This is another guest post from Zonk. If you would like to write a guest post on any climbing related subject or share some pictures from a recent roadtrip, please contact me.
I was going to write a diatribe on the bad journalism that one often sees in climbing news. And I thought about writing another news post. I fear that the trend will be that my news posts will always be kind of late, which I guess is also an example of bad reporting. My excuse is that I am not the primary source of information anyway so it does not matter. However, those will have to wait. (That first one may never be written because it just makes my blood boil. An old geezer like myself should not stress the ticker too much.) Instead, I am going to tell a story, which starts with friends and climbing and somehow verged towards a brush with philosophy.
So I recently went to a rock climbing competition. I went more for the social aspect than anything because some of my friends were going. (Admittedly I am not very good. Otherwise maybe I would care about trying to place.) I had a calculus exam to study for, but when the prospect of this event arose, I could not resist hanging out. I swear that I did climb some problems too, although from the photographic evidence, it seems that the only thing I did was stand around. During the comp, I watched this girl TM flash a problem, which basically traverses across the wall through a dihedral. Moving between the two walls, she subtly adjusted balance, body position, and foot placement as she moved diagonally down through the dihedral. Talking to little A-chan (Yes, I know little and -chan are redundant, but she is that cute.), I told her to watch TM climb. I stated something like she climbs like a girl, not a guy. A-chan asked what I meant, and I responded that by “like a guy” I meant it was really powerful and feigned a big move with a guttural exclamation, for which she immediately understood the brutishness I was implying, while contrasting that with TM who danced up the wall.
I know these are overgeneralizations, and I think that many of the strong guy climbers do not get enough credit for their technique. But these are expressions meant to convey some idea. The phrase “like a girl” is often used in a derogatory manner, such as “throwing like a girl.” One can envision the limp arm motion and the dead duck of a fluttering ball that this invokes. In contrast, “to climb like a girl” is very much positive. And to prove to myself that it was not only I that ascribed these meanings,
The I Climb Like A Girl blog has this quotation (for which I could not find the source):
“To climb like a girl is to climb with finesse, technique, flexibility, creativity, and strength. It should appear like dancing and not look or sound like a one-armed pull up.”
And the Mill City Rock Gym cites:
“7. Climb like a girl
Use technique and finesse instead of trying to muscle up a route.”
by Jim Donini (as quoted in “Confessions of a Crack Addict” by Michael Ybarra, The Wall Street Journal; Dec 14, 2006)
In the course of this googling, I came across these links that I wanted to share. One of these is the AscenDance Project, which are walldancers literally. It is pretty cool that the principal Isabel is able to achieve “an integration of her passions for music and dance, with climbing.” For those who will be in the Bay Area, they have a pre-show from April 24-26, 2008. (They will also participate in the San Francisco International Arts Festival 2008.) If you read this and are in attendance, you should give us your impressions of the performance.
The March 2007 NY Times Play magazine had this audio slide show (produced by Justin Sablich and photos by Arno Rafael Minkkinen). Emily Harrington, Steph Davis, Lynn Hill, Beth Rodden, and Alex Puccio are featured and reflect briefly on their motivations for climbing. This seems to be an accompanying article, highlighting some of their accomplishments. Speaking of Alex, the Climbing Bum blog by Carlo Traversi has funnily chronicled the ongoing battle between Alex Puccio and Connor Griffith in Minesweeper. It sounds like after much projecting (you have to scroll down), Alex was able to best Connor’s time. Subsequently, Connor outdid her again.
I also found an article called “Climbing like a Girl: An Exemplary Adventure in Feminist Phenomenology” by Dianne Chisholm in the journal Hypatia vol. 23, no. 1 (Jan–Mar 2008). The word phenomenology scares me though so I just skimmed it briefly and put it away for later.