Friday, June 12, 2009

You're Not Realy Climbing

So I like to alpine climb, anyone who is seriously into alpine climbing or technical climbing for that matter has at some point faced the battle between alpine and technical. Some who technical climb look at climbing a 14er like it's not really climbing, you're just walking up a long hill so what makes it a challenge outside of endurance anyway right. Those who alpine climb fail to see the beauty of technical climbing... you're just driving up to a wall scaling it then heading home right?

The thing about alpine climbing is that it's a battle of attrition, just like technical climbing challenges your calculations, you situational awareness, alpine climbing challenges you logistically, makes you think of the overall picture, you're not just in it for the crux, you're in it for the summit. Many have come before you and each has battled the internal will to continue.

I also enjoy technical climbing, though I thoroughly enjoy technical alpine climbing. What I find disheartining about technical climbing (referencing a recent read of climbing magazine) is that unless you're getting first ascent of a route, every step is planned out, you're either doing it the most efficient way or you're wasting energy. Up until the crux then your faced with a complex problem of which you need to find the solution, many of which before you have faced. If you're skilled you solve the riddle in the same way or even better. With alpine climbing you are the riddle, many before you have faced the same problem but ultimately the solution is personal fortitude.

I really don't like to read that John is climbing this route and he is now at the two move crux of the climb. If he grabs left and jams his right foot above the shoulder he'll have it. To me this is contrived, the solution has already been determined. Rather I prefer I solutions that test the will.

I also prefer the consequences of alpine climbing, when technical climbing your almost exclusively in situations where given a gear failure you would most certainly fall to you're death. But in a sense the consequences are a crutch, because it would be crazy to climb this portion unprotected you can rely on the rope as safety mechanism. Whereas in many cases while alpine climbing it's not technical enough to require a rope but a slip, be it on a non vertical slope would result in the same conclusion. Take walking a flat knife edge with 1500 ft. vertical drop on either side for example. The traverse may only be a walk but the fall is just as fatal, except in this case more often than not you're safety net is you not the rope.

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