Monday, November 23, 2009


Gumbies! On! Crack!, like Napoleon in Starbucks, Ian Bennett at an organic vegetable stand, or Butch in his girlfriend's underwear drawer, has been somewhat sidetracked of late. This is because

a) It rains-- weird, I know; you would think we were living on the Coast or something

b) A bunch of us went to Indian Crack, Utah, the most addictive place in the world, other than Pornhub or BikesnobNYC or a White Sale at your local Army and Navy.

c) I have so many blog entry ideas, that, like a kind of really retarded Hamlet, I don't know where to start. Between David Bloom's Indian Crock guidebook (which is to real guidebooks what Homer's Odyssey is to GPS navigation) to Napoleon's battles with rabbits, Digital Readout and coffee-makers, to Tony McLane's imminent hair sponsorship, to Sarah Panofsky's human bouldering, I've been swamped.

Stay tuned, a finely-tuned toilet, Gumbies!On!Crack! will be back, transporting the goods you want, exactly where you want 'em.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How To Make A Guidebook Suck

Continuing on with ways to de-improve your climbing experience, Gumbies! On! Crack! brings you advice on extending The Suck to your guidebook experience. We will base our handy make-it-work-as-well-as-the-Canadian-mission-in-Afghanistan advice around David Bloom's Indian Crock: A Climbing Guide (2nd Ed.)

We will however have to detour before we get to the main event, in the way that Napoleon needs to do Starbucks before climbing, or I need to visit before getting on my bike. Yes, porn makes one ride faster (like if I were a golfer, you know what they say about one Mr Woods, whose money shots sure didn't affect his money shooting). Anyway, our reference points will be Kevin McLane's The Climbers Guide To Squamish and the Supertopo guidebooks.

Now, Mr McLane has made a guidebook which has several outstanding and essential features. These include

a) clear and detailed topos
b) accurate descriptions of gear needed
c) accurate information about how to get to the climbs
d) a total lack of essay (or other) non-essential writing
e) being staggeringly comprehensive (last edition had 1,250 routes)
f) a lack of colour photography
g) a total lack of spray by sponsored and other climbers.

Moral: for a GOOD guidebook, write a la McLane.

Then there are the Stupidtopo books, which are actually for blind and retarded climbers. Consider: move by move beta, detailed gear beta (in some cases piece by piece), advice on how to succeed on long routes (e.g. Astroman strategy: "The key is to keep moving quickly through the many long 5.11 pitches") and descent beta that would allow a retarded, blind and seriously beer-deprived climber to safely and quickly make his or her way back to the cooler, walking stick and/or group home. Only problem is, Supertopo did not write their guides in Braille, so blind climbers will need to get their retarded partners to read them the beta in order to memorise the beta, and, take it from me-- a slow dumm guy-- us retards will need a LOOONG time to read the beta, cos, believe me, it's that detailed. It would probably take the typical rock-climber 25 or so minutes to read the description for Epinephrine IV 5.9 in Red Rocks, time which could be spent watching porn (if you are The Filth), drinking Starbucks (if your name is Napoleon), or approaching the route.

The one thing you have to say for Stupidtopo is that the info is, well, all there. Failing on a route you have Stupidtopo'd into your head, by getting lost, or because you forgot to bring that essential 17th blue Alien fromt he gear list, would be like being unable to drive out of your driveway while having your significant other, GPS system, rear-view mirrors and all other systems perfectly functioning and guiding you.

Now let's look at Mr Bloom's book, so you too, should you decide to write a climbing guide, will be able to make your book suck, should you so choose. You could opt for the excellent McLane style, or the for-the-blind-and-retarded style of Stupidtopo, or for something more Bloomian.


8) Make the edges square-cornered, not rounded. This will eventually make the dog-eared edges so thick that you will be able to use the book in place of a .5 Camalot. And as Crock climbers know, those .5 Camlots, well, that means you are in 5.12-cos-it's-sustained-like-a-Spinal Tap-guitarist's-favorite-1959 Gibson.

7) Add a full-colour front and back flap-- and don't add anything useful, like a pocket to put notes etc into.

6) Make your guidebook expensive by adding colour photos-- hundreds of them-- to it. It is important that these colour photos look great and be inspirational. But they should not under any conditions provide actual information about the climb.

5) Take the photos of the crags and routes from as far away as possible. This will add to the difficulty of finding one's desired route. Bloom's book is about 10 inches in height; his crag photos are about 1". Go squint.

4) Make the book low value. Bloom's book has 1,116 routes and sells for ~$37.60 Cdn. That's 3.4 cents/route. McLane's book, on the other hand, has 1,250 routes for $34.00 Cdn, so you get each route for 2.5 cents. Bloom's book is therefore almost ONE CENT/ROUTE more expensive. Multiply this by 1,116 routes and you are playing ten bucks more than you would at nice, logical, Canadian, free-market prices. And ten bucks is, well, four bottles of Two-Buck Chuck, or 12 PBRs, or 1/4 of a bottle of decent wine, or two plates of tacos...

3) Include essays and memoirs. Thanks, Steve Hong, for doing the FAs of so many awesome routes...and I am happy that you think we really need to hear that you are bummed that the Creek has been over-run by crowds. Yes, the Creek should be your private climbing preserve, and not pasture for we the arrivistes. I am glad that, having told others about your routes, you did not expect them to be climbed. Mr Hong, don't do what Mugs Stump suggested: climb the most awesome route in the world, and don't tell anybody about it. Climb awesome routes, tell everybody, get bummed that your area is now over-run...and then whine about it!

Scott Carson, if you "absolutely hate" to write about yourself...thanks for doing it anyway. Yes, I would rather read your story of climbing the Optimator for the first time than have a clear topo to look at. And then there is Lisa Hensel, saying that she loves the Creek because of the "growth" that she and her partners experienced while climbing there. Really? I want to be in the book, too-- I want to tell the world that breathing and walking are important to me. I want some essay space to say that. Oh, also I like climbing.

Mr Bloom, however, did one thing right-- he ditched the Timmy O'Neil memoir. If there is anything more boring than watching people eat dinner, smoke pot and then try to play the drum, it's reading about people eating dinner, smoking pot and trying to play the drum. I mean if you want see Mr O'Neil doing it right, you watch this.

2) Make the beta wrong. List too little gear, of the wrong size, and get your pitch lengths wrong. This is an especially good strategy if you have, as the jacket blurb says, twenty years of climbing experience and a Creek regular. Then you can REALLY screw with the gumbie masses. Do NOT pass on accurate knowledge.

1) Leave out hundreds of routes. And leave out every third or fourth route on each crag. This allows you and "the locals" to have their own private climbing Idaho where the (m)asses won't go. Here's a riddle:

Q: How many yellow Camalots does "Staggering out of the Bar" (5 stars, 5.11-, 35m, at Cat Wall) take?
A: You mean you don't know?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gumbies! In! Creek!

Well, the curse of the Coast are the Saturday rains, and last week was no exception. I peered carefully into the future, and it became obvious that there was not going to be anything mega-exciting in Squamish, such as another Cobra Crack ascent, or big-wall going free, or, for that matter, a sudden spike in the sale of boudering pants at Valhalla Pure in Squamish. Nothing exciting happening...

So I went to Indian Creek, along with Napoleon and Ginger Slack. Mr Slack is, well, a slack-liner, and he had plans to not only climb but to string a highline between the Bridger Jacks and then walk across it. I thought you might as well just kill yourself from the ground up, save yourself all that work, but then I was told that these highliners use harnesses and, like hippies on acid confronting the Army at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 Chicago, they also use daisies to make life nicer for themselves (or so, like those hippies, they hope)

The thing about this trip was, we would (later, alas) realise the sheer power of words. If we said it, it happened. Now, being idiots, we naturally failed to discuss either Roman orgies,,
sending 5.13,
or the key to winning the lottery, and we stuck to yapping about cops, snow, mechanical hassles and killing animals.

As we drove through Blinkandmissit, UT, Slack said "and there's these American towns where they nail you for speeding even if you're like 2 mph over, cos that way the town gets more revenue." At literally that exact moment a cop pulled us over-- 58 in a 50-- "that will be $90, please, and no sir, you do not need to tongue my balls. Enjoy your visit to Utah." Muthaf**kin' 5-oh on my TIP, y'all as Ian Bennet or the rapper of your choice other than L'il Wayne would say.

Now Hemingway famously (and allegedly) said that "there are only three sports: mountain-climbing, auto-racing and bull-fighting. The rest are mere games." Now there was obviously a fourth sport: the correct use of hyphens: a noun (person, place, thing, idea) in front of a gerund (a noun ending in "ing") needs to be followed by a hyphen. Hemingway by all accounts mastered the fourth, as you can see by his exhaustive sport-and-hyphen dictum, and the fifth (epic drinking sessions).

Now of course it was ironic that Napoleon wasn't driving. Napoleon drives like it's a race. He climbs. And his bullfighting involves arguing with me. Come to think of it, Napoleon, at the moment that Officer David Mormon pulled us over, was actually doing one of two things: jerking off to tax spreadsheets or fast asleep, while I (if memory serves, which it frequently doesn't) was jerking off to either midget porn or images of Indian Crack.

Now let's not make fun of people who jerk off to income tax and retirement spreadsheets, (as they say, 95% of us jerk off, and the other 5% lie about it, and, ladies, you, as that famous Seinfeld episode showed us, are part of this too)), since doing income-tax spreadsheets is pretty rough sport and also massively sexy to others. If you f**k it up, you may end up in the pen, like this guy.

So we drove on, chastened, the way Tiger Woods feels after his soon-to-be ex-wife rescues him from his SUV driving problems by using a golf club on the back window of his SUV.

We dropped Mr Slack in Moab to meet his slacklining buddy, and, McLane style, scored nearly free pizza, and then blasted out into the desert, where we immediately got lost. I warned young Napoleon about the dangers of mixing high-speed driving, night-time, and animals on the road (pick any TWO and you're OK). So of course we nearly hit a deer, and then smoked a rabbit. Napoleon wanted to make sure it was dead, so, on reversing, he backed over it and on later inspection that was a good move because the rabbit was not only totally doubly thoroughly dead, but also split open with guts coming out its mouth, belly and anus. Napoleon wanted to cook it up etc, but we are yuppie cunts with no clue about how to actually skin gut and eat once-living things, so we left it for the wolves, escaped convicts and Mormons having revelations.

We next drove somewhere into the Creek, threw down sleeping bags, and passed out, awaking to the sound of rustling leaves, the rattle of gear, bright sun and of course German. Naturally we had a flat tire and so our car got what in retrospect Napoleon (and the poor rabbit)should have gotten last night: a wheel that can't be driven over 40 MPH. Word quickly spread through the Creek's non-Napoleon'd wildlife that Napoleon was a whole lot safer to graze in front of, which, as it would turn out, nearly prove our undoing.

So the bill to that point was one dead rabbit, $90 ticket and a flat tire.

As we tried to leave the campground, we ran into a bunch of random dirtbags (you know the type...down jackets, stubble, toques, headlamps, "stoked to get on ________," i.e. generally interchangeable). They said there was a "leave the campground" toll which consisted of two jokes, which rate was reduced to one if yours was politically incorrect enough. The Yankee to the rescue:

Q: How is sport climbing like having your dick sucked by a guy?
A: it feels great until you look down and realise you're a fag!

Now I would like to apologise to all of my gay or sportclimber friends, and also to all of my gay AND sportclimber friends. I really needed to get out of that campground to get in line for this:

And our random dirtbag interlocutor replied with

Q: How come Asian drivers can't drive?
A: Cos they're Asian?

This got our car limping out of the lot and off we drove. Then we went climbing. Oh, sorry, did you want a blow-by-blow of the day's sends? I thought not! Let's just say that Indian Creek is wonderful-- lots of gear, clean falls, beautiful, ass-kicking, etc. One climbing story is pretty much like another, well, at least if you're me: we came, we tried, we didn't think we coudl do it, we ha da moment of epiphany, we sent. So, yeah.

Next: Part 2 of Gumbies! In! Creek!, wherein Ginger slacks, Napoleon tries to kill a cow, Sarah Panofsky does Human Bouldering, Tony McLane acquires a hair Sponsorship from L'Oreal, and yours truly has The Cleaner's Riot Act read to him by the Squampton Janitor. And now, as rappers say before they kill some niggaz and slap some bitches, peace out.