On the good days, it’s as easy as selling water in the Sahara but on the bad, it’s the desert’s wasted inferno. It begins with a simple phone call. There is small talk and a little chat as courtesy goes a long way in pushing the teetering over the edge. Still brevity is crucial as many climbers don’t actually climb that often, they have girlfriends, school, or their dogs need to be wash, and a partner to go to the local crag is dependent on the quantity of calls, not quality.
I identify myself upon calling, despite the frequent use of caller id. It’s a good icebreaker, beginning the conversation with the recipient sighing and chuckling, -“I know it’s you James.”- A canned joke is then inserted. -“Oh, well I wasn’t sure it was me.”- The joke often falls flat, still I press forward asking them if they’ve quit their job, failed out of school, or broken many hearts.
Work is a climber’s nightmare but in a sport filled injuries, many masochistic athletes love it. Continuously saving for a huge expedition, which becomes shorter in duration and closer to home as the date closes, many don’t have time to go climbing.
With finals in session, many climbers are busy hitting the books with unheard of fever and studying becomes an excuse to not go climbing. Four years of college ride on their one afternoon of playing Tetris and staring at their History of Television textbook. Obviously, none of them know that it’s never too late to fail.
Significant others are another was to dodge the climbing commitment. The ol’ ball and chain is keeping them grounded and they’ve been whipped into submission. Ignorance makes many believe that the cold caress of granite is second to the blissful as touch of their lover.
The other excuses I’ve heard range everywhere from Star Trek marathons to funerals, neither of which can be missed. Spock’s deadpan wit when Captain Kirk encounters the trouble with tribbles simply can’t be skipped and tossing dirt on their mother’s dead carcass is a must.
However, if there is the slightest waver in previous commitments, I begin my verbal striptease.
The loose and dangerous rock around Pinnacles is exciting and adventurous. The sand paper slopers of Castle Rock build excellent calluses and the horrendous off widths in Yosemite don’t gnaw you up and spit you out but rather teach you Buddhist lessons in patience and humility.
There are two options if painting a picture of pristine golden granite and perfect arcing cracks don’t work. The first option includes psychological warfare. Instilling a competitive nature works well. Cedar Wright has done the route. -You haven’t? - Insert a mild -hmm- followed by a long pause. -Well how about this weekend? - Reminding them of their New Years resolutions to get strong works. If they go to Jailhouse this weekend, they won’t need the concrete shoes because they’ll stop being so light.
The second option works ninety eight percent of the time but has its flaws. A pair of tweezers and scissors are needed. First a hole must be cut in the pocket of one’s pants or shorts and then the tweezers should be inserted into the hole and one’s genitals must be stretched into paper thinness. This will undoubtedly produce tears and when the person on the other line hears the sobs and cries of pain they will immediately agree to go just to stop the rabbit like screams.