One strong gust1) of wind could blow me right off the side of this rock. That's what I'm thinking as I scale El Capitan2), a 3,500-foot cliff in Yosemite3), California. My callused4) fingertips grip the side of the rock as my boots search for a foothold. If I slip, it'll be a long way down. And the only thing separating me from a half mile of air will be one slender5) rope tied to my waist.
I've never done anything like this before. For the first time in my career as a rock climber, I'm scared. OK. I'm just 14. And I've only been climbing for three years. But I'm good at it—better than some climbers who are 10 years older and a whole lot6) more experienced. I have never lost a climbing competition. I set a new world record at last summer's X Games7), racing up8) a 60-foot artificial rock wall in just over 13 seconds. That's four seconds faster than any woman has ever done it before. I love everything about those competitions—the noises, the DJs9), the crowd. But, mostly, I love the heights. I'm a thrill-seeker. An adventurer. And I hate to have my feet on the ground.
To New Height 再创新高
But now I'm really scared. Three other climbers invited me to scale El Capitan with them. They've done it before. But this is new territory10) for me. El Capitan isn't plastic, like the walls in the competitions. It's real rock. And there's no padding11) or safety nets at the bottom. I'm 2,400-feet high, maybe two thirds of the way up this mountain. The wind is pounding12) against me. I'm 5'2'' and 96 pounds—I feel like it'll carry me away if I let go.
It's a four-day climb up El Capitan. No girl my age has ever made it to the top. But, as I hold on for dear life13), I tell myself that I'm going to be the first.
A Climbing Life 攀岩人生
I guess it's just dumb luck14) that I'm a climber now. I had always thought I'd be a ballerina15) or a figure skater16). But I stumbled17) across a rock-climbing wall while Christmas shopping in an Indianapolis mall. I was 11. I thought, "Hey, that looks cool," and I asked my dad if it was OK to try it. By the time I made it to the top, people around me were astounded18). They said they had never seen someone climb that wall so fast.
But my real climbing experience began far away from an Indiana mall—in Benin, West Africa. I had moved there with my family when I was 4 years old. My parents were missionaries19), but we lived just like everybody else. We slept in a little cement20) hut. We spent our days in the village, cooking with the women and working in the marketplace. We saw lions and elephants in the fields. Once, I went swimming in a pond with a hippo. I didn't know he was there until he yawned and I found myself staring right down his throat.
We had animals all over our property21). Two deer, three rabbits, seven chickens, a turkey, two guinea pigs22), and a tortoise. But my favorite was my pet Mona monkey, Georgie. She was 7 days old when she came to us. Her mother had been killed by hunters. I remember feeding her with a baby's bottle. The size of a kitten23), she'd rested in the pockets of my sundresses and I'd take her all over town.
I guess it was Georgie who got me climbing. I followed her up every tree in our village. When I was 8, just before we left Africa, Georgie was killed by a snakebite. I think about her during my climbing competitions. As silly as it sounds, Georgie taught me a lot about climbing. I guess she taught me to be fearless.
Queen of the Mountain 山之女王
But I'm not feeling so fearless now. Not as I hang suspended24) from the side of El Capitan, with the wind beating against my body.
The weather changes as you climb up a mountain. You start out in the baking sun, wearing little more than a tank top25) and shorts. Then, you climb another pitch26)—100 feet and suddenly the wind picks up. You quickly pull on sweat pants27) and a fleece28) shirt. You carry you clothes and food and gear29) on your back as you climb. Dinner is usually just a mashed30) bagel31) with peanut butter. And my bed is a two-foot-wide ledge32). I sleep tied to the mountain but, one morning, I woke up with my legs dangling33) off the side of the ledge.
The Final Stretch 最后一搏
Come on, Tori, I tell myself. Think less, climb more. My hands are cut from the rock's sharp edges. Bruises34) and scratches35) run down my legs. Every muscle in my body aches. But in three-and-a-half-days—half a day ahead of schedule—I pull myself to the top of mountain. My dad is waiting for me. I fall into his arms. I'm dog-tired36), but I have never felt such a sense of accomplishment37). I did it! Me, Tori Allen, the youngest female to ever summit El Capitan!
Climbers who make it to the top of El Capitan sign a guest book and place a stone on large rock pile. Tossing my stone on that pile was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Work and School 工作与学习
Climbing is a huge part of my life right now. I train four times a week. And I compete so much that I have to get special permission to e-mail my homework.
I like high school, but it's a real scene. It's all who-is-hanging-out-with-who. I have always been cool hanging out with the guys. In fact, I'm the only girl on the boys' track team38). I love to pole vault39), but schools in Indiana don't offer girls' pole-vaulting. So I just joined the boys' team.
I won't climb forever. I'd love to go to the Olympics. They don't have rock climbing yet, so I'm focusing on pole-vaulting. I want to go to college and have a family and be a kindergarten teacher. My parents have always encouraged me to follow my dreams. And that's what I tell other young girls: Don't give up. If I can make it to the top of the mountain, you can too.
1. gust [^Qst] n. (雨、声、烟、火等的)一阵突发
2. El Capitan: 埃尔卡皮坦岩壁,海拔约九百米,位于美国约塞米蒂国家公园内,约塞米蒂谷之北,是世界上攀岩者最喜欢挑战的地方之一。
3. Yosemite [jEu5semItI] n. (美国加利福尼亚州中部)约塞米蒂国家公园
4. callus [5kAlEs] vi. 结硬皮,生老茧
5. slender [5slendE(r)] adj. 纤细的,细长的
6. a whole lot: [用于强调]许多
7. X Game: 极限运动
8. race up: 向上奔,冲上
9. DJ: disk jockey的缩略, <口> (广播或电视台的)流行音乐唱片播音员
10. territory [5terItErI] n. (活动、知识、思想等的)范围,领域
11. padding [5pAdIN] n. (软性的)垫料,衬料
12. pound [paund] vi. 连续重击
13. for dear life: (或for one's life) 拼命地
14. dumb luck: 不费多少心思和力气得来的好运,不应得的好运
15. ballerina [7bAlE5ri:nE] n. (尤指演主角或独舞的)芭蕾舞女演员
16. figure skater: 花样滑冰运动员
17. stumble [5stQmbl] vi. 偶然遇到,碰巧找到(on, upon, onto, across)
18. astound [E5staund] vt. 使震惊;使惊骇,使大惊
19. missionary [5mIFEnErI] n. 传教士
20. cement [sI5ment] n. 水泥
21. property [5prCpEtI] n. (包括工地上所建房屋在内的)地产,房地产;花园住宅
22. guinea pig: 【动】豚鼠,天竺鼠
23. kitten [5kItEn] n. 小猫;幼小动物(如小兔等)
24. suspend [sE5spend] vt. 悬,挂,吊
25. tank top: (紧身的)短背心
26. pitch [pItF] n. (鹰扑向猎物等的)高度;<喻>程度,强度;极点,顶点
27. sweat pants: [复] n. <主美> (尤指运动员运动前后保暖穿的)宽松长运动裤
28. fleece [fli:s] n. 羊毛制的覆盖物,柔软的覆盖物
29. gear [^IE(r)] n. 工具,用具;设备,装置
30. mash [mAF] vt. 把……捣成糊状
31. bagel [5beI^El] n. <美> 硬面包圈,贝果面包
32. ledge [ledV] n. 岩架,岩石突出部,岩脊
33. dangle [5dAN^l] vi. 垂着摆动,悬荡;
34. bruise [bru:z] n. (人体跌、碰后产生的)青肿,挫伤
35. scratch [skrAtF] n. 划痕,刮痕,擦痕
36. dog-tired [5dC^5taIEd] adj. <口> 极度疲乏的,累极了的
37. accomplishment [E5kCmplIFmEnt] n. 成就;成绩
38. track team: 田径队
39. pole vault: 【体】撑杆跳高(项目)