Camp 4

Written by: Chas Weeden


‘If I die, I die.’

The realness of those words
sent a shiver down my spine
as I listened to the climbers.
It was late autumn, 1969.
There was a pause after his words
and each face made the slightest nod
peering deeply into the flames;
Tom Bauman had just soloed the Nose.

Slowly, I began to put pitons into
the face of life, jammed my fist
into fissures, and ascended slowly.
I delighted when my blood dripped
onto the dark diorite veins in the granite.
For this is life and I believe
in the challenge of the ascent and 
the use of a life to outlive it.

It is now the winter of 2014, and
I wander through Camp 4.
I look at the young, intense faces
as they to peer into the flames.
I would share with them what
has been my own first ascent,
but Tom lives on, so I scream
to a startled camp my tribute to life:
‘If I die, I die.’