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Hangin’ With The Boys. November 6, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in climbing.
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I freed up a bit of time at the end of Saturday to head out to Farley Ledge in Erving MA, hoping to find someone bouldering in the crisp autumn air of early November.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, if you aren’t a “boulderer” or haven’t been following the death-spiral-arc of my life, “bouldering” is the branch of the rock-climbing tree which eschews ropes in favor of crash pads and “spotters,” rarely (and quite consequentially) venturing above a height from which it’s safe to fall onto a prepared landing.  Boulderers put maximum effort into navigating a small expanse of rock, by definition close enough to Terra Firma  to survive the defeat so often negotiated by gravity.

And nearby Farley Ledge offers so much potential in this category of climbing that rutting bucks come from all over the Northeast to throw themselves against these rocks, hoping to nudge their perception of the possible ever upward.

As a former climber and present-day photographer, my part in this dance of testosterone vs. gravity was to document it.  I won’t go into the psychic pain of being excluded from the action; my past physical excesses render me now eliminated from the field of participants stretching their physical horizons.

But capturing it is a different high, a chance to occupy spaces not available to those with the fire in their fingers and souls.

Here I got above an elegant boulder ridge which has begged to be climbed for some years, yet hasn’t been “sent,” as those who climb refer to Done Deeds:

That’s Jon’s hand working the arete (ridge) on this stiff problem.

A bit later, Breyton tried a toe-hook to reduce the force on his higher hand, gaining a strong meter in his quest for Upward Mobility:

That shot’s indicative of the difference between common folks’ conception of rock climbing and the reality of it as it now exists.  Rock climbing has undergone a conceptual differentiation which leaves many of its  adherents doing things which don’t fit the popular perception of climbers posed far above the normal plane of existence, reaching for the sky.  Instead we’re reaching for the next imaginary hold on ridiculous expanses of inconsequential boulders.

Inconsequential, that is, unless you care deeply about conquering the impossible.

Which these guys do: they drive the interminable hours up from NYC to spend the day doing exactly that.

Higher on the same piece of obstinate stone, Hayden throws for a tiny crimp:

…and fails to hang on, instead tumbling backward into the attentive hands of his “spotters.”

This is how the esoteric pursuit of Bouldering proceeds: individual efforts are buffered from the ravages of failure by a ground-level team effort.  This was my last love in rock climbing, as I learned the value of maximum personal effort, and of the safety net afforded by a caring community.

More to come, perhaps a bit artsier and less pedantic.

Rock Climbing At Farley Ledge. June 13, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in climbing, Love and Death.
Tags: , ,

Here are a few shots of my friend Tim climbing at Farley Ledge in Erving, Massachusetts.  I’t’s a drive for him, but well worth it; the rock is superb, and the routes are plentiful.

This route’s steep, requiring both grip strength and body tension; Tim has both.

Starting out:

A  little bit higher:

And steeper still, ferreting a way out through the roof of stone blocking his path sunward:

The low light made for some really grainy pictures, with a sharply curtailed ability to capture any action.  But I got what I got, and it is what it is.

And later, an attack on a differently steep bit of rock, one where the wall didn’t rear up into an absurdly steep plain, but rather overhung gently, compactly, offering only small, sloping holds:

This stretch of rock, with it’s shallow, rounded holds, proved substantially more challenging, requiring a level of perseverance which weakened my knees:

Tim worked hard to get up this one as I, an observer, sweated bullets.

I’m hoping to get back into this game as my shoulders allow.  Meanwhile, I’ll just be a reporter of it.