Saturday, June 21, 2008


I'm in Boulder, Colorado. Just mention the name and most people have an idea of the place and the societal meaning. Hippies, athletes, the University, lots of tech, and of course the odd bit of climbing. No, make that a whole lot of climbing and even more climbers. Boulder is one of the world centres for climbers, right up there with Yosemite or Sheffield; the number of climbers here is just insane compared to any other place in North America, and maybe the world. The variety of climbers is also astounding; trad, seven bumpers, sport, boulderers, ethical satirists, ethical hard-liners, poets and of course an unlimited supply of posers, which, come to think of it, covers pretty much all of us who call ourselves climbers. But the climbers are relatively tame in their posing compared to some of the other athlete groups in Boulder. The cyclists are the most obvious; is it really necessary to walk around the mall in a Lycra outfit with your cleated cycling shoes on? I had to buy a new battery for my computer the other day and was surrounded by the click-click of cleats in the computer shop. My chalked hands couldn't compete.

It's hot here, which for me is like Kryptonite to my climbing. So I've been going to the gym and jumping in the river in my boat, and getting little morning boulder sessions on before the temperature dial goes to "pasty white guy can't hang onto a pull-up bar anymore." I have spent hundres of hours in the gyms of Boulder, and for me it's like going back to an old local crag. The Spot has savage bouldering, and the Boulder Rock Club still has the best route-setting of any gym I've ever climbed in (Thanks Chris). What amazed me were how many of the same people I used to train with were still in the gym. We're all ten years older, but it was great to see so many of the old faces pulling harder than ever and loving it. Boulder has a lot of "lifers,' my favorite kind of climber because they will be pulling until they simply can't reach the holds anymore. That's what it's all about.

Stay cool.

One Truth: Skin is temporary, climbing is forever.