One impulsive afternoon, Johan and I took off halfway up the middle of the Bridgers, and then ran (or… scrambled, and climbed) the spiny ridge toward the southern end of the chain of mountains. A 14 mile trip perhaps? I do not know. Neither of us spoke much the entire time. But we both shared the look of concern.
At a couple of spots, I donned my small crampons, and even then, had a couple heart stopping slips of the foot. An ice axe would have been useful. At one section, I watched in dread as Johan shimmied across a precariously slick, icy slope. One misplaced step and he would have been down the side of the mountain. “Dude, this is sketchy,” I said. Not wanting to break the concentration, he smiled nervously, “Sketchy!? What are you talking about.” Later, he told me in the spot he was trying his best not to actually look down and accept the situation, and instead focused on each step. Good thinking.
The sun left us earlier than we expected, still 6 miles or so from the end. On top of the ridge, the wind cut us down. I wore my shorts and knee high socks. My hands were unmovable and my teeth chattered. “Fucking idiot,” I whispered at myself, under my breath. Johan’s feet were frozen, and he looked very concerned. He stopped ever so often and jumped up and down, hoping to get the blood moving. Still, we barely spoke.
At one spire of icy rock, we stopped to admire the glorious sunset. Even in those situations, the mountains beauty can still be appreciated.
After navigating an especially dangerous ridge, we finally reached the last peak, and the point of final descent. When we dropped down past the tree-line, we left the sharp wind stream, and our body warmed considerably. It was still almost two hours past dark by the time we reached the car.
We were silent for a long time. Both of us didnt need to say what we were both thinking. But finally, we spoke. “THat was scary.” I said. Johan nodded. “Yep. That was definitely humbling.”
Its those misadventures that you learn the most from- and though they are dangerous situations you dont ever want to repeat, sometimes……. you just have to go to the edge of the margin to see what youre made of.