Friday, May 4, 2012

Head Games

So I am a little short of regular partners right now.

The Filth has a baby and lives in Chiliwack, where, when not wiping up poo or banging away at either the wife's ass or his keyboard (he is writing a novel), he strokes himself while staring at the likes of either Slesse or the Internets full of bouldering pictures.

The Driller has become a full-on corporate whore, much like Napoleon, the main differences between these two being that the Driller had a soul before he went over to the Dark (well-paying) Side, and he gets laid regularly.

The Brewer has been ski-touring. Before that, he was swamped in Minion Training. This is when your previous Minion-- a.k.a. Brew Bitch-- gets fired, and you get a new Minion, who must be brought up to speed with things like degrees Plato, sparging rates, and why not to connect the brown ale hose to the I.P.A. tap. Which adds up to not much climbing, but The Brewer generally has kegs and kegs of beer at home to compensate him.

So Butch has been bouldering and is pleased to provide free advertising for The Hive a new bouldering gym right beside Cliffhanger. Now using my sexy new used longboard and chugging a few beers, I've been riding (and falling)down there and cranking a few V19s to stay in shape. After all, this is the summer when my long-awaited project, a nude freesolo of The Nose, goes down.

The attentive reader will have noted the massive blatant lie in the former sentence. That's right, folks-- The Hive does not give its boulder problems V grades. Really!

I talked to a setter there who told me that the deal was this: when you put a grade on a problem, people typically have several set reactions:

a) "it's soft for the grade"

b) "it's hard for the grade"

c) "I can't do that, it's too hard"

d) "I can't be fucked to do that-- it's too easy, and I am training for my nude freesolo of The Nose"

I heard this and I thought back to two of my former limits-- getting into 5.10s and then 5.11s on trad. I had a trad rack for a whole year, was climbing 11+ on bolts, but lacked the sack (what women call ovaries) for 5.10. This, I thought, was the realm of HardPeople. Well, I would eventually break through this barrier at the Malamute, back when the thrill of climbing there had more to do with the routes and less with breaking the law. I sent a 10a or maybe 10b with some nice scary wet moves at the end. Anyway it turned out to be really cool, but not hard at all, leading me back to the old saw: walls are made of thoughts.

My 5.11 moment came one year later. Bones and Eamonn slept on my floor en route to Alaska one spring morning, and I was jealous as I drove them to the airport. Then The Lawyer called. We had climbing plans. He said "I'll be two hours late, and I am bringing my wife, who is getting a massage."
Argh Jesus fuck, I thought, the dumb bitch got it backwards-- massage AFTER climbing-- and anyways she was one of those people who climbed so that she and Her Husband! could "spend time together." This is another way of saying it was as much an act of masochism to watch her climb as it was for her to actually climb-- she just didn't want to be there, but she had to keep a steady eye on Her Husband!'s other girlfriend, Rock. Goodbye HardPeople, hello Puss-fest.

So we ended up at the Bluffs on the world's nicest Saturday at 1:00 and The Lawyer led up that 5.9 corner up and left of Penny Lane while The Wife belayed him. When The Wife got on the rope it became obvious that this was going to be one of those two-hour pitches. An urge seized me and I walked over to Penny Lane. I put on my shoes, and jumped onto Penny Lane. The couple racking up for it said "NO! DON'T SOLO IT! WE'LL BELAY YOU! PLEASE COME DOWN" but I went on and did my first freesolo without really thinking about it. The route's crux is a one-move wonder ten feet off the deck and I barely noticed it. On top, I slid down the other end of The Lawyer's rope while The Wife made noises about having brought the wrong shoes.

Now I am not spraying here. I have gone back to that route with a rope, and been scared. I have backed off of solos. I have felt like-- and been-- a total pussycat, and if you don't believe me, ask The Driller or The Filth. But back on the ground I realised that I'd just gone through another wall. I ran around the Bluffs and soloed every easy route I could find, then roped up for Partners in Crime, and onsighted my first 5.11 on gear. Walls are indeed made partly of thoughts, and that day I had the single best climbing day until then of my life.

So back to the gym.

Apparently they decided on this "grade cluster" system. Routes (problems) are "graded" colours, and each colour roughly corresponds to a set of grades. EG yellow is V3-V5, orange or whatever V1-V3 etc. What this does is, it gets people to

a) try a variety of moves within a colour group (grade)
b) not worry about the grade so much
c) not argue about grades' hardness or softness
d) appreciate the moves and difficulty, not the grade

This reminded me of a Croft line, where he talks about how the other Bishops bouldering adventure is-- no, not V19 highballs a la Sharma-- but the smell of sage underfoot, a sunride, and the wonder of finding and climbing something nobody's seen.

Anyway I have had a marvellous few sessions there and am very much enjoying it. No, the bastards didn't pay me to write this, though they should. Some free passes are in order. The OTHER thing I like is that they make all the holds on the prob the same colour, so, if you are a dumm giy like mee, you don't have to expend valuable energy trying to find your graying islands of purchase in a sea of dusted wall and peeling tape.

Knight to king's fourth, Cliffhanger.

No comments:

Post a Comment