Cordelette. Prusik. Pro. I should’ve known these terms. It was lecture one of the intermediate climbing class. I was one of just five women. My lack of qualification was vast as the peaks we planned to scale.
Instead of retreat, I took notes, begged answers, read. I bought a rope, bivy, carabineers, rescue pulley, nut tool, webbing. I learned to tie a double fisherman and made prusiks. I painted my biners with pink nail polish to mark them as mine. I was cramming, learning even, but I was tense.
A friend who’d had taken the class said,
“Don’t worry. The first climb gets rained out. You’ll just go to breakfast.”
Twelve weeks in, I’d made it through the skills outings—though my inexperience had been noted. I was training but still worried about fitness, the weight of my pack, keeping up.
The day arrived. It didn’t rain. I had an hour. I’d packed, repacked, weighed my food, even purchased Dental Dots to replace brush and paste. Dan, our instructor, would soon arrive in his Escort, which, with five climbers shoehorned in and gear atop in a RocketBox, looked comical as a Volkswagen Beetle full of clowns.
Humming with anticipation, I grabbed the pink nail polish. I rarely gussied but needed distraction. I needed to keep from throwing up. I smiled; pink felt fun, secret, a talisman.
Brothers Traverse—a rarely successful first outing. Five made the attempt; four summited; one at the top had pink toes.