Fourteen months. I’m living in a tiny apartment in downtown Denver with my mother - We’re just a short walk from the hospital where I’ve spent the majority of my time since being diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia fourteen months ago. There was a brief moment of overcoming and joy following a successful bone-marrow transplant in February. During the initial weeks post bone-marrow transplant I was so weak that a walk around Cheesemond Park in Denver was enough to bring me to my knees and I remember pissing thick bloody clots of tissue for days on end and vomiting from the pain… I remember watching my dad cry, helpless as I lie in a ball on the bathroom floor amid my own blood, urine, and vomit.
Although it takes years for the body to recover from the lethal doses of chemotherapy involved in a transplant, I was back on the sharp-end just forty five days post transplant, and what a sight I must of made huffing and puffy my way up sandy 5.7 bolted routes at Garden of the Gods… In the coming months my recovery remained steady and it wasn’t long before I was climbing 5.10 trad routes again and pining for a real adventure.
By summertime I felt well enough to climb easy multi pitch routes at Lumpy Ridge. The short approaches and moderate terrain was perfect rehab and I enjoyed several pleasant days out climbing with friends or soloing, literally rejoicing in my good health and good fortune. But still I longed for a real adventure and a return to my beloved high-country. When the bug bit it was easy enough to find a partner in my friend Kent, a top notch individual and a fine person to boot. I was keen to step away from our usual RMNP stomping grounds and climb something remote and unique. The S. Buttress on Haimovie Tower, deep in the Indian Peaks Wilderness bordering RMNP’s West Boundary seemed like a fitting objective and Kent (ever patient) was happy to oblige me. We met at the trailhead late in the afternoon and hiked the steep and endless trail towards our bivy beside an alpine lake at the foot of our chosen peak. What a joy it was to be humping heavy packs and talking shit with an old friend. We enjoyed a picturesque bivy in a meadow beside a lake which was coming alive with feeding trout. In the time it took me to pitch my sexy little tarp-shelter in conjunction with my even sexier carbon trekking poles, Kent had chilled a six pack of Dale’s in a little stream and we settled in beside a delightful little twig fire as the stars invaded the night sky. We shared a small meal, sipped our cans of beer, smoked our cigarettes, and talked about life - about cancer, stem-cells, women, and of course women. We would have made fine cowboys, I like to think.