Sitting outside at a popular Moab watering hole, I couldn’t help but laugh. The shirt was clever enough, on the front, “trad is rad”, on the back “your moma’s a sport climber,” but that wasn’t it. What made me chuckle was that this guy was probably just in Indian Creek, thinking he was climbing some rad trad. And maybe he was, but probably like the rest of us he was sport climbing on gear.
In the not-so-distant future, it’s unlikely that climber’s will enjoy the freedoms we currently have when it comes to establishing routes. For a long time we’ve flown under the radar as a self policing community that, aside from a few high profile spats, has proven it can manage itself in a responsible fashion. As the sport continues to grow, however, and more people are putting up new routes, we are coming under increasing scrutiny from land managers. This will inevitably lead to tighter rules and regulations, especially when it comes to the ever controversial bolt.
Climbing is great, and we all know it. At any given moment, any of us could spin a lengthy, eloquent soliloquy about the stronger connections we feel with nature, our partners, and ourselves when we climb. But let’s face it. Not all is unicorns, rainbows, and lolly pops.
Recently I was driving up a scenic road to a beautiful cliff on a perfect spring day, and as we got closer to the parking area, there was a part of me that was really hoping to see some other cars in the lot, to know that other folks were going to be out enjoying the day like us. As I pondered these things, I noticed with a smile how I was actually hoping to see some people, and how that is very different from how many people (myself included) usually approach a day of climbing.
The recent warm weather has turned my thoughts to summer climbing trips, and one of the areas I’d like to get back to is Maple Canyon, in Utah. This is one of my favorite sport crags, where the funky cobbles, modern bolting, and unique setting all contribute to a great overall experience. Of course, one of the hassles with visiting Maple is that there is no current guidebook. The last edition is long out of print, though apparently a new book has been in the works for quite some time.
I’ve been blessed with many excellent days in Indian Creek this month, but during that time it’s become clear that a lot of folks are still clueless when it comes to taking a dump in the desert. The most egregious offenses I’ve seen were poop behind a big boulder twenty feet from the cliff, and a wag bag that was used but then left open in the fire pit for the next lucky camp dweller to deal with.
Ultimately it comes down to what matters more in the end, the style of the FA or the end product? The problem is that the “quality” of the end product means different things to different people. Some of my favorite routes scared the crap out of me because of runouts or bad gear. Those same things that added to the overall quality of my experience would ruin it for others, because they don’t climb to have a heady experience where they could get hurt or die, they climb because they like the movement and safety of it all.
A comment on a recent post about upgrading old routes got me thinking about the absurd notion that many climbers have, in this country anyway, that somehow the first ascentionist owns the rock. Once the first guy does it, nothing short of a congressional mandate can change or alter the character of that climb.
As climbing becomes more popular, will old, dangerous routes be upgraded with modern hardware to provide more user friendly, safe climbing for the masses? Or will the old guard defend these testaments to climbing’s past to the death?
As I drove north to spend Thanksgiving in Idaho, I thought about all we have to be thankful for. Not just the fact that we live in the most privileged country in the world where anything is possible, but how incredibly fortunate we are to experience the world through rock climbing. I mean, our lamest [...]
I spent several days last week working/climbing along Potash Road outside Moab, UT. For those who haven’t been, it’s Navajo sandstone, which is softer than Wingate, the stuff at Indian Creek. It’s a popular crag, however, being right off the road and offering many bolted pitches, which is somewhat rare in the Utah desert. Anyhow, [...]
I’m feeling like ranting today, but instead of going off on this video I just saw about how if we all rode bikes then global warming would go away (a huge crock of sh%t), I’ll focus on something a little more relevant: trying on rock climbing shoes. A common problem I’ve run into whenever I [...]
I’ve been having this conversation a lot recently, how climbing is so amazing, but at the same time how much it sucks because to do it well, you have to put so much into it. I was recently explaining to some new comers that you have to climb three to four days per week to [...]
You walk outside and look at the sky. The change from an hour ago is incredible. Where there had once been bright blue there are now towering clouds, sure signs of heavy moisture in the air, as it is only 10:30 in the morning. Afternoon thunderstorms are normal during the summer in Colorado, but this [...]
As I was hiking up to a local crag last week, I noticed some new stone steps that had been installed on the steep trail. At first I didn’t think much of it, but as I continued up, it became clear that someone had put some serious effort into improving this slidey path. I figured [...]