Towleroad (Why hello there, stranger!)

With mer perterders!

Towleroad has done blerged Water Stone (and us by association), the fame of which I plan on parlaying into a reality TV show, titled, “Gay Lawyer Who Lives With His Mom.”

Anyway, if you just know you want to support us somehow, go like HomoClimbtastic’s Facebook page and Water Stone’s Facebook page.

Non-climbers *occasionally* find our blog entertaining, when they skip the more arcane posts about climbing techniques/ethics/whatever, given our tenuous desire to stay on topic and instead make light of HIV and destigmatize stuff.  We don’t just climb!

Ok thanks.

-Rowland

Thou Shalt Not Set Up Top Ropes on Fixed Gear! (But feel free to lower off.)

Don’t do it!

The registration form this year included a trick question to identify and nail nooblets. Some of the most experienced climbers clicked it on purpose just to rattle my cage, but many more clicked it cause they didn’t know any better.  Among questions such as, “I have lead 20+ sport routes”, there was a checkbox next to the phrase, “I typically set up top-ropes through fixed/permanent gear instead of using quickdraws”.  That was a trick question, and you shouldn’t have clicked it.

One frequent element of climbing is setting up top ropes for yourself to work a route, or more commonly, for not quite as uber-strong friends.  When setting up top-ropes, you don’t run the rope directly through the o-rings at the top, but instead through your own equipment (which is in turn attached to the fixed bolts or o-rings).  At an HC event, we prefer that you do this with at least one locking quickdraw (an auto-locker is even better).  It’s much more appropriate than a pair of non-locking quickdraws for a top-rope that might go uninspected for several hours.

In any event, YOU SHALL NEVER TOP ROPE DIRECTLY THROUGH THE ANCHORS. If you don’t know what this means, you shouldn’t be setting up top-ropes, period.  Doing this at the convention places you in the category of “people who besmirch HC’s reputation”, which is a subcategory of “people who are subject to getting banned from this and future HC conventions”.

Unless local rules insist on it (e.g. Muir Valley, where the anchors are privately funded and replaced), we don’t ask anyone to rappel off routes when cleaning, unless they just really want to.  In my own opinion, the number of deaths caused by rappelling vastly eclipses the cost of replacing o-rings, and if I have to make and sell a calendar of hot shirtless climbers to fund an anchor replacement initiative to win that ethics war, by God I’ll do it.  I just see no reason to bring the unholy number of rappelling death reports into the single pitch sport climbing world because we couldn’t collectively figure out a way to make a few more stops to ACE Hardware.

In any event, toproping through the fixed gear is lazy and obnoxious, as it efficiently grinds down the rings while doing little to further your safety, and thus you shouldn’t do it outside of pressing circumstances.

The HomoClimbtastic Documentary

With perterters!

Filmmaker Brian Spiegel successfully raised over eleven thousand dollars to shoot a documentary about HomoClimbtastic, to be filmed during this year’s 2012 convention.  You can see his web site here.

I have to admit I reminisce a little bit about when the group was me and Rio in a hostel shouting “gurrrrrl!” at one another.

Oh, the good ole days.  Gurl.

Now, the blog gets about 6000 hits a month, the convention will have more than 30 volunteers at various points in its creation, and we’ve incorporated an impressive fundraiser to benefit the American Alpine Club.

I’m still a little confused as to how the hell that happened, so I’m glad someone else is looking into it.  Although if the camera ends up in the barn cabin with me and Rio, there’s still a pretty good chance for a ten minute segment of me and Rio yelling “gurl!” at each other.

In any event, that’s why there will be a camera crew present–and make sure you sign one of their waivers so you can be in the final product!  If they have to blur your face because you didn’t get a waiver to them, it’ll make it look like a depressing retreat of closet-cases, rather than people too occupied with crushing routes to get their waivers turned in.  The camera crew will have waivers with them and you can sign them at the morning announcements and the info tables.

Report: Water Stone Outdoors releases gayest advertisement ever; Ryan Scurfield’s mom “shocked, appalled” that son is still heterosexual

It was a somber day for Ryan Scurfield’s mom.

“When I first found out he was straight, I cried for days.  This video from Water Stone was a glimmer of hope, that this whole ‘girlfriend’ thing was just temporary.”

Scurfield’s mother was interviewed shortly after discovering that the advertisement from Water Stone was just a gig to help out the store’s owner, Maura Kistler, rather than a grand exit from what Ms. Scurfield called the “disturbing straight lifestyle.”

When asked how she found out, she said, “I logged in to look at his Facebook expecting him to become Facebook official with Gus. Instead, there was a status update about how he had the best girlfriend in the world. My heart shrank.  He looked so precious in that cowboy hat!”

This was just part of the reason the advertisement rocked the small Fayetteville community.  There was a public outcry and demand for justice among a large group of heterosexual women, who were found protesting in the courthouse lawn regarding the scenes including Craig Reger.

When asked why they were upset, one individual emerged from the crowd to explain.  “All this time, we thought of Craig as just that guy who worked behind the Water Stone desk and took photos with sock monkeys.  No one told us that he was packing an oversized kielbasa.  And he has a girlfriend in Europe?  There is no justice in this world!  No justice!”  The others chanted with her.  One was heard whispering, “so… does this mean that he’s Jewish?  Cause that right there looks Jewish.”  Another replied, “you can’t tell with the big ones.  I just call them mystery meat.”

Anger regarding the video has been directed toward producer Stella Mascari, who released a one-sentence statement through her publicist, which read in its entirety, “I wouldn’t have dreads if I gave a (expletive) what you thought of my art.”  She has been outside of the public sphere since the video was released, although one witness reported seeing her parading in front of Gumbo’s with a man on a leash wearing a luchadore mask.  When asked about the incident, Mascari’s publicist replied, “Stella likes crawfish.  Go (expletive) yourself.”

Still, there are signs that this community will press on, despite the hardship.  “At least,” said Scurfield’s mom, “some other (expletive) will have to pay for the wedding.”

HC Press

AAC to give us first dibs at campsite naming rights!

(This post is submitted by Lizzy Scully, one of the organizers of the HomoClimbtastic 2012 Climber Charity Auction, being held during the HomoClimbtastic convention on July 28, 7:00pm, Cantrell’s Pub, Fayetteville, West Virginia.)

The American Alpine Club recently announced that it’s giving a few lucky HomoClimbtastic bidders first dibs at naming rights for campsites at the beautiful, new climbers’ campground at the New River Gorge.

“We are offering a few initial bidders the chance to pick the campsite of their choice and to have that campsite named after them or, even better, to get to make up an appropriate name for that site,” says architect, climber, and American Alpine Club board member Jim “Jamie” Logan, one of the presenters at the event. “This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”

The settings for these campsites are just gorgeous. They’re set along the access road, across from the Community Building, and nestled into a wooded hillside against a backdrop of rhododendrons. Wouldn’t you just love to have your name in perpetuity on a plaque at the East Coast’s finest AAC campground? Yes, me me! Oooo fun!

In addition to naming rights, you’ll get the chance to bid on a bunch of sweet, donated swag from a host of great outdoor companies. Take a minute to check out our list of awesome donors below.

Hood River Coffee provides freshly roasted coffee and Mighty Leaf teas to retail and wholesale businesses, including local shops in Hood River, OR. Check out Hood River’s beans at www.hoodrivercoffeeco.com. (Mark Hudon—legendary Yosemite free climber—promises to put shirtless photos of himself climbing on the label. Woohoo!)

Evolv designs and sells U.S. made, top-of-the-line rock climbing shoes, helping climbers reach new heights since 2003. Try out Evolv gear at www.evolvsports.com

Trango has sold first-class climbing gear since 1991, including brands like Splitter Cams, Alpine Equalizer, Squid, BallNutz, RackTags, and BigBro. Visit Trango online at http://www.trango.com/

Stonewear Designs develops stylish and functional women’s active wear. The Colorado-based company’s clothes are designed to fit every body, and are all Made in the U.S.A. Visit www.stoneweardesigns.com for the latest styles.

Keith Ladzinski has been a sports and environmental portrait photographer since 1995. His work has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic Adventure, Discover Magazine, Men’s Journal, Outside Magazine, Runner’s World, and ESPN. Check out his stuff at www.ladzinski.com

Outdoor Research creates a variety of functional equipment and clothes for today’s outdoor enthusiasts. Their gear can be found at their store in Seattle, WA and online at www.outdoorresearch.com. OR also sponsors Madaleine Sorkin, so if you want to be as rad a climber (or as hot as she is), you’ll want to bid on this stuff.

Water Stone Outdoors outfits Fayetteville, WV rock climbers and adventurers with the best gear for their outdoor pursuits. Learn more about the shop and the New River Gorge area on their website www.waterstoneoutdoors.com/. We LOVE Maura and Gene. They are so supportive of HomoClimbtastic.

MountainGear.com (and their store) distributes quality active wear, gear, and footwear, while also sharing their outdoor expertise through events and classes throughout the United States. Learn more about the company and browse their products online at www.mountaingear.com. Thanks to owner Paul Fish (and his family) for being long-time supporters of the LGBTQ community.

More donors to be announced soon…

Southern Rox

This blog post is submitted by Jonathan O’Neill, the instigator to the formation of Southern Rox, the new local lgbt rock climbing club covering the southern territories of Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama.  O’Neill designs solar panels, plays ultimate frisbee, and sabotages romantic relationships by smoking.

You should have already heard this, but the South is getting a “new, preeminent” outdoor climbing club, SouthernRox. No, you’re saying it wrong.

For my blog post I wanted to give a little description of my favorite southern climbing areas and tell you why they are great. Of all the recent places I’ve been sport climbing in the south, there remains so much for me to climb that I feel like I could return to the same spots over and over again for a year and still be entertained.  Not a mild sitting on the couch watching my favorite TV show on Netflix entertained, but a Russell Crowe about to go to war entertained.

Me after my first trip to the New with Laurie, Nate and Alex. See look, ‘Mind blown!’.

So I’m really excited about being part of a group whose purpose is to get outdoors and climb in the southern area.  Living in Atlanta, Birmingham, or Chatty has the benefit of being only a short trip away from quality climbing locations.

Exhibit A: Distances to my top climbing spots: 

Climbing Location

From Atlanta

From Birmingham

From Chattanooga

Sand Rock, AL

2 hrs

1.5 hrs

1.5 hrs

Foster Falls, TN

2.5 hrs

2. 5 hrs

33 min

Leda, TN

2 hrs

2.75 hrs

20 min

New River Gorge, WV

7.5 hrs

7.5 hrs

5 hrs

Red River Gorge, KY

7 hrs

7 hrs

5 hrs

Clearly Chattanooga is the winner here, and they are really at the heart of all this and Atlanta and Birmingham are just along for the ride.

The List:

Foster Falls, TN: If a climbing spot has a swimming hole with a waterfall that you can climb and a place called the red light district, it never gets old.  The red light district btw is tucked away spot where you don’t have to worry about shocking all those nature loving librarians when a way-gay iPod goes on shuffle super loud.

The New: Any place that is home to a gay climber Mecca convention and can be reached in less than half a day gets on this list by default.  If you don’t like where the convention is located, you can complain to the management.

But I wouldn’t.

But for its real merits the New has free water soloing, miles and miles of cliff lines, great mountain biking and a super secret place I’m not going to tell you about so you don’t attract attention to it and then have it get overwhelmed by penguins. (If you don’t know what a penguin is, see the Southern Rox FAQ section about climber proficiency (see image below).  And as a note of caution, please be careful when travelling around Fayetteville, some of the boy scouts have AIDS.

Laurie and Nate in triumph after 12 miles of boy scout trails (of tears).

The Red: The highlight for me was the shopping center of sport climbing at Muir Valley, a privately owned area of 400 acres and 7 miles of cliffs. They were putting up nametags when I was there so expect to find your way around like you are looking for your favorite shampoo.

Sand Rock:  Hosts an annual RC car convention, majestic cliff line, graffiti, construction, broken beer bottles everywhere, decent bbq in town.  This is pretty much everything I dreamt Alabama would be like, so it’s cool.  The climbing is solid and it even snows there occasionally, like when we are there in a cheap Walmart tent, so I had to do this to my dog Izzy. 😦

It was below freezing that day, the rocks felt like razors and the local walmart was having a special on undersized dog jackets with redneck-fabulous inspired styling.

Leda: Well, it’s close, has easy routes and isn’t a trail of tears to get there.  Penguins are safe here, the habitat is cool, it is close to the road and not so far OTP that you lose your cell signal.  There will be none of this:

Laurie depicted as an orca whale chasing after little penguins and giving friendly reminders that SHE DID NOT JUST SET UP A 5.6 SLAB FOR HER TO CLIMB!

Why SouthernRox? (you’re still pronouncing it wrong)

Number 1: Because we live here in the south amongst all this great outdoor climbing.  Why start a climbing club to do anything else?

Number 2: Because it’s awesome to climb with other LGBTQB ppl.  The 2nd B stands for Bromance in case you were wondering.  Hey, we’re an open club.

Number 3: Because having an outdoor climbing group without Alex Rowland is like having a free hotel breakfast buffet advertised as a hot fresh breakfast but only turns out to be that crappy waffle maker and cold stale prepackaged garbage.

Number 4:  Because if you didn’t have SouthernRox, you would never have this:

FAQ

Check out our Facebook Page.  If you are ever in the dirty dirty, look us up.

Happy Climbing!

Help expand our social media dominance!

Several new Facebook fan pages have appeared on the Facebook horizon–and we hope you’ll click that “like” button on all of them, because, well, it’s how we expand our marketing reach to people who are as fun (read:crazy) and interesting (read:fucked up) as you are (read: maybe not you, if you’re banned).

First off, we have our very own Facebook page now.  Click over to it and click the like button and receive 15% off nothing, because we don’t sell anything.  But I’ll like you more, and that’s worth something!  I do update the page about the existence of the blog posts though, which will keep you apprised of this blog, which you apparently read.

Second: CRUX now has a Facekbook page.  Perhaps you’re thinking, “well I don’t live near New York.”  But this isn’t about location, this is about social media domination of the world.  In terms of using almost no time to increase the impact of all the dogged work of the LGBTQ climbing leaders, it’s a big thing to us.  So like ’em all, and hit the “unsubscribe” button if you don’t want us showing up on your wall, but Like us nonetheless.  We work hard 4 u 4 no money!  So if you’re taking advantage of the million different coordinating things we do throughout the year, hit the like button on all our pages, regardless of where you are or which club you’re involved with.  We also see/love/appreciate links on your Facebook walls, and we do reach a lot of new people that way.

Third: And I have to tout this one because of my personal connection, the South is getting a new, preeminent local climbing group: Southern Rox.

Rawr!

If you’re thinking that’s the kind of logo that could only be the result of me being high on Lunesta, that’s because it is.  Yay Lunesta!  The club is being started by Jonathan O’Neill, Susan, Laurie, me, and my brother Nate, all of whom have appeared as characters in earlier blog posts.

Southern Rox won’t kick up for real until after the convention, but we couldn’t avoid letting the cat out of the bag, so you’ll see some blog posts about it in the next few days.

Sacrilege

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with Jeff, an Atlanta lawyer.

“I have to ask–not to sound like a creepy stalker, but I looked at your grades in law school.  Why didn’t you do law review?”

I was instantly transported back to a conversation I was having years prior, while I was still in school, with an international trade lawyer.  We were sitting in his office in Geneva.  I don’t know what the ceilings were made of, but whatever they were, they looked more expensive than simply covering them in platinum.  Maybe platinum with diamonds sprayed on.  Anyway, he asked whether I was going to do law review or… there was a slight hesitation, milliseconds long, to hint at which was the lesser of the two,

“or moot court.”

“I wasn’t really planning on doing either.”

“Well, that’s fine, if you want to spend the rest of your life doing slip and fall cases.”

Lawyers don’t really pull punches.  I looked at the secretary as she walked out.  She had just delivered us hot croissants.  She looked like a model.  I was at a loss for words, so I just watched her body cascade through the doorway.

“Alex?”

“What?”  I was in my high school guidance counselor’s office.

“You only signed up for one advanced placement course.”

“Yeah, I wanted to take two cooking classes this semester.”

“Well, that’s fine, if you don’t plan on going to college.”

I wasn’t actually planning to go to college at the time.  I wanted to get a GED and go to cooking school.  I didn’t really have a chance to contemplate that–I came out of the closet, my family imploded, an in-state university seemed like the most reasonable escape, and the University of Georgia accepted me.  It was a perfectly acceptable path, though the only one, short of some less glamorous delay.  So I left Milton for Athens, with an estranged family in my wake.

I was back at the Prickly Pear, with Jeff.  “Well, it came down to a question of time.  The law review applications were something to do over the summer, and at that very same time, I wanted to start a climbing club, called Homo Climbtastic.  So I threw the law review application in the trash.  It must have weight five pounds.  Something has to give somewhere.”

“Do you regret doing that?  I know if I had had those grades, I would have jumped at the chance to be on law review.”

Nobody had ever asked me that.  It took me a minute.  In my head, I unwrote the formation of HC, and rewrote the story in which I instead joined the law review.  All of the relationships formed among all of the different people that had interacted with it came apart and joined other connections in the universe.

The most immediate shift in my reality was that without HC, I certainly wouldn’t be getting images in my inbox from Jonathan Elyea photoshopping my image into famous depictions of Jesus:

“No Laser, no!”

You’ll probably need to click the next image to zoom in and see it in all of its glory, which shows all of the people I got to know as a direct result of forming the club during that summer.  From left to right: Kelly, Jon, Rio, Todd, Rio, Rio, me, Chris, Rob, Christy, Chavez, and Laurie.

Jonathan intended to photoshop out Judas Iscariot in lieu of photoshopping in the head of an actual Judas, but instead accidentally photoshopped out the entirely innocent Thomas the Apostle.  So thanks to Jonathan’s slip in regard to da Vinci, Todd is depicted as Judas, even though Todd has no ill designs to stage a coup, much less the Facebook admin capabilities to attempt it.  As far as I know.  I’m watching you Todd!

What fascinates me about climbers, and something I’ve discussed (more eloquently) before, is the many alternate futures that stood before them. They ignore a lot of high school guidance counselors and their equivalents to become the people they are today, and ignored the priorities of the universe they were born into to create a new one.  This is the je ne sais quoi that I can’t explain about HomoClimbtastic–it’s not a climbing convention any more than Woodstock is a concert.  It’s a Saturday evening in the salon of Gertrude Stein.  If Matisse made Bear Grylls memes.

We love anyone with the audacity to rename themselves “Bear Grylls”.

Or if Picasso had a period called “High Expectations Asian Father”:

I was briefly concerned about the racial stereotypes conveyed by this meme until all of my Asian friends liked it on Facebook.

I think Christy was frustrated with the proportion of Facebook posts devoted to Bear Grylls themed-meme images. So naturally, I made a Bear Grylls meme for Christy.

When his half-eaten corpse was found next to a box of 500 unopened Clif bars and a satellite phone, it was decided that she either didn’t like Blueberry Vanilla, or thought it was the most efficient way to get him to stop talking.

And in the non-HomoClimbtastic world, I wouldn’t log in and see shit like this when I turn my computer on:

Incorporation into subsequent memes is probably the only cognizable benefit to volunteering at an HC convention.

As chance would have it, when I was living in Geneva some time later, my friend/roommate, an attorney, had a meeting with the Geneva international trade lawyer.

“It was a very awkward conversation,” he said.

I wasn’t surprised.  He was from Serbia, and Eastern Europeans are very straightforward in a way that makes Americans uncomfortable.  It had taken me a day or two to get used to it when I first met him.  “Why was it odd?”

“I told him I was from Belgrade, so all he wanted to do was show me photos of his new beach house on the Adriatic Sea.  He bought a huge beach house just to visit twice a year.  Ten bedrooms, just for his family to go for a week.  I do not understand why Americans do that.”

“We’re weird about stuff.”

“I also don’t understand why he bought a beach house there.  You couldn’t pay me to go to that beach house.  That’s the beach where the armies dumped all the chemical and radioactive waste during the wars.  That whole part of the coast is contaminated.  Everyone knows it’s not safe to swim there.”

“Did you actually tell him this?”

“Of course.”  I briefly contemplated what an Eastern European would say to someone if they were actually mad at them.  “He looked at me very strange though.  I do not know why, you do not pay very much for that property because of the contamination.  Everybody in Serbia knows those mansions are not worth anything anymore.  Everybody.  He probably got it for like ten euros or something.  But if I was a rich lawyer with only two vacations a year, I would take my family somewhere that was not toxic, you know?”

“Are you sure he knew about all of that before he bought the house?”

“Well everyone in Serbia knows.  Did you notice how beautiful the secretary was?”

“I did.”

“Everyone else is studying for their exams.  They are all very boring to me.  These classes are pass/fail.  Do you want to go into the city and get chicken and sorbet?”

“Yes.  Yes I do.”  We started walking toward the elevators.  “To answer your earlier question, about Americans–when I was a kid, I bought a lot of Legos; some of them I never played with, I just needed them there to complete the fantasy I was living in.”

“I have friends who do this.  Live in a fantasy, as you call it.  I do not tell them that they are.  They look happy to me, so I think it is ok.”