So I saw a guy sporting a fancy Black Diamond Bod harness circa 1864 the other day, and I couldnâ€™t help but say, â€œHey man. Canâ€™t you spring 50 bucks for a Singing Rock harness? I mean, come on. The dough you wasted on the Bod could have been better spent as kleenex.â€
So this guyâ€™s suddenly got attitude like I said something to him. I tell him, â€œHey there chief, Iâ€™m not saying your gearâ€™s out of date, but those high-top boots you got on could go in the Smithsonian. Like that wasnâ€™t enough, I look over and see him giving a nice top rope belay with a Figure-Eight thatâ€™s got rope grooves cut through it deeper than a wet sandstone rappel station. Iâ€™m like, â€œYo, pops. Itâ€™s called an ATC. Get a clue.â€ I thought I was being helpful, but this guy was eyeballing me as if to say, â€œIâ€™m gonna clock you with a big bro if you donâ€™t shut up.â€
I stepped back to watch this guy rope up for a crack climb next to my killer V8 boulder problem that I have been projecting for a few weeks now. I think Iâ€™ll call it, Ramboâ€™s got no Flex, when I get the FA on it. Anyway, this dude starts taping up and Iâ€™m thinking all the tape in the world isnâ€™t going to make this guy get more than five feet up the wall.
Heâ€™s climbing in jeans, which is cool if your bouldering with no shirt and a Prana beenie, but this guyâ€™s way too old for that. So he racks up with some nuts and hexes, and I yell over to him, â€œI thought hexâ€™s were just used for doorstops nowadays. They came out with this new invention only twenty years ago. Theyâ€™re called cams.â€
I donâ€™t know what I said, but this guy looks really pissed. He just glares at me momentarily before he focuses on his pathetic attempt to prove that he can climb some crappy scree hump to the top of the bluff. Just before he casts off, this oleâ€™ rock warrior turns to me and calmly says, â€œKid, watch and learn.â€
With that he flows upward through a series of poetic handjams and smooth, delicate footwork. My jaw drops as he stops about twenty feet up to place his first piece as if protection was wholly insignificant. The refinement of his movements left me in a stupor with some blank expression painted upon my face. As he neared the top, he glanced down with a smirk and bellowed, â€œIf you want to give it a go, Iâ€™m sure I can set up a top-rope for you.â€ I glanced over to see that he left a guide book sitting at the bottom of the climb. Frantically, I pawed through the pages and read the description of his climb:
Desperate Determination â€“ 5.11c R Ballsy lead with multiple crux moves before solid pro. Slick finger locks and poor footing. Not for the faint of heart. Rarely done on lead, and not much easier on top-rope.
Next to the description, I notice some notes scribbled in pen: â€œNice warm-up. Gets blood flowing for hard routes.â€ I drop the guide book, and clutch my chest. Iâ€™m having trouble breathing. My head is spinning, and can hear that man start to giggle from above. Gathering up my gear, I bolt from the crag leaving my pride and dignity behind. Itâ€™s okay though, I believe I have enough humility to last a while.