I picked up a new climbing magazine from the rack of periodicals at a Borders shop the other day. Sandwiched between Guns & Ammo and Unnecessarily Dangerous & Extreme Pastimes Quarterly was the first issue of Suburban Climber. This rival to Rock & Ice and Climbing laid out a cover shot with a beautiful housewife sporting a â€œLouis Vuittonâ€ chalk bag stemming up between a white picket fence and a shed in a well manicured backyard. Intrigued by a climbing magazine that sought to capture the true essence of the suburban rock rat, I flipped the mag open and perused the table of contents, aka – photo gallery.
Flipping through the first few pages, I came across the cover story. This half page feature article unearthed the ugly truth about the correlation between upper middle class family climbers and the 5.9 ability plateau. I skimmed all three sentences of the article and came to the conclusion that this was a journalistic breakthrough worthy of recognition.
Digging deeper into the glossy mess of pages, I found a hard hitting editorial piece on how trad climbers are ruining the faÃ§ade of those hardcore in the indoor gym. The anonymous author writes, â€œWhen a strong outdoor trad climber shows up to an indoor comp and finishes in the top three, he shatters the impressions weâ€™ve built up over the last year. Youâ€™d think we climb bare-chested, buy Prana clothing (now owned by Liz Claiborne), grunt on moderately hard moves for attention, wear overly downturned shoes even on vertical walls, spray beta and loose chalk everywhere to everyone for nothing!?â€
The article was cut short to afford room to the ads of 724 climbing hold companies that, though still working out of their basement, garage, barn, or bedroom, claim that they have the most bad-ass collection of slopers and crimps guaranteed to pump your forearms so large youâ€™ll flex for yourself in the mirror. I found it most interesting that the few companies I recognized were the same ones that had ads 10 years ago with the same shapes that these tiny tikes claim to be â€œnew and extreme.â€
I flipped ahead to the gear review section in the hopes of keeping up with the newest hardcore tools for the 21st century climber. I was fascinated to learn the seventeen points of buying a proper chalkpot and how it can have an impact on your social status. I also read about the importance from a safety stand point of throwing away your crashpad the moment it becomes dirty and to make sure not to damage it by actually falling directly on it. It states further that no self respecting climber would be seen with a mat that doesnâ€™t make you want to say, â€œWhoa, is that the killer new mat from Metolius?â€
It was at this point that a sales clerk came up to me and inquired as to whether or not I was going to buy the magazine or just continue to loiter in the store. I looked at her and stated the obvious, â€œKip seeks knowledge.â€
â€œTouchÃ©,â€ she replied.