Monday, May 9, 2011

Alpine Club

So the initial post was deleted by Blogger cause of some reason I don't know. In it we lost the wonderful comments we had going. I've still got em in my e-mail and thats all that really matters. So here it is, same as before.

It's been some 8 years since I first saw Alpine Club. I've spent 34 days and countless hours beneath the problem. I've gone through all the phases and currently reside in the "act like you don't care but deep down care so much it hurts" phase. Not really. But something like that.

When I first saw the problem it was a pinnacle. It was a testpiece. Something to aspire to.

In my eyes there was something beautiful, kind of perfect about it. You've got this obvious jug to start on, a few holds that lead directly off of said jug and an obvious topout. It has a perfect landing, engaging moves, a beautiful approach and has a certain simplicity to it all. On top of that it's a great little spot with a wonderful view of the lake and a nice little place to hang out.

In my head it was as close to perfection as I thought possible.

As a result I've been particularly protective of it over the years. I remember one such moment while I was trying it in early 2009 where I didn't want to try just jumping to the lip for fear of it 'ruining' the boulder problem. Little did I know that Mike Simon did it that way years ago, but nonetheless, I was actually afraid of finding a new sequence for fear of destroying a beautiful boulder problem.

I didn't merely want to 'get up' the boulder problem, I wanted to do it under my own terms. Possibly to my detriment, but alas, that's how I wanted to do it.

RV recently said something that struck home.

"Somehow there has been so much shit with AC that I feel that the problem has been kinda bastardized."

Over the past couple years new beta has been unlocked, variations have been put up, chalk has become ever present and the landing has eroded. Much of this has been my own doing and it's something I battle with more than I'd like to acknowledge. As much as I try to encourage people to check out other areas, Alpine Club is an obvious choice for many people for all the reasons I listed above.

For the first time in a very long time I stood in front of Alpine Club this past weekend and felt uninspired. I felt unmotivated to pull on the holds for the first time in 34 days of being up there and I wasn't sure why until RV wrote those words.

I can say two things definitively:

1 - I don't like the bump beta.

2 - I don't like the potential super sit.

And before I make everyone mad, read this. I'm not writing all this to piss people off. If anything this site has served a space for me to work out issues in my head and this just happens to be one of those times.

The bump beta makes me sad the same way I would have been sad that lone night in 2009 if I'd figured out that going to the lip was a substantially easier way of doing the problem(bump way is in fact still quite hard, btw). It's inane, stupid and petty of me. It serves no logical reason in my mind other than I idolized that move. I put it up on a pedestal. So much so that I still remember Peter talking about it years ago, pantomiming the beta along with him and Kelsen. Imagining myself one day doing the move.

I loved the problem the way he talked about it so much that I didn't want to see it "desecrated". So if/when the three of you who did it the bump way read this, it's not meant as a personal attack. It just made me sad to see that there was a different method and that it, in fact, wasn't perfect. I don't care if it's harder/easier/whatever but it just kind of took something away from the problem for me.

As for the super sit, once more nothing personal against you Ian, but it just kinda takes something away from the boulder for me. Again, it's 100% personal but when I heard about it the remaining crust of a memory of what was once Alpine Club crumbled away.

At the heart of it I think it makes Alpine Club less special. Maybe that's what it was for me. In an area full of eliminates, drop offs, sharp crimps and vague starts there was this one gem. I don't care if you give it 1 star(Paul) or 4 stars(2009 Steve) if any of us were to walk up to an identical boulder with no chalk on it there's no doubt to what we'd try. We'd grab the jug and go straight up. And that's what I loved about it. It was the obvious line in the middle of an area with no obvious lines.

I've been trying to figure out why I'm writing all of this. I think a good part of it is me just coming to terms with what Alpine Club really is. Letting go of my former thoughts of the problem and instead just thinking of it as a cool couple of moves.

Alpine Club will always be more than just another problem to me. That's just how it is. There is no doubt though that much of the luster it used to have is gone. That isn't always a bad thing.

47 comments:

  1. Well said Steve, I'd been having similar thoughts of late as well. While I haven't invested as much time into it I felt a similar connection to the problem. Not much to be done about it I suppose but move on and realize how silly a game this is that we are playing...

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  2. Silly but somehow deeply meaningful Brian, IMO. Both personally but also the community aspect. Often for me it's the process as much as the result that is important, and this essay defines that quite well. Very nice Steve. ce

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  3. I can't stop the tears, J/K.
    Honestly, great post Steve, your getting really good at this blog thing, and it's great when things get personal. But I also know you personally as a friend, so I appreciate these rants.
    Outside readers might think "what's with these dudes and Devils Lake? What's the big deal?" We all know that it's a big deal! It's personal! I was trying AC this morning and all the words you wrote were going through my head too. Sometimes I think about all the Peter and Eric Z. problems and how we all used to put them on a pedestal and think "Wow, I will never do that, it's so hard!"
    But now there is an evolution happening at the Lake. Riddle are being solved, new problems are being found, and psych is crazy high. With that, new beta apears and things get "weird", is that a good work to use? But that is the cool part of climbing right! RV sucks, we all know that, so don't listen to him.;) But honestly, AC is still there, it will still get climbed(using any beta) and at the end of the day we all still love bouldering.
    Now I'm ranting. Honestly though, thanks Steve, sometimes your words speak for all of us.
    Remo

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  4. whoever gives AC less than 4 stars is a retard. No matter what method is used. The problem is rad!

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  5. It's just one of those problems, I guess...but that was a fantastic post to read as it really did compile, I think, a lot of people's thoughts on the problem.

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  6. I can understand how an area that was "close to your heart" has now changed and you don't like the change. But....this is a public climbing area and everyone has the right to climb AC and all the variations they want. They have to right to choose whatever beta works best for them. I climb with a guy that's 6ft7in. Do you think he uses beta even close to mine. He doesn't. Should I get angry at him for skipping moves and doing the climb different than I did, no.

    And you can't regret posting it. If you didn't post it, it would just get covered in dirt and lichen after you stopped going there. Areas like this need traffic to keep them cleaner for others to enjoy. Look at what happened to The Greatest Show boulder. Man that thing was nasty after not being climbed on for a decade. It was nice to see you guys clean it and send. If you didn't do that, it would just continue to become a dirty pile of crap that no one notices.

    I think many WI climbers have personal areas that mean a lot to them because we simply don't have a lot of rock. I believe we need to let go of that mentality and let future generations enjoy the rock we find.

    Clean it up...Climb it up...post it up!

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  7. Thanks Sweaty. That was good. Eloquent even.

    Jeremy, I was hoping so.

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  8. John, I think the point of what Steve is driving at is some of us always held Alpine Club up for the reasons that he outlined very nicely. There was a certain nostalgia factor based on the problems difficulty and perceived purity that was unique when compared with most of the other lines at the Lake several years ago. It seemed like even though many other problems at the lake could be contrived or not fun or whatever that this problem was somehow different. Turns out not so much and as others have pointed out this isn't' necessarily a bad thing.

    As for AC being 4 stars...I long thought it must be hyper classic, but after trying it I wasn't as psyched. The fact that I couldn't really try it without invoking severe shoulder pain probably had something to do with that though...

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  9. I try to be as eloquent as possible.

    I totally get where you and gnar are coming from Narc. I was given extra time to digest this post as I was given an early preview because Gnar is sensitive and cares about my feelings. Thanks again Gnar. This is what my response and feeling was.

    'I think that you make it very clear that your personal goal is to do one method in particular and that is perfectly acceptable.

    Personally, I don't feel like it changes the amazingness of the problem. It just seems to prove that even in the most pure of problems there are different methods of completing it. I think that is the brilliance of our sport is that problems can fit people differently. Obviously people need to assign a personal grade for what the method that they complete. For the record, I am not so sure the throw to the top is significantly easier as I tried that method a bunch of times and could not do it. Which makes the problem even cooler that there are at least 4 ways to complete it, none of which being much easier than the other (original with left hand to gaston, yours with left hand to sloper, bump, and throw.) That is pretty incredible really.

    But I do understand your personal goal of doing the method to the sloper, and get it. Dont let the evolution of the problem take away from it's personal meaning to you though. It is still classic in every way.'

    werd to moms,
    sweaty

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  10. Remo: That's the most I have ever heard you say. You still suck though.

    Sweaty: Gnar is not sensitive. He does care about your mom's feelings though. Oh and don't make a come back by starting a `your mom' flame war.

    I do want to make an observation regarding `new beta' that I think is interesting. I don't think it was that many years ago (yes, before I was born but not that much before) when if you did a `rock climb' with anything even close to a dynamic move, it didn't count and even worse was `not pure' or `aesthetic'. Heck, I think you would have been chased out of town for even using chalk.

    Anyway, I think Steve and I have discussed this quite often and it's also related to the issue of grades, but what I would like to add to this discussion is that bouldering/climbing, purity, classic etc. is a very personal thing. A rock by itself is a boring, insignificant piece of mineral. Now if you throw into that equation a crisp fall day, no tourists, moves that some days ago felt thrutchy and stupid and now make you feel like you are floating on air and then suddenly you are topping out and there isn't even anyone around to witness your triumph but you don't care because you never actually thought it was possible. Then you drive home, traffic is great, get to eat a good meal, the cute girl at the cafe smiles at you... well, then at least if you are me you get a pure, beautiful classic.

    On the other hand for the same problem change just one thing adversely in the scenario above (for instance add some shoulder pain) and what you get is a choss pile.

    It's subjective and very very very personal.

    2 years ago I would have given my left nut to climb Alpine Club using any bloody beta, kicking and screaming if that would help. At the moment, and let's pretend I was in the area and also fantasize that I was strong enough, I have absolutely no desire to climb the problem. I would rather go traverse the crumbling boulder down the road that isn't even high enough to have a problem that goes up.

    Alpine Club didn't change, the climber changed. By itself Alpine Club is not classic, it's not a choss pile. It's just an inanimate rock.

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  11. Shit, that was long. Maybe I should start a blog.

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  12. first off... i didnt know the brown kid spoke english. I thought he like clicked or clacked or something. Interesting turn of events.

    second... please see the first comment.

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  13. Sweaty: the latter half of my rant wasn't aimed at you. Only the mom part was aimed at you, everything after that para was just me ranting in general. Also, I don't click or clack, I go lurka durka. Didn't you see Team America?

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  14. narc: That makes sense. I suppose if I did a climb a certain way for years and the area changed a bit and the beta changed, it would probably urk me a bit.

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  15. Over the years of travelling I have seen some annoyingly awesome lines and alpine club ranks at the top of them. A note about the super sit too. My line The Velvet Hammer, if it even is mine, is a traverse. By adding the "sit" it lengthened the problem by about 5 moves and made it a bit harder, and on top of everything it's fun, someone else should go try it, I enjoyed it. Just have a good spotter, as I found out the top holds can be really slippery from the start... By the way I am not fully to blame for all the blood at the base. Steve kicked me in the face. Ian

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  16. Alpine club is v8. Maybe v7.

    -nic

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  17. velvet hammer is a v6+ and The Raven is a soft 10

    smootchies (to brownies mom),
    sweaty

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  18. Sweaty's mom is a VB maybe V0, soft but a hyper classic.

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  19. I overheard Paul Robinson say he felt The Raven was a hard V9.
    Remo;)

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  20. the sit is stupid, no doubt about it.

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  21. Alpine club is alpine club, but the sit into Velvet Hammer makes sense to me. That line with a low right sit start essentially floats upward and leftward across the entire boulder, which is pretty cool. Probably too hard for me (at this point anyway) but that won't stop me from trying. I am pretty excited that more problems are going up all the time to project. ce

    PS. Even if Alpine Club was called V4 I would still keep trying it. It's a line, not a number.

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  22. @Kelly: There are girls who read this blog!!! WHAAAAAAAAAT?! *head explodes*.

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  23. shut up RV or I am going to send sofie some snickers to off you.
    xoxo
    katie

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  24. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!! Two girls read this blog!!! I thought Steve and Katie sat at home and Steve read the blog aloud to Katie! Wait, are girls allowed to go on the internet in this country?! Isn't that dangerous? I mean wont the internet make the blood rush out of their brains and into their lower plumbing and cause all sorts of carnage. I was taught in school that in olden times there was some civilization that allowed women to be educated and it resulted in mass uteran explosions. Of course we don't know which civilization or where or when really, the destruction caused by the explosions was so utter and complete.

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  25. I said something super eloquent, sweaty made a joke, Remo said something that made no sense, Ian chimed in but sounded like he was drunk, Nic typed in all caps (again), Steve replied, RV wrote a book, I think Hemberger said something or other, 2 hot chicks posted, and then blogger removed the whole sordid affair. That about right? ce

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  26. You know, I think you got it all. Thanks Chris.

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  27. We also covered RV being unwelcome here... cause... well, you know.

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  28. I think we probably also pointed out that eggnuts was old at some point.

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  29. and that girls should be allowed to drive or 'browse the web'.

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  30. Girls should not be allowed to drive or browse the web. Their uteruses will explode. Do you seriously want that? Exploding uteruses?! *shiver* gives me nightmares.


    Also, Remo said something that sucked. Typical!

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  31. I was so underwhelmed when I first sat eyes on AC. This. Really? Seriously? Lame. What really pissed me off was that I couldn't do it. Double lame.

    What's this bouldering thing all about? It's about doing the hardest move you can possibly do. Up until that moment when you do pull the hardest move you will ever do you're are just practicing for that one move. The best part is that when you do pull that move you won't even know it because there's always that possibility that you can pull an even HARDER move!
    Then, on your death bed you will lie and wonder "Which move it did was really the hardest one?" Then you will die.

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  32. That's so stupid! I can't edit the grammar! Bouldering sucks.

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  33. Yes, sweaty desecrated the problem, shit all over it and it's his-story. And a FIB no less! For shame. But mostly, I'm pissed because I still can't do it.

    The super sit is cool, as long as it doesn't get posted as another problem on MP.

    I rest my bowels.

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  34. @Rhoads: I thought there was a restraining order on you preventing you from going on the internet.

    Also, its not just that bouldering sucks. Rock climbing as a whole sucks. I am going to go throw some plastic plates at people. Enough of this nonsense.

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  35. Fuckin Illinois Bastard. I married one, so I had to learn the terms. Well, I married more of a Bitch than a Bastard. Hmm... This series of posts is not nearly as good as last time.

    Time for a new post Steve!!! ce

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  36. I think it's Rhoads bringing it down.

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  37. Where did all the girlies go? Actually wait, this is a good thing. Girls have cooties.

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  38. Nah uteruses are fine. Just the ones that explode, those are the ones you gotta watch out for.

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  39. its so hard to tell one from the other though. I say banish all of them and solve the problem... no?

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  40. Sometimes I wonder what the experience of someone who was not a climber and didn't know any of us would be if they stumbled upon this blog and read the comments. Imagine if you were someone who just found this site by accident and started reading... This post for example... ce

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  41. @sweatpants: can't get rid of the uteruses. Sometimes the baby making factories are required for hanky and panky.

    @ce: a non climber not knowing any of us would have the same reaction as anyone who knows us. Namely: Remo sucks!

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  42. They would also notice Rhoads's pour grammer...

    RV: I thought you were gay. So weird, you speak English and you like girls. This has been an informative couple of days.

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  43. Alpine club is V8. Maybe even V7..

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  44. @sweaty: Of course you thought I was gay. I mean what with all my fine style, eloquence of speech and love of all things Tea Party. Although, I don't know about the speaking English part. I just open the dictionary to random pages and try to string sentences with the biggest words I can find.

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