Not a clue.
Well, climbers, here's some news for you: Non-climbers haven't got a clue what we are on about, and critically - they can't guess, and don't care.
|Here, I sadistically introducing my young son to my obsession.|
Note I am too tight to buy him rock-shoes, while mine cost £100
For most climbers, not a problem! as we systematically eradicate those from our friendship list who don't shred the gnar on the rock. (If you don't regularly use the phrase 'shred the gnar', or indeed don't know what it means then obviously you aren't in as deep as what I am). Many of them are probably pleased to see us go.
Here is a swift summary of some failures of contact between climbers and normal people.
1. The jargon. Its detailed, its nuanced, its sometimes a bit fucking silly isn't it? Psyched! Why can't we just say excited? Not to mention the revelation that people who don't need to arrange their own protection won't know what a nut or a quick-draw is. Ask yourself: why would they? Then ask yourself 'can I remember not knowing what a nut or quick-draw was?' No? but why? Its like we re-learned a universal language. Crimps? Jugs? Bomber.
2. The experience of fear. People who don't do it just won't recognise. I was talking to my mate Serge the other night, and he said 'You know when you get that actual taste of fear in your mouth? Like that iron-y taste in your mouth?' I looked blank. 'You've never had it? You obviously don't climb hard enough then.' I wouldn't mind this, but its not like I've never been afraid on the wall. Knowing what I put myself through, I can't believe I haven't had the taste, but on the other hand, I HAVE jabbered meaningless shite at the top of my voice as my boots skeeter on slimy rock with no gear in.
3. Paradoxically, non-climbers think its much more dangerous than it is. Sport climbing? statistically safer than the drive to the crag. Trad? most UK climbers operate at a laughably easy grade. Soloing? anecdotally, most soloing deaths - and there are enough- happen on relatively easy ground, grades below what the dice-rollers are known for climbing.
|Hands mauled from hand-jamming: a particularly mild session|
The reality is that it is safer than a lot of other sports : definitely horse-riding or rugby. Although bear in mind I haven't backed this up with any research, statistics or evidence. I'm just asserting it, and I can't be fucked to check.
4. Even though non-climbers think that its more dangerous, this doesn't equate to more interesting, especially if you can't imagine why someone would do it in the first place. Remember that spoof list on UKC "You know you're a climber when..." Lot of truth in that especially: "
5. The reason they can't imagine why we would do it is because we can't tell them in a way that makes sense. Look at this article from the Daily Mash 'Rock climbers enjoy weekend of gruelling misery'. Ostensibly, its written as satire, but in actual fact it is a piece of cutting edge reportage which gets more facts correct than most mainstream information about climbing.
But here goes at unpicking why I do it:
Someone at uni, nearly twenty years ago, tried to explain why they loved golf - which is a shit game. They said that as soon as they pinged a ball, there wasn't anything else. That was it for me with climbing: as soon as I did it there wasn't anything else. There might have been a bit of an incubation phase, but from those first visits to the wall, through to getting on rock, and getting through stuff at a level of difficulty I couldn't imagine - it was all there was.
Furthermore, the more I do it, the more deeply addicted I get: I don't yet know whether this will culminate in a moment of clarity in five years time where I realise I wear pink shoes that cost £100 a pop and then immediately give up. But at the moment - I'm committed.
And probably the final point: its cool because its pointless but beautiful.
I bet that's no clearer. We've got a range of options: take people climbing OR accept the fact a proportion of people in our lives won't ever get it OR keep culling the friendship list.
Which to choose?