In no way do the thoughts or ideas expressed in this article reflect the opinions of Moja Gear. We do, however, support a platform for freedom of expression and open discussion within the climbing community.
Not too long ago, back from a five-month hiatus from climbing in order to write a book of poetry (I know, right?), I had an epiphany.
Not just any old epiphany, but a serious, earth-shattering, I-can-still-feel-it-in-my-bones sort of thing. It came on so sudden, so strong, with such malevolent veracity that I nearly fainted. The gym was crowded; a sardine-packed affair that did more than just make my skin itch: it fondled, molested, kicked and pounded at my very well being, making me question reality in such a way I considered checking into the nearest hospital, never wanting to participate in a give and take with another human being … ever again.
And then it happened.
The proverbial clouds parted, resounding the crack of lightning-bolt vision, emphatically striking me full on: I loathed climbers. I hated the ‘scene,’ the culture. I despised the ridiculous jargon, the perpetual, non-stop discussion about climbing itself whilst climbing. I abhorred the magazine articles about:
- ‘Epic’ trips (realized that the word ‘epic’ was as grotesque to me as the word ‘fuck’ is for most Mormons)
- Bouldering shirtless with a beanie
- Are you or are you not a dirtbag (and in that moment, looking around, per the Urban Dictionary, I knew that all climbers were dirtbags — they only pretend not to be)
- Is sport climbing really climbing? Is gym climbing? Bouldering?
- Why trad climbers are more bad-ass than Jesus Christ himself, etc. and etc.
The list unraveled ferociously in my mind as I stood there in a stupor, my blood pressure rising, threatening to pop my eyes out as if I was a shook up can of soda (or in most climbers’ case, a shook up can of beer). I could instantly hear every … single … innocuous and meaningless conversation.
From the outside, on the surface, it sounded like a beach filled with hungry, stupid seagulls, but when I tuned in? It was worse:
I can’t properly warm up with all these gumbies projecting the warm-ups!
If you have to use a stick clip you have no business being on the route!
Seriously, it was epic!
He’s a beta spewer! I knew that once I hit the gaston I needed to back step.
He uses a PAS, I mean, I was like, ‘Whaaaat?’
He onsighted it like it was nothing! He reached the rest, shook out, and then just raged! He fired it like it was nothing!
The worst part of this life-splitting unveiling, was the stabbing realization that I was part of all this.
What I hated most was actually the stone-cold fact that I had allowed myself to become so ingrained into all of it. Suddenly, the five-month siesta from climbing and the climbing community at large to write a book made perfect sense. I packed my things and ran out of the building—the stench of my bitter disgust trailing like stardust from off my heels, sped home, and immediately grabbed a collection of Sylvia Plath poems; her suicidal perspective on life suddenly more poetic than I had ever previously thought, more poignant and important to try to understand, than the beta of a climb.
I did all this, all the while knowing, like an addict, trying kick the bite of truth that was coursing through my veins that I would be back the next day, to continue training for my 13a ‘proj’ … I mean, hell, climbing season was right around the corner.
So before you go to the gym again, or to the local crag, please run through these 10 idiosyncrasies of fault. If you ever have, or do, or will do any of them, please, stay home and read a book. I recommend The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath or, possibly a better idea, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
If you …
1. Follow a training and diet regimen fit for an Olympian in order to send your project and your project is a road side, 30ft 5.11b
2. Spend most of your down time (or all of it) on Mountain Rejects, er, I mean, Mountain Project, for anything other than crag or route directions/descriptions
3. Use words in another language that you do not speak (such as, venga venga!)
4. Own four different pairs of climbing shoes for four different types of rock, and sometimes even wear a different shoe on each foot depending on the gnarly prowess of your boulder project
5. Say any of the following words regardless of context: bomber, stoked, raged, newbie, crank (and you aren’t talking about Methamphetamine), epic (and you aren’t referring to something like, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace), gobies, gripped, gnarly (or its truncated brother, as in, ‘that’s so gnar!’)
6. Debate whether or not a send was actually a send because the first bolt was stick clipped and the draws were pre-hung … and you’re talking about another climber, and you’re being serious
7. Look stupidly at your hands each time you fall off your project, as if your hands are in some sort of conspiracy against the rest of you
8. Make statements such as, ‘it’s only 5.12b’ or ‘it’s not a pure ascent’
9. Have a bookshelf(lves) that is filled with nothing but climbing, Rock and Ice and/or guidebooks, and when asked if you have ever read Allen Ginsberg, your response is ‘who?’
10. Constantly write op-ed climbing articles because you have no idea where to go with your novel, about the blathering, whining, out-of-touch-with-reality climbing community with no intention of ever publishing a single word of it
… you are waaaay too serious about climbing.
Instead of always being, or believing that you have to be, outside, stay in every once in awhile, and read a book that has nothing to do with climbing whatsoever, and simply consider the surrounding bare white walls of your existence.
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