Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yosemite Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, not that long ago, maybe even this summer, there were two foreign rock-climbing brothers who spent the warm months in Yosemite sieging the towering granite walls, trying to topple them. The brothers were an odd pair, one was a raven-haired Fabio and the other was a cigarette smoking hungry wolf. They never walked when they were in Yosemite Valley; they swaggered. Their plan for this season was to win the Grand Prix of the Yosemite Pissing Contest.

The Nose of El Capitan has a fitting name. It splits the face of the granite monolith in half, beginning straight and steep at the top before gently broadening to Gallic proportions at the bottom. The first ascent of the formation had been made in an epic six months but it had been whittled down to a mere two and half hours by competitive speed demons. Shaving a few seconds of stubble from the face would garner the head chair at the table in the cafeteria, and a fan club of slinky tassels. The foreign brothers were keen.
They set about the task in their normal style, marking every rugosity on the stone so that might know exact gear and foot placements. The route was dumbed down to levels of mild mental retardation; a child on the route would require only slight supervision to ascend it. Film crews with grasshopper cranes hung from the face to capture the brothers flashing by. Ostentatious to say the least.

There were two other local climbers, both short, who despite their small stature had enormous strength and ability. El Capitan was a training ground for greater expeditions afar for them and one day they decided to jaunt up the Nose, a fitting place for their calisthenics. They packed their bags lightly, anticipating a mere day on the wall and a night at the bar. They scurried up the rock face making time post-haste. As they moved past the nasal cavities and into the cartilage of the climb, the two gnomes became disgusted with the atrocities on the walls. There were long blotches of chalk, which could be seen from the meadow far below, scrawled onto the wall marking handholds. They saw so many tics they feared Lyme disease. As one of the Lilliputian climbers led up the route the other contemplated the graffiti. After a few moments he was struck by an impish idea. He erased the tic mark at his head and painted another six inches higher on the bald granite. His partner soon called up to him, they hiked to the top of the cliff, and headed to the bar for some well deserved lagers.

The next morning the foreign brothers sashayed into the cafeteria and announced to anyone with ears that they were going for the record. "Ve Vill climb it very, very, vast," said the brother who looked like a raven-haired Fabio. The hungry wolf let a rolled cigarette fall from his mouth and he snarled. They donned their quickest climbing gear, a pair of leather pants for Fabio's doppelganger and tight g-string briefs for his brother.

Scores of onlookers stared as they started to climb. Cameramen dangled from the cliff, the rock monkeys of the Valley gawked from the nearby bridge, and ladies swooned from the grassy meadow. They were making excellent time, hitting their marks within milliseconds. They climbed boldly and with arrogance. They stopped only to flash smiles at the camera, scorning protection. Two-thirds of the ways up the route, the foreign brothers were in position to shatter the record. The hungry wolf was sprinting up the rock, lurching between handholds, using every mark to perfection as his brother climbed speedily behind. He spotted a long tic painted onto the wall and rocketed toward it. But his paw merely scraped against the smooth rock. For a moment he was weightless, a European Wily E. Coyote, and then he lobbed, flying through the air past his brother fifty feet below and logging more airtime than a 747. Everything reached the end when his ass landed squarely on a ledge seventy-five feet away.

The circus packed up and the brothers limped back to the ground. The cameramen stored their reels, the rock monkeys went in search of bananas, and the ladies shrugged their shoulders tired of hearing about the astral bodies of Bavaria.

On this day all the people in Yosemite learned that it's never a good idea to have huberis.

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