Two friends are watching a horse race.
“What number should we bet on?”
“Well, let’s say according to our bra size. You have three, I have two – let’s go all in on horse number five.”
Good shape? Sheer chance? Fate? Fortune? To cut a long story short, the horse won… perhaps it was meant to happen.
Of course, when their husbands, good friends, hear it, they must give it a chance as well.
“What’s our number, man?”
“What about the number of orgasms we can have in a single night? I can do six.”
“Add seven for me then.”
So the guys bet on horse number thirteen…
When you first started climbing, you were so happy to fight the easiest route to the top. Your friend, who gave you those shabby football shoes shorn of cleats, whipped two beers out of his rucksack on the top, to complete the scenery in front of you. The mild wind was blowing. Do you remember? At least three of you went always climbing together because each had either three quickdraws or a rope. Your first grade six was a reason for all-night celebration. The world was yours.
When you went to climbing gym, you always sported some nuts and two prusiks on the back of your harness. Simply Mr. Climber! You also always carried rubber rings around to improve your grip. Then the first redpoint of grade seven – that was your secret dream you always feared to speak about. You didn’t want to jinx it. The picture from that route is still lying somewhere in a fancy frame, isn’t it?
Grade eight, PP done and you slowly aimed for nines. Holds started to appear on seemingly bare walls and they got bigger and bigger. You filled your days with intervals, series, and precisely measured pauses. There was no other way around. Discussion topics shifted to right timing of saccharine drink and BCAA, phases of power endurance, size and inclination of rungs on your campus… Seems like natural progress.
Instead of going outdoors to rocks, where you used to love it, you now prefer to (efficiently) jump from crimp to crimp in a dusty bouldering gym. It doesn’t matter that you don’t like it anymore, the climbing on rocks means loss of strength. And when you go for a rock trip, your only goal is to send an 8a – otherwise, it was just lost time. Especially when the guy next to you made it to the top. The reason wins over the heart.
Where has all the pure joy gone?
Our blood contains hemoglobin, some platelets… and competitiveness. Earn more money than your neighbor. Have a bigger car and more costly watch. Climb the career ladder higher. Get more likes for your rant on a social network. Compare yourself with others and be better, faster, stronger. More rich, beautiful, clever. Be first. People just keep running somewhere, especially when it’s in.
Bernd Arnold was one of the best sandstone climbers ever. When he was in his top condition, the entire younger generation was competing with him over the hardest and scariest first ascents. Who will outrun Arnold?
However, once he told me that he was not involved in that competition. That the power, which keeps one going further and higher does not stem from comparing with rival climbers but from within. Competition doesn’t lead you to genuine happiness – it rather makes you tired in the end.
“Competition doesn’t lead you to genuine happiness – it rather makes you tired in the end.”
But not all of us have our worst enemy inside. Once, I was part of a discussion with one of the relatively known Czech climbers. We were discussing the performance of few of better-known Czech female climbers with her. They climb like goddesses of the vertical; some of them even look that way… at least from my male point of view.
Me: “The girls are in a good shape nowadays, aren’t they?”
And the answer? “Well, yeah but you know… she has some problems with her skin.”
Or: “I don’t know. I’ve noticed that she has bad hair – her ends split…”
Or else: “Okay, she climbs 8b. But if you want me to say truth, she is a bit dumb. The school she studies – anybody can pass there. If you know what I mean.”
Really? Be better than your rivals. If you cannot outgo them physically, try casting a slur on them.
“Hey mom, look, neighbours got a new car.”
“They must be thieves. Where else would they get the money?”
“Okay, she climbs 8b. But if you want me to say truth, she is a bit dumb. And the school she studies – anybody can pass there.”
Logbook app? Great tool. You climb a route, punch in what have you just sent, and before you shake down the pumped arms, your score is already online and you can compare yourself to other climbers, who are also using the logbook. Why not.
However, some of the score ladder enthusiasts found out that beauty of the route, the views and the real difficulty don’t matter anymore – instead of that, the number on the list does. You don’t need to have a PhD in mathematics to get that. And today it seems that grades on some crags as well as in many climbing gyms have been adjusted according to demand of the market – nobody (except for a few freaks) wants to climb hard routes with low grades.
“Nobody wants to climb hard routes with low grades anymore.”
“Hey, you have put it into your log as a grade nine. Has it felt so hard?”
“The other girls wrote down the nine as well – I didn’t want to let them down.”
I’ve met a guy who brought a list of the easiest 8a’s to the climbing trip in Spain. He wasn’t trying almost anything else. The other time there was an ambitious girl climbing a significantly worn route, which was way above her grade and wasn’t even her style; she didn’t even like it:
“Why don’t you justgo for something else. Something nice, just to enjoy it.”
“I don’t climb routes for enjoyment.”
“Have you seen the sissy trying that route? I’ve sent it on a second attempt, and she was going there for three weeks – embarrassing.” (laughter)
The girls were gossiping about her just because she drew closer to them on some score table.
Are you obsessed with climbing? Do you grind, work on it hard? Do you study all the training methods, plan your short and long-term goals, are you constantly checking your regimen? Splendid!
And isn’t it a bit shame to let the competition for higher numbers, and watching how others do, to spoil the joy of climbing?
What is the end of the story about horserace mentioned at the beginning?
The horse number two clearly won.
“If we weren’t kidding we could have been rich!”
Loves the pulse of metropolis. Amazed by technical progress… Watches the latest fashion. Never misses any cultural event or social intercourse. Reads newspaper daily, follows financial market. (smiling)
“Climbing is not about the grades and life is not about the money” He loves to write about crazy people.
Addicted to situations when he does not care about the time – in the mountains or sandstone crags.