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Skiers are WUSSES - Reel Rock Film Tour Review

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
After watching world class skiers in "re:SESSION" last weekend and then watching world class climbers in a film called "Progression", I've come to the conclusion that skiing is BORE-RING compared to climbing.

We went to the 2009 Reel Rock Film Tour here in Jackson on Wednesday night. 

Reel Rock is an annual film contest for the climbing community and the tour presents the winning films each year.  "Progression" was the big film and it's just unbelievable.  The featured climber in the movie is a guy named Chris Sharma.  The movie follows him (and his incredibly-hot Spanish girlfriend who's also a great climber) around the world as he prepares to attempt a climb that is rated 5.15b - which in the ski world would equate to something about a hundred (or thousand?) times harder than Corbet's Couloir.

The scenery is incredible, but the strength, athleticism, determination, and passion of these climbers is something you have to see to believe.  You watch as these guys and women make moves that are simply unworldly.  Here's a link to the trailer (if I could figure out how to embed it, I would):

http://reelrocktour.com/#/films/

This film tour is hitting cities and towns all over the US and the rest of the world.  I was gripped in my seat the entire time.  I'd go see it again tonight if it was still playing.  Just unbelievable.

Here's the tour schedule link.

If you see it, you will not regret it.
post #2 of 10
Wow!

Missed it in Boulder. May try to see it in Golden with your recommendation... Lots of travel getting in the way these days, tho...
post #3 of 10
 5.15b? An overhanging glass wall? With grease on it (otherwise it would just be 5.15a)?
post #4 of 10
Chris Sharma has been rockin' the technical climbing world for years.  Perhaps 5.15 routes should just be called Sharmas.  Amazing stuff!
JF
post #5 of 10
I'm not really into climbing (my feet were tingling just watching the trailer), but how can you possibly compare a free solo climb of some ridiculous rock face to what skiers do?  One has a much higher risk of death than the other. The only semi-decent comparison would be Ski-BASEing or Jamie Pierre type 260 foot cliff hucks.

If your definition of "wuss" is someone who doesn't cheat death every time he ascends a mountain, than I guess you're right.  Skiers are wusses.
post #6 of 10
I don't know much about climbing.  Is the 15 is on a scale of one to ten?
post #7 of 10
So ? Big whup.

Thats an apples and oranges argument. Many skiers board, skateboard, snowmobile, skate and play hockey as those are all related. Skiers generally only climb or skin up mountains to ski down them.

You need to compare climbing to something more similar. I'd say its closer to acrobatic flying and i'll take that over climbing any day.

Did you see the trailer on the progession movie, one climber was missing 1/2 his finger. i'm betting that happened trying to climb something. Thanks, no; i'll stay with skiing and if i need to climb, i have a gym full of equipment and i hadn't lost a finger there.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

I don't know much about climbing.  Is the 15 is on a scale of one to ten?

Pretty much. The scale used to end at 5.10 (or maybe even 5.9 way back).
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattchuck2 View Post

I'm not really into climbing (my feet were tingling just watching the trailer), but how can you possibly compare a free solo climb of some ridiculous rock face to what skiers do?  One has a much higher risk of death than the other. The only semi-decent comparison would be Ski-BASEing or Jamie Pierre type 260 foot cliff hucks.

If your definition of "wuss" is someone who doesn't cheat death every time he ascends a mountain, than I guess you're right.  Skiers are wusses.
I was employing just a little bit of hyperbole in the title of my post.  While the film does have a long segment about a young guy who does all sorts of amazing free climbing (without ropes or belays), I wasn't really talking about him.  I don't particularly care to watch free climbs because I don't like the unprotected nature of free climbing. 

What I was really referring to was the roped climbing by all the other climbers in the movie.  When you watch the entire film, you can't help but be overwhelmed by the strength, agility, balance, athleticism, and CONCENTRATION shown by these world-class climbers. 

I'm still in awe of what the very best skiers in the world are capable of, but my awe level was a LOT higher watching these climbers than it was watching the TGR-movie hotshots. 


Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

I don't know much about climbing.  Is the 15 is on a scale of one to ten?
The scale is open-ended.  I'm hardly the one to explain it because I'm essentially an advanced-beginner when it comes to rock climbing, but here goes:

The numbered scale for rating climbs is an attempt to describe the level of difficulty (and danger) of a given route.  "Technical" climbing begins when a route becomes dangerous enough that a fall is somewhat likely and if you did fall it could result in injuries of some sort.

The American system of rating includes ratings that aren't technical.  I can look up a route up a peak in the Tetons, for instance, that might be a 3 or 4 rating.  3 means there's a relatively good trail and I can probably just walk up the peak.  4 means there's a pretty good trail but I might have to scramble or use my hands occasionally to get up it, but a fall would not be particularly dangerous.  Once the ratings get into the 5's, however, the footing will be more difficult and there may be serious consequences to a fall.  Here's a website that helps illustrate it:  www.geocities.com/theclimbingpage/rating.htm

Once ratings get into the 5's, the route becomes what most would describe as "technical" AND the scale starts to become much more granular.  Climbs in the 5's are rated on a decimal range as in 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, etc.  Anything about 5.4 or lower is pretty much considered beginner climbing and is comparable to the bunny slope at a ski area.  5.5 and 5.6 are more like advanced-beginner, 5.7 or maybe 5.8 is intermediate, 5.9 would maybe be advanced-intermediate, and 5.10 and above starts getting into expert range. 

Just like in skiing, however, the term "expert" becomes inadequate to describe the increasing levels of ability as you go up the scale.  The differences in difficulty become more subtle but also - just like in skiing - those differences are enormously important in determining whether a given "expert" is capable of safely doing a given route. 

For that reason, climbers started differentiating the ratings in a much more granular way.  5.10 climbs and above became separated into 5.10a, 5.10b, and 5.10c, with a 5.10a being the "easiest" of the 5.10 climbs and 5.10c being the hardest.  A 5.10c is basically ALMOST as difficult as a 5.11a, but a 5.11 is quite a lot harder than a 5.10.  That also means that a 5.12 climb is a GREAT deal harder than a 5.10, and a 5.14 is almost freakishly hard.

Over the past 10-15 years, skiing equipment has improved, skiing technique has generally improved (a somewhat arguable claim but true enough for these purposes), and skiers have re-defined what sorts of lines can be skied and under what conditions.  The same is true of climbing, and the rating scale allows for more and more impossible routes to be attempted and then rated once they are successfully climbed. 

Hence, Chris Sharma's 5.15b climb in the film is, I believe, the MOST difficult rating assigned so far in the world.  The first 5.15a route was climbed in 2001 (also by Chris Sharma).  That means it took seven years of climbing all over the world to go from difficulty 5.15a to 5.15b. 

Here's an excerpt from the ClimbingNarc.com website talking about that climb:

Posted on September 15, 2008 - at 7:37 am

Chris Sharma’s ‘Jumbo Love’ (5.15b)

The dust has settled on Chris Sharma sending his project at Clark Mt., which gives us some time to reflect on important things like the name of the route and how hard it is.
 

The route is being called Jumbo Love, which follows the naming convention of other routes at Clark Mt.’s 3rd Tier/Monastery area.  The other routes are Randy Leavitt’s Jumbo Pumping Hate (5.13d/14a) and Ethan Pringle’s Jumbo Glass (5.14c).

Jumbo Love begins with 60 ft. of 5.12d climbing followed by 100 ft of steep and bouldery 5.14c.  THEN you get to the hard part which is followed by some easier  5.13+ climbing that takes you to the top of the cliff (literally!).  

Just think about that for a second.  You have to navigate 160 ft of 5.14c climbing just to get to the hardest parts of Jumbo Love!
 

Taking this all into account, and using some of his recent FAs in Spain as reference, Sharma feels as though Jumbo Love is likely 5.15b.  Normally, Sharma is not one to speculate on the grades of his climbs, but the Big Up Blog has some insights into how his views have evolved:
 

Since we’re talking about grades, which we usually don’t get that into around here, I might as well address another one of the obvious questions that will come up: Since when did Sharma start grading his routes? Of course he’s pretty famous for not grading most of his first ascents, but over the past year of living in Spain and climbing constantly on many of Europe’s hardest lines, he’s gotten really familiar with the top end of the rating scale for sport routes. He’s still driven entirely by his sense of aesthetics and personal progression, but these days he’s willing to suggest a number if it seems relevant. “It’s a lot easier to grade a sport climb than a boulder problem,” he told me, “because the moves on a route usually aren’t as weird or as body-type dependent as on a boulder.”   In the case of Jumbo Love he also felt that calling it 9b would be simpler than leaving it ambiguous. “Sometimes if I don’t give a grade, people start speculating, and then it can get all blown out of proportion,” he explained.


Obviously, a route of such high quality and high difficulty is something that many high end climbers would aspire to repeat. Unfortunately, Clark Mt. is not exactly a roadside crag like Rifle:
 

Clark is in the middle of a desert wasteland, near Primm, NV. You have to drive over an hour up a horrendous 4WD road, then hike at least another hour in the blazing sun straight up the mountain. Since the pitch is 250 feet long and nearly 45 degrees overhanging most of the way, it’s not easy to work. No toprope rehearsal or trying the moves off a stepladder like Akira or Ali-Hulk. “You need to be fully committed to this route for a long time,” Ethan said.
 

Can talented American sport climbers like Ethan Pringle, Dave Graham or Daniel Woods get fit enough and spend enough time working the route to nab the second ascent?  Will one of the super strong Euros like Patxi Usobiaga, Dani Andrada or Adam Ondra get super motivated when they see the footage and make a dedicated cross-Atlantic effort?  Time will tell…
 

One final item to consider is the progression of high-end sport climbing.  Many people consider Sharma’s 2001 ascent of Realization as the benchmark for 5.15a.  The Big Up Blog proclaims that “it’s a safe statement to call it [Jumbo Love] the new benchmark for 9b [5.15b]”.  This should give you an idea of how incredibly difficult it is to push climbing to a new level if it has taken Sharma 7 years of climbing at the highest levels to up the ante by a single letter grade.


Quote:
Originally Posted by skicougar View Post

So ? Big whup.

Thats an apples and oranges argument. Many skiers board, skateboard, snowmobile, skate and play hockey as those are all related. Skiers generally only climb or skin up mountains to ski down them.

You need to compare climbing to something more similar. I'd say its closer to acrobatic flying and i'll take that over climbing any day.

Did you see the trailer on the progession movie, one climber was missing 1/2 his finger. i'm betting that happened trying to climb something. Thanks, no; i'll stay with skiing and if i need to climb, i have a gym full of equipment and i hadn't lost a finger there.

Many skiers also climb.  I think the two are way more related than you might think if you've never climbed.  Climbing involves picking out the correct "line" and making the proper moves (turns?) to get up the mountain instead of down.  I don't think roped technical climbing resembles acrobatic flying any more than skiing resembles hot-air balooning.

 
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by skicougar View Post

So ? Big whup.

Thats an apples and oranges argument. Many skiers board, skateboard, snowmobile, skate and play hockey as those are all related. Skiers generally only climb or skin up mountains to ski down them.

You need to compare climbing to something more similar. I'd say its closer to acrobatic flying and i'll take that over climbing any day.

Did you see the trailer on the progession movie, one climber was missing 1/2 his finger. i'm betting that happened trying to climb something. Thanks, no; i'll stay with skiing and if i need to climb, i have a gym full of equipment and i hadn't lost a finger there.

+1 on this.

Kudos to us skiers bombing crazy supposedly un-ski-able slopes.  (Well... not me, but you know!)
And kudos to climbers that can nail a 5.15b in icy conditions.  (From a 5.9 climber!)  

It's all good, for everyone.
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