Friday, January 11, 2008

Climbing League - Part One

We've all seen The Big Lebowski and heard of bowling leagues, right? Well, the local gym in my area has started a climbing league, and I joined with three of my friends from my MassClimbers Yahoo climbing group (see the link to the right): "The Mad Russian" (otherwise now known as "TMR"), "Gecko" and "Red Rocks Casino" (otherwise now known as "RRC"). I'll fill in a bit more later on where these names came from, but for now, let's assume we've assembled a pretty bad-ass group of climbers. We may not be the best in the gym, but we can all hold our own on stiff 10s, 11s and easy 12s. That, and, we're pretty edgy, we get agitated with each other often, we all want the attention to be focused on ourselves, and we won't stop talking about that fact (without, of course, not actually saying it - because that would arrogant). Mess with us on an individual level and we'll rip you to shreds. Just imagine what we're like as a team (or to each other as teammates - GULP!).

But before we get into how this bowli...err...climbing league works, let's start off with an inspiring moment in bowling history (courtesy of IMDB):
The Dude: Fuckin' Quintana... that creep can roll, man.
Walter Sobchak: Yeah, but he's a pervert, Dude.
The Dude: Yeah.
Walter Sobchak: No, he's a sex offender. With a record. He served 6 months in Chino for exposing himself to an eight year old.
The Dude: Oh!
Walter Sobchak: When he moved to Hollywood he had to go door to door to tell everyone he was a pederast.
Donny: What's a... pederast, Walter?
Walter Sobchak: Shut the fuck up, Donny.

OK, so the league works based on four components: a grading handicap, weekly scores, total weekly scores over a six-week period and a throw-out of the two weakest weeks that an individual climbs over the course of the league. One gets to climb whenever one wants, decides if a route was climbed cleanly or not and does not have to be judged by anyone. In essence, it's easier than a bowling league. I guess it's more like an honest-driven golf league. Well, I think climbers are less likely to lie about climbing a route cleanly, but that's another debate.

The handicap system works as such: you choose the grade that you most often climb clean. If you choose 5.10 (and there are no differences among the letter grades - so 10d is worth the same as 10a) then you get 10 points for each 5.10 that you climbed cleanly, 5 points for each 5.9, and 15 points for each 5.11. One can add 2 points for leads that are climbed cleanly for each grade, too. Naturally, you can make the same adjustments for folks who are 5.9 climbers (i.e. - for them, a 5.9 climb is worth 10 points). As you may notice, because the letter grades don't factor into the score, harder climbers are penalized because the exponential differences between 5.10 and 5.11 versus the distance between 5.11 and 5.12. But that's OK. It's about having fun and getting everyone involved. And Involved we are.

Now, let's meet the team:
- "The Mad Russian" or "TMR": The very first member of MassClimbers (after I created it, of course) and born in southern Siberia. She's just getting back into climbing after jumping out of a plane and breaking her femur over a year ago. She was a fantastic climber before the injury, and is just getting back into climbing shape now. She has gracefully moved from 5.8s and 5.9s the past couple of months into the solid 5.10 climbing category as of last night. And climbing is just her hobby among hobbies. When she isn't climbing she's skydiving. And when she isn't skydiving, she's jetsetting to stylish parties. And when she isn't's impossible to go on.
- "Gecko": He got this name because we were joking about how he felt his arm was going to fall off after a dynamic move to a steep crimper. We both agreed that all would be OK because he'd just grow another arm (hey, I didn't say all the nicknames were great ones. So long as they stick, I'm OK). Anyway, he's an ex-boulderer who has little or no climbing experience. But hey, who the hell cares about that when you can go from 5.8 to 5.12 in a matter of three months...with a hole in the toe of his right climbing shoe. I should have called him "HGH". Probably too late for that. Just as an FYI - he was climbing 5.12 before he even learned how to lead. I'm not saying that he's stupid, but I think he doesn't realize that his rise isn't supposed to happen. Anyway, he signed up for the 5.11 category.
- "Red Rocks Casino" or "RRC": There's no running away from this nickname. When I was planning my trip to Red Rocks this past autumn I received feedback from several friends on where to stay. Most friends noted cheap hotels and casinos. "RRC" mentioned the Red Rocks Casino. He said it was the closest one can get to Red Rocks Canyon, and it was a nice place to stay. I then looked up the prices: $400 per night was the cheapest room. Yeah, that's my price range. Anyway, he's been in the group for a long time, dating back to when "Tattoo" and "JoJo" were regular members. He took a hiatus for about a year to live in California, but now he's back and climbing in the 5.10 category.
- Greg (no nickname needed, though I'm sure some people have nicknames that they've muttered under their breaths from time to time): I could probably jump into the 5.11 category, but I can't do six 5.11s in one day right now. I can get up probably three, but not six. So I'm in the 5.10 category until they move me up. As it is, I'm struggling on 5.10s lately. I've got a bum knee, a severe lack of sleep slowing me down and a cranky bloating problem. Gravity is not my friend these days.

One other note: what's to keep a 5.11 climber from climbing in the 5.10 category only to get 15 points for climbs he / she should have been climbing for 10 points? Well, nothing, at first. But the keepers of the league will be on the look out for this. If anyone is caught cheating (well, maybe cheating is too strong of a word), then they will be bumped up into the next category.

The league started this week and I think Team MassClimbers got off to a good start. "Gecko" scored six 5.11s, "TMR" scored six 5.10s and "RRC" scored four 5.10s and two 5.11s (I think). My day is on Saturday. I'm not climbing well right now, so we'll see how things go. But hey, it's all about fun right?

Jesus Quintana: You ready to be fucked, man? I see you rolled your way into the semis. Dios mio, man. Liam and me, we're gonna fuck you up.
The Dude: Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
Jesus Quintana: Let me tell you something, pendejo. You pull any of your crazy shit with us, you flash a piece out on the lanes, I'll take it away from you, stick it up your ass and pull the fucking trigger 'til it goes "click."
The Dude: Jesus.
Jesus Quintana: You said it, man. Nobody fucks with the Jesus.
Walter Sobchak: Eight-year-olds, Dude.

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