BRIGHTEST OF SILVER LININGS
I was furious. I paced in tight circles under a large gazebo near a cluster of posh shops and restaurants outside the gritty town of Timika in Papua, Indonesia. I had moved away from my companions to avoid spattering them with verbal acid. I had flown half way round the world at considerable expense to climb Carstensz Pyramid, a steep fin of limestone that rises to 16,000 feet elevation in mountainous jungle. After many delays and guarantees that failed to deliver, my companions and I had gotten nowhere near the mountain. The climb was over before it had begun. I had heard that climbing Carstensz Pyramid could be challenging. Many things could go wrong and often did go wrong. Why, then, would anyone bother to climb a little-known, troublesome peak like Carstensz Pyramid?
From the chapter, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
We came to a bridge of parallel logs slick with river spray. I crossed carefully, resisting the mesmerizing sight of the muscular, brown river below. I heard a loud CREEEEK behind me, then a louder CRACK!, a dreadful silence, then a loud SPLASH!! “We have one in the river!” Dave shouted. His voice rang with urgency. Dori, who had been behind me, was gone. Though it was blazing hot, I went cold. Was Dori dead or alive? Had she been swept down the river? I wanted to help, but I just stood there, frozen, unable to act. Nausea and numb disbelief flowed over me, as relentlessly as the rushing river. The guys formed a human chain. After a few tries, they found Dori and hauled her up the steep bank. She was soaked from head to foot, but she was grinning broadly and seemed intact, arms and legs working normally. Relief flooded my body. Then we saw the blood, lots of it, snaking down the back of Dori’s neck. This was serious. My chest went hollow. I shivered in the midday heat.
From the chapter, “Flying Upside Down”
Everyone except Dan and Steven had gone across the Tyrolean traverse, a deep, wide gap in the ridge spanned by a steel cable and four ropes. It was my turn. I felt like Jody Foster’s character, Eleanor Arroway, in the movie, “Contact,” as she was strapped into an alien travel machine: scared, excited, focused, determined. At Dan’s signal, I lowered myself down steep rocks into the gap using my hands and feet as brakes. When I felt the ropes take my weight, I made a 180-degree turn, so the top of my head faced the far side of the gap, and I was facing skyward. Concentrating on the sky above, a hole opened in the blowing mist showing clear, blue sky. A good sign, I thought. Manic glee raced through my body, as I hand-over-handed across the gap. A crazy, joyous thought raced through my brain, I was flying upside down!