I’ve been trying to climb Half Dome for four years. Four times I’ve paid my few dollars, entered my name in the lottery and hoped for the best, and four times I’ve been rejected. When I got the email this year that I hadn’t been chosen, especially now that I know other people who’ve gotten in on their first try, it was starting to feel a little bit personal, to be honest.
Luckily (or not, I guess we’ll see) a friend of mine did get selected, and knowing my desperate tale, asked me to do it with her. So that is the short version of a story where I try really hard to be selected to do something that I probably can’t do, and honestly can’t remember why I wanted to in the first place.
Half Dome has been on my list of things to do for probably 5 years. I call it a list of things to do, but really it’s an amorphous, seemingly random collection of things I probably heard someone talking about on public transportation at some point and thought to myself “I could probably do that.” I wouldn’t call it a bucket list, at any rate, since most of the things on it are not things that would make me feel my life had been wasted were I not to accomplish them.
Other things on this list include climbing Kilimanjaro, having twin girls, and finding a white button down that isn’t see through and doesn’t gape at the bust (this last one seems most unlikely). Items I have successfully completed on this list include sky diving, running a marathon, piercing my belly button, and also, owning wooden salad bowls, which for some reason had been a great and unknowable yearning of my heart ever since I was around 12 years old.
So, to summarize, I found out last month that I would be attempting the climb to Half Dome this summer. I don’t know much about Half Dome, to be honest, other than that it’s probably going to be hard. My general strategy in life for things that might be hard is to learn as little as possible about them.
When I ran a marathon 5 years ago, I read no books and did no research. I really didn’t even understand how far 26 miles was, having grown up in the land of the kilometer. I believe that’s why, at mile 13, I thought to myself, “Well, if I was running the half I’d be done already! That practically flew by!” By mile 23, my thoughts had taken a turn for the rather less enthusiastic, and though I finished, I could barely walk for three days, and I couldn’t sleep comfortably without a pillow between my knees for…well I’ll let you know.
But the point is, I did it. Ignorance as bliss is highly underrated as a training strategy, in my opinion. Had I known going in what I know now, I might have opted to skip the blessed experience altogether, although stronger women than I have been lured into less by the possibility of being serenaded by Brett Michaels, who was performing at the finish line.
Three weeks before the climb, the only concessions I’ve made to the fact that this is actually going to happen is to go into REI to buy hiking boots (grudgingly, as there were some really cute ankle boots that I actually wanted to buy with that money). I agreed with the salesperson that I was at best a casual hiker, so when he found out the boots were for Half Dome he looked at me like he thought I was going to die. On the bright side, I have since taken to clomping around in my boots on all occasions, including with short shorts to the grocery store, where my husband pretended not to know me.
I’ve also added some gloves to my Amazon cart, which are either for climbing cables or for gardening; it’s definitely one or the other.
Additionally, I’ve begun planning my snack allowance for the day, which so far includes Gushers, the really good crunchy potato chips from Trader Joe’s and at least one sleeve of Oreos. The Oreos are actually crucial to my plan, as I did a three day volcano hike in Indonesia a few years ago, again with little to no planning or idea of what I was undertaking, and I only got through it by rewarding myself with an Oreo at each mile marker. Chocolate and bribery are my love languages.
TO BE CONTINUED.