S Sporting Life


A day in the life of America's most heinous cragging couple

Editor's Note: To stay current with the climbing populace, we occasionally have field reporters observe and report on climber behavior. Recently we sent an intrepid contributing editor (CE) to Shelf Road, a popular limestone sport destination in southern Colorado, Although he went missing under suspicious circumstances, we were able to recover his notes and tape recorder some weeks later, scattered across the billside, With these, we reconstructed the day's events.

OUR REPORTER ARRIVED ON A CROWDED MARCH WEEKEND, settling into a hollow below a piñón tree 100 feet from the cliff to document the dozens of craggers. The day progressed predictably-with standard-issue hanging. Beta-spraying, and snacking-until around 1:30 p.m., when a booming voice sounded from the trait: a certain "Daddy," announcing his presence, his terrified bottle-blonde "Babydoil" in tow.

For reasons that will become clear, our observer was hesitant to leave his hiding place. But he could see through the trees that Daddy had a stickciip, pit bull ("Adolf"), spiked, frosted hair, and "muscle fat," while Babydoil had outsized artificial breasts, booty shorts, and a garish slab of make-up. Daddy had also driven his jacked-up conversion van along the blocked-off grade to the old parking lot, running over the "Voluntary Road Closure" signs.

A thorough analysis has revealed that our ill-fated reporter chanced upon America's most horrible sport-climbing couple. Here we document, in chronological order, highlights from our CE's two hours of tape recordings so you can contact the proper authorities should you encounter these specimens. We have also applied with the local natural-history society to name this new species: Cragus Ignoramus Dooshba-gus( Americanus),

Oaddy [real name unknown]: Hey, Babydoil, Daddy thinks we should safe-rope up a nice 5.9 to warm up. Daddy's got this one on lockdown because he uses it all the time to get ready for the twelvers and thir-teeners. So shake that pretty tail and flake down the rope right here. Babydoil [real name unknown]: But, Daddy, 5.9's the hardest I ever climbed. And besides, there's people on this route already Daddy: Don't sweat it, doll. We'll tie up Adolf next to their stuff as a little hint to get movin'. Then I'll just stick-rope the up-clippers and make you a nice, safe free-line through the top hooks. Daddy just wants you to be safe, Babydoil. Daddy thinks maybe ffrst-roping's a little too dangerous for you on 5.9. Babydoil: OK, Daddy. Whatever you say. Dacfdy; That's right, doll-Daddy knows best. Journal Entry, 1:37 p.m. (excerpted from our CE's field notebook): "Daddy short-chains his beast to a tree three feet from the belayer below the 5,9. Belayer tries to sidestep the snarling dog and move the backpacks while keeping a brake hand on the rope. Daddy pre-hangs his rope and draw on the first bolt of the already-occupied route. Climber lowers off nearly atop pit bull. Confrontation ensues. Original party hastily packs up and departs."

Daddy: That's right, hit the road, you Boulder limpdicks! This here's Daddy's warm-up and ain't nobody gonna tell Daddy different. Daddy's been warming up here for years. Hell, Daddy mighta even installed them top hooks himself.

Journal Entry, 1:45 p.m. to 4:07 p.m.: "Daddy spends the next two-plus hours stick-clipping his way up the 40-foot route, frequently fumbling quickdraws, the stick, and doing about one in five moves free. The climb appears to be a pocket ladder with straightforward reaches between deep solution holes. When Daddy latches a pocket, he makes pull-up moves, his feet dragging against the rock. Each time he hangs, he screeches, 'I said "Take!" you f—king whore!' before again becoming apologetic and saying he just wants his 'doll to be safe' and that 'Daddy just gets a little scared sometimes.'

"At the bigger, hueco-sized pockets. Daddy kicks his feet into the air, screams 'Footloosin'!', and then whoops at Babydott before demanding that she 'Reel in the up-line and keep Daddy on a tight brake!' Eventually, Daddy reaches the anchors, where he clips in with a daisy chain, threads the rappel rings, whoops again, and tells Babydoil the 'security line's fixed and ready for down-roping.' Babydoil lowers Daddy, and they eat Cheetos, drink Dr. Pepper, and French-kiss, discarding their trash in the cactus."

Daddy: OK, up you go, doll. Now don't out-climb Daddy! (Just kidding.) You know how Daddy doesn't like it when you climb better. (Just kidding). Daddy had to 10-rest it, but maybe you can do it nice with a one-rester and make Daddy proud.

Babydoil: I'll sure try. Daddy. I always feel safer knowing Daddy put the rope through the top hooks.

Journal Entry, 4:30 p.m.: "Babydoil doesn't look challenged by the climbing, but hangs a few times anyway, which seems to please Daddy. As she climbs, Daddy yells up a continuous stream of Beta. Key phrases include: 'Feet loose!' 'Core parallel!' 'Hips extended!' 'Reach-hang it!' 'Gasto-cling!' 'Knee-block the fmgerhut!' etc.

"Since much of Daddy's logorrhea is drowned out by Adolf's incessant barking, I'll record some of Daddy's physical characteristics. I've used my binoculars for a closer look:

■Daddy has ice-blue eyes one might cait 'lifeless' or 'sociopathic.'

»When not climbing, Daddy puts on a No Fear hoodie.

•When climbing. Daddy wears a Tour de Pump muscle shirt. At what he deems to be the 'free-cruxins,' he'll remove the shirt and

"I'll stick-rope the up-clippers and make you a nice free-line through the top hooks. Daddy just wants you to be safe, Baby doll."

tie it doo-rag style over his head for a move or two. "Daddy has both ears pierced with multiple hoop earrings. ■Daddy's tribal armband tattoos seem to be of a Native American pattern enclosed in rings of blue-inked barbed wire sitting atop a flaming-eyed skull with hieroglyphs on both sides.

■ Daddy is between the ages of 28 and 54, indeterminate.

■ Daddy wears knock-off Terminator-style sunglasses with a skull-and-crossbones pattern along the stems,

■Daddy spends more belay time admiring and flexing his biceps (what he refers to as his 'Peace Keepers') than watching his climber. He also has an odd fascination with his crotch, framed as it is by the leg loops of his harness. ■Daddy chain-smokes.

■Babydoll Is basically the female version of Daddy.

"ONCE BABYDOLL COMPLETES the climb, Daddy gives her what he calls 'Daddy's Special Speed Lower,' and she smacks the ground with an audible thump...

Daddy: Sorry about that, doll. You gotta have faster reflexes like Daddy when the ground comes rushing up at you. But Daddy got you back on the ground sooner so he could have himself a little sugarl Babydoll: You hurt me, Daddy.

Daddy: Daddy didn't mean to. Daddy's real sorry, doll. Daddy would never do anything to hurt you or your fsne fanny. Journal Entry, 4:42 p.m. (final entry): "\ could continue to observe this horrific spectacle, but I believe I have enough data for a preliminary assessment-plus, Adolf, to my alarm, has started sniffing in my direction.

"I can only hope that these were singular specimens and not a new breed of climbing couple, though I'm alarmed to realize I've seen incipient shades of these noxious traits in my own and others' behavior at the cliffs. But surely it's Impossible that such couples have proliferated across the American crag-scape. Think what it would do to our collective morale. Think what it means for our sport: that the vandals have invaded the temple. That the 'Jerry Springer'-esque hordes now frequent the cliffs, and climbtng's not so special or countercultural anymore. That climbers are possibly just as shitty as the rest of the human race. The thought Is just too depressing. For now, I must leave,

"Crikey, I think they heard me turning off the tape recorder.

He-they-Daddy has spotted me. What is he taking from his pack?! He's coming. The dog, the dog is...I-OH, WHAT THE...?' o—

Matt "Not Daddy" Samet has written for Climbing since 1997.

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An oxygen-starved mind focuses nn the next step, but is comfortably unaware of the no-chafe headband and wafer-thin aluminum buckles that hold Min:mus securely in place. Gloved fingers roll the fat potentiometer to 100 lumens of output. The ascent continues, SAINT'" MINIMUS.™






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Life and Death on Werk Supp

THE SUMMER OF 2008 WAS A ROUGH one in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado. !t seemed like every week, someone was getting hurt. I figure these accidents are just that-accidents-and I'm not usually drawn to them. Sometimes, though, they're drawn to me. Maybe it's because I survived a bad one myself: a 100-foot fall in Rocky Mountain National Park that ultimately claimed my right leg.

When you walk up to Werk Supp (5.9), far left on the Bastille's north face, its 130-foot first pitch looks straightforward-the inviting hand/hnger crack starts about 30 feet off the ground, above rampy corners and blocks. Late June that year, I came to run a lap on it, one of my favorite pitches. But I also came for another reason: curiosity. In just a three-week span, two climbers had taken 50-foot grounders from the same place on the route. Had something like rockfall changed the climb, or some strange hex befallen it? As I studied the base, my partner that day. Jack, told me he'd climbed the route the week after Mike Hankins-the second climber to deck-had fallen free soloing. Hankins survived, but the first climber-Preston Brennan, climbing roped-lost his life. The dried pool of Mike's blood still behind the blocks had really shaken up Jack, but he did the climb regardless. I had never met either

Mike or Preston.

My plan is always the same on Werk Supp: climb the blocky corner, put in big gear before I step right, and then toad up the small pieces in the crack proper as I settle into a rhythm. The moves are straightforward, but they require attention. As I jammed the crack at about the 50-foot mark (where both men fell), f sunk good gear: first, my small blue Camalot, and then my favorite green-and-yellow offset Alien. As I climbed, I tried to imagine Mike's and Preston's thoughts as they'd slipped. The fear in my belly was all too real, and i felt myself quickly flash-pumping. The stone here is river-slick, a dark maroon with sometimes-miserly footholds. I drifted into thoughts of Ralph Warsfield and Pat Ament's first ascent in 1964, wondering if the holds felt slick even then. My arms continued to tighten; I needed to pay attention.

I shook out the pump and ended the pitch without a blunder. I realized then that Werk Supp's fissures hid no monsters. It's a crack, in a big red rock. Nothing more, and nothing less.

On a rainy Monday earlier that June, my friend Penn emailed me, introducing me to Randy Hankins-it was Hankins' brother Mike who'd decked off Werk Supp and was now in the process of losing his leg. I'd lost mine five years prior after my fall, and Penn felt it might help Mike, in the hospital, to talk to someone who'd gone through the process. Randy is a web guru for Black Diamond and had introduced Mike to climbing when both were kids.

Before I went to meet Mike, I surfed Mountain Project's forums to piece together the accident. Mike was free-soloing; somewhere around 50 feet, he came off, but for him to remember how or why it happened would be amazing. Speaking from my own accident, I remember falling

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