Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yosemite's grip

In 1974 I found a postcard in a shop on 4th Street. Loved the black and white image and pinned it next to my desk wherever I worked. A few years later my brother Peter, his wife Norma, my sister Nancy and I rounded a turn and saw the full moon rising over Half Dome. A tear came to my eye - I hadn't known that the place was Yosemite, the photographer a legend - Ansel Adams. I still have the snapshot - "Over-exposed Moon Over Half Dome".

The Times today has a long, warm profile of a legendary Yosemite climber - Charles Victor Tucker III - called Chongo. He was homeless in paradise for 30 years. His techniques for climbing the monolith - El Capitan - were innovative, his slack-lining legendary, his Complete Book of Big Wall Climbing a classic guide. Chongo sleeps under a trailer truck in Sacramento now and gets his meals from Loaves and Fishes, a Sisters of Mercy soup kitchen.

Chongo remembered as a moment of enlightenment rope-walking the Lost Arrow Spire. "When I walked across that thing, it outmatched any 60 seconds in my life, and I've had some great 60-second increments".

He is a man of grace, who was transported by a mountain, and achieved moments of wonder for which all of us yearn. I hope that Chongo finds comfort and peace again soon.