Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wait a while and news will happen

The stormy skies over Boulder seemed to echo the mood of many locals as word emerged of the likely fates of two local legends Micah Dash and Johnny Copp. The two plus a cameraman Wade Johnson were on an expedition in China when they did not come back for their flight home. So far the body of Johnny Copp has been identified. The full scoop can be found here and here. No doubt more information will emerge as Chinese and American teams explore the likely accident site near Minya Konka.

Nobody really needs reminding of how dangerous tall mountains are but events such as this bring this reality back in focus to a community for whom this environment is a second home. Climbing is a dangerous sport and sooner or later someone you know will be killed or seriously injured doing it. All you can do is remind yourself and others to be as careful as you can to keep the odds in your favor.

Speaking of pushing the envelope, Alex Honnold, with partner Sean Leary, redpointed the Salathe Wall in 8.5 hours. I am ambivalent about speed climbing on a lot of levels and this ascent is no exception as the only real way to cut free climbing time substantially is essentially to solo long sections of the climb by simul-climbing with little protection. Alex is the only climber I know of who has the ability to climb at that level without a rope way up there on a big wall as his solo of Half Dome made clear. However the margin for error on climbs done in this style is exceptionally thin and the consequences of failure correspondingly drastic. His reply to the question of soloing Freerider was refreshingly candid but the fact that the question keeps coming up in climbing media is kind of scary.

Lastly an interesting question of ethics emerged in the case of a repeat of all things) of a Markus Bock boulder problem rated Fr8c (V15) in the Frankenjura. You can get the drift of the discussion at and Bjorn Pohl's blog. Periodically this emerges as an issue and then drifts away again. Interestingly, Markus Bock's route Corona was just repeated by Adam Ondra and rated soft for 15a.

As for me I am considering how best to deal with a case of lateral epicondylitis, "tennis elbow" that emerged over the last few weeks. This is something I have never had before and relatively rare for climbers compared with medial epicondylitis, tendinitis on the inside of the elbow. If you are wondering why I am not discussing my climbing wall yet, it is that I am not yet ready to absolve it (and myself of course) of guilt for my present condition. I can still run (I did Green Mountain on Friday, my 45th birthday) , and paint, and periodically update this blog. This definitely spoils some plans I had for summer bouldering however. Only time will tell.

Oh yeah there were the Teva Games as well. Congratulations to Alex Puccio on her win! Alex Johnson took second and Daniel Woods second for men. A German, Jonas Baumann, won the men's competition.


Micah Bryan Humphrey said...

Sorry to hear about the elbow. It is indeed a dangerous world out there, between the sad news from China to tennis elbow in Boulder, whether the two are comparable or not.
I am still incredibly excited about returning to Colorado and hope we can meet up and maybe do some pebble wrestling. If not I'm sure you can point me in a good direction. I'm sending you the remainder of my healing energy so receive it well. Talk to you soon.

chuffer said...

Dreadful news from China for sure.

Peter, lateral epicondylitis is not all that rare in climbers. I remember reading an article about it and other ailments in Climbing or R&I a few years ago.

I had a bad case of LE in both elbows in 2004/5. It was dreadful. That when I got on the glucosamine train and started religeously doing reverse wrist curls on the steering wheel every day when I drove to work. Once they improved, they never bothered me again.

Not sure it was the glucosamine or the wrist curls or both, but I'll say this, the aches and pains of being 40 are more tolerable with glucosamine. Buy the good shit.