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  • Writer's pictureTerry Groves

B.R.A.T.S. Climbing Mount Everest

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Mount Everest...Red Rock is Almost Like This

In an earlier BLOG post, Winter Adventures, I shared how much fun it was to skate down the street after an ice storm. Not all my experiences with the ice were that positive.

Behind the houses across the street from where I lived on Lundy's Lane at CFB Kingston, was Red Rock. This wasn't the only rock in the area, there was grey rock, white rock, whale rock and probably some others that I have since forgotten, but Red Rock was the largest. I admit, it isn't Mt Everest but, in my mind it was just as challenging.

Kingston and area rests on part of the Canadian Shield, a vast granite bedrock base created eons ago by volcanic activity and scraped mostly bare by the much more recent glaciers. Red Rock is only one exposed formation but I can attest to the fact that it is also very very hard.

Red Rock is at the south-eastern edge of what used to be the Batoche School schoolyard. I never went to Batoche myself, in my day it only served up to grade 6 and I was in grade 7 when we first moved to Kingston. My two youngest brothers, Dale and Tony, attended there though.

Red Rock rose about 20 feet from the sandy school yard and was characterized by a slash of a shelf about half-way up and a monstrous throne-shaped arrangement of rock at its base. My friends and I spent countless hours around Red Rock, climbing, jumping, daring each other to more dangerous feats. But that was when it was dry.

When Red Rock was covered with a slick film of ice, it became a challenge I couldn't resist. It would have been expected that, when just getting to the base of the monstrosity was a challenge, slipping and sliding and falling, considering climbing it would have to be lunacy. Guess I am not just a brat, I am a lunatic.

Attaining the shelf, half-way up the face was difficult, but not beyond my abilities. By reaching above my head I was able to hold onto the upper lip of Red Rock and I able to cross this plateau by inching along. Sometimes it was my toes giving me purchase, sometimes just those finger tips, separated from the cold ice only by the wool of my mittens.

The last part of my ascent consisted of pulling myself up from the highest point of the shelf to the summit proper. But that was not to be my destination. I was just leaning forward, about to hoist my hips above the top lip of old mighty Red Rock, when the friction between my mittens and the ice failed. In my mind the next moments stretched for minutes, my hands scrambling for some sort of purchase, my feet flailing against the bare granite face and then I was bouncing, crashing, probably yelling but in my memory the scene was silent.

And then I was in the scraggle of bushes by the throne, certain I had broken something, I waited for a flare of pain to show me what. Oh, there was pain, and it was generally all over, but nothing like I imagined a broken bone or two must feel like. For certain I was a blessed child. For all my forays in the face of dares and challenges, I had never broken a single bone. Left a lot of skin behind, but never broke a bone.

And today wasn't to be my day for that. A few minutes later I was on my feet, slipping and sliding toward home and some much needed sympathy. Being 13, I was too old to be crying over a few bumps but not too old to be able to get through trauma without some comfort from mom.

When I got home my parents were visiting with my aunt and uncle and cousins from Ottawa. I was dumbfounded when no one reacted to my state of dishevelment. Surely I must have blood streaming, gashes and patches of raw, exposed muscle and tendon, torn skin: that was how I felt.

I didn't even get a hug, not a single ounce of pity. Instead of peroxide and bandages I was told to take my cousins outside and play. Play! Five minutes before I was facing death and mom wanted me to go play!

Five minutes later we were playing on white rock. It was a smaller rock, smooth and curved and with its coat of ice, it was a perfect slide. So much for my near catastrophic adventure on Red Rock, forgotten in the manner that such things are to adolescent minds.

Do you have any memories where your reaction seemed out of proportion to everyone else? Instances were those who did not experience it, just couldn't understand the magnitude of the event?

Listen for me on the Military Family Museum podcast site Brat Time Stories. I have been invited to contribute!!

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