It’s the first day of spring, and I’m in a good mood. Birds are chirping outside my window. The aroma of thawing dog turds is wafting through the morning air. If you could put your ear up to my head, you’d hear the faint and soft melody of Michael Jackson singing, “Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race” echoing inside the empty chamber that is my skull.
Because that’s what spring is all about: new beginnings. New ideas. Fresh starts. Pruning dead wood and allowing something bright to grow. The first rock climbing season of the year kicks off now, and as we head into what will surely be another mind-blowing year of amazing climbing feats (5.15d anyone?), I’d like to propose some ideas for how to make the world of climbing an even better place.
Zippers that work: It’s amazing how much innovation and effort goes into creating these ultra-high tech, super-technical fabrics that protect you from the wrath of the weather gods and dissipate your sweat to the heavens, yet the $500 final product still doesn’t do the most basic operation: zip up properly. Zippers that catch on the fabric. Zippers that blow apart in the middle of the zipper. Zippers that unzip from the wrong end. Zippers that just flat out break. The zipper has to be the most glaringly crude and primitive product in the gear world. I propose we use magnets instead.They’ll never break and seal up tight. That said, maybe this is an idea that sounds better than it actually is—the same way “Greenland” and “buttermilk” sound better than they actually are. You’d be screwed if you had a pacemaker or a metal breast plate, and if you ever went to the North Pole, your clothes would fly off.
Stuff sacks that actually fit the thing(s) you stuff into them: Nothing makes me crazier than trying to pack up a tent or sleeping bag into a stuff sack that is exactly the size of the compressed bag or tent. It’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube—and for the record, yes, I do think you should be able to put extra toothpaste back because I hate wasting toothpaste. Same with rope bags that you need to wrestle like a wild boar in order to pack away your rope. Can’t you just make it a little, tiny bit bigger? Gawd!
Give Ashima full credit for Martini Right: Let me get this straight. A 9-year-old girl crushes a V12 using footholds and non-holds for hand-holds because she’s too tiny to do it the “normal” (i.e., full-grown-male) way, and because her foot swings out and dabs against a tree branch, the climbing community puts an asterisk next to her ascent and says she can’t take full credit? Shame on everyone. If this isn’t an example of bouldering “rules” going way too far and getting way, way too serious, then I don’t know what is. In my mind, Ashima Shiraishi made the first female ascent of Martini Right, and if anyone has a problem with me saying that, feel free to write me a letter, and I will compile your responses for a new Rock and Ice department I am starting called, “Climbers with fragile egos who need to take away the achievements of little girls in order to make themselves feel better about their own sub-par climbing accomplishments.” (I agree the department title is a tad wordy … I’ll keep working on it.)
Bring back climbing porn: First, there was only your basic climbing porn. Ron Kauk in vacuum-tight jeans climbing rock and communing with nature like Patrick Swayze in Road House; Kurt Smith cutting his feet in Rifle, but still not “outta there”; Rampage. Etc. Then, people decided that just seeing raw climbing footage was boring, and they wanted their climbing porn to have more of a story line to it in order to hold interest through the monotony of movement over stone. I agree this was a step in the right direction, and ultimately a good thing. But now it seems that everyone is so focused on telling stories and doing all these fancy, show-offy camera tricks that the rad climbing footage has taken something of a back seat.
Who here is tired of seeing super-slow-motion soulfulness? Time lapses? Forget about it! I never need to see another time lapse again in my life! I love seeing stories told on the big screen … but sometimes I just want to see some good ole fashioned sport F—ing. The raddest/hottest girls and guys climbing the hardest routes out there. I don’t need to know their names; I don’t care that they’re from Boulder and are professional climbers who are balancing work and play. I don’t care about the history of the route, and who put it up, and why they are drawn to it. I just want to see someone climb something that looks really hard and really cool and do it without talking to me.