“Memories made in the mountains stay in our hearts forever.“
With a pending move to Barcelona this year, I thought I might get motivated and finish the basic list of 58 14ers this year but, alas, ’twas not to be. Rock climbing seemed to be the outdoor priority for me this year. So, I guess I’ll be back from Spain for a month or two next year with the remaining 14ers in my sights! Who wants to join me?
This particular trip up Handies (and the one to follow, up Uncompahgre) was special in that I was able to team up with a very close friend from way, way, waaay back in junior high and high school days–Rik Fritz. In fact, he called me up and got me going back to the big mountains on this trip instead of the local rock climbing crag.
Rik is an amazing guy and really needs to write a book about his exploits with rattlesnakes, on Yosemite big walls, on long, high altitude, cross country flights in his hang glider, and on his seriously salty sailing adventures. He is definitely a man who has lived life to the fullest–and continues to do so. (See my near-death blog post from June 27, 2017, “The Fall” to catch a bit of what I mean.)
It was great to catch up with him and talk about all that “Back In The Day” stuff! Ahhh…the stories…the stories…and all included at least 10% truth!
Our initial goal for the 3-4 days we had available was to haul our fannies up Sneffels, Uncompahgre, and Wetterhorn, starting with the Class 3 scrambling route on this last one, “Weather Peak”. Handies wasn’t even on the list. But, ah, the best laid plans…In mid-to-late September in the Colorado Rockies, weather can be tricky and fickle pickle, as we quickly discovered.
A pounding, hours-long, cold rainstorm the night before–as we camped at the Wetterhorn/Matterhorn Trailhead–made us rethink things. There would surely be snow above and, sure enough, morning revealed a heavy coating on the high peaks tapering off finally at about treeline. Hmmm…best not to do exposed Class 3 scrambling on icy and snowy rock without the proper gear and attitude, we both said. So, instead of Wetterhorn, off to Handies we bounced in our 4×4 pickups–Handies would be a much easier peak, even with a wet, white blanket o’ schnee.
What follows, then, is what eventually transpired, to the best of my sometimes-faulty recollection, along with my usual merry montage of inspiring images…
More than a half million Barcelonans, many carrying a single long-stemmed rose, filled the streets this afternoon for a peace rally in the aftermath of the senseless terrorist attack on Las Ramblas. There were people of all kinds–Catalans, tourists, recent immigrants, even a large number of Muslims.
The above short video will give you some flavor of the event.
Some of the signs:
“We are not afraid”
“No, to Islamophobia”
“Your wars, our dead”
“Felipe [the King], if you want peace, don’t traffic in weapons”
The idea is to have the Muslim world together with us (as just about all already are) in this battle against extremism:
The sign that is being dismantled said, “Spain against terrorism…Thanks, Your Majesty! [the King]” and was accompanied by a number of Spanish national flags being waved about on tall poles. The message sounds good, except that it was really pissing off the local Catalans and the police siphoned them away from the main march and had them disband as they were being bombarded by jeers, whistles, and shouts from the home crowd. Why? Well, these protesters were Madrid loyalists (Spanish flags) and, from the Catalan point-of-view, Madrid is essentially in bed with the terrorists and the root cause of the various terrorist attacks in Spain due to Madrid’s support of the Iraq wars and ongoing international arms sales. Then, of course, there is the Catalan tendency to dislike all that is Madrid and anything related to the Bourbon royal dynasty (see especially the Siege of Barcelona, 1713-1714):
Red Cross and police vehicles were soon decorated with roses in thanks for their service during and immediately after the attacks:
Much of the crowd continued on past the Plaça de Catalunya and visited the various memorials along Las Ramblas:
Muslim marchers rest in front of the Las Ramblas Burger King after the rally. The messages: “Love wins over hate”, “We want peace”, “Barcelona embraces peace”, “We want peace…end terrorism”:
Yes, it is yet another inhumane and disgraceful act of inhuman cowardice. This time, on one of the world’s most famous and beloved pedestrian walkways, the Las Ramblas (or La Rambla) corridor in Barcelona, Spain.
I absolutely don’t want to take away from the weight of the tragedy in Catalunya, but in the past few months, as a reminder, the world has seen…
This is just an abbreviated list. There were a number of other attacks throughout the world during this period.
The main point is this: ALL of these attacks are horrible tragedies, leaving behind a bloody trail of mangled human bodies–physical and psychological trauma, lost limbs, brain damage, excruciatingly painful burns, and destroyed lives. Perhaps because these events are somewhat rarer in Europe and the United States, it is the attacks in the west, which seem to garner the bulk of the sympathy and publicity in our U.S. and European news media.
And three other points:
Terrorism committed by “Islamic extremists”–who aren’t really “Islamic” at all, by the way–is not the only kind of terrorism there is. Consider the killing of nine black parishioners by a white supremacist at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. I’d say that fits the definition of terrorism.
The vast, vast majority of Muslims aggressively condemn terrorist attacks committed in the name of their religion. Those in the west who criticize Islam, rather than separating out specific criminal deviants for vilification, risk alienating portions of the Islamic population. The world would be a better place with Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, all working together against the scourge of terrorism. (Actually, maybe the world would be better off without any of these religions–with the possible exception of Buddhism–but that is a topic for another day.)
Finally, it sure wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask ourselves just why individuals turn to terrorism. What are the economic and political factors driving such an extreme decision? Remove these factors and you remove the raison d’etre of terrorism. This requires clinical study, not simplistic emotional reactions.
Here is a selection of images from the Las Ramblas tragedy, with my occasional commentary, made early in the morning of August 25, eight days after the fact…
Before dawn, a city worker stops to contemplate one of the larger memorials. As the candles slowly burn out or are blown out by the breeze, only the candles along the edge are easily relit or replaced:
One of at least 20 smaller memorials, some specifically for individuals who died in the attack:
People from many countries have written their supportive messages on the tree trunks and the walkway tiles. One common phrase that you see everywhere is “No tenim por”, or “We are not afraid” in the Catalan language:
One of the victims, 40-year-old Silvina Pereyra Cabrera and originally from Argentina (or Colombia?), had lived in Barcelona for ten years and worked in the famous market, La Boqueria:
As I was photographing, I ran into this young guy who was relighting as many of the candles as he could. Speaking in Spanish, he made the point that terrorism occurs all over the world and victims in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Syria deserve just as much sympathy as victims in Europe. We are all human, we all have families, and we all suffer, he said. I neglected to ask, but I would suspect he is an immigrant from (perhaps) Morocco:
Others stopped to relight candles as well:
At the intersection with Carrer de l’Hospital (Hospital Street), near La Boqueria, you’ll find the largest memorial, a vast field of flowers, posters, notes, letters, stuffed animals, candles, and other personal items. I believe this is about where the criminal asshole’s vehicle finally came to a stop:
Three-year-old Xavi Martinez was the youngest victim of the attack:
Mickey and Minnie:
I found an American flag in the memorial closest to Plaça de Catalunya, perhaps intended for Jared Tucker, a 42-year-old American construction worker who was killed here. The police in the background are the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalunya’s provincial police. Passersby and crowds often spontaneously break into applause when the Mossos appear, such is the people’s appreciation for their rapid reaction to the attack:
“Muslims against terrorism”, in a field of compassion:
The big lesson learned from yesterday’s major celestial (and social media!) event?
Absolutely DO NOT miss a TOTAL solar eclipse. It is weird, eerie, and otherworldly…it makes you realize that we really do live in a universe with planets, moons, solar systems, galaxies and gases, other strange odds and ends, and elegant orbiting orbs.
We are mere specks!
A total eclipse is special. No camera or video really captures what it is like to be there…to feel the temperature changes…to see the shadow approach…hear the shouts of joy and amazement from fellow onlookers…to see the stars and planets that come out momentarily as sunset falls on the full 360 degrees of horizon.
Totality was barely 2 1/2 minutes. Like the noble and coveted orgasm, alas, too short, too short!
In this image, that may be Mercury off to the left. Maybe an astronomer can confirm? The corona is spectacular!
Here is the classic “wedding ring” as Mother Moon begins to move away from Sister Sun. Note the solar flares in the reddish areas along the rim:
And a handful of portraits–the confused and amazed human gang on the hillside, then three of those human observers close up, a camera aimed at the firmament, and, finally, to bring us back to the Earth’s surface and remind us of our inevitable mortality, one deceased-but-still-quite-elegant tree:
Since we are in the midst of a relocation from Boulder, Colorado to Barcelona, Spain, you will notice that I have been a bit less active with blog posts these days.
No worries. I’ll pick up the pace again once we get settled across the sloshing sea, likely sometime in late September.
In the meantime, feel free to peruse the nearly five years of blog posts already in the archives. Consult the “Topics of Interest” column for something that might pique your curiosity.
Also, although sales of physical prints will be curtailed until I get the shop set up again, electronic versions of images will still be available via email or Dropbox.
[NOTE: Despite the slowdown in activity over the next few months, you can expect a fair number of Colorado 14er reports and related images later this summer as I try to complete those climbs before we leave.]
This is a classic example of an improperly placed toilet paper dispenser.
PLEASE, place them ABOVE the bar! It would make it SO much easier to use!
Rant over. Thanks.
2016 Black & White Magazine, Spotlight Award Winner! (Issue: June, 2017, #121)
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