The sun beat down on the rocks. Summer in the Rockies was always a great time. The fresh mountain air, the warm days and cool nights, and lots of places to go to be very alone. Duncan was enjoying the last part especially as he gripped the rock tightly. He was halfway up a large boulder, about 20 feet up this 40 foot face. Enjoyed the somewhat dangerous activity of climbing alone, though he'd taken precautions to anchor a rope above and had one end tied into his climbing harness and the other end through his GRIGRI, a belay device that would allow him to pull rope through in one direction but would require him to pull a lever to lower back down. In this way, he'd stop every few feet and pull more rope through, so that he'd be able to get caught by the rope in case he fell.
Aside from the harness and climbing shoes, he had only his Under Armour compression shorts in black and the faded blue Prana climbing shorts for clothing. The shorts, popular with many climbers, had a signature thick black elastic waistband topping the shorts. To fit well with harnesses, they were tight around his legs but had ample room in the crotch to allow for all the stretching movements necessary. In the mid-80s summer afternoon, it was all he needed, especially with the effort it was expending.
Pulling his body around an outcropping, Duncan let go with a hand to pull in his rope's slack. Once that was tight, he continued up. This was his last climb of the day, and he was glad his bag was at the top instead of the bottom. It didn't contain much now, just his spare climbing shorts (the same style in green), the t-shirt he'd hiked here in, a sweatshirt in case it got cold, and his ankle socks and hiking shoes. It would, after all, be a good three or four hours hike back to the cabin he'd rented for his hiking and climbing sabbatical trip. Duncan wasn't worried though. His phone had been on a solar charger on top of the boulder for awhile so he'd have plenty of GPS and flashlight time between that and his spare battery.
Arriving at the top, Duncan surveyed the scene behind him as he hung on his rope. His head was barely above the top of the boulder, so he knew he'd have no trouble climbing the last bit, but he wanted to rest on the harness and enjoy the view for awhile before setting himself back on horizontal ground. He absentmindedly brushed some of the chalk of his hands onto his shorts before reaching behind his back and closing the chalk bag that hung there on a thin belt he wrapped over the harness.
Duncan wasn't looking forward to lugging the rope and anchor gear back to the cabin and briefly contemplated leaving them there for tomorrow. But he could lose his gear that way, and climbing rope wasn't cheap at all. Still, there was no rush now, nobody waiting for him at the cabin that was all his for three whole weeks, and nobody expecting to hear from him until he returned home from his trip. Life was simple and good, he decided as he spread his arms out wide and placed each hand on top of the boulder behind him.
Without warning, his wrists were grabbed and quickly pulled together. Facing the wrong way and hanging from his harness, Duncan could only try to push out with his feet, but the harness fought against him as his own weight kept him from getting decent leverage. Before he could think, he felt metal around his wrists and discovered he couldn't move them apart or pull them toward his body. He attempted to turn his head to confirm that his wrists were cuffed and locked to the anchor, but hands roughly grabbed his head and a sickly sweet-smelling rag was shoved in his face.
The rag wasn't wet, but Duncan guessed the chemical was somewhere inside the folds of cloth. He thought he knew what it was, but he didn't pass out right away. He supposed chloroform didn't work like in the movies, all instant and such. Indeed, eventually things started to blur slowly. With his legs pointing the wrong way in the harness and his hands restrained, he couldn't do a thing to remove the rag held strongly in front of his mouth and nose. After a bit longer, he didn't much want to fight anyhow. Things got darker and his struggles lessened as his tired and sweaty body began to go limp. The last thing he thought before blacking out was, I wonder who was crazy enough to climb the hard side of this boulder without a rope?