As the story goes, when the German legend Kurt Albert was trying to free climb a new route in the early 70’s, he would paint a red x on each piton he could avoid using for hands and feet. Once he was able to avoid all of them, he was free climbing. If he succeeded to free climb a new route, he would then paint a red dot called rotpunkt (otherwise known as ‘the point of red) at the base of the climb for him and others to know the difference. Not only was this the beginning of the free climbing era in Europe, but also, the birth place of the sport climbing movement. Today, a redpoint is common lingo and is beginning to creep its way into everyday culture. One time I overheard two non-climbing brick layers at the coffee shop talking about “redpointing” thier renovations. I know what you’re thinking, maybe they were climbers, but not judging by their wasteline or the neck breaking speed at which they “flashed” their Mountain Man breakfast, a massive mound of pancakes, topped with suasage, sprinkled with bacon. So maybe they picked it up from a co-worker, or a family member, who’s to say? The fact is, redpointing is here to stay.
While these days ‘redpointing’ is okay for quickdraws to be pre-placed on bolt hangers, traditional climbing still requires the leader to place all the gear by themselves on lead, otherwise it’s called a pink point. Pink Pointing is sort of like asking a more charming friend to get a girl drunk for you and then you take her home for the night. It’s not really a complete transaction. You failed to put in all the work required. It’s sort of like cheating. But climbing is for fun anyway, and cheating is okay, unless you join our circle of friends, in which case it’s encouraged. Pink pointing also counts if you redpoint a route in pink pants, like our man Nels here.
By the time the 1990’s rolled around, the Brits had “Head Point” climbing down to a bewildering science, and gritstone was the arena of choice. Headpointing is where you basically pick the only pitch/or variation of pebbles that you haven’t done yet, and top rope it enough times that you actually get bored, at which stage your so called ‘friends’ begin their ruthless badgering. So, you finally suppress your self-preservational desires and lead it from the ground with a butter knife for gear and a potentially lethal landing. (It used to be said that telling your wife of this headpointing game was a one way ticket to the dog house, now days it’s your wife on the sharp end). Although I didn’t have enough time myself to get bored per se, I did dabble with gods own rock for a couple of days back in 2007, and I found it to be a very pleasant way to earn my tea and crumpets.
So, now what is Grey Pointing you ask? Or should I call it, Gray Pointing (US spelling)? I’ve heard of bits and pieces of this, and I have come to form my own conclusion, (btw, please feel free to disagree, I’m no expert here) greypointing is when a leader climbs up to a (usually controversial) point in the route (hence the grey area) and places their highest piece of gear, only then to begin their descent all the way back down to the ground for a piss in the shrubs and a cup of coffee. After a short nap, some Thai message and a quick facebook session, they head back up the route as fresh as the Prince of Bel-Air on a top rope. When they reach their disputable juncture again, they surpass it and yawn while clipping the chains. Now here’s where it gets really funky, I once grey pointed a sport route by stick clipping the third (crux), pre-placed quickdraw. My ankles thanked me later.
Naturally, this leads us to the High Point. This means either you got to your maximum location on a given climb (usually a boulder or a deep water solo) and you fell off – OR – you smoked a phat blunt before your attempt and somehow topped out anyway. For more information about High Pointing click here. Or here.
And last, but definitely not least, we have the Ball Point Ascent. This one is self explanatory, but lets say you spot a new route, you clean it, bolt it and even before you get around to actually climbing on it, you name it, grade it and claim the coveted First Ascent just in time to get it “inked” into the new guidebook release. Voila, a ballpoint ascent. You’d be surprised how many of these are out there floating around, do you actually think your local hero really did that impossible 5.12a? The one that nobody else can do? Ha ha, all I’m saying is….
Well, this just about wraps up my blah blah installment of Sonnie’s Senseless Scribbling, grin, but before I go, are there any other ___ points I forgot? If you have any, we want to hear them. Happy Climbing Ya’ll.
P.S. please don’t take any of this crap seriously, it’s supposed to make you smile, it’s just a joke really, for fun, except for the Kurt Albert thing, that information is for real. Cool eh? If I have somehow offended you here, it’s probably best you don’t visit this site anymore. Sorry. Thanks and Best wishes.