On his second-to-last-day lead attempt, my-only-friend-in-the-entire- world-Jeff-Hess, fell at the second crux, blew a cam, fell fifteen feet more, and missed hitting a sharp ledge with the back of his head by only four inches.
When he came to rest, I said, “Look behind your head, Jeff.”
Another local climber said, “No, man, don’t. You don’t even want to know.”
But he came back yesterday, on the last day of the Underwear Bet, and drug himself up that route. Led it. Led it clean and with only the smallest bit of shaking.
His list of firsts:
1. First 5.12 redpointed.
2. First scary trad lead.
3. First trad whipper.
4. First blown cam.
5. First near decapitation. To misquote and steal Piggy’s death scene from The Lord of the Flies, this is what it would’ve looked like: “Jeff fell and hit the rock. His head opened and white stuff came out. Then the white stuff turned red.”