Fame! …and rock climbing…..

In the future, everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.

Presently, I scramble to find deeper meaning in my new found notoriety.  It began with the most noble of intentions, this humble blog, and quickly ballooned into a nebulous cloud of love, hate, climbing, and everything in between. I suppose I realized something bigger than myself was growing when a climber friend of mine told me Matt Segal was frantically trying to track me down; sending emails and texts out to his entire contact list. He was most likely wanting to thank me for sending views to his article. You’re welcome, Matt.

Before I knew it, gear started overwhelming my mail box. Like Santa’s sack, a seemingly never ending flow of letters and packages awaited me each week. I would like to thank Don McGrath, Ph. D., who was the first to believe in me by sending me a copy of his new book for climbers, The Vertical Mind.

Buy it on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t read it because if you knew me you’d know I’ve been blessed with an almost unnatural talent for controlling my mind. When I climb, I don’t worry about falling because I trust my abilities, I trust the rock, and I trust the top rope to hold my fall.

Before I knew it, ropes, back packs, jackets, shirts, quickdraws, helmets, and water bottles all kept coming. I wasn’t too sure what was happening at first. I knew becoming sponsored meant a lot of free gear, but I hadn’t received any contracts faxed over or anything. What are these companies expecting me to do with all this free gear? I literally have enough to start my own gear store now…

All the climbing magazines wanted a piece of me. Dead Point Magazine put me in their December issue.  Download/get it now!

Check out the latest issue of DPM, pages 8-9

Chris Kalous at the Enormocast has since told me that our recording may have become lost or damaged, so we’ll definitely have to schedule another show together.

Climbing, Rock and Ice, Climberism, Gripped, The Climbing ZineGóryAplinist, Outside, and somehow I even had an editor from the now dead Urban Climber (Dave Graham Magazine) contact me!

Brendan Leonard was overheard calling me total-rad.

So what do you do when fame and opportunity come knocking at your door? How do I step back and make sense of this spotlight that’s been cast upon me? We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems. I remember a few years ago the biggest name being thrown around in the climbing scene (before Adam Ondra) was David Lama. The young Austrian climber did amazing things in the sport climbing world. He had everything… youth, talent, girls. He had incredible strength in his arms and fingers, but not much strength where it mattered most (see: The Vertical Mind). Then he went out to lunch, and I don’t mean the Gluten-Free kind. Bonkers, batty, berserk… he went “Full-Ueli”.

He became an alpinist?

Is this what happens with fame? Am I destined to drink Red Bull, scratch my way up a frozen Patagonian tooth, while helicopters and Red cameras shoot me in slow motion? Will my crew leave their garbage and ropes and cans of shit behind on some pristine bivy ledge, ultimately forcing me to take the blame? It wasn’t my shit!!

Renan Ozturk, how the hell am I supposed to say no to you?!

For now… I will fight the urge to walk up any mountain. I will keep hitting the ‘junk’ button on those Linked-In requests from Hayden Kennedy and Kelly Cordes. I will stay true to you, my fans, and to the thing we all love: Climbing.

I won’t forget about you guys, even if my view from the top makes you look small.

Wes

 

Matt Segal: Pioneer or Destroyer of Routes?

Recently there was an article on the Climbing.com website by Matt Segal, called, “To Bolt, or Not to Bolt”. The article talks about a route he established in China, called Air China, 5.13+ R. Segal talks about how he wanted to establish the hardest trad route in China. Right off the bat, we see that he had a goal in his mind, and nothing was going to stop him.

Matt-Segal-Air-China-Fall-3As a route developer myself, I don’t seek out contrived lines just to fit my climbing goals. If a route ends up being easier than I thought it would be, I still take the time to clean it, and equip it in a safe way. Segal so desperately wanted this route to be considered a “traditional” route, he risked his own, and his belayers life just to try to nab the first ascent. His ego drove him to almost paying the ultimate price. In the end, the crux was so dangerous, he ended up adding a bolt, and sent the route using that bolt.

I understand the drive he felt. But there comes a point where you should check your ego at the door, and not let your pride destroy what might actually have been a great route. In the 21st century, you are IRRESPONSIBLE if you are establishing R/X routes. Period.

There was a time, where most trad routes were what we consider, R/X. This was simply because climbers in the 70’s didn’t have the gear necessary to protect the route. Bolts were terrible, and cams were not around, so many thin routes were put up with shitty hexes, and pounded in pitons. But today, we have bomber protection, 6 inch stainless steel glue-in bolts, and there’s no reason (other than selfish ego-stroking) why you should rob the community of an excellent, well protected sport route, just because you were stupid enough to risk your life and climb it using tiny off-set brass nuts, and three 000 C3’s.

Sure, the FA gets to name the route, grade it, and goes down in some guidebook or online route repository. But he/she does not own the rock, or get to dictate ethics/style. I would have no problem going to China, and bolting the shit out of Matt Segals route.

Do you agree? Let me know,

Wes.