Whitecaps flashed against a sandy shoreline. From my lofty belay 10 miles east, I braced against a frigid breeze off the snow-clad Alta Roca mountains. The cold of the Mediterranean island of Corsica had been the first surprise. The difficulty of the route Delaney and I had been trying was the other.
For much of March and April we’d battled Delicatessen. Its paper-thin crimps and razor crystals, and its 2,000-foot Stair-Master approach up manzanita and through sharp vegetation had nearly crushed us. I was, it seemed, held together with duct tape, and more likely to swim back to my Mom’s lavender farm in Colorado than to climb the six-pitch route done over a quarter century ago.
I tied off to the belay at the end of the first pitch. Did I dare look up at the remaining 400 feet of golden stone? My eyes dropped to the sheet of stone beneath my rockshoes. Specks of blood glistened in the creases of my palms and fingers, mementos from the crimps on the opening 5.14 pitch.
(check out the full story in my journal)