Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Canadian Sport Climbing

Yesterday I learned a few things about being a sport climber in Canada. That's what I am right now in terms of climbing; I go clip bolts. And I'm totally into it. My tendons are creaking, my feet are completely jacked from stuffing them into frozen shoes and my fingertips are raw like pounded beef. In Red Rocks or some other areas I can climb up to ten decently hard routes every other day and still have some skin, but Rockies limestone makes my skin feel pretty much like it did after I accidentally ran my fingers instead of a ski through the base grinder I worked with during college. But I have no complaints, it's right where I want to be. Sport climbing in Canada is mega, especially now that we have great fall temps. There were at least one or two hours this summer where it was almost too warm to climb, thank god those days are behind us. We're in the sending season now!

A friend at the crag yesterday suggested we write an article about being a sport climber in Canada, but it's more fun to blog about it 'cause, well, I can write whatever I want. Here is a list of things the crew at Acephale came up with yesterday:

You know you're a Canadian sport climber when:

1. The current temperature is zero and the forecast high is 12, but you still head to a high, windswept north-facing cliff anyhow 'cause that's where your project is, and conditions will be "perfect!"

2. You smell like a hippie tree planter despite living in an apartment. And you would rather breathe smoke while climbing than freeze while resting.

3. You heat small rocks near the fire to put in your chalkbag, and are happy to trade the weight for the warmth.

4. You change the metric units on the forecast into imperial units 'cause a high of "50" sounds so much better than "10." And -2C is depressing, but how bad can "28" be? Might even be too warm!

5. You scrape frost from the car in the morning but are excited when the car seat is slightly heated from the sun. Never mind that you're going someplace that never sees sun, and is 1500 feet higher than your car.

6. Even though the overnight low was -3 and the forecast high is 10 you still go to the shady crag 'cause you're saving the sunny crags, "Until it gets really cold."

7. You suddenly realize that the temps are really warm compared to what you normally mixed climb in, and this convoluted reasoning somehow cheers you up.

8. You break a sweat on a route despite the near-freezing temps and then seriously complain about the "humidity."

9. You're thankful that the wet pocket on your project is just wet; you were worried on the hike up that there would be ice in it, which is harder to get rid of.

10. You take the fact that most of the snow on the sunny approach has melted off as somehow indicative that conditions are "improving."

10. You ponder heading south to Rifle or someplace, but don't want to miss the "crisp fall conditions!" at home.

11. You rip a huge flapper off your finger but keep climbing to the top of the pitch despite leaving a trail of blood like a wounded rabbit. It just doesn't matter 'cause your hands are numb anyhow, and the rock is cold enough to act as an antiseptic.

12. You seriously eye the "climbing cut" of a huge insulated jacket.

13. Bacon, eggs, steak, beer and bowls of pasta bigger than your head are absolutely part of a high-performance sport climbing diet. You'll need the calories to stay warm.

14. You confuse the gender of other climbers at the crag due to all the clothing, then wonder if you're gay.

15. You breathe in and out of your climbing shoes to warm them up before putting them on. This is something you would ordinarily only do after losing a bet.

16. The most dangerous part of the day is gathering dead wood for the fire.

17. "Warming up" takes most of the day, but "cooling down" is taken care of on the lower off the route.

18. You don't want to go mountain biking or hiking 'cause it will be too cold, but climbing seems like a good idea.

And, despite nothing in the forecast that indicates pleasurable temps or even good weather in the foreseeable future, you've still got plans to go climbing every chance you can for the next two weeks. And will go.

Thanks to the Acephale crew for a fun afternoon, let's do it again Thursday. The forecast looks pretty good, a high of 50! It'll be tropical, we might want to go early to beat the heat.