The First Day of Summer

Summer is finally here. Wow, what a wet, nasty – well anyway way, no news there. The sun came out yesterday and I realized how much I missed the hot, humid, go-jump-in-the-river kind of summer day I normally spend July and August complaining about. Sweat hoggin’, it burns the gunk out.

All the wetness has lingered around my forested home. I’ve been whacking back the underbrush and scraggly hemlocks that clog up the air, looking for some elbow room and some sunlight to dry up the dankness. I knew yesterday was different from the minute I pulled open my underwear drawer in the morning and its swollen wood didn’t offer up a fight. The sun dried everything up in the yard, too.

All this coincides with the beginning of “Lion season”. Its like big game hunting, but without the danger – all the bolts we placed make sure of that. At the height of land in Evan’s Notch sits the four pitch Laughing Lion, on the eastern slope of East Royce Mountain. Due to a family of peregrine falcons the cliff stays closed through the spring and most of the summer.

This year they had successful mating season and we got up there before the usual August 1st cut off. And what a treat. At roughly 2000′ it stays fairly cool, and with this south westerly flow a breeze snuck around the corner of the east facing cliff. A pitch off the ground and the overhanging wall was dry and the sharp edges felt crisp. The peregrines put on an ariel show including a tumbling fight over some carcass’s thigh. They were repeatedly flying into a protected nook, forty feet from our belay, completely ignoring us, and pulling out animal parts, all the while screeching with their shrill call that proves to me they are the direct descendants of pterodactyls.

Ray had put up a new pitch up there that I hadn’t had a chance to try – and it was a beautiful. Typical Laughing Lion technical, gently overhanging face climbing with all the requisite exposure and excellent friction. The mutlipitch cliff has really become a climbing area and I’m looking forward to sharing it this fall.