How far I go for authenticity: rock climbing

In my novels, Jo Beckett is a rock climber. Yes, she’s also a forensic psychiatrist, but when it comes to the crunch, she knows how to get up a wall or out a window and down the side of a building. Sometimes while fleeing gunfire. As you do, when you’re a character in my novels.

I am not a rock climber. But in the interest of authenticity, I asked some real climbers to show me how it’s done. By real climbers, I mean folks who tackle big walls in Yosemite, and scale the Grand Tetons. And today I found the photos proving that I actually have done this. Here I am in Rattlesnake Canyon, in the foothills above Santa Barbara, high up a pitch.

And here I am again, on the same pitch, in a photo that shows more clearly exactly how far off the ground I was at the time. Yes, I was roped up. Yes, I was struggling. Yes, that’s my rock climbing instructor reaching out to make sure I don’t peel off the wall and plummet shrieking to the ground, three long feet below me. It’s my baby sister.

My daughter took these photos. As soon as I fumbled my way back down to the ground, she put on the harness and went up the pitch. Then her little brother did. And no, I am not going to post those photos. The kids both scrambled 50 yards straight up to the top, like a couple of spider monkeys. They climbed so quickly, the photos are blurry.

3 responses to “How far I go for authenticity: rock climbing

  1. Somehow I don’t believe that arm reaching to help you belongs to anyone but Bill. And Spiderman ain’t got nothin’ on you!

  2. Nice one! I tried climbing up a kiddies wall at a fair once, didn’t get very far though (to my shame), I have zero arm strength. One of these days I’ll do it properly though. I’m 33 now so I don’t expect to be able to climb up like a spider monkey, but I’ll get up a regular sized climbing wall and I’m taking pictures to prove it 😉

  3. Rock climbing makes me nervous. You’ve seen that commercial where this lady is talking about her investments and what she does with her money (sorry, forgot who she was representing) but she gets to the top of this very very very ….very high skinny piece of real estate as a 360 aerial view is shot of her standing there. Probably a green screen, but it sure looks real and makes me want to shout at the screen, “SIT DOWN!”

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