Walk: Sundance Kabuki (Meru), Trader Joe's
Distance: 3 miles
Shark's Fin on Mount Meru (21,000 feet)
In Yosemite there was a cluster of small homes not far from the Awahnee under a canopy of trees and close to the rock face base of El Capitan. This was where the most dedicated rock and mountain climbers lived, some with their young families. Maybe they still do.
In her young and mountain days, Ciwt stayed with one of those climbers, a friend of her boyfriend, and you could have cut the aura of solitude that penetrated the house and whole area with a knife. There was something serious, ethereal, and not all there surrounding all these climbing men in this special village. As if a part of them - probably a large part - was permanently inhabiting a mountain somewhere in their spirits, and they were not going to be complete until they rejoined it.
They were in a form of captivity it seemed when not climbing, and everything and everyone deferred to their need to be free, out of domesticity and back climbing again. The men were just partially - and a little sadly - there and waiting. And so were their families in a different way.
The documentary Meru follows men at the absolute apex of this uncommonly dangerous sport which functions more like a siren song. Three in particular: The long-famed Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin (who not only climbs but shoots movies as he does it) and Renan Ozturk (who also shoots) as they repeatedly attempt the holy grail of peaks, the shark fin of Meru in the Indian Himalayas. What they go through, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually rises to a place beyond belief or description. It isn't inspiring because you just cannot possibly do what they do in this movie (and did in fact)- each in his own way and as an utterly interdependent team. And, from what you know of being alive, none of them should have been able to do these things either. The movie is just terrifying much of the time and stunning throughout. Ciwt loved Meru; if extreme, unadorned human grit and virtually supernatural, broad-based attainment is for you, you will love it too.