6a flash novell by auther Jo Neso


Friday, 5 October

(c)Håkon Eikesdal
Today Jo climbed in Arginonta on Kalymnos
Jo in Railay Beach
Jo Nesbo has been published in 40 languages. Being 17 he made his first appearance in the Premier Soccer league in Norway but an injury stopped his professional dreams. He has a Master in Economics and has worked as a stock broker. He is also a singer and musician in Di Derre and at 42 he started climbing. Here is his 8a "comment" after his flash attempt of Mon Amour, maybe the hardest 6a on Kalymnos.

I knew right away there was something wrong with this route. The wind changed direction as just as we stopped in front of it, the temperature dropped sharply and by the time Erik was ready to go, the clouds were already building towers in grey steel against the horizon. We had planned to do the route as a warm up, the start of a splendid day cheerful climbing with friends. Little did we know of what laid ahead. Already at the second clip Erik - a 7c-climber and progressing - made a tiny sound. As if caught by surprise by something he had not seen nor heard, just felt. But he went ahead. Of course. It was a 6a. After the third bolt I could see him hesitating. After the fourth bolt I could see his knees starting to shake slightly. That happens at warm-ups, most climbers need to warm up mentally too. Still, a 6a ... At the fifth I think he said something about the space between the bolts, but I couldn't hear the exact words because of the increasing wind. At the sixth he stopped. Waited. It was strange to see his body, suddenly ridden by a fear I had never seen in this man, so strong and bold that we just call him Erik. Well, that is his name, but never the less. He looked around as if he was being attacked by beasts and then, with just a short, sharp yell of warning ("take!), he tossed himself backwards into thin air, as if mad, desperate to escape these invisible creatures. And he fell towards the ground . Luckily he was tied to a rope that caught him and prevented his body from being smashed to the ancient rocks that make up this mysterious Greek island.
I lowered him down.

And as he came closer I saw something in his face I've never seen before. Fright. Bewilderment. Confusion. Not the Erik we call Erik. "What happened?" I asked. "Let's get away from here," he said. "Why?" "It's ... its's ... let me do a 7a. I can do a 7a. Just don't make me climb ..." We both looked at the name of the route that was painted on the rock in something red that may have been paint. MON AMOUR. MY LOVE.

"I'll have a go," I said and tied myself to the rope.
"Jo, don't," Erik said. "I don't know what, but something happened here. Mon Amour. It got that name for a reason."
"Look at the crag," I said. "It's so crowded here we won't find another warm-up-route. Relax, man."
And so I started climbing. And I could feel it as soon as I put my hand I the rock.
I shouldn't have.

The rock was cold as ice. Cold rock? In September in Greece? Good for friction, I told myself and went on. The start felt a bit hard for a 6a, I thought. Maybe that's why we hadn't heard about anybody who had climbed it. Actually we hadn't heard anybody mention the route at all, which is quite strange because it should be a perfect warm-up-route on a crag like this. And the next thought inevitably crossed my mind: shouldn't that be a warning to us? Well, nobody like under-graded routes, I told myself and went on. I clipped the quick draw at the fourth bolt. I felt better, more confident. A heard a low rumble. Thunder. I didn't have to turn my head to know that the weather was coming this way. A hint of a crux. I looked at the rock. Sharp. Razor-blade sharp. And it looked as if they had spilt some of the paint here too. And suddenly there were those images in my head. Of someone falling on these rock. Not me, but somebody else. And not free falling, but sliding down the sharp slab, leaving traces of skin, a torn nipple, a young, beautiful face. I broke a nail on a crimp. Good, that brought me back to reality! No more ozo late at night for me! I reached up with my quick draw, noticed the light had changed, that it suddenly felt like dusk, attached the QD to the bolt and clipped the rope in. At the same moment I felt a gentle touch on my bare shoulder, as if by the skin of a woman's soft hand. A falling leaf, I thought. Or a butterfly. I focused again. I passed Eriks last quick draw. I worked fast now, gained ground. I could feel my inner height measurerer ticking.
There were no bolts.
I looked, I searched. No bolts.
What the f ...
I made a quick decision. To go on. Since my only other possible decision would have been to panick. I was already on a severe run out, and there was no way I would be able to climb back to the previous quick draw.
There HAD to be bolts, for God's sake!
And there it was. Suddenly, as it had sprung out from the rock there and then, right in front of my face. Strange. And it was old. Black and rusty. Looked like something that belonged in another time. Like something that belonged on a chain. A chain that belonged in a cellar. A cellar that belonged in a castle. That chained something or someone that belonged to someone. And in the same instance
I heard a voice, it must have come with a gust of the ever increasing, whistling wind, that said: "I'm leaving you, I love him too much, my love." And since it sounded like the words from a stupid pop song, I figured it must come from a radio brought by a stupid climber. So I looked down. And I could not believe my eyes.
There was nobody there. Nobody. They were all gone.

How could that be, how could a crag be emptied in just a couple of minutes? OK, so bad weather was on it's way, but where had they all gone? I couldn't see them walking down the hill either, which should have taken them at least ten or twelve minutes. Maybe there was something wrong with my eyesight, because it looked like the town of Masouri was gone too. And I couldn't see any of the buildings on the nearby island of Telendos, either, just a castle I had never noticed before.
"Erik?" I said.
No answer. My rope disappeared from sight under a bulge six meters under me. He must be somewhere under there. Of course, where else would he be?
"Erik!" I yelled. "Erik!"
I don't know why I yelled, I was still climbing and he was giving me rope, smoothly and fine, there was not even the slightest feeling of rope drag. Nothing. Just the rope and me.
I know why I yelled. I was scared.
I was scared because I remembered now. I knew why the route was called Mon Amour. I knew why we had never heard about anybody climbing it. I knew why ... TAKE!!!

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