The dog days of August 1974 had found us at our local crag. Perched on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, Taylors Falls is a narrow gorge of billion-year-old basalt, 40-foot cliffs carved 10,000 years ago by the meltwaters of retreating glaciers. The gorge hosts over a hundred trad- and sport-climbing routes. Relatively flat ground above the cliffs offers quick access, and while some cliffs drop directly into the water, others are reached by climbers’ trails along broken rocks at their bases. Jim and I had descended off the cliff top via a climbers’ trail skirting the rock, while Dad stayed up top to set up an anchor for a toprope and rappel.

Our reverie was broken by a scream. I looked up—to see a silhouette, backlit by the sun, crashing through tree branches. WHOOMP! A body landed at our feet. A groan. A shudder. A rattling noise from deep within. Blood dripping from the mouth. Then silence so profound it still echoes in my brain after 48 years.

Here is the link to the rest of the story published in the 2022 issue of Ascent Magazine

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