9:51 a.m.: I don’t feel like rock-climbing, but I had spent hours planning the event under the email subject “Climb or DIE” so I have no choice. After waking, I sip my protein shake and as much water as my wretched stomach allows. Our noon climb 30 minutes away in Golden, Colorado, isn’t nearly accommodating to recover from the Great American Beer Festival. I still must:
- Wake Pumba next door
- Get Pumba ready to climb
- Get Pumba ready to drive
- Get Pumba to pick up the rope
- Get Pumba to pick up quick draws from McScuses
- Get Pumba to pick up our other friend, Princess
10:39 a.m.: Princess emails me her and McLoaner's numbers, asks how Pumba is, and offers to drive us.
10:39:27 a.m.: I contact McRunningOutOfNicknames about his quick draws.
10:39:47 a.m.: I call Princess. “Pumba is alive I think. I’ll elbow drop her now. A ride would be awesome…You can pick up the rope?...You’re functional this morning?…You’re a lifesaver!…We’ll be ready for you to pick us up at 11:15.”
10:40:51 a.m.: “PUMBA!”
10:41 a.m.: McSomething texts his address and that he will leave the quick draws on the porch.
10:43 a.m.: Pumba makes three calls from bed and then says, “I’m texting Princess where to pick up the rope. I’m sorry I can’t climb with you. I feel deathly.”
10:44 a.m.: I lie on the floor in Pumba’s room. I probably don’t drool.
11:14 a.m.: Princess calls. “I’m here!”
11:15 a.m.: I call Princess. “I don’t see you…Pumba gave you the wrong address and you see me from the end of the street?...You’re wearing pink?...I don’t see you but my vision isn’t superb now…Ok I’ll wait here.”
11:17 a.m.: I enter Princess’ car. “Don’t worry, I’ve never once missed a toilet, trashcan or tree with my vomit. I’ll give you advanced notice if it is coming.”
11:30 a.m.: Mc??? mis-typed his address and the owner of the home we are staring it isn’t happy. Princess speaks. “We are looking for our friend who is leaving us his quick draws (homeowner looks more confused) on his porch. But you don’t look like our friend (homeowner looks frightened)…He just moved in, are you aware of new neighbors?...Across the street?...Thanks!”
11:40 a.m.: I choose Arby’s over 7-11, my only two options for sustenance, and order a plain turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato. I eat a few bites. “I think it is staying down.”
11:42 a.m.: I had contacted every climbing gym in Denver and posted an inquiry on every climbing forum looking for a lead climber. The owner of one gym forwarded my request to his friend who was happy to lead our group. I email him, and our expert climbing friend who will also join, that we’ll be late.
12:15 p.m.: We pile into one car en route to Cat Slab in Clear Creek Canyon. I don’t feel like rock-climbing or even moving.
12:45 p.m.: We exit the car and I lag far behind as I traverse the steep trail toward our climbing wall. I take my gear, water and remaining Arby’s with me.
1:00 p.m.: Our expert climbing friend and new lead climbing friend set the routes. I can’t believe I’m about to rock-climb.
1:05 p.m.: I need to relieve myself. I have gone in many toilets, buckets and other collection containers, and many people have seen, measured and tested my waste, but I have never gone in nature. What would Bear Grylls do?
1:07 p.m.: I see some large rocks far down a steep, rocky path, next to a stream and across from a walking trail. There is no vegetation. I spot my Arby’s bag and open it. Clearly God had steered me towards Arby’s instead of 7-11 because of the three provided napkins. I pocket them and carefully walk down.
1:10 p.m.: I reach the rock formation and investigate.
1:15 p.m.: There is nowhere to completely hide so I settle on a small rock to slouch on, in front of a large rock to lean against. The crevice between them is my mark.
1:16 p.m.: I look in every direction for humans. Nobody is approaching or across on the walking trail. I turn back toward the climbers to gauge my visibility. I lean lower on the rock and hope just my head can be seen.
1:17 p.m.: Having no experience, I drop pants and drawers close to my shoes and hold my shirt high and tight. I’d rather cut off circulation than allow gravity to place extra shirt material where it doesn’t need to be.
1:19 p.m.: I stare at the three napkins in my hand and pray. The only alternative is sandy granite. (I will only need one napkin, will use them all, leave them there, and apologize to nature for my environmental offense.)
1:20 p.m.: I cannot find my result. I turn my clothes in every direction, check every part of me, double-triple-quadruple-check every part of me, nearly pull a neck muscle trying to confirm that I am not as ignorant as a toddler.
1:23 p.m.: I return to my group and hope the mental checklist I created from watching hours of Bear Grylls footage is not missing a critical step.
1:25 p.m.: I finish my turkey and bread. I hold the sandwich with my other hand.
1:40 p.m.: Full of food and water, clean and free of debris, I secure my harness. I’m up next. Climb or DIE.