It was around 11PM the night before that we decided to go for a sunrise ascent of “Soul’s Awakening”, a beautiful multipitch route on the most prominent wall in Li Ming, China. The goal was to be at the base of the 4th pitch before sunrise so that our photographer Garrett Bradley could capture the 40m link up of the 4th and 5th pitches as the first rays of light touched the wall.
We left the village at 3am and began our approach under the stars. With almost zero light pollution in the valley systems, the sky looked unimaginable. Wisps of the Milky Way, the bold red glow of Mars, and an infinite brilliance of stars littered the sky. It was a sight that I won’t forget anytime soon. As the photographer aided his way up the 4th and 5th pitch, my climbing partner Daniel Macnish and I waited at the belay ledge beneath the 4th pitch, the occasional shiver reminding us of our friends fast asleep, still warm in the village several hundred feet below. We could tell by the growing glow at the ridgeline of the peaks behind us that daylight was approaching. When the first stream of sunlight broke the ridge on the opposite side of the valley I was in awe. The light struck the peak of the wall we were climbing and as the sun rose higher, the light slowly made it’s way down the route we were about to climb. “As soon as that sun hits you, start climbing Chris!”, yelled Garrett as he prepared his cameras for the photoshoot. The warmth of the sunlight accompanied by the internal awe from the natural beauty that we were about to become a part of had my body on an unprecedented high. To be able to interact with nature in such a way is indescribable. To top off such an unforgettable experience, I was psyched to find out that one of the photos of me from the shoot made it on the cover of the March issue of Desnivel, the main alpine magazine in Spain!
“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
C H R I S T Ø P H E R M I L L E R