Friday, 29 November 2013

He who fell to earth ........A Climber's tale

In a time long ago, during the reign of Thatcher- the she-man- there lived a tribe of men whose sole purpose was to climb rocks. In this time, known in legend as The Golden Age, a being of such superior qualities and prowess existed and was known to all simply as Him. Brought forth from Gaia herself, Him understood the essence of climbing and practiced the fine art of abseiling, spreading doubt, using innuendo and creating naughty names. His hands were never idle and when not invoking forearm endurance, he strove to create masterpieces on rock that set him apart from his brother men. And despite much interest from would be suitors, he bore no mark of the corporate Devil; nay branded cloth did swathe him.  For he was no clown, his track record was formidable. One only had to look to the North Wall of the great sea kingdom, where a mixture of Him, spunk, metal and abseil had given birth to truly extraordinary things.

Abseiling down one of the great mountain kingdoms the Rock said unto Him: “Oh thee of great greatness, penetrate me with thy channel of steel and I shall give thee a climb of great significance and a grade to match.  For thou art of the true spirit and knoweth I hate top roping, but abseiling nay tis the proudest of arts”

He did as the rock told him and through earth, fire, and much cursing at his disciple Dave, Margin was born.  And indeed Margin was a pristine manifestation of his mind for all to see,  but few paid much attention. Bells did peel in triumph, but nobody except Him could hear them. Although, one mortal, fond of high places and chapattis, was party to the occasion and looked down upon the scene and knew the world would never be the same again.

Although the rock had given him Margin and big numbers of such cosmic significance as E7 and E8 no less, and although Him climbed not for big numbers, adoration or the devil, but for peace, nature,and divine worship, he was un-sated. His eyes scanned his vast Black Kingdom and the expanses of rock yielded a vision of such divine beauty he began to cry. Only He in his greatness could see this and behold the central challenge of the world lay itself there naked before him; prostrate and beckoning.  So, after much worship by abseil inspection, wire brushing and many prayers, Him heard the voice from the rock say:

“Give me a go and I will yield to you the greatest prizes. And, if Andy your publicist, abseils  to the right, he will capture some lovely pictures of you erect in all your lycra glory amongst my folds”  Bravely he set off onto the well cleaned and inspected wall. Pulling above the overlap he climbed to halfway up the climb, where he encountered the first hard moves. At this point, he realised that the relationship he had with the rock was at best tenuous and was not wholly formed.  As fear crept into his veins he heard laughter and a voice that at first was unfamiliar to him. But then he realised its source; it was not the divine rock speaking, but the Dark One and the darkness said unto him;
 “Thy routes to the North in the Great Sea Kingdom are considerably easier than this. You have no pink Anasazi’s and tis nothing like your training board in Nant. My soon to be son, you are in way over your head. Enjoy the ride…ha, ha, ha”

Him felt much terror as the friction did fail him, his intimacy with the rock ceased and he took flight. Thankfully, he came to a halt before the Netherworld engulfed him. He was alive and the only mortal to test that fall. He breathed deeply and savoured the moment and thought that he alone had experienced the greatest spiritual journey known to mankind. Returning to the Black Kingdom soon after his near end, he marked his monumental high point with a metal ‘flag’ and painted a tormented scene on the rock in remembrance of his super human effort.

Alas, the times they were a changing and a brave and extremely bouncy dwarf came forth. The Dwarf embraced techniques beyond normal abseil, but which were logically an extension thereof. Having rehearsed and memorized the route to be, the Dwarf set off up the prize face and succeeded where Him had failed.  By climbing the tormenting wall the Dwarf established the first definitive E9 and popularized the cult of the headpoint. This all greatly maddened Him and caused him to utter: “ Doth the dwarf not knoweth that checking moves by abseil is noble and braver than the dark arts he practises?”

What ensued became entrenched in folklore and from that day forth Him disliked much about the emerging fashions and practises in climbing. In particularly he abhorred climbers of short stature and questionable upbringing, and he set a trap in an attempt to impale the Dwarf and his followers at the base of a reachy and dangerous route on a slab nearby in the fiefdom of Mordor. But the Dwarf took it all in his stride and went on to establish many more phenomenal climbs of great beauty.

It came to pass that Him did leave these fair shores destined for crusades anew in a land far away. For many years he did wander, spreading the gospel of abseil and naughty names. But, he grew home sick and did return to take stock of his homeland kingdom and to promote his writings. Alas, the supreme being looked down upon modern British climbing and sighed in despair. Much badness had transpired during his absence; there were women climbing, tribes who only bouldered, open competitions, people being paid to wear the marks of the devil, outdoor centres promoting climbing, evil clip sticks, Britain’s Got Talent and designer Patagonia.

His eye rove and found ill everywhere. Him looked upon the modern stage extremely ill contented for these women folk, with exposed flesh in climbing magazines knew little of his dangerous routes. How disrespectful that they warm up on his hardest boulder problems?  Do they not know how much he had trained to bring them forth? Looking through his Samsung Nexus smart phone Him smote and wrote his thoughts on competitions as if waging a Holy war.

Flicking through a climbing magazine he came across an article that mentioned some of his routes from the Golden Age, and although not driven by grades and difficulty but by divine love and was angered that they didn’t mention how significant he was in establishing the first E7 and E8. Did they not realize of the greatness of his achievements? All were abseil inspected, but they still involved a huge amount of spunk and soul? And to top it all, the great prize that had escaped him, had just been climbed by three lads albeit using very flawed means.

His anger was all consuming and his response was swift: “Blow up DMM for encouraging such behaviour, despite the fact that they are a good natured small company employing friendly locals, have a low carbon footprint and make quality products”. Then again, he thought, it would be a bit of a shame to also blow up the photographer who worked at DMM, given that it was he who took the photographs of Him abseiled into place on his routes to get good pictures to help spread the word about his new book. Just in press and available from a good book store near you. That’s if you can manage to find one that is still in business.

Him sighed, declared Holy Jihad on contemporary climbing and proclaimed that all was lost for the Golden Age was a fading memory. But then a flash of divine light struck and a saviour stepped forth. It was no other than the brave knight Pitchfork. Previously, Him had singled Pitchfork out as a possible disciple and was hoping to use Pitchfork to help spread the gospel. But Pitchfork had grown uneasy about Him’s views and how they might upset advertisers, disrupt revenue and offend female readers. Thus, ensued an electronic battle between Him and Pitchfork consisting of a million emails combined with a social networking shit storm that ended something like this:

Him... “Thy magazine is brazen, bland and reeks of the Daily Mail....”

Pitchfork... “Thou knoweth not of competitions, publishing, nor even of fine English. Thou reminduth me of Ackmed”

So it came to pass that Him fondly remembered Lord Dougloss, Lady Kant and OTE. And he conveniently forgot about just how extremely lucky he had been to have such amazing opportunities during the Golden age. As for the folk who practice and love climbing today, they smiled from the warmth of their designer fleeces and sort comfort in the fact that Him was now just an old man from a time long ago. Ignorant to what climbing is about today. This and the fact that he was from Yorkshire so should have never been trusted in the first place.

Caff and The Cosmic Moondog:2013
Cragrat Image:JA