living in a small town on the outskirts of Izmir, a major Turkish city. I hadn't been climbing in about 8 months, due to lack of gear/funds/partner/time, and largely because nobody in Turkey climbs. Everyone would hear that it was my favorite sport and ask why I wanted to die. Seriously. With straight faces. So my unadventurous host family who rarely let me out would not hear of me doing anything so foolish.
I took to secret forays into the local hills, and my favorite spot, the local rock quarry. One afternoon, I sneaked out of the house claiming to be off to the city, and as soon as I was out of sight changed from my city clothes into more comfy apparel (I'd make a good career liar :) . The quarry looked good and in the cool of late autumn, the rock was warm from the day's sun. The crisp air smelled of snow in the mountains; the dying grass crunched underfoot. The cow dung squelched underfoot, and after that I watched my step more carefully. I approached up an overgrown road and threw stones at the nasty, probably rabid dogs that snarled at me. Picked a very unnatural stress crack that ran top to bottom of the 20 meter carved wall and scrambled up about five meters of scree to get to it. My bulky hiking boots were not cut out for climbing, I had no rope and was out of condition, so decided to take it really easy, be sure I could down-climb if needed, and even surer of my position before going up.
At the top of the scarp I began gingerly making the first moves of my route: my first vert moves in 3/4 of a year. It came easily, and though I was not fit, I managed to keep a good pace and high level of confidence. About six meters further up, I planted my feet on a ledge perhaps a foot deep and had a break. It felt so great! After taking five I turned back to the face and casually grabbed another big ledge above me, only to feel something crawling across the back of my hand. I drew the offending limb back and in a moment of horror came face to face with the first scorpion I'd ever seen. There was nothing to do but to let out a blood-curdling scream, wave my arms in a comical and outlandish manner, and naturally, plummet back to the slippery slope below me. I came sliding to the bottom of the gravel in a small landslide, and jumped about a bit to be absolutely sure that
a) the scorpion was gone, and
It did at some point strike me as lucky that I'd come out of it without much damage, (I was neither bitten nor broken) but I soon realized that a large gash had opened on my palm and I was covered in small but impressive cuts and bruises. There was nothing for it but to limp back to the house and admit what I'd been doing.
The family was not impressed; I was forcibly housebound for the remainder of my stay with them.
© Copyright 2000, Shane Burrows