In Defense of Spray

Imagine seeing this in your newsfeed:

Super psyched to have sent my first V4! Thanks to all of my friends for the support!

What would you do next? Would you smile and readily hit “like” and comment with words of congratulations? Or would you roll your eyes, take a screen shot, and send the picture to your best friend with nothing more for a caption than the poop emoji?

Spray, which in simplest terms is defined as telling others about what you sent, has gotten a pretty bad reputation in our sport. Many climbers consider spraying on social media or in person to be egotistical, lame, and not at all what climbing is about. But what about those campfire stories, Instagram posts, and Facebook statuses that get us even more excited to go crush?

I am, admittedly, a Sprayer.

I have no problem posting about something I sent if it meant a lot to me:

Summer project, SENT! Tenaya, Mathes, Cathedral in a day with @ethan_pringle ! At the beginning of this summer, I laughed out loud when I read that people had linked all three peaks in a day, I couldn’t fathom even doing two! But with a little training and a whole lot of psych, it slowly started to seem possible. It was just a matter of GOING FOR IT, like most things. Shitloads of hiking, over 8,000 feet of super fun climbing, all across the most beautiful playground in the world, the high sierra. I’m so wrecked but enjoying the afterglow that only a long day in the mountains can give you. This pic was taken by Ethan as we approached Cathedral, the final peak. Thankfully we met some really nice folks on the summit who gave us a ride back to our car at Tenaya Lake. A big thanks to my sweet boy for partnering up with me for this crazy objective, and for making me laugh the entire way by being the lovable weirdo that you are. If you guys wanna know any details about the day, just ask! This caption is long enough already 🙂 GET AFTER IT EVERYONE!!!

A photo posted by Georgie Abel (@gleeabel) on

 

I also post about my failures and when things feels hard:

 

And, dance parties in the Buttermilks:

 

However, there is a fine line between spray that creates psych and inspiration, and spray that only serves as an ego-boost.

If you are truly excited about what you climbed and want to share your story because you think it will get others psyched on climbing, then by all means, post the picture of you standing on top of Saigon. But if you find yourself rushing to Black Sheep to get WiFi so you can update your status to 

Just sent Saigon, didn’t feel hard at all,

then perhaps you should reconsider why you’re telling the world about your send.

The best spray stories are ones when it’s obvious that the climber recognizes that he/she isn’t better than anyone else because they climbed up a rock. The worst spray stories are when the climber’s words are laced with the subtle suggestion to bow down because they climbed their first 5.13. We all know the difference.

J-Star shows us some humble spray:

 

Related: What’s in a Grade?: How to Approach Climbing Difficulty

 

While spray from Johnathan Siegrest and other mutants are great sources of inspiration, I don’t think spraying should be reserved only for professional climbers. In fact, sometimes the best stories are from beginner climbers or people who balance work and family with their love of rock climbing. 

I recently saw an Instagram post about a dude who sent his first outdoor boulder problem, and it got me far more psyched to go climbing than when a professional climber described how small the crimp was on his project.

This spray post is great because regardless of our experience level—whether we are a budding trad climber or planning on doing the Rostrum this weekend—it gets us psyched to go climbing:

Woot! @tabstagram1 and I did our first trad leads today!! So fun 😀

A photo posted by Betsy Dorsett (@betsysaur) on

 

Spray, when presented with modesty, is a great way to inspire other climbers.

Regardless of your ability level, a great story about something you sent this past weekend is likely to instill a good dose of psych in someone else. So go ahead—brag a little!


Do you spray? Do you get psyched or pissed when other people spray? Tell us how you feel in the comments section!

Written By
More from Georgie Abel

Five Yoga Poses for Crack Climbing Performance

Whether you’re gearing up to climb the sandstone splitters of Indian Creek...
Read More