back of Ian’s head, shotgun, a clean-shaved-bald head, to see how he was
responding to Blake, if he was as annoyed as Kieran. He didn’t think Ian
was. Blake was going to use the helmet cam on the climb up the Dome,
he was saying, correcting left of center, and then hop into a canyon right
behind Kieran with the helmet cam on to record the entire thing, POV.
Ian could take the pics, but Blake wanted to hear the fear, was how he
All you’re going to hear is a lot of wind, Ian said. But you go ahead,
little buddy. Watch the road.
The little Sierras were fuzz covered in a morning mist, the clouds a
whitish growth against the rock. Higher up were darker cumulus, snow.
It’s supposed to clear up, Ian said. He was checking his phone. You
guys should be able to do the jump.
We’re doing the jump no matter what, Blake said. The helmet cam’ll
get through this shit.
The highway was riding clean of other cars, and Kieran did not want
to be with either of these people. He did not want to hear Blake talking
about his helmet cam another minute, and he did not want to hear Blake
explain what was going to be captured on the helmet cam, but Blake
kept discussing the helmet cam. Helmet cam, he said. Helmet cam, helmet cam, helmet cam. The red-haired ponytail flapped with his bobbing
head. They had found more and more elaborate ways to record and be
recognized for their climbs and jumps: first two high-powered, high-pixel cameras, one with a long exposure to capture the entire route up
a wall, like a slug’s trail against rock, the other for more precise action
shots. Next came a digital handheld video camera, so that whenever one
of them wasn’t climbing, one of them was filming. And now the helmet
cam, so that no one had to film, exactly, and yet the entire trip would be
recorded and later be recognized. And Kieran was sick, sick with them,
with himself, with whatever it was they were doing or no longer doing.
Ian said, That sandbagging bastard better wake up.
He was talking about Kieran. He had let his eyes close to feel this
deep, penetrating sickness.
There were pictures of them in magazines: Climbing World, Climbing,
Rock, Gripped, Vertical Jones, etc., all years ago now. Blake squatting
against the snow near nude; Ian hung on a bouldering problem; Kieran
stretched to a good crimper like a primate stuck in pose. All years ago,
when they had worked nothing jobs only to climb. Now—Kieran with
a family and working as a client relations manager at an insurance