With apologies to Edward Lear

Marshall’s Madness (Seneca Rocks)

         Cried Sarah, "I'm feeling right gripped!",
         As her toe, from a jam, slowly slipped.
             "This source of rope drag
             Must be a bad zag
         Produced by that zig I last clipped."           Maura Slack

Connecticut Cloudburst (Ragged Mountain)

         On the lead, when deluged from the sky,
         Sarah feared she was destined to die.
             All heard her last shout:
             "Be sure to hang out
         My slings and my Lycra to dry!"                 Paul Nylon

Bonnie’s Roof, 2nd Pitch (‘Gunks)

         As Bill traversed out past the pin
         He announced, with a sickening grin,
             "It's fifty years old
             And I can't reach the hold;
         Please notify my next of kin!"                  A. Rusty Trifle

Cathedral Concentration (New Hampshire)

         Sarah found the protection most thin.
         But, at last, an RP would slip in.
            With her mind thus at ease
            The crux seemed a breeze
         'Til she noticed she'd failed to clip in!       Hannah Solo

On the Demise of the Gendarme (Seneca Rocks, four weeks before it fell)

         Believing that sentry ill-starred,
         They crept so's to mount it un-jarred.
             No aeon knows when...
             But had it failed then
         'T would surely have caught them off guard!     Virginia West

Debonn-Air-e Show

         Went a bold mountain pilot named Walling
         To the Tetons to practice his calling.
             Rolled edgewise in flight,
             Rit shot the Gunsight
         By wielding his stick without stalling.         B. Twain Owen-Grand

Virgin Ascent (Kansas City, MO)

         When she found that the line had a lack
         Of ascent Margaret shouldered her rack,
             Donned her stealth rubber boot,
             And jammed up the route
         Which thenceforth became "Margaret's Crack".    Primo Ascenza

Sleight of Foot

         The friction climber climbs
         Where angels won't.
         Now you see him climbing...
         Now you don't.                                  Dave Bernays

Rock to Ice

         He considered bold climbing his forte,
         Until he tried cragging up norte.
             All routes now blue-icy;
             Protection way dicey.
         Thus learned him the meaning of sporte.         Sarah Waddell

Hard Hat Manque

         As she rapped off the end of her cord,
         Sarah, helmetless, laughed as she soared:
             "As I land upside down,
             Without my Joe Brown"
         They'll say "Proof that she's out of her gourd." Sarah Waddell

Filial Duty

         "On belay!" shouts Dad with a grin.
         "Climbing,", say I with chagrin.
             "This sure ain't no 'Trifle',
             (much more like the Eiffel).
         Why can't I switch with my twin?"               Matt Atkinson

Nature Study

         Some eighty-five feet in the air;
         A snake falls into my hair.
             Each handhold I seek,
             Provokes a new "Eek!"
         In each crevice a millipede's lair.             Meg Atkinson

Fraternal Love

         "Oh twin," says you "we must switch."
         "How's about you, and not I, climb this pitch?"
             "Who, me?" I reply.
             "That pitch is too high!"
         "Let elder to rope become hitched."             Gemini

Serendipity: A Climbing Vignette (~1980s)

Occasionally the world of climbing, though we’ve always sensed it to be fairly compact, proves to be so small as to surprise us.

On Cathedral Ledge one morning, topping out on Toe Crack, I looked across to the second pitch belay on Thin Air with an eye to traversing over to continue to the top. But the route was pretty busy so I moved up and right into the chimney on Standard Route, either to wait out Thin Air or to rap down to do another climb. A couple of guys rappelling from higher up appeared and joined us in the wait. The wait proved long—there was a line at the bottom of Thin Air, and then climbers approaching from below in our own chimney and so—idle chat ensued.

Hardly a minute into our conversation one of the guys reached over to me and, indicating my rack, said “I have a wired stopper just like that one: booty from a climb I did this spring.”  I was astonished and replied, to his equal astonishment: “And I know where you found it: on the top pitch of Knight’s Gambit at Ragged’s main cliff.” “Wow, right!” he said, “how did you know?” “Because that stopper was mine,” I replied.

The guys were indeed from Connecticut.  My stoppers were unique because I had filed in them distinctive grooves to enhance their placement security. I recounted how, the year before, I had placed the piece. My second couldn’t get it out and, after having rappelled down to try myself, I couldn’t either. And so, I really hammered it in, thinking that it would probably be there forever.

That evening in the parking lot, as we were gearing down and cracking open our beers, a car drifted by with an arm extended from the passenger side window—in the hand of which was my lost stopper.

More climbing vignettes:
Bobo to the Rescue
The Gendarme
“Travails” With Charley