Thursday, November 08, 2018

for those about to rock

I can't quite remember what got me into watching rock-climbing videos on YouTube - I suspect I might have followed a few links after investigating the climbing wall facilities at Cwmbran Leisure Centre. Nia expressed an interest while we were scrambling around on the softplay area there recently and since a) I've never tried it and wouldn't mind having a go and b) she is a creature of River Tam-like grace and agility (though with less killing, hopefully) and I expect she'd be really good at it, I made a mental note to give it a go. Obviously that hasn't resulted in me actually doing anything about it, but all in good time.

Anyway, I ended up watching a few climbing videos, which are fascinating in their own way. One of the ways in which they're interesting is to contrast the activity involved with the sort of stuff I like doing on mountains and to envisage where the dividing line is between one and the other. On the one hand I have absolutely no interest in roped-up sport climbing, still less the sort of free-soloing that people like Alex Honnold do, which seems literally insane to me; on the other hand there is a point where the hands-and-feet scrambling I like, sometimes up quite gnarly semi-vertical rocks, such as those between the Càrn Mòr Dearg arête and the summit of Ben Nevis, or the upper reaches of the Black Cuillin on the Isle of Skye, comes somewhere near to meeting up with the easy end of what you might start to call rock climbing. On the other other hand, at least Alex Honnold's ascent of El Capitan, bonkers as it may have been, was a venture with a specific real-world objective, that is to say the summit of the mountain; the really esoteric sport-climbing stuff that people like Adam Ondra do, as jaw-dropping as it is as a feat of athleticism, has no real-world "point" to it other than as a series of gymnastic moves that have to be strung together without falling off the rock.

Anyway, on a less serious note, there is a whole lexicon of climbing jargon which is largely impenetrable to the uninitiated. Take a look at this headline and see what springs to mind, for instance:

This is not, as you might imagine, some weird postal drug deal involving an Italian Jason Statham-alike, still less some weird sexual thing, but instead an article from a climbing website describing British climber Hazel Findlay's ascent of a tricky climbing route in Italy. The word "send", in particular, in this context is a shortened form of "ascend", and just means a successful climb of a route without falling off at any point. Past participle generally seems to be "sent" rather than "sended".

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