Free Radicals

by Chris de Serres


When I had opened the book I found a folded  piece of paper.  Written upon it was a list of climbs that we had enjoyed together many years ago.  Each climb carried it’s own memory.

I see almost 10 years to the day we behaved quite irrationally.  We decided to climb this route called The Snake.  It was our greatest challenge.  You traversed over a pointed spire.  A fall here would have led to serious injury.  I remember thinking that I could not do it.  I didn’t have the mental strength in that moment.  Like any great partner, it was in this moment when you decided you would do it.

Our relationship was built on moments like this.  It was why we were great together.  It made us both radicals because we could only do climbs like this with each other.  Our partnership changed the very nature of our confidence and comfort.

I was comfortable risking my life when I knew you were behind me.  The Snake was not done with us that day.  I reached the most difficult part and I fell 30 feet, tumbling down the slab like cheese on a grater.  But I got up again and I finished my lead.

Our time together was filled with little moments of silence that I appreciated.  The silence that only exists between the closest friendships.

We have built an incredible adventure together which had to come to an end.  We no longer talk but you were so instrumental to my climbing that I can’t help but think about you every time I put on my harness and tie into a rope.


I have many new climbing partners now and none of them live up to our partnership.  How could they?  They were not there in the beginning.  They didn’t see me scared and helpless at 14000 feet, pleading for help.  You alone were there and kept my secret.  I always felt that there was no shame in asking, no shame in vulnerability.

Now I am a climb leader.  An instructor.  These are all titles and meaningless.  They only bring expectation.  The truth is I miss you.

I wonder if one day, when we are older, we shall meet again and relive all these adventures together.