Oakdale Climbers Festival

Ancient history now. Last month’s news cycle. For those climbers who might still be interested, you can log on to Super Topo and then search for the above. Lots of pictures and comments. Quite lively.

The weekend was focused on John Salathé, and Allen Steck, who climbed with John, spoke. Also present but not speaking was Wayne Merry who came down from Canada for the event. Wayne was Warren Harding’s doughty belayer through Warren’s long night of drilling holes on the last pitch of the Nose. At the other end of the scale was Hans Florine who I believe still holds the speed record on the Nose, as well as on the Salathé Wall. All in all, good to see old and new friends.

Apart from such news, I was struck by the apparent lack of ego among all the well-known climbers who were there. It is possible, I suppose, that they were able to prepare a face of modesty to meet the faces of the not-well-known that they would meet. But I don’t think so. The attitude was more, “Isn’t climbing fun (and sometimes exciting)”. Of course, climbers rarely appear on TV, nor are they paid high salaries. Chest bumps and high fives and fist pumps and ball spiking all serve to enforce the idea that our athletes earn their rewards. Would we think so highly of them if they just played and didn’t give us a clue that they had done something extraordinary? Even Tim Tebow’s little kneel down (not that he has had much chance to exhibit it lately) seems to me to be a form of ego, pride in his apparent self-effacement at a moment of triumph. Thank You for making me a winner. He isn’t alone in this department, but he is so sincere how could he not be a mere agent of the higher power who metes out wins and losses according to some value system beyond our ken.

Granted, I know of some climbers who strut their stuff at any opportunity (I won’t name names). The climbers I know, however, are more than likely to greet an unseemly display of ego with humorous derision. Climbing is serious business. It’s best to keep things light. Time was that if you didn’t you would become the subject of a Sheridan Anderson cartoon.

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