Tag Archives: Rock climbing

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.

“If I do a mistake, I fall off.”

Ueli Steck sets the record for speed solo climbing the North Face of the Eiger.

Not only is this beautiful, and terrifying, it’s awe-inspiring. That mountain is a beast, and magnificent. The town briefly glimpsed in the film is 11,000 feet below the summit.

I tell myself I read books and watch films about climbing because my heroine Jo Beckett is a climber. And I do. But it’s also because these are incredible accomplishments.

Two hours, forty-seven minutes? Teams of people have spent days attempting that climb.

The music is “Welcome Home” by Radical Face. Which this freaking mountain has.

There are old climbers, and bold climbers, but…

I’m not a rock climber but I write about one, Jo Beckett. And this ad cracked me up.

You know the rest of the quote from the post title, right?