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    « Picture Story: Conditions | Main | Patagonia Music: Surfing with Abigail Washburn and the Making of “Sala (USA)” »

    Picture Story: Competency

    A photographic exposition, in which the photographer herein pontificates on the significance of sufficient competency in the face of ample conditions . . . -Ed

    Competency

    The joys of competency and individuality – The Chief and I seemed to have the latter down pat, anyway. I suppose we delude ourselves, which is part of the beauty of escape and climbing. Back in the mid 90s, midway up the north face of the Canadian Rockies’ classic Mt. Edith Cavell, rated an old-school 5.7 (we’d have been wise to check the weather and conditions before leaving, and to have scoped the approach and the route, have not arrived after dark and too many road sodas, have…well, you get the point), a full-on blizzard engulfed us. I began to shiver uncontrollably, and indeed The Chief showed true competency and took over, leading us to the top and down the whiteout descent. By the time I’d warmed enough to become functional, the next day had dawned and we intersected a highway of a trail off the descent scramble. We started hiking the right way, convinced ourselves it was the wrong way, turned around and hiked a couple of miles toward the Tonquin Valley until a couple of bewildered hikers – bewildered like, “what are these two idiots doing out here?” – eventually set us straight. “Uh, yeah – YEAH dude, totally, I thought so!” The Chief told them. “Thanks for clarifying it for us!” Back at the high-speed pod 30-some hours after leaving, we reveled in our adventure. At least until we read that infamous guidebook line: “A competent party can climb the face comfortably in a day….”

    And still, we celebrated.

    [The Chief, back at the high-speed pod, celebrating our incompetence. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

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