The Climb Day Five: I’m Dressed Like a Ninja To Climb a Huge Fucking Wall

Leslie Kleinberg Zacks
5 min readDec 13, 2022

I don’t want to brag but I am no longer decorating trees with my recycled underwear and today I put on clean pants. Black climbing pants that I have coupled with a black shirt and I’m feeling pretty badass about it. I’ve also brushed my hair out for the first time (I’m pretty sure that the team didn’t even know I had hair). I think the army of black crows stalking our camp ground looking for scraps are planning to salvage my copious sheddings for their nests.

“Carrie,” I addressed my climbing companion with the utmost seriousness. “I’m very upset that you didn’t notice my clean outfit.”

“You didn’t notice mine either,” she said while stiring her tea, and there it was. Our first fight. Apparently, day five of an eight day climb was when most people pulled out their back-up duds and got real. We complemented each other and promised to do better noticing the little things.

As camp collapsed around us, with now familiar military precision, we headed for camp five-Karanga Camp- for our last stop before base camp tomorrow. Our guides were now openly discussing the summit strategy, which I think they avoided doing earlier while they assessed our overall ability to handle our shit. From first impressions of two aging white ladies who had no idea that they were even south of the equator, they have slowly come around and now fully buy our act. We have avoiding complaining, we are ready when told to be, we’ve consistently made good time on some very challenging hikes, and our health checks so far have been five stars across the board. Considering my goal has been, from the beginning, “don’t vomit and pee on myself in freezing cold weather,” I’d say I’m exceeding my own expectations. But we’re still 15km and 6k feet from the summit still so I don’t want to tempt the gods just yet.

But before we could get serious about the summit we had to overcome Barranco Wall. Also known as the Breakfast Wall. I’d heard rumors about this technical and boulder-intensive leg from others who climbed before us, especially about treacherous and fabled Kissing Rock- a spot known for a fraction of a foothold over a precipitous fall into the valley below. I’ve seen some steep mountain faces in my day But until the fog cleared right on schedule around 4pm I…

--

--

Leslie Kleinberg Zacks

Writing about whatever I feel like. Mom with a career. Filled with love and rage. It’s cool- I’m not for everyone. twitter @lesliezacks zacks.leslie@gmail.com