow background but it will soon melt and there will be no trace. Maybe that’s the best kind of art. Got up at a reasonable hour and got our backcountry passes and some beta at Long’s Peak ranger station. Loaded up the Turquoise Panther Love Machine [what we called our backpack] and Bruce loaded Sisyphus [what he called his pack] and we headed up the trail along with the masses going up the Keyhole Route or day-tripping at Chasm Lake. Got here at mid-day and went around the east side and found this excellent cave behind a snowbank. We’ve been lounging all afternoon. I’ve taken 2 naps. We ate some burritos, crackers, chocolate, etc. It even snowed for a while but now it’s cleared up. What a place! A huge granite bowl formed by Mt Meeker and Long’s Peak funneling down colors and glaciers into Chasm lake. Followed the progress of some climbers on The Diamond… insane. Sheer vertical face reminiscent of Torres del Paine. It’s still light out, all we can do is wait out the night in our cave.

[we didn't have a camera at the time but here's a pic of Chasm Lake from the Inurnet... we took the route to the left of The Diamond (the face in the middle)]

July 9, 1994
Camping in the cave was inspirational. I crawled deep into it and lit a candle. Actually, before that Bruce and I composed a poem and I stuffed it into a crack for someone to find. When I lit a candle a moth came flying for the light, getting so close it burnt it’s feelers. I need to write a poem about this. I woke in the middle of the night to mice scurrying around chewing on the cans in our garbage. I tried to sleep but had crazy dreams and the mice kept waking me up. So I went outside. It was cold and clear between the cave entrance and snow bank. The sky was so full of starts it was unbelievable. It was clear when I woke up. I started to get dressed and next thing I know it’s snowing, just like that, “out of the blue”. I went back to sleep to see if it would let up. It kept coming. We wondered if we should just go up the Keyhole Route instead of The Loft. But then on the trail below the lake we ran into 2 guys Ken and Brian who were also contemplating doing The Loft so we stashed our gear in th cave and joined up with them. Up a talus filled Guly next to the ship’s prow. We got to a section where we had to traverse across a section of steep ice. I went first and chiseled steps with my ice axe. Then we had to 3rd class up these ledges, the snow still coming down (ended up snowing all afternoon). We gained “The Loft” which is an expansive saddle between Mt Meeker and Long’s Peak (14,200). It was like a wasteland. The fresh snow formed trippy patterns on the ice. The wind was howling. There were these flowers and tundra between the barren rocks. We went northwest around the opposite side, actually descending for 100 or 200 feet until this section of 3rd class climbing (which freaked out Brian) that got us below the Palisades—these immense rock faces strewn with cracks. I was starting to lose patience cuz Ken and Brian were moving very slowly and the weather was getting worse as we got higher. I went ahead. I didn’t have the book but the route seemed obvious and I was following cairns. I got us into the notch (which was probably at 14,000 feet), this is where things got fucked up. I started traversing this ledge and onto the east face, but it was dicey and not 3rd class. Ken and Brian moaned and complained as I tried to make sense of the book (we weren’t supposed to be as high as the notch). So we started to descend but then saw a possibility that looked like the book description (hard to tell though in the white out). We talked them into it (they wanted to just descend via The Loft) with promises that in 250 yards we’d meet up with the Keyhole Route. Sure enough, it met up with the Keyhole at the homestretch, these 3rd class slabs that were difficult with all the ice and snow. They still wanted to descend so Bruce and I said okay, we’re sumitting. Not that I’m a peak-bagging kind of guy, but we were so close and they wanted to go down, complaining about how they were out of energy, sore, tired, etc. So we said bye and started to go up and looked back and they were following us. The route was obvious from there, bullseyes every 30 feet. And the summit broad enough to play a soccer game on. I took a shit on top. We descended quickly. Bruce and I gave up waiting and just went straight for the keyhole hut where we ended up waiting inside for 45 minutes just to make sure they made it. Ken and Brian finally showed up completely bent and spent. It had stopped snowing and we could see people in the big boulder fields below so we said hasta la vista and Bruce I hoofed it double-time back to Chasm lake. Must have been like 15 miles with lots of 3rd classing. We were trashed so we crashed at the lake next to the locked up storm shelter. Slept sunset to sunrise then hiked back to the car to drive back. Picked up this Canadian new age hitchhiker with dreadlocks (she had been at the Rainbow Gathering). Dropped her off at some crossroads in Wyoming and I made her some coffee since the coffeeshop was closed while she tried to hitch a ride to where she was going (Winnipeg, to work on a sheep ranch). She found a truck going to Sioux Falls. Meanwhile this clean-cut German family stopped to get coffee only to discover it was closed so I told them I’d make them some and they were perplexed as I whipped out my stove and coffee sock. Other cars were stopping at this barren crossroads and at some point we had to stop making coffee for other people and just get home.

July 14, 1994
Mom is having her operation today to remove the tumor on her finger. We find out soon if it spreads to other parts of her body. I started work at Oriana’s, so far so much better than The Chief. Listening to Joao Gilberto and cutting fresh basil and garlic or making cappuccinos. And the people that work there are cooler than the 15-year old H.S. chicks at The Chief. A few climbers, college students, etc.
         Had Monday and Tuesday off. Monday Bruce was climbing with Fiona so I went by myself to Cathedral Spires. Free-soloed Tower of Darkness (5.3) and then Shaft of Light (5.4) and Moving Finger (5.3) with the imminent threat of thunder looming. It was a lot of fun, especially Moving Finger, a long chimney onto a teetering spire. Tower of Darkness was cool but the rock was shitty, made me sort of nervous. I got like 15 feet from the top and decided to down climb and go up another way. I walked around Cathedral spires through the meadows and found caves. Went up to spire 5 but the weather was too shitty to start up that, but scrambled up spire 6 (4th class) and Windy Porch (5.5) then broke over the ride amidst dark threatening rain and got onto the trail up to Harney Peak thinking I would have it to myself but there were a lot of dumb tourists saying “I wanna see some lightning!” Hmm.
         Looks like Brazil vs. Italy in the World Cup. Yesterday did Three Rings for Eleven Kings (5.9) up this stiff overhanging crack and up, a long 150 foot route. Started raining on me on the last slab section, made things exciting. Then Bruce led Cold Feat (5.7) another fine bolted route. Once again, it rained and I had layback and smear on slimey lichen. Finally finished "Moth" and "Arroyo Seco" but don’t feel too good about them. Unsure as to why I wrote them, they lack something but I’m not quite sure what, resolution? Closure? Just heard from Granini that mom’s operation went well and the cancer has been contained to her finger and will be grafted off.

July 20
Let me catch up here… did Foreplay (5.8) and what the book says is Nutcracker Suite (5.10) but felt like 5.8, before we got drenched. Yesterday was a day off. I went to Devil’s Tower with Jennifer and Matt. Jennifer is this 19-year old funky chick with out of control Johnny Rotten hair and a sideways way of talking. Matt is her (I presume) boyfriend from Iowa. The new generation of anti-fashion bohemians, can’t quite put my finger on it. Went in her Landcruiser listening to Minor Threat and other thrash bands, stopping at backwards redneck truck stops with elk heads mounted on the walls. Got to Devil’s Tower around 1 or 2 (they were late picking me up), started to go up Durrance Route and these people were rapping off on top of me. I asked how many parties were in front of us... a party of 6, party of 4, 2 parties of 2 or 3... 4 people in all. Hmm. I down-climbed and we went to find TAD (5.7). There were people filing up the cracks all over. TAD had 2 parties in front of us. We waited and got on route around 4. The parties above were dropping biners and rocks and taking lead falls. I went up and stopped short of the belay cuz they were still above me. Belayed Matt and Jenny up. It was his first time climbing and the belay sucked, hanging belay off gear and a rusty bong. The next pitch was long and sustained off-width, hands, fists, all sorts of meat-grinding shit. Finally some crack. Had to lead two more pitches up to the meadows, well, I went up and belayed them up. Topped out at sunset. Had to do 4 raps off in the dark (with beginners that had never rapped before). The moonlight was nice and it was a warm night but it was still nice to get down. When we got to the ranger station it was almost 11. The campground was full so I kept driving in the cool night til Moorcraft. Luckily a Conoco was open. Gassed up, the drove behind the gas station and splayed my sleeping bag out on the gravel and they slept in the jeep. It was strange. They kept turning the lights on us and trucks almost ran me over. It was raining when I woke up. Drove back and now I need sleep. Bruce quit The Chief cuz I talked Oriana into hiring him.

July 23
Something’s gotta come of this. I feel stagnant but ready to explode. The Sioux and other tribes used to come to the Black Hills to seek visions and "beseech the pity of their makers". Bob asked me yesterday whether I was religious or not and it occurred to me it was weird to him when I said no, that I don’t have any "spiritual" thoughts whatsoever. Guess it depends on your interpretation. We all act out metaphors in our daily actions. The most important thing a writer can write about is his/her country (or lack of country, as is in my case) to discover the foundation of their "country" is a farce, based on criminal genocide. Here I am "summering" in the Black Hills, climbing and whatnot. Such privilege. We’re all trespassing. How can we have "spiritual thoughts"? We’re all exiles from ourselves cuz it's the only way we know to cope. Right now I’m lounging in a lawn chair in the sun on land the Oglala Sioux considered sacred. They probably made a summer camp right at this spot. So what can be done now, is the question? It’s like our personal pursuits become cheap in such a state. Climbing is conquering. It’s a white man’s sport. I am losing interest in it, it is an escape like any other, but where is it taking me? I need to focus on writing. I know the last few things I've written are shit, but the rewards come in the efforts. I think I'm ready to write "Apu Kuntur" in my own voice.

July 27
My soul is souring. It is a disgrace to live in this country. What role do I have here? I feel nothing for fellow Americans, yet I have a desire to express. But how can I express to others that I don’t care about if I can’t even express it to myself? How can I inspire others when I am not being inspired? I could run away more and run all my life and when I die all that will live forever is the sun and earth. So what’s the point of material pursuits? Even writing is a pointless material pursuit. It’s trying to lay something down in concrete for future generations. But they’ll be doing the same and it’s Sisyphus over and over and I have to find pleasure in the pursuit. Bullshit, fuck the pursuit.
         Bruce and I went to Devil’s Tower Monday morning. He wanted to lead the 1st pitch of El Cracko Diablo (5.8) but it took him forever and it was frustrating. I am learning nothing climbing with him and my climbing ability is degrading down to his level. It was demoralizing just being on the “Mateo Tepee". Just a trivial white man’s pursuit, sucking the energy out of the rocks. We shouldn't even be allowed to cimb on it. By the time I got a chance to follow it was sprinkling and not letting up so we bailed. Farted around. Bruce lost the guidebook. Some lady rammed into in my truck. I just drove on but she stopped me, I though she was screaming at me cause she was all hysterical and mad at me, but she was apologizing. I lauhed and told her my truck was already beat-up, that I didn’t give a shit. It's just a material possession. When finally it cleared we went back up and I led the first pitch of New Wave (5.7) and my shoes felt like bowling shoes on the damp rock so I didn’t do the 2nd pitch. Then we did Mystic and the Makers (5.8) which was pretty fun, these low angle ramps shooting up the base of the tower. Then a cool roof problem. It was getting dark by then, went and read another chapter about Captain Jack of the Modocs [this must have been in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown], more betrayal and outright genocide. Woke up and met this woman Suzanne in the parking lot as we were going up, so we invited her along and ended up doing Bon Homme Var (5.8) a classic route. Starts in an off width and then a sketchy committing traverse around the corner to another great sustained hand crack that went on for another pitch. It was a little slow with a party of 3 though Suzanne kept a good pace and the sun was sweltering so after Bruce led a 5.5 pitch we rapped down and called it quits. Drank beer and ate smoked oysters with Suzanne.

[seems we were in a foul mood in the below post, but Tricouni Nail was a pretty special route]

July 30
Blah blah blah. Led the 5.10 next to Patience then followed Patience (5.7/5.8) then I led Just Me and My Baby (5.10d) blah blah blah. I worked. I ate. I shat. Today we did Tricouni Nail (5.8) and Sandbag Peak (5.8) blah blah. Fact is I'm getting a major reality check of what a fucking loser I am and how fucking arrogant, self-centered, righteous, bitter and cynical I am and not only that, I’m going nowhere with my life and have no real friends or no one I can relate to or that relates to me or even respects me. I need a kick in the ass. I need to be punished. I need to break down these walls I build, I need to quit fooling myself and justifying everything. I need to be humble and mind my own business. I am 27 years old. What the fuck am I doing with my life? Why don’t I have a career and a wife or at least a girlfriend? Why am I so self-centered, why do I escape into climbing? Who am I to think I can write? I have nothing to write about. I am not special. I am a speck of a shit. Low-down worst kind and no one has the balls to tell me cuz no one gives a shit about me. I am completely out of touch. I can’t even cry. I am not capable of love. This is rational anger right now. I am so far gone. I feel nothing. I can rationalize anything as "meant to be". I am a righteous asshole. I haven’t done shit for anybody. I this, I that. I think this country sucks. Boo-fucking hoo, bitch, whine whine whine. Everything I do is right, everyone else is wrong. Tourists suck, but I am a tourist. I suck so bad I can’t even feel it. I can afford to be more humble that’s for sure. Everything gets chalked up to me me me. Who the fuck is this me? I thought I knew in Indonesia, or when I was climbing Warpaint. I am so alone. I am still alone. I will always be alone. Things unfold and it hurts the way they do but I justify/rationalize it no matter the outcome. I can’t get close enough to anyone to explain this. I am alone, incapable of love. I am falling asleep and it will all go away... so I think. I sleep and wake. Sleep and wake, but nothing changes. I escape in sleep, but tonight I’ll dream. I think I will but I think this every time. Even this I’ll one day think means something, happened for a reason. This pen scribbling on the paper, how ridiculous. None of this means shit.

[... journal continues into August of 1994 in post #814]

810 <(current)> 812> Selfish machine memes inklooted in the expired ment to try to communicate w/ aliens
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