So, What's in a NAME anyway?

But first, let us discuss South American Real Estate?

Have you ever dreamed about owning your own business?   Living in the mountains?  Connecting with World Travelers and Traveling the World?  Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night, sweat streaming down your face thinking “holy shit!  I’m almost 30 years old and I haven’t done a thing with my life”?   Do you stay up late looking at glossy pictures of Cerre Torre while fondling your number 3 camalot?

Well this may be your chance to get off your chocolate chip eating ass and do something about it. Last week I got an email from a friend who is selling his ‘yet to be completed’ hotel/hostel/chateau/ranch in the desirable mountain town of El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina. Alejandro moved to Germany and is now putting the word out to anyone interested in living the dream. Here’s the email and pictures of course.

Hi Sonnie,

This is Alejandro, from rancho grande hostel in El Chaltén, Patagonia Argentina.  Now living in Germany. I am writing to you because i am selling properties in El Chaltén and in case you or anyone you know is interested in investing there… there is an opportunity.  I am contacting everyone that has connection with the mountains (climbers, hotels, everyone…)  I have attached 3 files with the descriptions of 2 hotels and land

all the best
Alejandro Silva Ortiz

Okay now onto the topic of this Bog.  I mean blog.

Sometime after 2000 Sharma climbed the extension to the uber classic Biography 5.14c, first freed by rock legend Arnaud Petit.  The upper part (heinous) combined with the established climb now goes at 5.14d/15a – give or take a grade depending on who you talk to and how much you adore them.  Chris named the extension Realization and North Americans ate it up.  But in Europe, somehow, the word didn’t get out so fast.

“Realize what?  Oh, I dink you mean do say, the Biography Extension.”  Jean Pierre would so subtly reply, while abruptly flicking his scarf over his shoulder, adjusting his berets and ashing his cigarette all at the same time, only to roll up the sleeves of his black and white pin-striped shirt and massage some pof into  his bushy mustache.  Why must we assume all french people look and act like this?  – something is wrong with me – anyway, in Europe they refuse to accept Realization’s NAME.  Although the grade they can handle, the fact that Chris did it, I think they can handle that as well, he’s a great guy, but the name?  Not so much.

So – When an extension to an established climb is completed, does it give the ‘first free extensionist’ the right to give the line an entirely new name?  Let’s assume the extension is only one extra bolt, a boulder problem on top of an obvious line, then you or your pal come along, climbed the existing line (lets say a 120 foot uber classic 5.11c that’s been sitting for half a decade) and then you muscle up the extension.  Do you claim the first free ascent of a new line?  yes/maybe.  Do you give it a new name? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

I wonder what Winston Churchill would say?  More importantly, I wonder what you, the reader would say?  This topic of conversation has come up over the years, and most recently between friends, Said Belhaj of Sweden and Steve ‘Manboy’ Townshend of Canada.  Now let’s extend this open discussion over to you, the Wide World of da Web.  If you have a minute for a break, a lunch hour, we’d love to hear your thoughts, as usual.  Oh and if you are French, sorry for the insensitive stereotype, next time I’ll pick on the Germans, then the Uhmericans, then Canadians again.  Personally, I’m not into it, I think we should respect the name of the person who originally climbed it, and if there is a later extension, well, then that’s what it is, an extension to an already existing route.  This post is not meant to take away from Sharma’s feat, which was and still is the most impressive act of dedication I have seen in the last ten years, but to attempt to clarify how this should be handled in the future.  What’s in a name?  Who knows, probably nothing, call it what you want.

Best wishes.
Sonnie Trotter

by the way, is it just me, or are those french guys walking up to the cliff (at the start), following each other a tad too closely?

  • This is a slippery subject. If I remember correctly, in the case of Biographie, the entire route (including extension) was bolted first. After realizing the top was too hard, Petit, or someone, moved the anchors down, sent it to there, and called it 14c. In my mind, I suppose that Chris is actually the first ascentionist, as he was the first to climb the originally envisioned line. He didn’t actually do an “extension”, he just continued past the “abbreviated” route. If all that is true, Chris had the right to name the line, in my opinion.

    I would certainly vote the other way had the extension been added later. However, I don’t necessarily mind giving a name to an extension… it makes it easier to differentiate between the two routes, as people are still going to be making ascents of the “abbreviated” line.

  • Sonnie

    Well, dub, if what you say is true, than that changes everything. You’re a good source of information, probably make you such a good song writer. The answer is in the facts. How did you know about that bolting thing? That’s cool shit. There is no denying that the more ‘bad ass’ line goes to the top, it’s without question the best way to climb that pitch, but still we must accept the fact that the bottom was climbed, claimed, named and repeated by many. I agree though it certainly makes for easier distinction. So this raises the ultimate question, why hasn’t Realization been topped out? I mean, to the VERY TOP of the whole cliff? I think that’ll be my next project, to extend it all the way to the top of the cliff this summer. Grin. Any takers wanna join me?

    Thanks for the input Odub, but shouldn’t you be recording something? My collection is weak, I need to beef it up some.

  • supafly

    Pffff… I thought of finishing the line off after sending Realization but it looked like a 5.8 choss-pile so i thought why bother.. I was a little pumped anyway.

    It’s funny, just yesterday I noticed on your guiding resume on Squamish-Rock-Guides® (coz i’m thinking of getting some tips from your good self this summer see) and it shows the two “other options” that you did on Dave’s climb on dumbarton rock. To me I guess it makes sense to name the other finishes for dave’s original route like you did, just to avoid confusion. Plus rhapsody-direct and rhapsody-copout-to-the-arete just don’t sound as good. What’s your feeling on naming these variations as new routes Sonnie?

    In the Sharma/Realization instance I think it comes down to French pride; some dude from Cali turns up and “finishes” one of their hardest local climbs – I guess they thought that sucked.

  • those dudes walking are definitely a little too close for comfort…

  • Sonnie

    Supafly, ha ha, crap, I knew I’d get called out on that Dumby stuff. Yes, I’ve done my fair share of new routes, extensions and variations. And really, when it comes down to it, I don’t care that much what people do, I was really just stirring up shit, he he. I’d be happy to share some tips with you this summer. Nothing is better than hands on learning, especially here. E-mail me anytime, it would be my pleasure. Best.

  • Ryan J

    I’m pretty sure Chris was the second ascent of Biographie and by the time he had linked to the top only Millet and Graham had also redpointed the 14c version.

    I think the debate, on Realization in particular, is more about the tradition in Europe of the bolter naming the route as opposed to the FA naming the route. JC Lafaille named the blue streak Biographie and Petit honored that. There are other instances of Chris respecting the name given a project, but I guess this particular piece of rock meant enough to add his own touch to it.

  • Sonnie


    Wicked post man, thanks for clearing that up, really cool info, I knew this would get resolved sooner than later. You rule! Cheers.

  • Lou

    Ok, here is the real story around the name. My source is, it is in french, and here is the summary and traduction:

    In 1989, Jean-Christophe Lafaille bolted the whole “pitch” and named it Biographie. In 1996, Arnaud Petit added an anchor in the middle of the route, and did the first ascent of the first half in that year (The anchor chains are now no longer present where the first part of the route used to end). In July 2001 Chris Sharma became the first person to climb the full route and gave it the name “Realization”, following the American way.

    Many Americans consider “Biographie” to be the first half Arnaud Petit climbed in 1996; and Realization to be the extension. Local climbers such as Sylvain Millet refer to the entire route as Biographie.

    PS: This is a copy of the wikipedia page I helped to write, based on local interviews and the article.

    ps2: The real problem in my opinion has two sides. The first one is marketing. I suspect that Josh Lowell pushed Sharma strongly to change the name of the route. To prove this, look at the King lines bonus. You see a scene where chris is at the base of Biographie. And he calls it Biography, whereas the man behind the camera calls it Realization. You recognize Josh Lowell voice. The footage is taken after the 2001 ascent.
    The second side is a question of respect of tradition. When you come in a country, you do what you can to respect the way the people do the things. Well, in France, we do it this way: the route’s name belong to the one who bolted the route. A concensus can be reached if the one who bolted the route aggree. To me ( and maybe I over react), the re naming of the route is a sign of the American way: trying to impose their own way of doing things to the rest of the world.

    Louis ( a french man, i don’t have any beret or scarf or whatever 😉 )

  • Dom

    for me it would depend on the route, if it was a 5.9 crack that went up to and round a huge roof, I don’t think many people would object to someone calling a climb that went up the 5.9 crack and through the 5.14b roof as something else, would probably sit better if the name of the 5.14b took a nod to the older route (Requiem and Rhapsody for instance), maybe Chris should have called it Biographie de vie or something, or is there an opposite for the asis, as used for sitdown starts?
    I think when we get older and our memory fades a little, the name of route x may not be the first thing we remember.

    Anyway, got this mailed to me the other day, completely off topic but thought it worth sharing.


    When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours
    in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of

    A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in
    front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very
    large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
    He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

    The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the
    jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas
    between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was
    full. They agreed it was.

    The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
    Of course, the sand filled up everything else He asked once more if the
    jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous ‘yes.’

    The professor then produced two cups of tea from under the table and
    poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty
    space between the sand. The students laughed.

    ‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to
    recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the
    important things; your family, your children, your friends, and your
    favourite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only
    they remained, your life would still be full.’ The pebbles are the
    other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The
    sand is everything else; the small stuff.

    ‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no
    room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you
    spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have
    room for the things that are important to you.’

    ‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
    Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Play
    another 18. Do one more run down the ski slope.

    There will always be time to clean the house and fix the waste disposal.
    Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set
    your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

    One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the tea
    represented. The professor smiled. ‘I’m glad you asked. It just goes
    to show you that no matter how full your life may seem there’s always
    room for a cup of tea with a friend.’

  • Clint

    to add to the debate…….i do feel that the guys are walking much too close……..but this is just my opinion
    Clint from Jasper East, Alberta

  • Fre

    Dom: great story. I’m pretty sure the professor was French though
    The name issue: the one who bolted and cleaned the line quite often puts in more work than the FA-dude. It would be logical that he gets to name it. It seems that the French system makes more sense, and should definitely be respected when in France (I would like to point out right now that I’m not French, but Belgian. Belgians aren’t French, the majority doesn’t speak French, and we don’t wear berets. We’re also not German. We are the ones with decent beer.)
    Back on topic: why name a route? Doesn’t it seem like absolute nonsense, if you look at the essence of the matter? Try to explain to a non-climber that you named a 20 by 2 meter stretch of rock a specific name because it represents a “route,” without sounding utterly moronic. I really hope to climb some unclimbed rock this summer somewhere in the Bugaboos, and if I do, I’m gonna call it “Rock”. And the second climb I do, I’ll call “Rock 2”. Or I’ll call it “shiny rock with a bit of sand and funny smelling bush in the middle”.
    I guess my point is: no more intercultural cock-blocking, or swinging around your thing to impress others in the bar or in magazines. Just climb the rock, enjoy it and have a beer afterwards.
    And remember, Buddha (and other overweight guru’s) would frown upon the rock-calling habit.

  • Fre, I think even if you call it, when talking to your friends, “the third blue streak from the left side of the cliff with the obvious starting sidepull and the little red bush to the left of the third bolt”, you’ve still named it, in essence. “Rock” is much nicer. I like it. 🙂

    Sonnie, you’re right, I should be recording. I’m a slacker.

    Lou, thanks for the facts. I wasn’t aware that the French ethic was to leave the naming honors to the equipper. In that case, the route, for all intents and purposes should be called “Biographie”. That, or “Rock 2”.

  • Good stuff guys. Enlightening info! Those french dudes were on each other’s asses! I think I may go and change the name back to Biography on my 8spraycard… I think it’s funny that people still try to claim the original ending which is only marked with one bolt as an actual climb. It’s funny that Arnaud claimed it in the first place. I mean, Arnaud is a cool guy, for a frenchman, and has a bitchen pad right below the best sprot cliff in the multiverse, gotta love him for that… I guess it was just a different time and mentality back then.

    When I was there the summer of ’07, Arnaud seemed hell-bent on trying to fill in all the chipped holds at the cliff, which would have rendered some classic hard lines like La Chronic, La Cadre, No future and the chipped boulder start to le collonettes impossible or retartedly hard, but I don’t think he went through with his plan to fill in the blanks. I’m not sure if any of the holds on Reali… sorry, Biography are altered or comfortized, probably not, but the third hold on the route, the little undercling tooth for the left hand is definitely reinforced with a little gluuuue.

  • BTW that’s freaken awesome that Yuji is coming to try to crobra this summer! What a nice and humble dude. Quite the odd pair, him and Hans. like salt and pepper, which ofter work well together. Hope he sends! Maybe he’ll just flash it like half the 8c routes he gets on! I wonder if the ninja will show back up as well to try again this summer, with his herum of… belayers.

  • gian

    Interesting comment lou.

    Myself as well I’ve always heard the americans @céuse (I mean the guys actually trying and sending the route some two years ago) calling it somehwere between the english “biography” and “biographie” with correct french pronounce.


  • Josh

    True that the full line was bolted and named Biographie by Lafaille, following the French custom. Petit climbed it halfway and called it 14c. When Chris climbed the full line, it would have been odd to keep the name. It would have either created confusion over two different routes with the same name, or it would have suggested a dismissal of the 14c version as non-valid. It would not have been logical to call it Biographie Extension since it wasn’t an extension but the realization of the full original line. So he called it that. In French it’s not a very good name because they use the word Realize to mean the completion of a route. It would be like a French guy doing the proudest line in America and naming it “Send.”

    Not true that I pushed him to re-name it. The scene Lou refers to shows that Chris actually uses both names interchangeably. He doesn’t care one way or the other and never intended offense to anyone. Good thing he didn’t go with his original idea for the name – when he was 16 (still kind of a punk) and first started trying it he wanted to call it Get A Life. Now that would have been offensive (but funny).

    What up Sonnie, nice blog. Ethan keep your head up.

  • Sonnie

    Ha ha, “Get a Life” now that would have been totally hilarious. Actually, it’s a pretty damn good name, but under the circumstances, I suppose you’re right Josh. By the way, I really dig the word you used, ‘interchangeable’ to describe the feelings. I think I speak for many when I say, thank you, this was the most thoughtful and informative reply yet. You rule J.

    I hope nobody here needs to be reminded that in the grand scheme of things, names and grades really don’t matter that much, this is all just for silly kicks, and to be quite frank, I feel sort of bad, because in retrospect I realize this was a pretty lame topic. It was intended to be a discussion based on names for extensions on routes “IN GENERAL”, not just the name for this particular extension. Honestly, I didn’t foresee this getting much attention, but after Steve and Said’s friendly disagreement, I thought I would throw it out there see if we could get to the bottom of it.

    Of course, all this ‘chit chat’ is only good for killing time between rain spells and boxes of Macaroni and Cheese, but still, the comments are appreciated. Now the case is closed and we can move on to far more important things, like why don’t clothing companies today still make those adorable tight lycra pants from the 80’s? Call me crazy, but I think they’re due for a SERIOUS comeback.

  • lou

    I know the Big Boss here has closed the topic, but i can’ t help to make another comment.
    I wached again the ” King LInes Outakes”, and Chris S doesn’ t use the world realization on it. He uses biography at 1’41, but that is all. Maybe he does on Josh private footage, but not here.
    I also want to apologise to Josh Lowell for making false assumptions about him pushing Chris S to break the french tradition for marketing reasons. As it turns out, it was Chris’ s idea to change the name, but not for marketing reasons.

    See ya!

  • stotheam

    Entirely unrelated, but Sonnie, did you know that when you type “Sonnie” into google, this site comes up first? Wow, you must feel important.

  • And to all you treasure hunters here is your 2nd Clue: Code Name: Cobra got a lot comments bet you won’t figure this one out. And your key is: T T

  • You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.