crag talky talky

15 08 2008

exterior.  woods.  day.  two rockclimbers waxing all metaphysical-like:

“dude, he leads 11 trad.”

“unh uh”



“i know.  right?  burly”.

 this snippet of conversational gold was but an excerpt of a much longer dialogue between two chaps speaking loudly in the red river gorge. surprisingly they went on to discuss several other amazing things while they sussed out the beta for their “FA” of a climb put up in the mid 90’s: having fun at Miguel’s despite NOT being drunk, how strong they are going to be in the fall, and how easy the route they were flailing on would be if they were both fresh (a point they continued to hammer home).  

while listening to these brahs sort out the hectic mind-clutter of the average rockclimber, i considered my own crag talky talky.  surely, i thought, my cliffline discourse must be a few notches above a pair of climbers who don’t even have their terminology right, right?  i mean, i know all the correct terms for domestic climbing adventures, AND i also got my game straight for going overseas to shout mindless motivational bits at people (a muerte, allez, etc..).  

but despite my uber-haut international vocab, when i stopped to tally my day of talking, i found that it wasn’t terribly extraordinary.  so far that day i had talked about how my finger hurt, how bad that sucked, how nice it was outside, how bad easy slab climbs sucks, how i was going to crush X and Y routes, how i couldn’t wait to go bouldering, etc..  omfg.  ordinary.    

later that day, i sat around at miguel’s and listened to the steady hum of rockclimbing banter while i contemplated the lackluster content of the typical (mine included) crag-side conversation.  and that’s when it hit me: rockclimbing is not rocket science.  while some moments spent climbing can be rather profound i think, the act itself doesn’t translate into terribly meaningful speech acts.  in fact, they tend towards self-reference (commonly known as spray).  aside from a “what climbing means to me” rant, crag talky talky seems to walk the line between the following types:

  • what they did: also known as spray.    
  • what they plan to do: pre-spray.  normally a lot more stout than regular spray.  2-3 letter grades, in fact. 
  • how sick it is: a side-entry into spray and/or pre-spray.  by discussing how “sick it is” one can open up the discussion about how sick they were when they climbered it, and/or how sick they will be when they finally climber it.   
  • how sick it will be: see above
  • training ideas: this is actually somewhat constructive.  rather than simply stroking the future ego, discussing training actually places some labour between the now and the then.  also works as a great segue into pre-spray.  
  • beta: you love it or you hate it.  either way, i don’t need to explain it.  
  • shit talking: like spray, but focuses on beating someone down to lift yourself up rather than just lifting yourself.  
  • how strong so and so is: great way to brave and humblefy your spray.  by noting how strong X is, you may draw comparisons to yourself.  cha-ching!  this could also simply be hero-worshipesque chatter.  you know, because it’s important everyone knows that YOU know who is important in the world of the rockclimbings.

this blog does not support mindless crag chatter.  and just so you know… we are banning it.  if you want to talk to us at the crag, prepare for the extraordinary; you’ll find our chatter level somewhere between a reading group and graduate school seminar.

talking about climbing is over… (except in blog format, at bars, in my car, in my garage, and on the phone). 





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