Stairway to Heaven

Midway through the second pitch I can tell someting is wrong. He’s hesitating for some reason, hanging on his ice axe longer than necessary.

Maybe this was a bad idea.

We’d climbed together for almost a decade, traveling summers to all the climbing meccas. Joshua Tree, Pinncales, Black Canyon.

When he and his then-girlfriend moved to SLC last fall, I was jacked because we could climb year-round.

But since the breakup he’s been different. Putting on weight, drinking too much, not answering his phone.

I’d gone to his house and pretty much bullied him to coming today, insisting ice climbing was exactly what he needed.

He’d checked three times that we could rappel down from the belay point where I now stand. “Just in case,” he’d joked.

I watch him untie his harness, the slack rope looping down past me.

He leans back and lets the air take him.


What Pegman Saw: Utah