12-_LookingUp1“Take your time,” advises Dave. Truette’s heart pounds. His throat is dry. He thinks, “This is it. Perform you son-of-a-bitch!” He lets go of the ice axe, teeters on the ledge, slips his mitten covered right hand out of the wrist loop, and fumbles for one of the ice screws clipped to the gear sling which is hanging across his chest from his right shoulder. He is about to fall. His stomach is hollow with fear. He must move smoothly and with great care, or he will fall backwards off the ice and plunge past where Dave and Jeff are attached. He would be falling at over a hundred miles an hour before Jeff even had a chance to slow him, and that would overpower Jeff’s hands. The force of his fall would certainly yank out all the ice screws. The alternative is to get in a screw right here, now, clip in to it, and rest easy. The gate on the carabiner holding the ice screw to the gear sling won’t open. The situation is increasingly, extremely, dangerous. This is where some men get reckless. Then in their despair, make a final mistake. Truette tells himself to be calm and to be patient. He remembers the old fighter pilot’s advice, “When the engine‚Äôs on fire and the wings are coming off: wind the clock.”

Stubbs, Truette (2013-04-19). STARSHINE: 1978 Mountaineering History Making Ice Climb on the North Face of Whiteside Mountain in North Carolina USA (Kindle Locations 1789-1797). Truette T. Stubbs. Kindle Edition.