One foot twisted inside a tiny crack in the rock face, the other resting on a narrow ledge, he leaned back slightly, letting his fingers take some of his weight, and surveyed his next moves. His blue eyes narrowed as he studied the sheer cliff face, contemplating the route carefully, planning each foothold until he reached a jutting overhang of dark volcanic rock. Rejecting the route, he began planning another. This one started out with a few difficult moves, but looked to be more practical. Spread-eagled on the massive cliff face he was totally relaxed; he might have been sitting in a comfortable armchair playing a game of chess. In his view, it was a chess game; only careful planning of each move resulted in a win. The only difference, of course, was that defeat at the hands of nature would result in a fall to the rocks at the bottom of the cliff.
In a series of swift moves, he continued his ascent. His movements fluid as a gymnast, he moved from hold to hold, centering his weight on the balls of his feet, using his arms only for balance. His shock of blond hair glistened in the strong sunlight; sweat darkened the back of his white T-shirt, and gave a sheen to his suntanned legs. Free of safety harnesses, rope and a companion, he made good progress, estimating he would be back on top of the cliff in another twenty minutes. He found the lack of his sticky-soled climbing shoes a drawback, but it was an easy climb and his running shoes were just fine. The lack of a rope didn’t bother him at all; he had long ago conquered his basic fear of falling, and a rope was simply a safety harness. To use a rope as a climbing aid was a definite no-no to David and his climbing companions.