The lighter slipped out of my fingers like a greased pig at a rodeo. It flew into the air, my arms flailed as I tried to catch it. It fell between my legs and I snapped my feet together, ‘Gotcha!’ I thought, stopping the lighter between my shoes. Carefully I reached down to grab the lighter, as I leaned over it popped from between my feet bouncing off the wall and out of sight below.
I had promised Carmen romance and hot coffee from the portaledge. As soon as I watched the lighter fly through the air I knew I had failed, it was the only one I brought. Now we were destined to a fate of cold dinner, cold coffee and cold oatmeal. This was no way to live on the wall, we were truly suffering now.
Carmen and I were setting up my brand new portaledge for its maiden voyage in 2009. The ledge had just arrived, we set it up in a tree outside our first house together. We hung the ledge and a rope 30 feet up. I taught Carmen to jumar then assured her that she was ready to climb a 2000 foot big wall in Yosemite, no problem! So that weekend we headed off to Washington Column.
We had avoided the luxuries of Dinner Ledge and opted for a perfect hanging bivy complete with a small bush that made for a nice stance and a perfect place to exit the portaledge and find some privacy for the morning ‘routines’. Everything was going so well. Until I dropped the only lighter.
“Oh well, at least we brought instant coffee!” Carmen said while sitting on the portaledge taking in the views of Curry Village. I was less positive, this was a catastrophic situation! Could I rap to the ground? Could I rap to Dinner ledge and bum a lighter? How would I survive on the wall without hot coffee!
At least I didn’t bring the fixings for Avo-egg sandwiches on this mission. My gourmet big wall food game was really going to suffer this time. “Pass me the single malt please, I need a drink,” I said. Next time, Ill bring extra lighters.