(Previously printed under the name “Slaying Tiny Giants” in Elevation, Issue 4, 2000. Some editing had been done to it, but this is the original text. Photos by Rick Graham)
I was the shadow of the waxwing slain/by the false azure of the granite plane…
All poetry aside, there I was...doing battle on the high lonesome, awash in a sea of granite.
At my feet, a yawning void. Above, a horizon bereft any discernible texture.
It is in such a situation that a singular moment of clarity is achieved by the bouderer. The words may vary, but the sentiment remains the same, "There's nothing for me on the ground."
For millennia entire cultures have traveled to the mountains in search of greater wisdom and raw, transcendental experience. Luckily for the boulderer, the journey will be at most 30 feet. Perhaps Iron Maiden said it best, "Heaven can wait!"
And being that gravity is the great equalizer, a good deal more time is spent on the ground, 'talking it over' rather than pulling down with righteous abandon. If you can't top out it is because you're flat not good enough and sob stories just won't work. "The shade got in my eyes." "White men can't jump." "I picked the wrong week to stop taking 'roids." The myriad excuses that plague our spandex-clad brethren simply don't apply in the realm of the tiny giants.
But be wary, as with any discipline requiring supreme focus—billiards, bullfighting, sex—bouldering takes 'a minute to learn and a lifetime to master." Abyssus abyssum invocat.*
*For those with a late-pass, this is Latin and translates loosely as, "the abyss calls forth the abyss," or "one mishap begets another."