I recently had the wonderful opportunity to NOT attend a speaking event by Alex Megos, and just the thought of this genetic mutant sauntering up 5.15 has got me in a vitriolic kind of mood. I was drawn to climbing for the adventure of it, the splendor of the mountains, the feral capriciousness of nature. It is a shame to see what climbing has become – dumbed down, domestic, sanitized, only slightly more hair-raising than a game of baseball. How sad that the climbing media and hordes of climbing groupies swoon to hear whisper of the next magnificent onsight of some cataclysmic grade of bolt clipping. How disappointing that such news overshadows the much more inspiring and heroic tales of average climbers who have risen like Lazarus from some debilitating injury to climb 5.10, or who have conquered a physical or mental handicap to excel at this punishing sport, or who have pushed the limits of hard, frightening, bold climbing where the ability to crank a one finger pull-up ranks far below the ability to keep one’s head screwed on tightly in the face of impending catastrophe. The people I admire in the climbing world are the folks who have had to work the hardest, regardless of grade. Nobody is born to climb an offwidth – the Wide Boys were not endowed with any superhero skills; raw determination, a penchant for suffering and mind-numbing training propelled them up Century Crack. I admire Glenn Shaw, the disabled British adventurer who scaled Everest. I admire Sean O’Neill, who lost both his legs in an accident and then returned to climb El Cap. I admire guys like Jon Walsh, Hazel Findlay, and Marc Leclerc, who consistently push the limits of bold alpinism – none of those one-finger pull-ups in the alpine! And I admire my Asian buddy who, despite being chubby and having the opposite of a good climbing physique, impressed Nina Caprez with his ability to climb 5.12 and manages to solo stuff that I would not even consider climbing ropeless. I wish I was one-tenth as bold as some of these guys (and girls). The fact that some charmed superstar won the genetic lottery for tendon strength should not earn them any hearty approbation. If you’re turned on by genetic mutants, go find a two-headed dog. It needs your love more than Megos.
Heard Enough About Them Mutants!