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Minorities and Climbing

Submitted by michael on 2004-03-14 | Last Modified on 2006-12-10

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Chelsea on Don Jaun THE THREE MOST common fallacies stated by climbers are:

    1. Women donít climb as hard as men;

    2. Sport climbers are gay; and

    3. There are no minority climbers.

Lynn, Josune, and Stella pretty much shot the first comment to hell. The second is actually true though the current school of gym-bred boulderers come a close second. Oh címon - a gaggle of boys flocking under a three-move problem with a twelve-inch mattress while ďspottingĒ each other is merely the prelude before being fitted for a leather codpiece with matching backless pants. But the last comment? It depends on how you answer the following questions:

Question One: Do a lot of people climb 5.11+ trad?

Answer: If you read enough magazines and believe enough campfire stories, then everyone and their ancient grandmother has not only used those micro cams, theyíre fully sponsored and get them for free. A picture may tell a thousand words, but itís the reading between the lines that brings out the truth.

Rare is the send when a photographer is on top, conveniently waiting for that perfect moment in time. More common are the set-ups for the light to be right, the move to be fluid, and the climber to look stressed. One cover shot by a famous photographer, and even more famous climber, also revealed that apparently the crack was so good, it took more than ten pieces in almost as many feet.

More to the point, any given weekend at an area of traditional means reveals more than any photos ever can. Simply put, few have ever had to wait to do a traditional line that was 5.11. Fewer still have ever seen anyone actually climbing a traditional 5.12. Itís a common fact that the harder you climb, the less people you see before you. Rare are those that actually look at life through the rearview mirror.

Question Two: Does gay marriage affect me?

Answer: No one is actually against gay marriage. What people got their tighty-whiteys in an uproar about is male marriage.

    Exit only folks, Iím not standing in a locker room with a gay man!

Just because someone is gay doesnít mean youíre so irresistible that heís going to jump you the minute he sees your penis. Your ex-girlfriend wasnít that impressed, neither is he.

However, no one seems to have a problem with lesbians. Pretty much any man is willing to stand in a locker room with a lesbian. Iíd even suffer with two or more to prove my point. And women donít care because we know that prior to meeting we males, every college girl has lathered up in the shower with at least one sorority sister to wash off the sweat from the pillow fight they had earlier in the evening, dressed only in lacy pink panties.

People donít choose to be gay, they either are, or are not. To ignore them as they walk among you, is to place yourself in a precarious position of which the fall will come hard and unexpected.

Question Three: How racist am I?

Answer: Three people show up at a crag; A woman with blonde hair and blue eyes, a man with olive skin and brown eyes, and another man with dark skin and dark curly hair. Whoís the minority?

If you answered the black man, then you are a racist.

The blonde woman is from Cuba, the olive man is from Spain, and the dark skinned man is from Southern California. All three are in Thailand, making them equally minorities in that country.

Our vision is skewed and needs to be corrected. In this favored sport of ours, words are bandied about like candy regarding equality, beauty, and peace. But mention minorities, and immediately everyone claims that there are very few in the climbing community, and none pushing the standards.

Curious if this was true, it was time for a road trip. My first stop was Vegas. I tried asking a group of Spaniards if they saw any minorities climbing, but they only wanted beta on a sporty 5.14 to warm up on before heading home to work on a couple 5.15s.

Next, I went to Yosemite. I wanted to ask Yuji Hirayama if he ever saw any hard climbing minorities, but he was busy onsighting a thirty pitch 5.13c. Hidetaka Suzuki was there, but since heís in his fifties and only climbs 5.13 trad lines, I figured he wouldnít know anything.

Next I headed to Bishop where there were definitely more white-skinned bodies than dark. Figuring I may be onto something, I decided to ask my pigmentally-challenged brothers and sisters what they thought. Unfortunately I couldnít understand German, Italian, or French. And because they were on all the V11s and above, I couldnít keep up with them anyways.

Frustrated, I headed home with questions unanswered. Heading out for an afternoon of clipping bolts, I crossed the streambed and ran into the usual crew. I suited up and after a few burns decided to go for my project. At 5.13b, it wasnít the hardest line, but a solid one for me to tag. As usual, I fell four bolts in and was lowered to the ground. My partner tied in, and not only hiked the route, he down climbed the crux to show me what I was missing. And then it hit me. He was black! Granted, he wasnít pushing any boundaries climbing at such a lowly level, but obviously he qualified as a minority.

I immediately asked him the pondering question to which he gave the best advice that I now pass on to you.

    1. Go to the nearest pharmacy, and pick up an enema.

    2. Place your left hand against your left ear, and firmly push the enema nozzle against the right ear.

    3. Squeeze.

    4. Repeat as necessary.

Upon the recognition that a refreshing new scent has cleansed those senses, open your eyes and look around. People are out there, itís just a matter of how you wish to label them.


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