The tree trunk and the wall of the pit toilet are only four feet apart, and the pit toilet is only 8 feet tall, and yet I'm the only one who can't wedge himself up the space onto the roof.
I've got a variety of rationalizations for this, of course: I'm dressed improperly for real climbing in a brown pair of canvas pants that, as a child of the Bay Area, I wear everywhere, all the time; and I'm wearing hiking boots with thick rubber soles that leave a disconnect between foot and underfoot; and I'm not a climber.
This test is not intentionally a test, however, and I'm only trying to get up top because that's where our backpacks are. Our packs are on the roof because we put them there. We put them there, I think, to laugh at me when I couldn't climb onto the roof.
But no matter. I'm not a climber, as I said before, and to tell the truth, I think I'm a little too risk-averse to sheer, thousand-foot drops to ever truly be a climber. Still, I did a fair bit of tree climbing and general boyish mischief to know, deep down, that I should be able to get up there.
Here's the plan for the day: 6.3 miles by backpack to the base camp, where we are now; another mile or so to the base of the Cathedral Peak, with only light gear; a thousand (vertical) feet ofscreee; and then about 800 more (vertical) feet of class 3 and 4 ascents. I think. I haven't really been privy to the plan, since I am close to totally inexperienced as a mountaineer.
Cathedral Peak (elev. 9041') is the only peak on our little 4-day backpacking excursion in the Climbers' Guide to Glacier National Park, which has been and is the only guide we have, other than our eyes, to the mountain. My two partners for this expedition are Bob and Zander, who have taken me along out of the goodness of their hearts and not, as is obvious, due to some sort of innate wilderness talent or USGS 7.5 minute map, which I am wishing we had. Zander and Bob are climbing partners, and though Zander's only been at this for about 3 years, Bob's been at it for 30. Oh, and he's completed 3 ironman triathlons as well.
In theory, we'll be back in camp sometime between 4 and 8 pm, but you have to pack to come down in the dark or, at worst, survive the night on the mountain. Not to be happy, but to survive, which means a set of polypro in the bag, a Goretex jacket, food, 2 liters of water, and a flashlight. It's clear I'm the weak link from the beginning, but hey, they invited me.