Don’t Knock It Til You Do It

12 06 2008

Sonnie Trotter on the sharp end

For once, I have an opinion and it has nothing to do with the environment or charity.

After Sonnie Trotter redpointed Dave MacLeod’s Rhapsody on Dumbarton Rock in Scotland (see here too), he made a blog post along these lines:

It won’t be long before I’ll say or do something that people won’t like, accept or understand and I’ll be the easy target for smack talking and trash mocking [about] the fact that I only choose climbs that will gain me visibility and that I only ‘redpoint’ after X-treme toproping sessions, so therefore I am not a true climber of soul. It will go donw like this —

“Talk to me when he does something from the ground up.”

“I heard he doesn’t climb ice, what a puss.”

“but did he do the extension?”

“Did you hear he used a rubber knee pad for the crux?”

“Oh my, what a cheater.”

“It wasn’t a flash, he fell off the first hold and then got back on again.”

Oh and let’s not forget that I am a sponsor whore, a prostitute for free shwag and food stamps.

To this, I must say, the man shouldn’t even have to think about haters. This was the second ascent of a E11 7a (5.14c R) – the first of it’s kind in 2006 – so the only one who could possibly smack talk Mr. Trotter would be Mr. MacLeod himself. About the knee pad, maybe… But no one else.

Trotter had to take monetary donations from other climbers to fund his last days at Dumbarton. Their generosity was amazing, but should full time climbers really have to live on squat to stay credible? I personally hope Trotter finds as many corporate Johns to sponsor him as possible – just to keep the mad ascents coming. (It’s not like a Petzl rep went and chiseled holds for him on Rhapsody or Direquiem.)

So yes, I’m ranting. I’m using this space to support the doers and decry the posers who’ll say anything to look tough. Seems to me that climbing at your highest level means focusing on your own self. Do your thing the way you think it should be done. And leave it at that.

This is the only thing that irks me about the climbing community. People talk about the purity of the sport. How it’s been besmirched by the influx of “impure” athletes. Sounds like scary talk to me. Also, it’s sad when home grown spots like Hueco get overrun by climbing “tourists,” but such is the evolution of a sport.

Where would the impetus for opening new routes, problems, and territories come from if you could hold onto the past?

Reminds me of the interview with Reinhold Messner that was floating around the blogosphere a while back. The man has no fear of the future. Not only does he not have to poo-poo today’s rock climbers to make his achievements look more astonishing, he doesn’t feel like he has to, either. (That makes sense, right?)

But then, I’m an iconoclast. And I can get fierce. Um, yeah. Congrats, Sonnie! I’m sure you’re not above hatin’, posin’, and say, bemoanin’ sport routes or something, but in this case, you done good.

(Oh, and, check this Sonnie Trotter training video.)