Do You Climb in Jeans?

Those that do, wouldn’t have it any other way – those that don’t, can’t understand it.

To understand this, let’s have a look at the pros and cons. Just like we did in our post about the bouldering shirt.

Pros
– Durable and easy to repair
– Good protection against cuts and scrapes
– Walk straight off the wall and into da club

Cons
– Restricts movement
– Kinda hard to move in them
– Sometimes you can’t move in them
– It’s hard to do flexible moves in them

Well, looks like the cons outweigh the pros! It’s official, only maniacs climb in jeans…

However, there is denim and there is denim. And there is climbing denim. If you really want that denim look when you are sending, we recommend you check out: Boulder Denim.

 

Feature image by adifansnet.

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Climbing in the Olympics

As you may have heard, climbing is now an Olympic sport. A far cry from dirt bags in Yosemite or sketchy barefoot climbing Eastern Europeans.

Climbing will be introduced in 3 forms: sport, bouldering and speed.

One of the more interesting of these forms is speed climbing. It’s interesting because it’s not nearly as frequently practiced recreationally as other forms. Sure, you may hear of the speed record on The Nose. However, The Nose speed record is often set by efficiency of climbing technique, not speed as it will appear in the Olympics.

For those who haven’t seen this type of speed climbing, it looks like this:

As such it may present a stumbling block for many other climbers and that is because competitors in the Olympics will be judged on their success in each of these categories. That’s right, you will not go to the Olympics to compete in Bouldering, but rather compete in all three.

What does this mean? Well, the difficulty is that this isn’t reflective of how most people climb. Most people will excel at one type of climbing. Mastery through specialization. This probably means that we may not see the best boulders, or best sport climbers competing for gold. To us, this is a bit of a shame.

However, we must think of the bigger picture and the bigger picture being painted here is of a fantastic sport that has been given a bit more of a spotlight. Really, it doesn’t matter if the format isn’t perfect – what matters is getting more people to know and love climbing.

Feature image by mike_fleming.

The Zen of Climbing

We touched a little bit on this on our post, which posed the question, “Why Climb?

On of the things we thought about was the mental aspect – the benefit of doing something that entirely focuses your mind on the task at hand.

Any of us who are familiar with yoga or meditation, will definitely see the meditative aspect to this.

Without diving too deep, this connects directly with a concept found in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Yoga Sutras are some of the earliest writings on yoga. Yoga in this sense is closer to the original meaning of the word: yoking. That is, looking inwards.

The concept is discussed as a jewel, but often the analogy of a small pond of water is more descriptive. Essentially, you approach a still pond of water and look down into it.
If the water is still and calm, you will see a clear reflection of yourself. If someone throws a rock into the pod, there is chaos on the surface and the reflection becomes disturbed and misleading.

Likewise, if our consciousness is calm and still, we see our true selves more clearly. We understand our real nature and we begin to see the problems that we are creating for ourselves in the world. For that reason, we should embrace any activity that helps to calm the turmoil of our consciousness. We embrace an activity where our mind is working automatically, where it is focused on an immediate reality, and not dwelling in non-existent pasts and futures.

Many rock climbers describe this feeling. In long or particularly challenging climbs, they talk about finding out who you really are. As Edmund Hilary said, “it is not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves.”

Top 5: Best Climbing Movies

2018 is going to be a fantastic year for climbing movies, with The Dawn Wall and Free Solo – documentaries following two of the biggest names in rock climbing, both being released. Therefore, we offer our pick of the Top 5 Best Climbing Movies… we’d love to hear your recommendations!

5. Valley Uprising (2014)
A history of the Yosemite valley climbing scene. An in-depth look at the evolution of American rock-climbing, from the pioneers in the 1950s, the stonemasters of the 1970s and later the stone monkeys, right up to the trail-blazers leading climbing today. Well-made and an interesting look at the history of the most famous climbing spot in the world.

4. First Ascent (the series)
Terrifying, emotional exciting and crazy. Featuring the Alex Honnold classic Alone on the Wall, where he attempts to free solo Half Dome. This is followed by an emotional journey to Patagonia led by Stanley Leary. After this the climbing gets hard again as Chris Sharma tackles his latest project.

3. Reel Rock 10 (2015)
Really, you could put just about any Reel Rock here, and we didn’t want this just to be a list of Reel Rock’s, so we’ve picked 10. A great mix of entertaining features, such as the zany climbing competition Showdown at Horseshoe Hell and more serious efforts like Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold’s Fitz Traverse in A Line Across the Sky. The Fitz Traverse earned the duo the Piolet d’Or. Top this off with a tribute to rock climbing legend Dean Potter and it is a fantastic mix.

2. The Sufferfest 1 & 2 (2014)
Cedar Wright at his hilarious, gonzo best. Sufferfest 1 chronicles Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright as they attempt to climb all the 14,000ft peaks in California by technical climbing route. Back for Sufferfest 2, they attempt to climb 45 of the most iconic desert towers. In both movies, their mode of transport? Bicycle. A tremendous feat of endurance and a very entertaining story along the way.

1. Meru (2015)
Meru manages to tell an engaging, emotional story like no other climbing movie out there. It follows the attempt by Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk to climb the Shark’s Fin route on the Meru Peak in the Himalayas. Aside from the mammoth task and the beautiful scenery, one of the most captivating aspects to it, is how it shows the fact that climbing – and life – don’t always go as planned.

The Ethics of Climbing

Anyone who has seen Valley Uprising, will know about the classic rivalry between Royal Robbins and Warren Harding. Two of the great figures in American climbing in the 1950s.

Royal Robbins is painted as the stoic, thoughtful philosopher-climber while Warren Harding is shown as a wild, drunken man barging his way up big walls. Both made impressive ascents.

A classic point of rivalry is Royal Robbins taking offense to Warren Harding’s siege-tactic climbing style: placing large numbers of bolts and fixed ropes to get through tough sections of climbing. The story goes, that Royal Robbins would climb Harding’s routes, chopping off the heads of the bolts. He saw it as defacing the rock – it wasn’t pure climbing.

In the Czech Republic, near the border with Germany there a style of climbing that has developed to be extremely sensitive to the natural landscape. Very few bolts are placed. Climbers are not allowed to place any sort of metal protection. Instead, knotted ropes are wedged into the rock. Climbers climb barefoot and chalk is not allowed.

Flip back to America, and the guys pushing the barriers of Modern climbing: guys like Tommy Caldwell, Chris Sharma, Alex Honnold all climb sport routes (on bolts), with shoes and chalk. They are also doing things people previously thought was impossible.

Such as Caldwell’s ascent of the Dawn Wall:

Sharma’s iconic climbing of Biographie:

and any number of Alex Honnold’s amazing free-solo’s (on routes he’d practice with bolts first):

There is no question that as climbing gets more and more popular, climbers need to be conscious about the marks we are leaving on the natural landscape. At the same time, however, we want to be pushing harder and climbing further than ever before. No one wants to fight progress.

 

Each generation of climbers have broken ground in their own ways. Whatever your personal ethics on climbing are, those breaking ground in the future will almost certainly do it by streamlining and reduction of lasting impact.