Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Rock as an Ally

The climbing vernacular tends to place the rock (or ice or snow) in an adversarial relationship with the climber.  We “conquer” mountains, “crush” sport climbs, and “get aggro” on the hard moves.  We look at bouldering lines as “problems” to be solved or circumvented.  Climbers often “prepare for battle” against a big wall or scary route.  Clearly, there is some credence to the notion that the climbing community subconsciously (or even consciously) sees itself at war with the very mountains, cliffs, and boulders upon which we climb.

In the same vein as a few of my other posts on keeping the positivity in climbing, I’d like to see this change.  We can certainly still go send, crank, and otherwise climb hard, but the notion that we’re going to “rage” against a climb doesn’t seem appropriate to me.

I prefer a less egocentric approach.  We shouldn’t be bending the rock to our will or bringing it into submission; for all practical purposes, the rock is rather immutable.  Instead, we should be considering how we can best ascend the features which the rock has laid out for us.  We should be determining how to flow most efficiently across the terrain that exists in front of us.  If a primal scream is required from time to time to nab that heinous crimper that happens to stand in the most efficient path of movement, so be it.  But, I’d ultimately much rather see the rock as a partner presenting me with unique and potentially challenging and enlightening opportunities for ascent as opposed to an adversary barring me from the summit.

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