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Bill Hutchins

The Magic Purple Cam

November, 2006. Shawangunk Mountains, New York. Damn! The shiny Black Diamond cam slipped from my fingers. I watched as it sailed down, bounced off the cliff and disappeared into the leaves on the talus. I was nearly at the end of the second pitch of Beginner’s Delight, one of those wonderful, easy climbs found only at the Gunks, and had been feeling pretty pleased with myself. I’d gotten up the first tricky (tricky 5.3, Bill?) jam crack, led the famed traverse, and had been trying to impress my long suffering belayer (daughter Karen) with my expertise in placing cams for protection (an art I had practiced exactly once before). Oops, I thought, now I’m looking stupid. She’s going to be less than uber impressed with old Dad for dropping one of our brand new cams. “Oh, well,” I told her, trying to recover a bit of lost dignity, “We’ll just finish the climb and go back to the bottom and retrieve it.”