Well here you are, lost in a maze. It could be haunted and made of corn, or you might be stuck inside of a cheap plastic toy, with a tiny ball bearing ever in pursuit. It’s none of my business. Eventually you will happen upon a dead end (a legitimate one, not a wall… that seems to have features on it…), where the only way out is to turn around. Except, sometimes it isn’t that simple. Sometimes, there is a family of bears waiting for you to turn around, ready to savor your flesh while you call your mom and tell her you’re dying. Sometimes, you turn around only to discover yourself in superposition, already having turned around, finding yourself eating a Schrodinger’s catdog. Sometimes, you turn around and see yourself hunched over in a terrible superposition, not even knowing which end of the Schrodinger’s catdog you are supposed to eat first.
One truth remains steadfast: In only the best boulder problems, and the worst ways to die, feet-first is the way to go.
The other day at the boulders, some guy was slowly putting together a sequence for a problem. He gave it a go, got to his high point, and fell, approximately 3 feet to the ground. Frustrated, he said, “Ugh, I just did a million moves to get 3 feet off the ground!” Well, yeah! Bouldering is about figuring out how to go nowhere with the most style (and drinking, it’s about drinking). The weirder one can get in a shorter amount of time, the more fun there is to have! The way I see it, there are two kinds of boulderers: Ones that are attracted to beautiful pieces of rock, and ones that are attracted to weird body movement. The former look for aesthetic lines, majestic boulders, proud climbs. The latter feel most alive when thrashing around on lowball expeditions in the dirt, discovering double kneebars, pioneering lay down starts, fitting their whole body through threaders, and topping out feet-first. You can get all catdog about this, and certainly, every concept in the scope of human awareness exists on some sort of spectrum, but one time I heard the sentence, “It’s just such a pure line, bro,” and then I vomited. Doesn’t the word aesthetic kind of make you nauseous? No? Just me? That’s ok. Variety is the spice of life. And spirituality is the sweet-smelling hangover shit of life. HEY THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING TO BE HERE WITH ME
In Bishop, there is a hideous mud pile of a boulder, and on it, a climb called Captain Hook. It is short, approximately three moves from beginning to end, about 7 feet tall. It barely tops out, you just end up on a level of what seems like dried mud under the cliff band, and the easiest downclimb is to turn around and jump off the top. Not majestic. The fact that this climb was given a name and published in a book is a testament to the potency of human imagination. I love this problem. The way I have to do it involves a dyno, a lot of core tension, and a foot-first finish, so basically it is the Holy Grail of Worthwhile Activities.
Last year while I was injured, there was a day when I watched everyone climb Captain Hook. Up until that point, I had maintained a good attitude about my injury*, and was just enjoying being in my favorite place with my friends. While I was watching them work on it, I let myself get too absorbed, and the darkness fell over me. I knew how to do this problem, I knew I could do it, and I wanted nothing more than to jam my stupid fingers into those sharp pockets and walk up that boulder. I was no longer having fun vicariously through my friends, I was now experiencing a painful jealousy. Jealousy is gross. Nobody wants to see the snarling sourpuss I become in these situations. I feel like a weak, selfish, whiny asshole when I experience those kinds of ugly emotions. Shit, the inescapable truth is that I just am that asshole sometimes. Everyone writes these uplifting posts about being injured, but those aren’t for injured people, those are for everyone else. When I look for injury posts, I want to see that same darkness in someone else.
As I imagined might happen, after the brief stint where I managed to cram all these sweet sends in, I injured myself again. On a climb not too far from Captain Hook, I was crimping too hard, and heard the ominous *CRACK* *POP* of my right ring finger pulleys exploding. It was so loud that everyone thought I broke the hold. So now, at this, The End of Days, I just roll around pathetically on the floor, loudly crashing into appliances, dumping all of my money into the sewer like one of those quarter pusher arcade games, all the while holding my finger towards the sky, screaming, “WHY ME WHYYYYY” waiting for death to come and take me, and finally put an end to my suffering.
*This statement might be debatable.