The Unstoppable Smile

It was a gray Washington winter day, tromping around looking for frozen cascades that had survived the end of our week-long "ice season". Chad Kellogg, Jens Holsten and I had just climbed the two wettest pitches any one of us had done. I lead the easy first pitch, a slurpee beneath a waterfall to a cave with water pouring all around us and puddled at our feet. Chad probably pulled out both screws by just wiggly them out from the slush. Chad then stepped out of the cave on lead and we could hear the 33-degree water pounding onto his head from hundreds of feet above. We thought he would be able to step out from beneath the shower, but it covered the entire width of the ice flow so he just clawed his way up. Chad didn't bother shouting down to us, partly because if he'd open his mouth it would fill with ice water. Whenever he'd raise a tool, water would run down his arms inside his jacket, soaking him from the inside-out. 

Shivering in the cave, Jens even admitted that he could at least "understand why some people don't like ice climbing." 

When Jens and I reached a soaking-wet Chad after he'd been standing immobile at the belay for the past 10 minutes, his smile was ear-to-ear and there was nowhere you could imagine him rather being.

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