The guidebook said “a skinny person” could fit through the small hole at the top of the chimney on the second pitch of “Skyline Buttress” – otherwise the pitch could be completed by traversing out of the chimney onto the face of the tower. Marylee and I are girls so obviously we wanted to be officially classified as “skinny” – thus the hole drew us in.
The five-pitch climb is a classic in Gallatin Canyon. We were intent to squeeze out one more adventure together on rock before winter set in. We hiked with Zaydee along the Gallatin River, through golden trees and up the slope through snowy patches to the base of the tower. We warmed our hands and began the climb (and then warmed our hands again and again). Sun warmed the rock above us and beckoned through that enticing wee hole at the top of the chimney. Marylee led the pitch, poked through the hole and got super stuck. I offered calm encouragement from below. She squirmed and struggled for over 10 minutes saying over and over – “I’m seriously stuck” but laughing between grunts. Fluffy down feathers floated drunkenly across the blue sky above the hole – the tight squeeze had ripped her down jacket – a gift from Lynn Hill.
While I waited, watched and encouraged Marylee, I plotted. Marylee had shoes hanging from her harness for the walk off the top – definitely a disadvantage in the small hole. My shoes were in the backpack I carried. Once Marylee made it through the hole and built an anchor, I clipped the pack to my harness so that it would dangle below me while I navigated the chimney and started to climb. Just below the hole I tied the pack to the rope and had Marylee pull it through the triangle shaped opening above my head. Now it was my turn.
I got stuck.
I didn’t have the same amount of gear on my harness as Marylee but I do have some rather serious “booty” which did NOT want to fit through the tight space. My feet dangled in air while I tried to slither my way through. The dangling feet, stuck butt and awkward situation made for a super DORK moment. Actually I experience similar moments in the studio – stuck – exposed – dangling precariously. Mostly my life isn’t on the line in the studio but my vision and creation is – and of course it is my duty to push the boundaries beyond my comfort zone while creating. The business part of art creates constricting super dork moments as well. Dangling awkwardly between my vision and the means to make it happen; I humbly realize the need for support, partnership and encouragement during those moments. Good humor helps. Gratitude fills me.