Man on rock, Part 1: What goes up

by Wolf Pascoe on October 22, 2012

“Because it’s there.”
— George Mallory

Yup. That’s me up there.

What am I doing? Considering my options, I am.

You know the film Man on Wire? It’s about the guy who strung a wire between the tops of the twin towers in 1974, and then walked back and forth until the cops arrested him.

I recommend watching it.

This was my man-on-wire moment, sans polizei.


Here’s the view looking down from where I was:



Here’s the view looking up:



May I take a moment to tell you about the amazing new iPhone 5 camera? See how the sky and cloud color is as true as the rock? Just point and shoot. Perfect for the times your brain is no longer functioning.




The night before, I got a call from Avi, the father of Nick’s friend Indar.

“We’re going hiking at Vasquez rock tomorrow. Indar would like Nick to come along.”

“What’s Vasquez rock?” said Nick.

“Only one of the wonders of the world,” I said.

I had no idea what Vasquez rock was, but I trusted Avi’s judgment.

“Okay,” said Nick.

“Wolf, would you like to accompany us?” Avi said.

“Oh, no.”


“That was very quick, Wolf,” said Avi.




I was pleased with Nick for joining the expedition, not so pleased with my response to Avi’s suggestion that I come along.

I have a cubbyhole in my brain labelled J’accuse! Avi’s that-was-very-quick-Wolf now lodged itself there.

Exactly why didn’t I want to accompany my son to see one of the wonders of the world? There was no good reason. I just wanted the day off.

Later, Nick went to work on me.

“Dada, will you come with us?” he said.

I began to list non-reasons, then stopped.


What kind of father are you? In twenty years, will you even remember the thing you did instead of going to Vasquez rock with your son?

No, I wouldn’t remember.

In fact, you have nothing important to do tomorrow.

This is remarkably true, Obi-Wan.

I decided I was, after all, the kind of father who could change his mind.

“Of course I’ll come,” I said to Nick.




Vasquez rock is a popular backdrop for exotic film and television settings. It beats traveling to other planets.

They shot a Hunger Games-like Star Trek episode there. In it, Kirk (William Shattner, Ship’s Actor) found himself in single combat with a reptilian man of another galaxy.


Kirk mixed some gunpowder and wounded the reptile-man with a rock-shooting rifle, then balked at finishing him off.

“You have shown the advanced quality of mercy,” the game master said, and sent Kirk back to the Enterprise.

All this I recollected as we got out of the car.




Nick grabbed his canteen and headed off with Indar over a rise.

“Be careful,” I said.

I knew Nick had more sense than to get himself stuck on some ledge.

“What’s that trough off to the right?” I said to Avi.

“It doesn’t have a name,” said Avi. “The kids tend to stay away from it.”

“Have you been on it?” I said.





Even now I can’t say what made me do it. I’m far too old mature for such mischief. And not in shape.

Oh, I’m not all that bad, said the trough.

You do look inviting, I said. 

I’ve been waiting all day for the touch of a real man, the trough purred.

Excuse me while I kiss the sky, I said. 

The rock was firm, with plenty of hand holds. Why, I didn’t even need to use my hands at first. My shoes gripped without sliding, and I walked upright half the way.

Tired, I sat, looking up. There were easy footholds almost to the top.

In for a penny, in for a pound, I thought.

At your service, said the trough.

And so I made my way, hand and foot, to where the photo at the top (taken by Avi’s wife, Mai) found me.

Better rest a moment, I thought. After all, you need to conserve your strength for the return trip.

I think, in retrospect, I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I was there at all. What’s a bit of rock to a dad who can climb the inner mountain of J’accuse?

The mistake, of course, was looking down. Which I did at that point.

All thought of movement left me.

“Are you all right,” Mai called from far below.

I think that’s what she called. Actually, I couldn’t hear her.

What would Kirk do, I wondered.



This is the first part of a two-part post. Part 2, Must come down

Able to leap tall buildings








Ever bite off more than you could chew? Tell, tell. Just Add Father is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara October 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm

It cracks me up picturing you frozen up there! The funny thing about that is, I’d probably get stuck, too. The older I get, the more I have this thing about heights. At least heights seen from a spot near the edge without a rail. Bravo to you for changing your mind about going and climbing that trough!!


Wolf Pascoe October 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I have no problem with heights as long as I have a parachute.


Sirena October 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm

That’s one scary foto dude! I often bite off more than I can chew but now I can’t think of even one incident. A few postings from now I might remember and then I’ll let you know. I’m happy you’ll always have that picture of the day you were Captain Kirk and defeated the alien rock formation.


Wolf Pascoe October 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Your congratulations might be illogical. I haven’t finished the story yet.


Jim Parkevich October 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Hi Wolf,
Me thinks, you and that fine boy of yours, are both growing into manhood at the same time. Funny thing….. “manhood” We hit a certain age and level of responsibility and “voila” we are grown up men…Like “Peter Pan” (aka Robin Williams) said….the greatest adventure is to live !!! Your life to live, standing beside this young man, offers adventures unknown, each greater than the last…..
Carpe Diem……….


Wolf Pascoe October 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Carpe Diem, indeed.


BigLittleWolf October 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Oh, our knee-jerk reactions! (And how instructive they are to us when pointed out.)

Oh, what we do for our children! (Indeed, what will they remember as adults?)

Oh, the view when we look up! And the lessons in that.

Lovely post.


Wolf Pascoe October 25, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I thought Avi was particularly gentle with his remark, which made it all the harder to evade.


pamela October 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Beautiful metaphor, imagery, and photographs. I am always struck by what a great dad you are and how brave. You won’t forget this day!!!


Wolf Pascoe October 25, 2012 at 8:31 pm

“You won’t forget this day!!!”

I’m afraid you’re right.


The Exception October 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

The pictures are lovely. it is when we bite off more than we can chew that we discover our ability to adapt and ability to overcome… and that maybe we can chew much, much more! I would write that it appears that you proved quite the model for the two kids, but, as you said earlier, we have yet to hear the rest of the story.


Wolf Pascoe October 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm

I can reveal this about next week’s post: I lived to tell the tale.


Stacy @ Sweet Sky October 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm

And now I’m wondering what Kirk would do…

How long will you keep us in suspense? (Glad you lived to tell the tale.)


Wolf Pascoe October 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Readers here will enjoy reading about Stacy’s mindful way of parenting on her lovely blog, Sweet Sky.


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