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.

Women in HC

Do the Job He Left Behind WW2 poster

...drill baby drill!

In the beginning, Homo Climbtastic was 100% male–that was because the first trip was me and four other guys, including current dictators C-Pow and Chavez, tromping through the West Virginia woods.  Later, and we had perhaps the most success at our last New River Gorge convention, women turned out and turned it up.  Still, their numbers haven’t reached the volume of men present.

Where there’s more men, they bring more men friends, and the scales dip in one direction through inertia alone, so we actively recruit women in our advertising to keep the ratios from going completely out of whack.  I do this partly out of self-interest; a sausage fest sounds nice on paper, but it really just makes for a boring party, and I know my queer women friends feel similarly about clam cook-offs, so we’re in this BBQ pit together, friends.

But at the end of the day, (and this is becoming more true as the group grows larger) the inclusiveness of what we say in our advertising can’t overcome the major barrier–women in the field advertising.  The guys, since inception, have been excited to play whack-a-mole with every gay dating web site internet forum, posting press releases about the trips to bring in anybody who knows how to give a soft catch.  Sometimes I run across things posted by guys I’ve never heard of encouraging people to meet them there.

Thus, I am sounding the call to arms: we are getting more women involved, and we’re doing it now.  Which means you.  Assuming you either have a vagina or are making progress toward acquiring one, I, Alex Rowland, spiritual leader of Homo Climbtastic, am vesting you with diplomatic authority to post our press releases far across the internet, or, better, write or tailor your own.

Victory waits on your fingers WW2 poster

Gurl, get on OK Cupid and tell everybody to come climb with you!

You’ll have to caution them with the requirements of joining, which are posted at https://homoclimbtastic.com/join/ but that’s pretty much it.  The great thing about posting everywhere is that it gives you a reason to meet people, awesome rock climbers nearby perhaps, who you wouldn’t have met otherwise.  Direct them to join the Facebook group or to sign up for our July 14-18, 2011 convention at the New River Gorge in West Virginia.

I can assure you, we (HC men and women both) are actively working in various other ways to keep this from turning into some lame gym bunny circuit party with sports on the side and a poster that looks like it belongs under a car windshield wiper.  But the war cannot be won on leadership alone!  You have to get out there, leave shyness behind, and proclaim, “Ladies, we’re gonna crash this HC convention like no queer climbing convention has ever been crasheded before!”

Women in the war we cant win without them WW2 poster

Your gender expression is up to you, but leave working explosives behind

There are other queer athletic institutions which are almost entirely male and which have no equivalent group for women, thereby leaving women in the lurch if they want to commune with other queer people–those trains left their stations without all the cars attached.  So now’s the time to get everyone on board, and we’re all determined to make it happen.  We just need you.  Get it, girl.

JMR

Josh, a climber from my great state of Georgia, RSVP’ed as a “maybe” for HC’s July 2010 convention, and if he had been able to come, maybe you’d have met him.

Josh, in a standard southern climbing scene

The first time I met Josh, I was utterly charmed.  Most straight guys wouldn’t step anywhere near an aerial fabric, either because it looks frightening, or because it’s not the butchest activity to try for the first time (or ever) in front of others.  One time at the climbing gym, unmoved by either concern, he insisted that I show him a few moves, and he picked it up immediately.  Me and a gay friend sighed, that fuck-shit-motherfucker sigh resenting that someone so amazing doesn’t bat for our team.  Us crushing on him didn’t bother him either.  This made the resentment yet worse.  So cool!

Six months ago, he fell in Tallulah Gorge.

When someone dies, your response isn’t about the person who died, it’s about you.  Which is why when you hear about a death, the most immediate reaction is to find out exactly how it happened, and then once you find that out, you can distance yourself from it.  “I don’t do that, therefore, I am safe.”

But I don’t feel safe.  I imagine, like the rest of us players in the “extreme” sports, he participated because these activities order the emotional tumult we find inherent.  People who smile are aware more than anyone of the costs of living authentically–social rejection and the fear of not doing what everyone else is doing are a certain penalty, and so the risk of physical danger is just another bullet in the ledger.    I feel like the context of his death, expanded to the appropriate level of generality, implicates me, and us.

I feel bitter, and sad, detached, and angry, and vaguely guilty, despite being a hundred miles away.

When I was a freshman in college, the world opened up.  So much changed since then.  I learned to climb, I became an atheist, had sex, fell in love, traveled to new places, took big ice cream scoops out of my brain and replaced them with (usually) better things.  He was nineteen, about to carve his own path, but we lost him and what he would have become.

We don’t know how to talk about it, so we revert to the conversations we would have had before.  “How are you?”  “Good. How are you?” “Good.”  Everyone has bags under their eyes.

The margin of safety in our sport ebbs and flows, as it does with even the most mundane activities–not everyone rides around in a brand new Volvo with side curtain airbags.  Maybe it’s too expensive and what we have is the safest we can get, or maybe we just don’t want a goddamn ugly Volvo.  Sometimes we drift off a trad route to a runout, and decide that it’s safer to keep going rather than down-climb.  Or we see a route, weigh the risks, and climb it anyway.  This is the same choice you make when you step out of the house, have sex, cross an intersection.

Trad climbers will say (well, not if they’re honest) that they always put in more pieces, sport climbers will say they don’t climb trad, non-climbers will say they don’t climb, etc.

Even the most edge pushing trad climbers fall faster to heart disease and car crashes.  And yet climbing accidents suffer an almost religious examination, despite being indistinguishable from the pleasures of an antique car or a hamburger.

I think it risks being reductive to say that Josh died doing something he loved–I’d rather say that he died being himself.  His attitude was to be open to the world.  I’m sure this hurt him before.

It would be too easy to say you would have put in more pieces.  I’m sure there are moments in your life, whether in climbing or elsewhere, where the background thought was (or the equivalent of) “don’t fall.”  If X, then catastrophe, and the chance of X can’t be eliminated.  My brother almost died in a bike accident–I still ride my bike, and he now rides a motorcycle.

If there is one thing to be said of climbing and the nature of the risk that makes it unique to us, I would say that it’s the cognizance of the risk.  The legal term of art is “assumption of risk.”  Climbers are, I’ve found, universally very well aware of the risks they are taking, and accepting of those risks as part of the deal.

I wish he had put in more pieces, taken a different route, gotten up thirty seconds earlier that morning, but it’s too late to ask for that now.  The most we can say at this point is that, if he’s anything like the rest of us, his sport was representative of a much larger image of living the life that he wanted.  A more risk averse person wouldn’t have embraced other people so easily or had a smile that tore through walls.  Fate’s roll of the dice confined us to enjoy Josh’s presence for a terribly brief slice of time.

I ask myself if I knew him well enough to justify feeling this shocked.  I know there are not many people who make others feel welcome in the climbing community, but he was one of them.  When people die, there are always emotions that you want to instantiate in words, but you don’t, for fear of some social rejection. It’s the same reason most people don’t smile. I feel pretty weird writing and posting this, for example. I can’t eulogize him as well as the people who were close to him.  But that boundary would have meant nothing to him–I know if I had died before him, he would have said something about me.  Maybe he was afraid, and he just overcame it on an incredibly regular basis.  I hope the memory and example of his life will at least partly replace what we lost.

A smile etches itself into memory in a world of fear.  His death has and will continue to burn for an enormous number of people.

Homo Climbtastic Dictator Abducted

We’ve received several emails and phone calls inquiring as to the whereabouts of HC’s most famous dictator, Alex Rowland (AKA:  Ra-Ra).  Seems the dearth of commentary on Georgia’s political turmoil hasn’t gone entirely unnoticed, and for your concern we’re all truly gratified.  Your prayers mean so much.

Rowland was abducted by a group of hillbillies (all of whom identify as dom tops) several weeks ago while climbing in the back-woods of Tennessee, though the ransom notes we’ve received (all dictated, not read, by Alex) have been very clear, no rescue requested.  We’re all hoping he’ll get his fill & comes back to civilization very soon, though personally I think the hill people have bitten off a tad more than they can chew with this one.  We here at Homo Cimbtastic headquarters (located in the world’s gayest bunker…you know, the one Lindsey Graham uses in case of emergency) are praying that Alex will wear them out eventually.  Well, either that, or Alex’s ass hair will finally start growing back in & they’ll return him out of pure need for a good wax job.

a picture left by Alex's abductors. Poor Alex. Poor, poor Alex.

So keep him in your prayers, light a candle, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more from him in the very near future.  And Alex, if you’re reading this, for Christ’s sake honey give those poor people a breather.

Member Profile: Mary Tang

Tang at Red Rocks

Aliases: MARAAHHHHTAAAANG!, Mirhihtang, Tang, Murr, Wu Tang Can!, Tang Tang Tang (a la Ricochet Rabbit), Tang-a-lang

Location: St. Louis

Profile: In this piece on deer overpopulation, Mary Tang captures the plight of so many HC members of being misunderstood in middle high school by authority figures who, at the time, loomed large and authoritative, but now as we can see in retrospect, are pushing their mental limits when they feed and clothe themselves in the morning.  HC, I suppose, is just the Andy Warhol studio we should have grown up in but couldn’t.

Mary and Kris

Mary Tang has those “I don’t need rest” shoulders such that she can flash a 100 foot flake all the while casually planning her next cartoon, most of which you can’t access without being her facebook friend, but here’s one about a trip to REI:

Return Everything Immediately or Rental Equipment Incorporated? You decide.

I first met Tang while in Chattanooga, where she demolished a crack at Leda I needed five takes on.  Maybe this is because I have such little experience with crack.  I mean, it’s like, what do you do back there?  Stick a finger in? Two?  I’m confused!  But Mary knows.

Odd skills: Fishing, growing cultures in a laboratory, ice hockey

Representative Icon: Cow

Carb staple: Noodles

Trip Report: The Super Secret Place

todays trip report requires a bit of discretion.  the place we went to has what the climbing community coyly refers to as “access issues,” so there is an understanding among the people who climb there that we not discuss where it is, how to get there, and so on.  because there are a lot of routes, the benefit is that you can climb there on a sunday, get on a bunch of classics, and not see a single goddamn person.  but the main benefit of no crowds is not, as you might guess, the ability to get on popular routes without waiting.  no, the real benefit is that you can climb naked. as pictured here.

Yowza.

ok, so we didnt really climb naked, and this picture was taken purely for the blog.  which may have made heterosexual cohort zach uncomfortable, although i couldn’t truthfully tell him that our trips weren’t normally like this.

Heterosexual cohort Zach. I'm not sure why we didn't have any pictures of him shirtless at the crag, but maybe Matt didn't want to give him the impression that we were perving. Which we were.

although not naked, i did in reality spend the entire day in underwear, flip flops, sunglasses, and a helmet.  the south is hot y’all!

If you saw how far up that second bolt was, you'd have top roped that shit too

given that i cant publicly disclose even what state it’s in, me and laurie decided to refer to this climbing area in the open as as The Super Secret Place.

Laurie, on the other hand, Just Says No to top roping. And says yes to sexy back.

even among the regulars, people dont know the name or the grade of 3/4 of the routes there. fortunately, we had the most recent revision of the bootleg topo for the area, which you too can obtain if you’re willing to forgo your sexual orientation for a few hours.  (Editor: Does it really take that long to fuck (redacted)?  Me:  Yes!  You only wish you could have.  And you can’t print that name here.)  suffice it to say, the dixie dyno’mos will stop at nothing to get a bootleg topo.  but dont ask us for it, because we think that’s a right of passage everyone should experience.  certainly better than whatever was involved in joining your fraternity, if only because we have the dignity to skip the cracker and admit that the paddling was enjoyable.

The downside of the area is the occasionally spartan bolting (better than no bolting) which demands creative stick clipping and sideways mammer-jammering.  So half the time we climbed anything we were tied into another rope and swinging around to clip the next route over.  Still, despite the heat, and the spiders, and the mammer jammering, the route quality is stellar and the grades challenging.  The latter probably explains why someone abandoned this pair of (Redacted) brand climbing shoes at the base.

Looking for a good home

Matt said, “Maybe you shouldn’t badmouth (Redacted) in case they decide to sponsor us?”

“If that happens, I’ll just delete all the references to (Redacted), and help them come up with a new ad campaign.  I can see it now.  (Redacted): Better than Montrails!”

“Maybe if they give us free shoes they’ll just spray paint their logo over a pair of good shoes like they did with (Redacted Redacted).”

Check out those guns

On the way home, we passed a sign next to a gas station that said “boiled peanuts”.

“STOP THE FUCKING CAR.”

The boiled peanuts sign was underneath a sign that said AMERICAN OWNED.

Thumbs up for the bottom sign, not the top one

The “American Owned” signage made me and Matt feel a little uncomfortable, because it’s the equivalent of “NOT FOREIGNER OWNED.”   In any event, one would assume that if you’re going to take particular pride in your American-ness, you would take particular pride in the pièce de résistance of southern cuisine, boiled peanuts.

NOT TRUE.  Those peanuts were hardly boiled, and if I was driving, I would have turned that car right around and chucked that styrofoam cup hard enough to blot out at least the second half of “American”.

Also, I demand to know what the hell the female equivalent of “Extenze” they were selling is supposed to do.

The male "extenze" makes your penis longer, so we can only presume that the female "extenze" makes your... uhhh... this seems like a discussion more appropriate for the comments section

with the trip just about over, i thought about my goal that morning, which was basically to find a place with bolts with no more than two hours of thorny bushwhacking, and to waypoint the shit out of everything on my GPS.  after we left, i was sad i didn’t have more time to get on harder routes, so it was kind of funny that we debated going to sandrock instead the morning of.  so, moral of that story, if your group is five or less, grab that motherfucking machete and move toward the abyss.