Or as Doug wrote : “A voice below our feet”, I would be inclined to say “A whisper in our hearts”.
Masha joined our larger team at work. I didn’t really have any connection with her until a few months later, Maija working close with my team said that there is this incredible person who really likes climbing and just finished some trad climbing course and is really inspired by it.
I thought it’s better to have one more climbing partner then one less climbing partner. I offered to go for a multi-pitch, she was really keen to join. We did dr. Blau Chafer in Cheselenfluh. Masha was slow as hell when it comes to operations on belays – no wonder, it was his 2nd or 3rd multi-pitch, but she was quite fast, stoked and really solid.
Masha said that she really hope that we can be climbing partners (well… there is a bit more story into that, but I won’t get into details). I admitted but deeper in my mind I knew that I do not really have “climbing partners” I have friends that I climb with or very rarely people that I climb with cause there is no other option. So it could go one of those two ways, I had a feeling it will take the first. And it did.
We started spending more time together talking about life, different options, possibilities. Climbing in Gaswerk where she encouraged me to take falls, giving soft catches, sometimes on purpose giving more slack to made me realize it works and there is nothing to worry about. She won a prize for a best catcher in my entire climbing carrier.
Masha was also a joy when it came to spending weekends or vacations outdoors. When I proposed to go to Lofoten she was intrigued, but also anxious. We decided to spend a weekend or two together checking whether we can stand each other for longer than a day. For me somehow it was obvious it will work out. I come from a companionship with relatively little money, hence I learned to wild camp, eat good but not fancy and sophisticated food… etc, that was in line what Masha was up for, or maybe she was just so flexible that she cared just to spend time with people she liked in the mountains or generally environment that suited her – in nature. One rainy day in Lofoten we cooked lunch on a bench in the middle of a city, she said something along the lines of “I don’t really know anyone in G who would be up for such a lifestyle”, I treated that as quite of a compliment. Other time she, always helpful and happy to cook for others, made eggs with tomatoes, zucchini and cheese IIRC… and then when it was ready poured it (by accident) on a large boulder where we were cooking. Made us both laugh, got it back to the pot and eaten happily, just as much as under Wenderstecke I spilled tiny mozarella, she bought for me, over the grass as I thought it’s a big one. She loved peanut butter, and ate a portion of oats with fruits for breakfast, those are things that I will never understand, it did not prevent her in making me scrambled eggs, cause “why not”, and be happy just seeing how happy am I.
Positive stoke about climbing did not leave her, even when recently she was not really up for training and climbing in Gaswerk, when she joined me and started hard interesting moves her face lit up, the smile came back, and she wanted to do it again. She was always curious wanted more experience, more knowledge, on our second climb in Bedretto she asked whether she can lead rappels herself, basically to learn. We then spend on a few occasions quite some time to talk about pros and cons of tying knots. After a climb with Jarek on Graue Wand, where abseiling did not go smoothly, she asked me to talk about different scenarios accidents and failures, and so we did while seating for 2 hours in Kraftwerk. She wanted to climb more and harder, but was also happy to do easier and pleasant climbs. Just this year she did ~5.2k vertical meters, I was delighted to accompany her in ~3.7k of those. When she made mistakes or got improvements suggestions she never took it as criticism nor personally, always as opportunity for learning.
She was always cheering and encouraging, which sometimes was distracting (as Doug mentions as well, good that it’s not only me who had that feeling), but she would never be offended when I told her with harsh voice while making hard moves “don’t talk to me”.
Her curiosity and willingness to act and experience is really inspiring, I hope I will be able to feel it for a long time, and strive to be a little like that. I have not written yet about the deep carrying Masha, she showed a lot of care, was always there for her friends, made small acts for all of us. Like giving Virginia big yellow sunflower for her b-day which happens to be on the same day as Masha’s. Like telling right compliments to people in right moments, like reminding all of us to be proud of what we have achieved.
Her short climbing career could have been wonderful, she was upset that she discovered the sport so late, I remember telling her not to worry cause she has another 40 years at least that she can fill up with climbing experiences. I’m so sorry I was that wrong.
Under this layers of positivity and joy there was also a person with problems and doubts, but she was working them through had solid plans on what’s next. It took tons of her energy when her Mom died, some internal struggles that she rarely talked about and only with really close people, that I hope I started to become but was only on that path.
This accident should have not happened, she must have been mentally in a different universe. After I saw the fatal place this Saturday again (I was there last year) I have more questions than answers, fortunately I have not gone there for answers. I went there to find a bit of peace.
My thoughts and warm feelings go to friends who are in grief, in particular Jarek, Greg and Dasha. We need get through sadness and anger and get back to being inspired by wonderful memories of this amazing and awesome person.
Masha, thanks for being my friend and climbing partner, I really learned a lot from you. You’ll always stay in my heart.
PS. I decided at 3.47am today (17.09) that I will append stories that I recall here. So that I have a log of nice memories.
|I have periods that I am really irrationally afraid of falling. I told that too Masha and said that I’ll try to do a fall practice every now and then. One time at the end of a session in GW, the gym was already relatively quiet, my friends were already having beer, I said that I’d do a few falls… after a couple I was mentally exhausted. Nevertheless Masha encouraged me to just let go and I was so panicked that friends were later laughing at me about it. Yet Masha convinced me to just let go and got me a really safe, soft catch.|
|She got me to float in Limmat. She really liked that place, and were going there regularly. We left at lunch time, cycled through the city to lock our bikes on a small bridge, than walked upstream. Masha had a waterproof bag, so we packed stuff into it. She jumped to the water from the bridge, while I got into from the shore, it was my first time there and I wanted to start slow. After 20min of talking while floating and swimming we got to changing rooms walked back to the bikes and cycled home.
You really liked to share her best experiences with people. Thank you.
|When we went wild car camping for the first time Masha suggested taking two tents, which was really weird to me… cause why? It did end up well to have some more space, though it is a bit more of a hassle, I guess we never did it later… That weekend in Bedretto was really good. Masha apparently was walking on a snow for the first time (I mean longer approach on a snow) which for me was really natural. She thanked me to prompt her to take larger shoes not sneakers, in particular when on Sunday we were walking down on a relatively steep slope and she slipped, ended up sliding ~50-80m on a wet soft snow. She was really delighted when I slipped as well just 20m lower.|
|She really liked twaróg and thought me to eat it with milk and a bit of chocolate, when I once brought a pack from Poland for her.|
|Masha brought her single speed from London, she was one of the handful people I know that would dare to ride single speed in this hilly country. No matter snow or rain, once she got completely soaked to Gaswerk, actually not really soaked cause she had some layers of waterproof clothing, in which she looked a bit like a sailor.|
|Masha was I think the biggest fan of my poor blog, getting back to climbs I’ve done looking for inspiration, she had also made me to rank my climbs with stars and say how much I liked them and why. Thanks. You are still awesome.|
|For some reason she used quite often “don’t judge” saying. I don’t think I ever did, but she did not embrace all the possibilities and cared what close people think even sometimes in places where she should not. At the same time it did not ever stop her in pursuing her ideas, dreams or just normal tasks. E.g. she decided to go for automatic car exam instead of manual shift, just to get it done, but was not proud of that at all.|
|In Norway, there was one route that I wanted to climb, we approached and the start did not look easy. I expressed my hesitation, than Masha said she can do the first pitch. I was glad to hear that… at least to the moment when she grounded cause she didn’t manage properly the starting moves. Then she tried to figure out any pro on the start. I put my favorite yellow offset nut but said that it most probably will pop if she took a fall… she nevertheless tried again… and grounded again. We bailed afterwards. Such a spirit to push for it !|
|On her b-day I got her a #4 cam. Packed as a bouquet. She loved it. She got me a mozzarella to my dinner/breakfast pasta, when I opened it I did not realize it’s this small peas of mozarella not the large one… so while draining I spilled 1/3 of it on the ground. It was a lot of laughing and fun|