Some old trad dad from Connecticut sent me this letter and demanded that I publish it on my website. I told him that I don’t negotiate with Traditionalists. But after reading it, I think it’s great of him to recognize all the fantastic feats that today’s young climbers are achieving.
I just pray to god he wasn’t being sarcastic. … Well, too late now. Here’s the letter:
Dear Climbing Prodigy:
I want to extend my most sincere congratulations to you on all your recent successes. I’ve been sooo interested to hear that you—not to mention about 4,000 other Tweens—are destroying all the 5.14’s in the Red River Gorge.
I have my Google Alerts set to “God’s Own Stone,” just so I immediately know when another small-handed, skinny-armed Bieber lookalike takes down this totally solid 5.14 that isn’t just a 5.11 with a moderate boulder problem in the middle. Every time I hear that another climbing prodigy has redpointed God’s Own Stone, the news just gets more and more unBelieberable.
By the way, I certainly haven’t been Googling: “How do I stop hating myself and learn to age gracefully?” It’s true. Just don’t check my browsing history, please, which I’m too old and technologically inept to figure out how to erase.
Has anyone dubbed you “The Next Chris Sharma” yet? Oh, Deadpoint Magazine has?! Amaze-balls! Coming from a “magazine” that definitely doesn’t sensationalize everything about climbing, that really means something super special. Good for you.
Maybe one of you girls could be the “Next Lisa Rands”!
Huh? You don’t know who Lisa Rands is?! Well, um, let me see … She is like “the Alex Puccio of the year 2000.” Oh, right. You were a six-month-old baby back then. Wow, you just continue to find ways to make me feel better about myself. Thanks a LOT, kid!
How old are you, anyway? Thirteen! Holy Smokes! Too bad you’re not 14, because then you could say, “I climbed 5.14 at 14,” which has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Ideally, you could say, “I climbed 5.11 at 11, 5.12 at 12, 5.13 at 13 and 5.14 at 14.” I really think that would be just so … Amaze-Balls-Perfect! It totally wouldn’t come off as transparent marketing hype that your Don-King-incarnate parents are imposing on you.
The other cool thing about marketing yourself as having climbed some grade that’s the same number as your current age is that you will automatically have an advantage over all those kids from Australia. “I climbed a 33 at 33!” Literally, no one cares.
Now that you’re on the verge of entering puberty, you definitely need to learn how to hawk yourself to any company willing to shell out a few dollars in exchange for using inappropriate crotch-shot photos of you climbing in their catalogs and Trade Show booths.
What’s most amazing about your redpoint of Omaha Beach is that it took you THREE WHOLE TRIES spread out over TWO WHOLE HOURS. This alone shows just how hard that route is for you.
I mean, it’s not like I have tried technically easier routes 150 times over two years before still not sending them. Nope, that’s never happened.
Also, it’s not like I have a full-time job that keeps me from being able to try my project whenever I want! Geez-balls!
Obviously your life is just as busy as mine. I don’t know how you do it! In between getting trained by professional coaches in modern state-of-the-art gyms and Insta-Tweet-Face-Gramming at all your crushes, where do you find the time and energy to just be so positive and psyched to climb all the time?
It’s true that things are different nowadays. But I’m not bitter about it or anything. Trust me, I would much rather drive 10 hours to reach the nearest sun-baked choss slab with one bolt every 50 feet and no climbs harder than 5.7 than climb steep, fun juggy routes in my local gym with all my friends, if I had any back then.
But those circumstances are what made me who I am today. A real rock climber—not some bitter, scared-to-ever-fall, technique-hindered, aging bald fuck in Kaukulators. Nope, that doesn’t describe me one iota.
If anything, you have done an amazing job showing everyone that the Red River Gorge is legit, and not a complete joke of a climbing area. It’s not as if all the hardest routes at the Red have been casually and easily onsighted or anything.
The first time I climbed there, yo, I was st8 bone-crushing, too! My first thoughts were: Man, if only my hands were bigger to make these holds feel smaller; my ass was fatter; my hip turn-out was worse and I weighed four, not just three, times Katie Brown’s teenage weight, then I could really, really own this place!
Anyway, I just want to say, sincerely, good luck with all your future climbing efforts, especially with getting sponsored! All the sponsored climbers I know are happy, well-adjusted people with amazing vocabularies.
I truly believe that turning this free-wheeling creative adventurous lifestyle that we call climbing into a competitive, serious, grade-focused thing with pressure from both your sponsors and your parents—who are already sewing patches on your pants and registering your pro-climbing blog on WordPress, all while really urging you to “Try to be more like Joe Kinder when you write on that thing!”—will definitely keep you from burning out on climbing by the time you’re 20.
After all, you are the Next Chris Sharma … and I am definitely not jealous.
Some Bitter Old Guy