Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blogging in Neutral

The end of the semester is approaching which is a particularly busy time for me so I apologize for not updating a bit more frequently. There are any number of potentially interesting topics to write on, responding to John Sherman's unreasonably harsh castigation of roped rehearsal of highball boulder problems for example. However the truth is that responding to controversy on the Internet is tiresome, not least because on the Web, writers too often feel the desire to say what they feel without considering the impact of their writings on others. Two recent posts have turned into a brain and psyche-suck owing to the nature of later comments. So for now I am operating in neutral until I have the time and energy to explore something more significant.


sock hands said...

and yet roped rehersal of boulder problems is truly oldschool and embraced at that time.

where's this rant? i wanna go check

Peter Beal said...

Here's the link:

Sherman rant

sock hands said...

ok, just read it. entertaining. while i agree that sending highballs is prouder ground-up, i have always found climbing a highball much more enjoyable when the upper moves are at least clean... and i've found supporting friends much more enjoyable when they are not sketching out above due to a lack of knowledge about the cleanliness and solidity of the holds.

gill is an interesting example to bring up. while gill sent the thimble without toprope rehersal and without a mountain of pads, it's interesting to me that he plainly states that hell yes they used topropes on the FA of many of the horsetooth non-highball problems with poor landings.

what's more, the landing of see spot run is flat. though stone, this is mentally much easier to digest than a landing of something like, say, "the last dance" at mt. evans with crux moves at least as high as see spot run, harder moves, and a jagged talus landing.

in fact, while many of the yosemite lines are super proud, the older ones tend to have flat landings while many of the newer highballs on betabase seem to have more irregular landings. again, mentally there is a difference.

a lowball with a talus landing can seem heady without pads while a much taller line with a flat dirt landing usually seems like no big deal.

finally, i would argue that most of the really hard newschool highball testpieces would have not been possible unless cleaned via a toprope. the idea of having to clean a highball from the ground is ridiculous and would mean that the vast majority of highballs established in the last five years... many of which are far superior in quality to the old tall testpieces... would have not been sent and may never be sent if it means that someone had to lock off every move and brush brush brush.

i'm not sure if dpm has a forum for bickering or not, but i do look forward to having a few beers and firing some idea missiles at the ol sherminator. i'm sure he will not agree with me, but that's half the fun.

regardless, i've waged this debate too many times already to care. my favorite is when someone is about to top out a newer line and i can casually mention that without top rope cleaning, they would have just pulled a brick into their teeth, right THERE, THERE, and there, you would have freaked out trying to claw the dirt out of the top out hold.

bold? no. not fun? yes.

i think the issue is that many of the old school climbers cared about the badass image. new school climbers have started to focus on pure difficulty [i.e. difficulty not imposed by the mere existence of lichen on your holds] and more importantly: fun.

fun v. machismo.

i'll take the former.

if i want to test myself against nature, i'll try to bugger a black bear.

Peter Beal said...

JS has long traded on the machismo image and while fun (though a bit dated--how many DPM readers will get the Ginger and Mary Ann reference?) to read, at least for a while, I agree that the time has passed for this approach.

There is also a bit of a contradiction here?

"In my 35 years of climbing too many friends have scored less than 100 on the test and are no longer with us. But their sacrifice is what has always given climbing its cachet. The one the media so heavily banks on."


"From the industry and the media selling us slick images of ropeless climbers on blank-looking walls - the taller and blanker the better. But how best to pose for those photos and keep the sponsors happy?"

Which creates the issue? The media or the images or the actual style of the problem? I personally have problems with people dying so that somebody somewhere might think what I was doing as a climber was cool. It's not cool because of risk, sorry.

Then there is the amusing comment about the special status of climbing,"The one you use when hitting on someone at a party and telling them “I’m a climber.” In Boulder, that and 5 bucks will get you a latte at Starbucks. My view is that the cachet of climbing has expired somewhat and it's probably a good thing too.

tommy said...

i like the obvious disconnect between his two DPM blogs. in the first he extols the virtues of helmet-wearing because:

...what really hooked me and made helmet use second nature is the ability to put the serious consequences of a skull bongo to rest and get aggro. (sherman blog 1)

and in the second he explains how we get the 'hard' in hard-core:

Sometimes you are climbing well, feeling your oats and the need to test yourself. To do that you add the risk that has always separated climbing from lesser sports. Take everything you’ve learned climbing and put it to the test. Without death or serious injury as the end result, the test means squat. (sherman blog 2)

i probably don't need to point this out, but rappel-prepping highballs is - like verm's stud-reducing helmet - all about managing risk in an effort to get more 'aggro'.

aside from this, i think sherman overlooked the real necessity for top-rope cleaning in many areas. in my experience, the possibility of doing a ground-up highball fa changes drastically depending on geography. in arid climates (deserts), for instance, my primary off-the-deck concerns have been rock quality and landing sketchiness. if you live in a mid-latitude tropical forest, however, your efforts are hampered by a wide variety of not-so-solid plant matter (moss, grass, etc.) growing in and around holds. thrutching to a mossy green crimp (or muddy brown crimp) over and over doesn't magically clean it up. it's more often than not gonna need some brush lovin'. and if it's 25' off the deck and not close to a clean/positive hold.... i'm at a loss to come up with a 'non-pussy' way to go about it.

much of this comment is recycled from an 8a thread. just so ya know.


sock hands said...

friggen kids and your 8spray.spew! no wonder you support such weak, spineless methods

tommy said...

not only that, but i'm a not even a real rockclimber. just some dude spawned from a generation of sissies who bought a laptop and spends an inordinate amount of time talking about stuff he is way too weak to really understand.

rockclimbings controversies gets me super-pumped. i'd shake out, but my technique sucks.

Peter Beal said...

Amen to that!

tommy said...

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your support.