Goddamn you, Tyler Wilcutt

Tyler on something probably insanely hard. You know it’s the South cause we all boulder in jeans.

As you may or may not know, Tyler Wilcutt and I are locked into a death battle over who can throw a better rock climbing fundraiser.  Action Fund, or HomoClimbtastic?  We at HomoClimbtastic thought we had set the bar high, at least, high enough that we could rest on the laurels of drag queen Porsche Ferrari, Giant Lube Twister, “I invented the aid hook” Jamie Logan, and “I carry fresh blueberries up my trad thirteens cause I like antioxidants” Mad Sorkin.  For a year anyway.

Not so!

Tyler’s HP40 fundraiser, which used to be just a happy happy fun times dance party with Solo cups, NOW HAS A 200 FOOT SLIP N’ SLIDE.  Comprehend the length of this for a moment.  When you take 50 foot whippers, you still have time to contemplate to yourself quickly, “Am I going to die? Have I truly lived?”  Now, you might not necessarily be provoked to consider those particular questions while shit-faced and lubed up and sliding every which way into the other boulderers, including Lisa Rands, but you’ll have 200 feet to think about whatever it is.

Wheeee!

It’s the weekend of SEPTEMBER 22nd, 2012, in Steele, Alabama.  The Facebook event page is at http://www.facebook.com/events/451737894860934/  The web site is at http://slopenslide.blogspot.com/ .

Hope you can make it.

Climbing with existentialists

This post is written by Nathan Tableman–he has a blog at www.tableman.com.  Like many Homo Climbtastic attendees, he got a prestigious degree that he does not use, and works in software infrastructure offshoring or god knows what, and now primarily uses his marine zoology training to maintain his home aquarium.

The sun was setting off in the distance, the sky was orange, the air was humid, we were dripping with sweat and I was worried a 3″ inch spider and his 8 buddies would stay over there. I started to laugh a little and rightfully, Chavez, who I was belaying up a 10 something thin crack with a vicious start asked me, “What’s up? Things ok?”

Chavez

We had both made it up the 9 in the corner about an hour before after I failed to replicate his start and came up with another way to get to the shelf about 8 feet up in the air on the first move.

I replied, “yeah, this is just an amazing moment. I am incredibly happy I came, the sunset if beautiful, and the rock is amazing. I am having the time of my life, I am so glad I came to Homo Climbtastic.”

Nathan

I got a grunt in reply and the rope had a little slack. He had just pulled another move.

It was getting dark. When Chavez arrived at the anchor, we slowly setup everything needed to rap down, double checking work, moving slowly. It was the end of a long day and we both wanted to go back to camp safely. We had decided to do the climb a little alpine style in case Chavez couldn’t do the 10, plus the full exit was this crazy roof corner at 11b.

Climbing is the most physical embodiment of existential philosophy I can think of; to paraphrase Sartre, man makes his own meaning and my absolute favorite, Kierkegaard: “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

Here is your protagonist in the midst of each passing moment; with the input of the rope, the climb, the spiders, his hands, the conversation, the smell of climbing all day, the heat, the sunset…it was all far too much to take in and make comprehensive meaning. Instead he focuses on the moment, the feeling of the moment, the happiness, the excitement, the being in the life he is leading. Here on the rock. Focused. The rest, the enormous details, to be recorded using the sensitive emulsion of the mind, archived for tales to be told later and deeper meaning to be extracted, created, and refined over a lifetime.

The conversation continued as I said, “What is funny, is that I was thinking of not coming because I am that classic tech-geek-nerd-introvert who can easily spend 5 days reading and not notice anyone else.” I think Chavez replied, “Well I am glad you decided to come and not be anti-social.”

Out of mind

In retrospect, I didn’t really mean what came out of my mouth, but we were both getting hungry and it didn’t really matter at this point.

Earlier that day, before the rain, I was with Joe, Jeremy, Henry, and others at Beauty Mountain working on a 10 start when Jamie chimed in with some beta on how to handle the move and setup the rest of the climb. The conversation started, if I recall correctly, because I liked the pink toe nail polish Jamie had on. The beta was spot on and I nailed the start first try the next time I did it. Later in the trip I would find myself having a conversation out front of the bar where I asked her a million questions about crack climbing, because I had done a couple crack climbs and found myself becoming very into it. The holds and style were completely new to me and it lit up my brain.

Joe, Jeremy

I am a newish climber, my first trad lead was in March of 2012. I had top roped before outside a couple times, and about 9 months of gym climbing. Nearly all of my experience is at The Gunks, not vertical crack land. I have some alpine routes under my belt as well, up in Maine at Katahdin and Whitney-Gilman (um, I lead the Pipe Pitch!) and other routes at Cannon Mtn in NH, but again not like these successive one pitch fun cracks starting at 8 and heading upwards.

Henry

Jamie said to me, “I noticed that your crew was a set of incredibly analytical climbers. Analytical climbers love cracks and cracks love them.” She then went on to teach me some good hold techniques to try amongst other great tips and tricks. On the side I mentioned I had googled her earlier, knowing she was formerly known as Jim Logan, she is incredibly famous climber and an accomplished architect, but was more than modest when I said, “it isn’t every day a guy like me gets beta and lessons from like likes of Jim Logan!”

Nathan belaying

Earlier in the year when I thought about coming on this trip, I was nervous about the idea of not climbing at an ability level that would make it fun and throwing myself into a mass of strangers. However, as I climbed each weekend somewhere outside, anywhere outside, I found myself able to lead and follow routes that would make this possible. Moreover, I soon realized that climbers are weird people. It was like that children’s book where the bird tries to find what kind he is. I am weird. I accepted this at 6 when walking on a family friend’s farm and said friend warned me, “Do not bother desiring normal, you will never be normal. The sooner you accept this, the happier you will be.”

Hell, being gay, lesbian, trans, whatever you are, makes us all acutely aware we are different. Sometimes too often. But in the end, I thought; I like to climb. Maybe these people will be weird and like to climb like me. Worth a shot. I am going.

Jeremy, Nathan

I hope this is not shocking to anyone: Every single person I met was weird and thank goodness for that!!! The denouement; the conversation where some of us were talking about how the world is not designed for oddballs. We are all supposed to play by the rules and being gay means you opt out in some ways and that is liberating.

Walking with Joe over to Happy Hands (another crack!) and without thinking too hard, I went on up. Sun dappling the crag, and thinking to myself that trad lead 9’s are work for me when they are not cracks, let’s see about this one. I was pretty certain the crux was about 75% up where the wall got smooth and the crack opened up wider. My hands were wet and I chalked up often to keep them as sticky as I could and because I was nervous. I notice I chalk a lot when thinking about a hard move. The heat was stiffing, but I was feeling good.

I did it. Yeah, done.

Joe had to clean some of my gear that I got stuck, for which I still owe him a beer or two. Thanks Joe! Other than that it was awesome. One more crack, done…

In our own little trad world, we recognized the time and packed up to get back to camp, clean up and attend the presentations and festivities for the evening. I, along with many others, would be heading out in the morning. It was like summer camp was over and real life was waiting for us at home. I hadn’t put on real clothing, nor real shoes, all week. I had little desire to change that.

Jeremy at Cantrell’s campground

The War of Northern Aggression

For a few days in the middle of my Red River Gorge outing, I climbed with random heterosexuals.  It’s been a mixed bag.  For some, I’m a space alien, and when I say things like, “when you refill the orange juice bottles with tap water it tastes exactly like cum,” they look at me funny.

The better breeders are the ones who are a little bit weird in their own right.

My favorite may have been Judson, at Great Wall.  “I like that Texaco sticker on your helmet,” he says.  “That really tells those hippies to shut the fuck up.”

“You got it, Judson.”   Judson is from Winchester, where I ate once for my birthday at the best restaurant in town.  I had frog legs.  They taste like fishy chicken.

I think the reason we Southerners never claimed Kentucky as part of the South, aside from their picking the wrong side in the War of Northern Aggression, is that it still has too many people who act like non-Southerners, and say really non-Southerner things, like:

“I really like to visit out here to see how these people live, how simple it is.  We forget how to live simple sometimes,” as though we don’t know how to do anything besides work gas station tills and eat beef jerky while standing watch over our ill-kempt lawns.

Does the rest of America not realize how complicated our lives actually are?  Are they unaware that while they brag about the PSI of their espresso machine, we’re operating industrial scale moonshine distilleries in our basements?  Northerners get elated when they figure out how to adjust a grow lamp.  Our most poorly educated citizens can build a meth lab using the leftover parts of any pre-1998 Chevy, a plastic spoon, and a nine volt battery. You know who makes hydroponic marijuana farms in the South?  Children.

Meth causes you to go to Great Clips.

Judson: “Do you smoke?”

Me: “No.”

Judson: “I only smoke when I drink.  But I drink a lot.”

If Kentucky was entirely Judson, then we would give them readmission to the Southern estate.

But instead, they get caught up in ridiculous things that only non-southerners could get into, like grim wars over permadraws.  Judson would never get caught up in a 37 page flame war over permadraws at the Motherlode.  They are clearly in agreement that we HAVE TO DECIDE whether routes have steel permadraws or no permadraws EVER, because ZOMFG if someone puts up ALUMINUM draws and they stay there the sky will open up and flaming meteors of shit will rain down on us until we’re lit afire, trapped in some eternally burning portent of feces.  Or worse, the aesthetics of the Motherlode’s ampitheater will be upset by the permadraws; moreso, than, say, that goddamn overturned truck carapace blown up in front of it.  Which, by the way, is my favorite thing about the Motherlode, because it’s a symbol that at least somewhere out there in Kentucky lives a piece of the Southern spirit, the ultimate tenet of which is driving vehicles off cliffs at high speeds.  (Thelma and Louise, Smokey and the Bandit…)

Because in Arkansas, driving off a cliff to your death is a happy ending.

In the (actually) Southern climbing regions (e.g. Tennessee/Georgia/Alabama) where climbers climb while smoking and belayers belay while drinking, we would never cut each other’s throats over permadraws.  I debate the reasons for why we don’t fight over it.  Maybe it’s because we don’t have an internet forum.  Maybe it’s because we’re too busy rebuilding our meth labs when they blow up, or finding our family heirlooms when the house gets blown over by a tornado.

But I still wonder what happens to the northerners when they drive down 75 and discover the land where permadraws are made of webbing (heavens!) and aluminum (the horror!).  Perhaps they’ll start viewing us as some kind of very very large poor South American farming village whose only hope for economic freedom would be the tourism generated by retrobolting all of our routes.

Well, I say this to you Northerners, before you get too far down 85, 75, or too far east on 20: when the webbing gets worn, you replace it with webbing, and when the carabiner gets worn, you just stick another one on there, (unless you’re from here, in which case, you do whatever the fuck you want) or we’ll show you just how “simple” we Southerners are when it comes to expressing our anger; namely, by crafting an elaborate comeuppance; tragically interrupted when we drive off a cliff cause we’re so high on meth.   Because if you fuck with the Little River Canyon, you best look up and listen for a clutch letting out overhead.  If the sun is out, you may also look down, if you can recognize the shadow of a ’66 Thunderbird.  Your helmet is not rated for convertibles.

Sincerely,

The South.

Now how will you afford that Miguel's breakfast burrito!

Stay classy, Homo Climbtastic!

You should see them at church.

Despite doing things in consistently poor taste every year we’ve been in existence, HC has suffered the umbrage of those who are shocked (shocked!) by the latest thing we’ve done.  This is because like the red light district of Amsterdam, or Brooklyn, or Janet Jackson, we have to do something every so often to prove that we haven’t lost our edge, and that at any moment, Justin Timberlake could expose our collective titty to millions of people.

Otherwise, the umbrage takers might think their harumphing has swayed us against being a constant affront to morality and the reputation of LGBTAQ people everywhere.  And umbrage takers are like mouses who take cookies: first, they ask you not to fellate someone at the top of popular sport crag in New Zealand and write about it.  Next, they’ll be giving you shit because the hem of your dress doesn’t go down to your ankles.  (Editor: Maybe they’re just upset by the quality of your tuck job?  Ra-Ra: You duct-tape a kilbasa to your taint and let me know if it stays there.)

When encountering the homosexuals, New Zealanders respond according to a very strongly ingrained cultural heritage, which is to offer them weed. (On a side note, am I really that tall?)

Thus, every year we have to do something perverse.  So this year, I thought, I’ve got it!  LUBE WRESTLING!  (Actually, Queanh thought of it. Blame her.)

Lube wrestling offers a great many advantages.  It takes something as gender exploitative as a wet t-shirt contest and makes it exploitative in an entirely fresh way.  In no other life circumstance will you have the opportunity to upload photos of yourself greased up and shirtless in a luchadore mask to Facebook without making yourself seem like a narcisstic crazy person.  And if nothing else, it allows you to manufacture long-standing feuds to build up hype, which may or may not include pictures of me and Jonny Mo’s head photoshopped into a Street Fighter II challenge screen.

You need big hair to look good in 8-bit. I considered asking J.Elyea to put other people on the other characters, but I became concerned that it would turn into a racial/gender stereotyping shitshow. Also Chavez doesn't have as much muscle as Chun Li.

But then, I had to get serious.  You could say, I had a reality check.  As much as I liked the idea of all of our climbers getting lubed up and holding each other down in bathing suits while everyone threw dollar bills on them, after which I could have some kind of Requiem for a Dream moment when I throw the dirty money in the air, shouting, “fooled you bitches, I normally do this for free,” I had a reality check while shopping online.

Luchadore masks are fucking twenty-five dollars.

And I would need at least four of them.

So, that was that, as far as the lube wrestling was concerned.  Sure, I was fine with spending twenty bucks on WalMart lube, and I figured someone somewhere would have a deflated wading pool sitting around, but my God, the luchadore masks!  You can’t borrow those!

Thus, barring the appearance of a generous benefactor willing to pay two hundred dollars to see extraordinarily good looking rock climbers get lubed up and wrestle, I’m panning the match.  This would never be an issue in a bar in Atlanta, but this is Homo Climbtastic, and these people divide up most of their money between gasoline and dry pasta.

People suggested charging admission, but HC never charges admission.  It’s one of the fundamental tenets of the Homo Climbtastic religion.  (#37: “Thou shalt not be an HRC dinner.”)  Now I’m trying to think of alternative ice breakers with an edge.  Possibilities:

  • Make acquaintances with six people who have either committed a felony, had group sex, or acquired scabies.  Preferably with one another.
  • Homo Climbtastic crossword puzzle: “Six letters across.  Triggered Danielle’s memory loss episode.  Starts with the letter ‘O’.”
  • Fill in the blank trivia:
    •  “Menage a…. 1) Kia.  2.)  trois.  3.) Honda Accord.  4) Jeep Wrangler.”
    • “Timmy sez… 1) pull hard!  2) I don’t have any cooldowns left!  3.) both!”
  • Turn to the person next to you, and ask if you’d be more fuckable if…
    • you had an eyepatch.
    • you were friends with Whitney Houston.
    • you weren’t friends with Whitney Houston.

As you can see, this is a dire situation.  Somebody help me!

He's only pulling hard cause he burned all his cooldowns.

Registration now OPEN for the 2012 Homo Climbtastic Convention

Wanna come to the largest queer climbing event in the world, at one of the nation’s best sport climbing destinations?  It’s July 26-29, in Fayetteville, West Virginia.  BE THERE OR BE SQUARE.

STEP 1. REGISTER NOW!  LIKE NOW NOW!

Fill out the registration form.  There’s no deposit, and you can fill it out even if you’re not sure if you’re coming.  Make sure you see the confirmation page–if you don’t fill out all the required questions, it’ll take you back to the form, and the unfilled, required questions will be highlighted in red.  If we run out of space for anything… people who registered earlier win.  Even if you’re a maybe, click that link and register.

STEP 2. RESERVE YOUR SPACE AT THE CAMPGROUND… SOONISH

Book under the “Alex Rowland” reservation by calling Nancy at Cantrell’s.  Cantrell’s offers tent camping, rustic bungalows, and fancy-pants cabins.  To make a reservation call 304-574-2500 or 800-470-7238.  They’re holding space for us with no deposit, but not forever… cabins book up much earlier than tent sites.  There IS a deposit to reserve your spot at Cantrell’s.

Experience Southern sandstone and other rock-hard bodies carved by God!

Then What?

Expect to get an e-mail from me (Rowland) within a week or two.  If you don’t get one, shoot me an e-mail.

About the Accommodations

If you’re interested in a cabin, check out the page listing the options with a roof, and note that the on-site cabins are the bungalows, the Deluxe Amish Cabins, the Country Cabin, and the Barn Loft-style Cabin.

Tent camping is $8 a night, so with a 50% deposit, you’re facing the loss of $20 if you end up not making it.  So go ahead and book the damn thing if you’re camping.  Plus I’m guessing Nancy will let you upgrade to a cabin if you decide to get all fancy-pants later.

Split up equally, the bungalows will run about $12 a night, and the cabins about $25. The cabins have air conditioning.

But it’s in the South!

Damn straight!

Dagummit!

We get lots of e-mails from anxious yankees, terrified of rain, Southerners, humidity, and Burt Reynolds.  Well, we can’t promise you Burt Reynolds.  But we can promise you a lake to cool off in about ten feet from the climbing, food so good it’s escandalo, the hijinks of the Homo Climbtastic leaders and members, aaaaaaand world class sport routes (with plenty of trad routes to keep those with high ankled shoes occupied).

If you’re wondering how it is that a small town in West Virginia is so good at playing host to a queer climbing convention, well, there’s only one way to find out.

See you at the New.

Water Stone Outfitters’ Homo Climbtastic Convention Equipment Video

Maura and Craig of Water Stone Outfitters produced their very own video about Homo Climbtastic’s convention and YOUR equipment needs for sloppy wet West Virginia.  Maura introduces this year’s convention as the year of the climbing gal, so check it out, and note that she’s giving us HC members a 20% discount on helmets–you know, that thing that we insist all of you own so you don’t get your head knocked in by rocks.

Craig also takes off his pants at 4 minutes in, and as Maura notes, they’re giving prizes to the people with the best fuzzy costumes.

Get psyched for the HC convention!

Oh oh oh, and the group photo is on SUNDAY morning, July 17 2011, not Tuesday, as the video says.

Water Stone’s web site is at http://www.waterstoneoutdoors.com and their phone number is (304) 574-2425.

Craig and sock monkey

Regarding your “crag dog”

Your crag dog probably sucks.

Whenever I go climbing on the weekends, at least three times before I get to the first climb I want, I hear this “BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK” and then some random dog sniffs me and then some idiot says, “oh Twiddles!  Why are you doing that?”  Not all the dogs are named Twiddles.  But they’re all named something stupid.  “Don’t bother the nice man!  He doesn’t want to hurt you.”  This is not true. I want to shoot the dog in the face.  The most frustrating thing is that they speak to the dog in the same soothing tone they use when the dog does something they want, something they don’t want, and something irrelevant, like the dog understands English.  “Twiddles,” they say, like they were talking to their sister’s baby, “why did you pee on the carpet?  Why didn’t you lay down?  Why are you barking?  Why did you announce your candidacy for the Republican primary before doing any fund raising?”

Your dog does not understand English.  There is a reason that some owners have dogs that don’t bark at other dogs, that don’t bark at people, that lay down when told, and timely secure fund raising.

Now, a good 30% of it is that pure-breds are generally crazy, and as someone who needs to have a pure bred, you had it coming, and you probably get along better with a dog that’s as crazy as you are.  But the remaining 70%, or 100% if you have a mutt, is that, as an owner, you suck.

Here’s the great rule of dog ownership: consistently and immediately reward them for good behavior and consistently and immediately discipline them for the bad.  Is your dog doing things you don’t want it to?  Are you carrying a choke chain and a box of dog treats around?  And don’t get all whiney about the shock collar or the choking.  Both are completely usually most of the time safe.  Insert too soon David Carradine joke here.

David Carradine

Death by autoerotic asphyxiation: better than death by lung cancer, bitches!

Usually, like the awful mothers on those super-nanny shows, it’s because the owners want to be “nice” and don’t want to discipline precious Twiddles for a few weeks, but would rather have him annoy everyone, bite people, and shit in their (owner’s) bed for the next ten years until he gets heartworms and dies.  (Given their diets, I believe the children on TV also get heartworms.)  I would endure twenty crying babies before dealing with one dog barking and sniffing.  With the dog, you know that the owner’s an idiot who you then have to beware of for fear they’ll drop equipment, install aluminum permadraws, or play Maroon 5 on a boombox, all of which can cause serious physical injury under certain circumstances.  (“But the lead singer is hot” is never going to be an excuse for being a shitty musician, ever!  Ever!)

As much as I rag on them, the producer who "spotted" him probably deserves most of the blame.

You can pick up other people’s litter, ask people to turn off boomboxes, and chop routes at night, but you still get arrested for shooting dogs.  The only advantage I have in this war is that I have a glare that shouldn’t be street legal.  Just ask someone I’ve glared at.  They still haven’t gotten over it.