Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Flagstaff Run and Climb

I am still pretty tired from a session on Sunday where I ran from the mouth of Gregory Canyon up the Flagstaff trail and began bouldering from Nook's Rock on up to the First Overhang Ridge before heading back down. 35 problems from VB to V6, 1.75 miles, and 750 feet elevation gain. Oddly this is the same elevation difference from Bear Lake to Lower Chaos. I am still working on my elbow issues and my theory is that rapid ascents of easy problems help to loosen things up a bit. We shall see whether this works or not.

The big news in local bouldering is the 4th ascent of Jade by the unstoppable Nalle H who managed the problem in just two days and with very unpromising conditions both weather-wise and in terms of the approach. You can get a great description and photos at his blog. This ascent has started the Park season off with a bang. It will be interesting to see who else climbs this world-class problem this season.

Interesting to note two fairly critical articles in the new Deadpoint Mag Online, one about sponsored climbers and their tenuous relationship to reality and the other about the new bland face of competition climbing. The first piece is too vague and general in nature but is a start in seriously discussing what "sponsored" and "professional" really mean these days. Abbey Smith in the latter piece makes some good points about the problems with professionalizing climbing comps but I doubt much will change on this front as noted in posts elsewhere by me. For example in the local paper there was absolutely zero about the World Cup event in Vail. The Denver Post has a good write-up here. Anyway it's good to see a more feisty journalistic stance coming from the new kid on the block and makes me hopeful for the future though they really need a good copy editor!

Make sure to read this short article at Planet Mountain about the new reality of climbing. Is anything really interesting in climbing news anymore? What constitutes innovation and a unique contribution? Is harder climbing just becoming more of the same old same old?

Finally Joe Kinder posted this link to a great video of Adam Ondra in the Czech Republic. The slow-mo warm-up sequence is readily skipped but the last third is extraordinarily good as it illuminates Ondra's spidery yet powerful climbing style, similar to Dave Graham's. Be sure to watch full-screen HD.


Justin said...

Is anyone else bothered by the obsession with becoming a professional rock climber or the commercialization of the sport? What's wrong with just being a climber? I'm also interested to know if magazines that cover sports like snowboarding, skating, or surfing waste much space covering the sponsor/sponsored relationship? Why do I care if pro climber Jim get's paid like pro boarder Bill?

Maybe I'm just a dick, but what gives?

Peter Beal said...

This is a good question and the issue for me has mostly to do with the rarity of opportunities to do what one loves passionately for a living. I know that surfing magazines, back when I read those, certainly touched upon the issue of commercial success in the sport and what a pro surfing career was like. In those sports the possibility exists for fairly substantial wealth and renown (at least among teenage boys) but if that's what you want, climbing probably isn't the way to get there.

For some people just being a climber isn't enough. So thoughts turn to ways of externally validating one's existence, mostly symbolically since cash is rarely in the picture.

Is being a "pro" being a better climber? The answer is obvious in one sense. Most top-level professional climbers are the best in the world and sponsored for a reason. But lower down the food chain, things get murkier. It may be better for most, even those very talented at the sport, to climb as "indie" climbers than sign with the big label.

Justin said...

Your point about "external validation" is a good one, Peter. I also feel it extends to the push toward the Olympics. It's been some time, but I used to coach junior climbing and I remember that this push was entirely motivated by the parents of the children not the children themselves. As if the joy their kids got from climbing wasn't enough, they had to be working toward the Olympics. Interesting.

On another note, nice blog. I enjoy reading it very much.

chuffer said...

We all have to choose our path ... if I could climb 5.14 or V13 or 5.13 scary alpine trad or M12 or free solo El Cap in a couple hours or 8,000 meter peaks unassisted and without oxygen in a day, I might be concerned with this issue.

Those choices are somebody else's "problem." I hope it works out for them.

Anonymous said...

About your elbow issues:
A friend of mine was having problems with his elbows a little while ago and he started using bee venom. He swears by it, but the only problem is you have to get the bee to sting you in the area that is causing discomfort.