what’s in a name?

Climbers appreciate the significance of names much more so than runners:

The vertical folk have:
“Scaredy Cat” Describes an obvious emotion and a taunt. Are you good enough to attempt this route? Even if you know nothing about the route the name gives you some kind of idea.

“Ocean’s of Fear” Vast expanse, that emotion thing again.

“Stem Gem- the baptism of fire” Beauty, something rare mixed with a transition. A right of passage and not an easy and pleasant one.

“Magic Mushroom” ‘nough said.

“Titanium Trip” Super hard voyage of discovery.

“Super Power” Once again a taunt. Are you up to it?

These all inspire some sense of fear and power and having to overcome great dificulties to reach the summit, to survive.

The more horizontally inclined among us have:

“Boston Marathon”
“Berlin Marathon”
“San Fransisco Marathon” Location, location, location…
Then there is the exception to the rule:
Two Ocean’s …. (hey where did the ultra go) I thought that a Marathon was 42,2 km exactly or 26,2 miles. The distance a greek bloke ran long time ago to tell his king somethiing really important.

The first hint of things not quite being the way that we thought. Read on:

Even in describing routes words like “obvious” tree (or some other feature) will sprinkle litrature. “Interesting” often describes the undescribable. “Character building” see “Stem Gem” above. In fact the route Stem Gem would only carry half its mystery if the name did not include “the baptism of fire”. I first read about it in the late ’80 and was intrigued. I wanted to know what this fire was about. I wanted to be born again too!

The climbing route “That Thing” sounds quite obvious and not too inspiring. Ah what a gem it is. And what a hidden one. 35m of vertical fear. That was until some idiot decided to bolt the crap out of it. But that is for another day.

Certain names may not give much away at first glance but for those in the know there is a whole baptism of pain hidden behind it.
“Barkley Marathon” (see another post),
“Badwater Marathon” By now you will have worked out that “marathon” does not always refer to the 26,2. In this case it is 135… miles…
“Jonkershoek Marathon” who knows how long this one is.
“Marathon des Sables” Ah the marathon thing again…
“Trans 555” or Route du Sel a 555km race through the desert. Makes the MdS look like breakfast.
And for the climbers:
“Direct North Buttress” the “little brother opposite El Cap. Only 18 pitches as opposed to 32….
“Moonflower Buttress” on Mount Hunter. Sounds pretty hey?
Then G4, ok, ok Gashebrum 4. It is not even 8000 m, a bloody long way from anywhere and nobody knows about it. So what is the attraction? Maybe that only 7 people have ever summited. That the best have tried and failed, that it is exactly that.
That which if you have to ask then I won’t bother (sorry paraphrased). If you don’t get the real drive of why we do something then you’ll never get it.
If you have to compare your 10k times with others to boost your own ego, if you need to compare your seven summits record to feel like you are a climber then you obviously don’t get it.

Climbers have long had the science of sandbagging down to a fine art. I guess the reason for this is the hours spent sitting around campfires into the late hours emptying whisky bottles and spinnng yarns of heroism- some true, some not. While after a jog runners go home and drink recovery potions, have a massage, shave their legs and enjoy compression garments. Climbers are also inherently closed in their community and won’t tolerate posers easily. You need to survive some interesting, character building stuff to enter the inner circle.

If it’s not in your blood then it will never be.

If you don’t want to do the real deal then you will cut corners, pull on gear and call it free and dope when nobody’s looking.

Let’s face it we all want recognition. The ego is fragile!
We compare known distances and grades and times. So what is your 10k time? How the darn should I know? I enjoy it that is what matters. Mind you it does not always have to be fun to be fun (Mark Twight).

I will measure you by, how what you say measures to what you do.

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