Tricksters & Traditionalists Revisited: 2006

Article Index

From Traditionalists:

- Traditional climbing is good for your life. Claiming spiritual benefits from traditional climbing is akin to pouring gas on a fire. It may feel good but solves nothing. When a traditionalist contends style transfers benefit to one's life and make up, others only get mad. "Such careless treatment of the twin ideals of partnership and the meaning of the rope pisses me off. The rope is a religious icon to me …" Likely reaction: for religion, I'll go to church.  "What you learn in climbing can embolden you for what you face everyday in life." Likely reaction: are sport climbers inferior beings? Nor do vague assertions about the psychological ramifications of running it out or risking a bad fall advance the cause of those interested in preserving or advancing interest in traditional style. "The unconscious promise was that a trial by a big enough fire (referring to "sketchy runouts" and "miserable walls") would burn off our personal underbrush and unveil some special real estate "Likely reaction: If I need psychotherapy, I'll find a therapist.18 

-Death defiance equals growth. Mixing up traditional climbing styles of protection and rope reliance with death defiance not only doesn't provide a compelling rationale for the style, it smacks of an unconvincing ego trip. "Our Brotherhood (sic) values courage over technique because we believe that the risk of death is a necessary component of spiritual growth … when the threat of death urged me to give all of myself … courage won over doubt and I felt purified." Likely reaction: do I have to die to be a traditionalist? Or, more savagely, Why aren't more traditionalists dead?

From Huff and Puff To Resolution

Climbing is not fly fishing where the joy is precious but calm. Nor is it skiing whose pleasure is pure zoom. Nor is it sailing, skydiving, golf or a host of other sports. It is more because it fulfills more deeply. It has the satisfaction of making something because unlike the fish released, the ball flying, the snow tracked, a new climb is forever. Like choreography, it can be experienced again and again in the way it was first done. For years to come, each party puts hands and feet exactly where the first did because the creation is - literally - set in stone. After, each climber goes away judging and remembering the experience. Occasionally, they are awed. Further, climbs generate a written record set with numbers, lines and, sometimes, stars. If deserving, climbs and the creation story enter guidebooks. More complete tales are published and saved in personal and organizational libraries. Climbers gather, laugh, cry, share brews and remember. Legends and lore arise and stay.