Outrageous Fortune

If karma is real, I must have been the Dalai Lama in a past life.

Sure, not everything has gone my way this year. When MTS went bust, I lost the cruisiest job on the planet, and a broken fibula in the zenith of Frog season could hardly be called a blessing. But neither of these were surprising – the collapse of the Mountain Training School was always a metaphysical certainty, and climbing injuries, whilst not an everyday occurrence, are not exactly uncommon.

On the other hand, I’ve also been the beneficiary of luck that is so statistically improbable it would make Friedrich Nietzsche think twice about atheism. Here they are, in chronological order:

  1. The Spork

My SporkIn March, I was working an outdoor education program for PCYC at Lake Leslie, just outside of Warwick. My co-instructor, a Canadian who will remain unnamed for fear of recrimination from Peter Dutton’s jackbooted thugs, was clutching an aluminium Snowpeak spork in his hot little hand.

But it wasn’t any old spork… it was my spork! I had liberated this eating utensil from the MTS basecamp in Chile in 2013, a fact which has caused some to regard me as the proverbial straw that broke the fiscal back of said company. Truth be told, it was left behind by an erstwhile student who had absconded without payment.

In any case, I designated the spork as mine with a length of neon-orange and silver cord. Unfortunately, I cut the cord too short and was unable to tie a double fisherman knot, but the burned end of the cord was large enough to trap the single knot. Therefore, it had a very distinctive accoutrement which I immediately identified as familiar.

Turns out, he had liberated the spork in similar circumstances. I’d lost it three years previously at camp I worked at Maroon Dam. He offered the safe return of my estranged cutlery, but I declined. The circle of life, and all that. One day, I hope the spork turns up in the hands of a Swede on the Ivory Coast.

  1. The Water Bottle

La Tortuga in Red Rock CanyonAfter being snowed off Solar Slab in Red Rock Canyon in the beginning of April, Morag and I returned to the carpark at Oak Creek. We were parched as, bro. We shared a bottle of cold water that had been chilling in our fridge.

After we’d already left, we realised we’d left the water bottle behind in the confusion of packing. Usually, a water bottle would be no big deal, except that this particular bottle had some of my favourite stickers on it. Still, it was far too much hassle to return for – the Scenic Loop road goes one way only, and circumnavigating it would take about an hour. By this time, we reasoned, the bottle would be gone. Let it go, we thought.

Two days later, we were climbing Frogland behind a (wait for it) Canadian party. No word of a lie. We were moving much faster than they were, but we weren’t in any great rush. We didn’t pass them, preferring to shoot the shit at belay stations. Eventually, it was revealed that they were deposited at the trailhead by a perilously low-slung hire car which wouldn’t be making the return journey, forcing them to hoof out to the highway. This would have taken them hours, so we offered a lift.

Back at the carpark, one of our new acquaintances noticed me drinking from a green water bottle, nearly identical to the one I’d lost.

“Did you have another one of those?” he asked.

“Yeah… I lost it a couple of days ago.”

“What stickers did it have on it?”

“A blue one of the Buddha telling people not to be c**ts”

“No way!”

In summary, this is statistically ridiculous scenario:

  • I lost a water bottle at Oak Creek Canyon.
  • Several hundreds of people passed through the carpark that day.
  • One of them happened to pick up a used Nalgene and didn’t bin it.
  • Out of potentially thousands of routes, he happened to be the on the same line as me two days later.
  • We decided to chat rather than pass the slower party.
  • His vehicle was unsuitable for the terrain and he needed a lift.
  • He happened noticed that my water bottle was the same as the one he’d found and asked about it.
  • I was reunited with my green water bottle.

Seriously, what are the odds on this?

  1. The Red X4

0.1 Camalot X4I bailed off Fat Mattress at Frog Buttress in January when I found a nest of angry wasps at the crux. In retrospect, this was a fine choice, as that move is a horrible affair even without the critters.

It took me three goes to find the right tree to rappel off, by which time I was considerably flustered. The heat must have gotten to me. The upshot is that I retrieved all of my gear except for a red 0.1 Camalot X4, complete with alpine draw. I have no excuse for this. I didn’t even see it.

But the Rock Gods continued to smile on me when a friend found and retuned the cam some 4 months later. He wasn’t even Canadian.

  1. The Purple C4
Rescue Tibrogragan September 2017
Drone footage of the rescue (Source: Channel 7 News)

Did you hear about that big rescue on Tibrogargan a few days ago? Well, the plot thickens.

By now, you’re used to the idea that I frequently lose things. Even so, it’s embarrassing to admit that I dropped a 0.5 Camalot from the top pitch of Airtime Over Pumicestone. Long story short, we’d gone off-route whilst attempting Overexposed and ended up on Airtime by virtue of some rogue bolts. The carabiner attached to the cam in question must have been snagged on my gear loop, as it simply popped off when I replaced a different piece of gear. Before I knew it, the purple cam was soaring gracefully past my partner’s head before plunging into the abyss. Incredibly, it was recovered two months later by a pair of climbers who recently endured an unplanned bivouac in the gully above Carborundum Chimney.

So, in a way, my Purple Camalot was rescued by the State Emergency Service. Pretty rad.

  1. The Lotto

Winner winner chicken dinnerFollowing these outrageous circumstances, I have now purchased a ticket for this week’s Powerball. The jackpot is $30 million which I can safely assume that I will win. Catch ya later, plebs! This time next week I’ll be sipping après-climb champagne in the French Alps.

Ryan Siacci, Esq.
September 2017

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