oh the irony

I can’t tell you how good it felt to climb in Hueco last week, so good in fact I think it warrants another trip.

My finger has seemed to heal up okay, (after 6 agonizing weeks) although the nail and the cuticle are still obviously detached, leaving a small opening for another possible infection. The doctor tells me this takes months to close up. So I’m playing it safe and being patient. But aside from that everything was Honky Dory. On my last day I snagged a V11 in a short session and patted myself on the back.

I still didn’t crimp though, just did the old ‘Half Grab’. I call it the half grab because it’s not really open handed and it’s not really a crimp, it’s a half grab and Sean McColl is one of the best half grabbers I’ve ever seen. Notice his hands in this photo I took below, he climbs everything like this. I’ve never seen him close his hand on a single hold, not once, no matter how small it is. Nelly climbs like this too. I like this photo, the feather feature of “The Feather ” V11 is very much prominent.

Like I said, I like this photo. Maybe I should send this along to the magazines, maybe they’d publish it and give me a few bucks for my trouble,


maybe I should post it for free, (like I just did, oops) – I mean, isn’t that what the internet is all about anyway? Content for FREE and a world of mediocrity? Nobody expects to pay for anything these days, especially not if it’s just average. Nope, the mob won’t pay – not a single cent. Especially during these corrective times. So where does value lie? What is still valuable in this world? Where can we find WORTH?

Answer: Anything that is REAL, anything that you can taste, touch, smell and feel. Anything that you can be proud to own. I am proud of the windshield wipers on my car, because I dismantled them and replaced the whole unit myself. I am proud of the things I build and the products I get from my sponsors. I am proud of the people who still go outside and take in fresh air everyday and I am proud of the people who work for what they believe in and do what they feel is right.

At this point, this blog can go any which direction today, I have lots of things rolling around my empty skull, like for example an article I read in Rock and Ice magazine yesterday about why doing weighted pull ups won’t work. That pissed me right off, what a CROCK – of – SHIT. I’m sure they will never put me on the cover ever again if they read this, (no matter how hard I pose down in bright clothing) but what the hell. I’m sure Dr.J is a very smart, friendly and caring person, but to put those words on the cover like that “WON’T WORK” as if it’s the fucking holy bible. Because it’s in print, it is the end all and the be all of training. Well, I guess I better put away my weight belt then eh? It’s been published.

FACT: I have never been stronger in my entire life then the three months I spent back in 2003 after training with weights, weighted deadhangs, pull ups and the like. The reason it worked for me, was because my body got used to the weight it naturally was (about 160-ish), and I PLATEAUED.

SO – I decided – “If I want to keep getting stronger (and please note that I am not a gifted powerhouse, in fact I am not even an average powerhouse and I’m not really gifted at anything, I am the guy you see doing pull ups to get stronger, and campus board workouts because if I don’t I won’t improve, god knows I wish I was born with Sharma’s fingers, but I wasn’t, so I train and I suck it up) Where was I? Oh yah the winter of ’03, if I wanted to keep getting stronger, I had to add more weight to the muscles I was working. Simple.

Remember, I said stronger, NOT fitter. If fitness is what you are after, then by all means, climb all day long and never do a single pull up or hard move. But I wanted strength, I wanted three to five moves of pure muscle (and guess what, this also leads to higher levels of fitness, I’d tell you why but it would take another blog) so I added weight. What I didn’t do was pull weights every single day, that would be ludicrous, I didn’t stick to just one routine, I mixed it up constantly and to offset elbow tendonitis (inflamation), I ate a sensible high protein diet and drank a Lake full of water each day.

It pisses me off when the mags try and say “THIS IS HOW IT IS” like there is no exception. BULLOCKS. EAT ME. AS IF. There are a million ways to do things, what you and I need to do is research for ourselves from credited sources and practice on our own bodies to see what is effective, and what’s not.

Another thing thats been chipping at me, is this whole 8a thing about Rhapsody. Rhapsody is a very hot topic during the last few years and I’m sure will continue to be so because it is a bench mark climb and a world class route. Issues like this come up all the time in our everday lives and it’s not a big deal because it’s usually at the local crag and likely isn’t one of the worlds hardest trad climbs. But when it is, it generates discussion, opinions and general spray. Spray as in ‘spit from peoples keyboards’. 8a recently although a tad bit LATE published this picture.

I want to take this opportunity to comment on this, because this too is crap. The reason it is crap is because it is a VERY foreshortened view AND it’s inaccurate.

People want to say, “OH so is this what it really looks like? Oh My. It’s very contrived isn’t it. I’m not sure it counts.” This is such crap. From this angle the wall above me looks like it’s only 15 feet tall, not 35. So don’t jump to any conclusions, if you want to make a comment go ahead, but I won’t listen until you’ve stood underneath the wall, and watched someone climb it, or better yet, strap on a harness and get on it for yourself and then after, by all means, PLEASE tell me what you think. I am all ears.

Did Steve McClure climb Rhapsody? In my opinion no, he did not. He did a slightly easier sequence out left gunning for the arete. He avoided what I think (personally) is the most defining sequence on Rhapsody, the lunge for the top of the wall.

But what he did do was still an UNBELIEVABLE climb, and in only four days, he pretty much showed Dave and I what is possible and set the bar pretty high for any further repeats. I’d be impressed to see anyone climb through the crux faster than Steve did. He’s AMAZING and one of my personal hero’s, but this isn’t about him and what he did or didn’t do, because STEVE doesn’t care anyway, he’s just out there having fun and pulling down, the way it should be.

BUT…(this leads me to my rant)

Because Steve opted for a different finish to the arete, there is now even more controversy over the eliminate issue than ever. I tried very hard to keep the eliminate thing at a mellow volume, but even now, nearly 7 months later, it’s still in discussion and still circulating. And it’s my fault. So I want to try to clear things up and I hope I am not making matters worse. I’m just trying to explain my perspective as I see it.

Rhapsody is a beautiful world class climb. It is one of the best experiences of my vertical life. A challenge I am deeply proud to say I met. It has all the elements of a classic. Except one. There are two additional variations.

Rhapsody IS NOT an eliminate, this is a poor choice of words.

It’s not as if a climber can grab this hold (A is okay), but cannot grab this hold (B is not okay). It’s not like bouldering at Morrison, Colorado (thank god for Poudre Canyon) where people say you can’t use your thumb on this crimp (which is also a fun challenge) but not very liberating.

So if it’s not an eliminate, what is it then? Rhapsody is a line with two possible variants.

And let’s go a step further let’s say that Rhapsody is still the first and foremost line (it is the line Dave chose and it is the line he climbed and claimed) and lets say the other ones are simply variations of this and these are the reasons why…

– It has variations because there are no bolts dictating where the leader must follow. Once you place the gear, you are free to roam around the wall at will, you are set free to interpret the stone the way YOU see it. Me, I saw it the same way Dave saw it, climb the crack feature to the top of the wall without escaping left to the arete. Steve saw it differently, and that’s wonderful too, and maybe next year someone will see it differently again. But not likely.

– It has variations like this because the rock is featured, and good thing for that too, otherwise it would be a blank face that nobody has ever heard about, somewhere in Scotland and there would be no joy in falling from it’s crux moves. (like I did 23 times)

– It has variations like this in the very same way that many if not most of the classic boulder problems around the world have different starts and different finishes – I.E. The wheel of life. V16. It has many more possible finishes, but I don’t hear anyone complaining about them.

The most beautiful thing about climbing rocks is that there is no one standing beside you telling you what you should do, you just do what comes naturally.

So, that’s it. That is what I have to say, (not that anyone cares and I’m glad) but I feel like I should apologize to Dave for ever thinking it was an elimination. It’s a line. An obvious line. A proud and difficult line and it’s the line of power. The two climbs going left to the arete are variations to this one original line and thats the way I see it.

Anyway, — Agree to Disagree and if you want to slag me, go ahead, I won’t sensor your comments, I shall embrace them. Also, inform me of my spelling errors, I’m terrible.

HEY – By the way, Did you know that ‘San Diego’ means a ‘Whale’s Vagina’? That’s soo cool, if you didn’t know this, please forward this onto 25 of your friends (or you will fall off your project tomorrow) so that they too can be informed and enjoy this interesting fact. If it comes back to me, then I have done my duty and can retire a bitter old climber who quits and takes up surfing.

Please forward this NOW.