Be warned: melodramatic post about death, below. Click away if you like me better when I am not "like this."
I have been so mired in my own warfare that I did not check Michael Reardon's blog for the entire summer - until last week. It ends in June, right before his trip to Ireland, where he died, not from a climbing fall, but from being knocked over by a rogue wave and swept out to sea. He drowned. A climber died... at sealevel... in fact IN sea level. How absurd, and also - how completely real life. Because real life is like that. The world's miscreants and cowards die of toenail fungus at 98, and the world's bravest (and most reckless, damn it, Mike) die AFTER a climb, standing around waiting for the bus, for no good reason. Just because, as one of my students one said to me: fate, ma'am, surely is a motherfucker. Mike, not 1% of us would do for one day what you did every day of your life. For you to drown is the metaphorical equivalent of you dying from a fall in the shower. It's just absurd - and also, totally unfair. And alsp pretty standard real life.
This "file footage" of Mike at Flagstaff. There he is, up there with no gear - just shoes and a sweatshirt and jeans. Incredible.
I am, of course, a recreational climber, and I have no right to be appalled and heartsick about the death of a free-soloist who had more talent and drive in his little finger than I have in my entire body. But this sort of thing does appall me and it does make me heartsick. Anyone who has ever climbed and liked it just a little bit knows what Michael Reardon was doing and knows (just a little bit) why, and that knowing is what makes the loss so difficult. I have been clicking in and out of Mike's blog about once a day for the last several, and saying, over and over, oh, fuck. Because it just ends, right there at the entry where he says he is off to Ireland to climb.
I felt the same kind of appalled and heartsick when I heard about Ryan Shay. I am sure everyone who has ever lined up for a marathon can understand why. As I was snapping those pictures of the race the other day, Ryan Shay was being carted to the morgue for no reason anyone can understand, even now, after his autopsy. Because fate, ma'am, is a motherfucker? Is that the reason? Oh yes, right. Absolutely.