We didn’t even fear the be-nighting….we purposely sought it.
My Romanian friend, Cos and I took off on an adventurous night climb. I can’t even describe what it’s like: beginning a climb with no light, no clue, no expectation….just simply putting your hand in a hueco and not knowing what you’re going to grab. A porcupine? Or a chocolate bar? It’s amazing; I love it.
We abseiled down along the exposed rock a little past dusk and and hiked along the bush-thick base of the crag. We found the start to ‘Via Etrusca’ which is a fairly young route, discovered in 2005 by Cos’s Italian friends.
My back toward the jungle with a symphony of a hundred, unknown living species singing melodies behind me, I belayed my partner up on a 6a+ (French grading system: YDS would be 5.10c). It was an intense climb. The granite was amazing – very sharp, high friction, I felt much more secure than I normally would though because of it.
Cos groaned at the crux, “I can’t find any feet!!”. I stayed calm as I knew he would get it. He is a very able climber and 10c is not even a slight challenge for him that I couldn’t help smirking and thinking, ‘Oh stop it big baby….’. Wasn’t sure if he was feeling exceptionally tired from the day-before’s intense climbing. He got through the crux beautifully, which I was exhausted on – a vertical but steep (a bit hung-over actually) section that required strong moves. I only had fingers, pulling, gastoning….very powerful as I tried to place my feet high with every one-finger grab. I got through it though and we had fun on the next crux pitch of dihedral challenges.
At the top, we sat. And sat. And sat…talking into the darkness while the town’s far-off lights kept their attentions wide awake, spying on us; never taking their eyes off of us even as the fog arrived.
The temperature was stellar. I didn’t even feel cold. We finally scrambled back to our items: a welcoming fruit-topped cheesecake I bought, along with a sandwich for Cos. I had my own banana and candy bar; a great mix of pleasure and guilt.
I had absolutely no clue how we were going to get back the 25 or so miles down the road to the ferry. By now, it was too late as it stops at this hour but I was staying on the same island (at the airport). Cos was stuck. We didn’t care, we were having such a blast and I never mind if a friend needs a place to crash.
We made our way into the tree’s trail (which means, not much trail at all…) then to the main trail which were concrete stairs. “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin began playing out of the speakers connected to my iPod. It was a surreal time as we listened to Robert Plant croon while walking from stairs that led from a heavenly crag to a road of civilization.
“So if we’re walking down the stairs Cos, does this mean we’re taking the “Stairway to Hell”? ” I asked.
“No….the direction of the stairs doesn’t really indicate heaven or hell, right? The song just identifies it as stairs. We’re headed the right way…..” he answered.
A talktative night found its silence amidst the song’s presence; it was a peaceful, thoughtful one as we immersed into the notes and the lyrics.
We began walking along the road, not a car or human in sight. A 25-mile walk into the darkness it is. We didn’t care. The music continued to blast, more upbeat as we moved along. We reviewed the 80’s, the 90’s…we went to Cuba, Africa, Spain …80’s punk scene in London through the aural delivery. I started doing a dance/walk mid-song that had Cos splitting his sides. He couldn’t stop laughing and he didn’t bother to stop smiling.
“You are a fun girl, you know that?” he commented.
“ME?! Well, what else is there to be?”. I said in my faux British accent. I have been slowly developing one hanging out with him, although his is heavily laced with Irish from his time living there.
Maybe about 3 miles up the road, we bumped into a cab. Lucky. It sent us back to my hotel and we crashed out for the night.