Thursday, June 04, 2009


Booty, and not the junk in the trunk kind.

I spent a lot of my early climbing years on a continual quest for "booty" of all kinds (both the climbing and not climbing kind, but focusing on the climbing here). Most of my early racks were made up of carabiners, nuts, cams and other stuff that I'd found or worked for up to a day to extract. I learned from two master booty retrievers (Fitz and Dave)--Fitz in particular had mad skills including special little socket wrenches and shims for popping stuck cams out. To this day I get a thrill out of extracting some perma-fixed piece off a crack, even though I likely already have ten of the exact same sized piece in various stages of rusting decay. It's just the idea of getting something for free...

This all came to mind as I read this post on Supertopo from Tradmanclimbs:

When I first started climbing back in the early eightys I was taught the booty game. It was supposed to be fun and honorable. the rules went something like this. 

#1 Any gear that you lose due to incompetence, getting spanked, fear, lack of skill , retrete, etc. becomes booty the moment that you give up attempts to recover said gear. The exception would be if you let it be known that were returning the next day at first light to resume recovery attempt. Once you give up on recovery attempts it is in fact BOOTY;) 

#2 Gear left in the parking lot is lost and found, NOT booty. 

3# Any gear left in the process of a rescue is NOT booty and shall be returned to the rightfull owners or next of kin. 

#4 Finders of booty may offer to return booty to the spanked party but you will lose face if you accept the offer. 

#5 it is extremly poor form to ask for lost booty to be returned to you. If the finders offer and you refuse the offer and they offer again then you may acept the return of the booty but you will still lose face and owe them a debt of honor. This debt may be eased but not completly erased by a gift of beer. (You and they will know that you are their bitch) It is best to suck it up and just say, hey, thanks for offering but you guys earned it. 

The booty game is supposed to be fun and a way for strong poor climbers to build their rack at the expense of rich weak climbers. As soon as someone gets hurt it is not fun anymore so everyone should pitch in, help out and try to get everyones gear back at the end of the day. 

The best form is to solo up to snag the booty gear or lead up but rapping in is acceptable provideing that all recovery attemts by the loseing party have been exausted. 

I am sure that its different by region but that is how we felt about booty in the north east. 

Supertopo is full of self-righteous posing by has-beens, wanna-bees, desk jockeys and poseurs (I include myself in all of that), but occasionally a good gem such as the above sneaks through the usual commentary on republicans, guns, abortion, religion or the ever-popular 1,000-post bolting discussion. Worth checking out. Thanks to whomever tradmanclimbs is for that post, yes. I still keep a map in my head of where to retrieve some kind booty...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Wheels: Best Invention EVER!

In the last 72 hours I've had a lot of fun with wheels. More fun with wheels than I ever thought possible...

First off, I was just out in Vancouver to do a show for the Arc'teryx sales meeting. The show went well enough considering it was four p.m. on an absolutely stellar day and I was the only thing standing between the reps and freedom! Great to catch up with some old friends too. Anyhow, immediately after the show a plan developed to go do a classic North Shore mountain bike ride. One of those take the car to the top and rip it down rides Vancouver is famous for (I think it was called CBC or something for those who know the area). Arc. had located some hefty but not insanely huge mountain bikes for the outing, and soon we were off. Or not--it turned into a cluster for a couple of hours until the more HDD types eventually lost it and we went blasting off into the woods.

I've been a recreational mountain biker for a lot of my life, and sorta thought I knew how to ride. I can bunny hop curbs, and have the scars to prove that I've spent time on the trails. But I've never ridden a full-suspension bike with six inches of travel or more front and rear, big tires, full-face helmet, etc. And I've never even seen a trail like the one in the Vancouver woods, much less ridden anything so totally insanely fun. It was like a legion of gnomes had spent entire lifetimes in the woods building with rocks, trees, and magic. It was a sort of giant Gerbil maze (remember those things?) for humans, all put together with the same painstaking care that I've seen in centuries-old German cobblestone roads. The quantity of work is just truly incredible. Put a big, full-suspension bike on that kind of terrain and it's just mind-blowing what you can ride down. I was giggling within 50 feet, laughing within 100 and screaming like a mental patient  in the throes of a full-fledged hysterical fit within five minutes. And it only got better.

A lot of the fun is in the trail's construction--there aren't all that many surprise obstacles to take you out, unlike on more natural trails. The trail is built to be ridden--you have to fall to fail. But the trail is also hard; skinny logs a meter or more above the ground that you have to link up to other logs, all kinds of little ladder systems in the air, just so much fun! It took every thing I knew about riding to keep moving, and I had to unlearn a lot too--the downhill bikes are really laid back, so you can ride much steeper stuff without going over the bars. I kept hitting the brakes and looking down some drop that I probably couldn't walk up, and then just rolling off... It was full-on, a lot of  "I'm gonna die!!!" moments every few seconds, stellar. And that was before we came to the jumps.

I used to really like jumping my BMX bike, but mountain bikes weren't tough enough to really huck on so I gave up on that program 25 years ago. Sure, little hops, but not straight off six-foot drops--that would break the bike and me for sure--I've broken enough rims to know that... Then I saw our fearless leader huck it, and it was game on. I haven't had so much fun in years. I've never ridden off anything higher than a couple of feet; six feet looked like a pitch of climbing to me, then you huck it and it's just so nice. I just found a brand new drug...

The only problem is now I need a new bike! And I'm maybe going to have to move to Vancouver. A sunny day there is truly fantastic, a work of art. If the weather were just a little better in winter I'd move there, but I can't handle the swamp aspect of things in winter. But the biking sure is good, maybe...

Also hit the Grouse Grind with some free time, and a quick bouldering session too. I'm pretty sure you could ride down most of the Grind is all I've got to say--my mind sure has been expanded.

Hit the Red Bull X-Fighters on Saturday night in Calgary. This is freestyle motocross competition, meaning Red Bull built a bunch of insane jumps in the bottom of a big stadium and invited the best freestyle motorcycle guys in  the world to come session.  Whoever does the raddest stuff in a minute and a half or so wins. I've seen a lot of rad stuff over the years--BASE hucking, kayaking, surfing, climbing, but nothing comes close to what these nut cases can do on a motorcycle. There's a ton of video out there of the X Fighters, check it out. I'm really glad I didn't find out about this sport when I was younger, I would have been right into it. Yeah, moto X isn't the cleanest sport environmentally, but damn is it cool to see someone hanging by their knees from their handlebars 50 feet above the ground while a stadium full of people goes off. A friend said moto X is the most accessible action sport going to the general public, and I agree. Climbing 5.10 or 5.14 all kinda looks the same to the public, but a backflip 50 feet in the air without hanging onto the handlebars? Yeah, that's harder than a straight jump... 

So here's to wheels: Best invention ever!