Question: how did you return home? Hitchhike? Didn't it take well more than a week for the FAA to allow planes nationwide to fly?
I certainly like your location on 9/11 better than mine. I was in the northbound 4 train going directly under the WTC when the first plane hit. By the time, I got to my office near Union Square, there were TV reports of a "small, Cessna-type plane" crashing into the tower. I watched the second tower crumble from my window.
I walked the entire route back to my apartment in Brooklyn, across the Manhattan Bridge. It was the closest I'll probably ever come to a war experience.
We were due to fly back on the following Sunday - I forget what the date was - maybe the 15th or 16th.
We spent most of the previous evening on the phone with American Airlines, given that flights would start flying that Sunday. Our flight was listed as a "go", but on the phone, we found out that only the second half of the flight was going to fly. (As an alternative, our rental car company had authorized us to drive the car to Albany with no drop-off fee. Jeff and I even talked about climbing Devil's Tower on the way, if it came to that.)
After a long time on hold, we got re-routed, from SLC to Dallas (they had to put us in first class to get us on the plane) to Boston to Albany. They also told us to be at the airport by 5:00 a.m., although they had no idea that no one would be on duty at the AA counter that early. We finally got on our first flight. Free drinks in first class on the way to Dallas - mimosas, I believe.
In Dallas, we got on our second flight and the flight crew announced free drinks for the whole flight. So, we settled in with some books (I was reading Not Without Peril, about accidents of all sorts on Mt. Washington) and some beer. Behind us, the flight attendants talked nervously about layoffs, knowing their industry would be feeling the effects of the attacks.
So, we finally got to Logan, without much time to make our connection to Albany. We were literally running through the airport when an armed security guard stopped us cold and demanded IDs. Apparently, Logan was in a near lock-down, and some scraggly looking characters running and carrying backpacks looked very suspicious.
We managed to make our flight and my wife picked us up in Albany. We immediately headed to Saratoga for some dinner and (more) beer, and some unwinding after all that had gone on in the previous week.
I told Jeff recently that this was a very disappointing trip for me - not feeling 100% and feeling like I was holding people back at times. But, the whole trip is well etched in our memories.
As a non-climber, there something I've always wondered — what do you do about shoes on summit day? I could imagine a climb where you wore hiking boots on the approach, and carried your specialized shoes in your pack. And then if it was all rope work, no problem. But it looked like on Grand there was some class 3 or 4 stuff mixed in? Do you normally carry more than one pair and change shoes?
"You just need to go at that shit wide open, hang on, and own it." —Camp
Beleive it or not, they are called... climbing shoes.
On a climb like the Grand, hiking boots or approach shoes (low-cut hikers typically equipped with "sticky rubber" soles) for the descent are carried in a pack. Hiking boots or approach shoes are also commonly used for a class 3 or class 4 scramble, climbing shoes are only used for roped 5th class technical climbing. Climbers typically don't switch footgear back and forth on a climb, even if there are short sections of class 3 or 4 climbing mixed in.
Errett emailed me with this ominous recollection from the day:
"I distinctly remember remarking when we were sitting on the summit about the fact that I had never been on a summit before and not seen any jet trails in the sky!! Of course we didn’t know at the time that this was because all jetliners had been grounded."
I also got emails from both of the Exum guides that we had talked to at the Lower Saddle on the evening of 9/11. They had gotten word of the attacks from a friend of theirs who had come up to the Lower Saddle that morning. I think it's fair to say that they were probably as stunned by the news as we were. I think it's pretty cool that this TR made it into their hands, thanks to Exum Mountaineering for helping to make that connection.