I couldn’t help smil­ing at the irony of rap­pelling a route called Sun­shine in the dark in a to­tal elec­tri­cal storm.

Gripped - - FEATURE - Will Stan­hope is one of Canada’s strong­est climbers and a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to

I couldn’t help smil­ing at the irony of rap­pelling a route called Sun­shine in the dark in a to­tal elec­tri­cal storm. Ev­ery so of­ten the sky would il­lu­mi­nate for half a se­cond as the light­ning struck. Boom­ing echoes bounced around the cirque. Near the end of the rap­pels, the hail be­gan. Never have I ex­pe­ri­enced pelt­ing like this be­fore. Nei­ther of us could move for about 30 sec­onds. We just bur­rowed deep in our hoods and took the beat­ing. Penance, per­haps, for sneak­ing into the dragon’s den and steal­ing the gold.

Ar­riv­ing back at the ghostly, de­serted Ap­ple­bee Camp­ground, there was only one other tent sway­ing in the cold night driz­zle. Our friend Ian Wel­sted had left us a bot­tle of Bal­lan­tine’s scotch. We un­corked it, took a cou­ple swigs each and passed out, the saga com­plete.

We spent the next cou­ple days in Golden, B.C. I fre­quently re­turned to a spot by the Columbia River, gaz­ing out at the churn­ing green wa­ter, think­ing about what I had gained dur­ing the whole process. The re­al­iza­tion of the long-held dream was hard to fathom. I was sure of a few things, though: I’d forged a deep friend­ship with Se­gal, had the chance to dig deeper than ever be­fore, on the most stun­ning alpine rock wall I’d ever seen. It was a rare gift.

Gripped.

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