Chipped, Twice At Black ?

What I’m referring to are holds that appear to be chipped. I say ‘appear’ not lightly as the evidence (dependent on the corroboration of an early ascensionist, which I believe to be sincere and accurate) points to chipping on Shoot The Moon (originally rated 10) and Dream Tiger (originally rated 9?). The condition of the 2 holds in question are today quite different from what they were originally, according to the same person who helped establish many of today’s hard lines at Black. My descriptions are based on their account.

Shoot The Moon crux crimp. Look natural?

The crux crimp on Shoot The Moon was a very poor 2-3 fingertip edge not used in the first/early ascents. The original beta reversed hands and went big to the cupped hold (before and lower than the crimp in question); body tension and some serious extension off the start ledge got you to the roof jug/incut. The only early ascent I’m aware of that used the original crimp was when Bridget got the first female ascent (FFA). Today, that crimp is an oddly polished-feeling flat crimp wide enough for a large hand. It’s a jug now, basically, so the send beta is mostly, I assume, Bridget’s beta to cross to the crimp off the cupped hold. (Also, there’s a micro crimp down and left of the ‘chipped’ crimp that’s now broken off. This hold I don’t think was chipped. It was used by some as a brief stopping point before reaching the underside incut.) Here’s another shot with my hand for size:

My finger tips show the depth (sorta) of the crimp. Fits all my fingers easily. How convenient.

Jill did it quickly and thought it was a 9. This was before she even knew that the crimp had apparently been altered. The 10’s she’s done in Josh she feels are harder, and she said it feels more consistent with a lot of 9’s she’s done at various crags. She used the same beta as the FFA.

Dream Tiger is the other problem done back when the guidebook authors were sending many new lines. The crimp in question is the crux flat/wide angle hold (noticed I didn’t include the word ‘crimp’). Today, it’s a narrow/scooped indent that people in videos seem to open crimp.

The recessed part is above a faint and irregular horizontal crack line from left to right.

This shot gives an idea of the depth of the groove.

The rock quality/character on Dream Tiger really lends itself to being altered by an ambitious soul. That faint horizontal crack allows one to slowly pry out loose/unstable grains of stone along that crack line, and the large grain size makes it easy to get leverage. My 38 years of climbing locally is my basis for this opinion. This is one of the main reasons it’s not really worth having heavy traffic on the poorer quality stone. If I/Jill find good stuff but has fragile stone, we’ve decided it’s not worth publishing. I’ve seen heavy use cause massive destruction to such rock. I digress.

From the start jug, one makes a big move to this flat but poorly angled ‘hold,’ and using serious heel/flag tension while pulling and contracting their core (levering their upper body against their heel/flag) into the heel/flag, they can match then stab for the upper edge… with the left hand. According to online videos, the beta seems to be to go left then hand/toe match and reach the upper incut with the right hand. Going left and match, even though the upper hold is better, was apparently harder given the poor quality of the original crux hold. Mechanically, it makes sense if that hold was very poor (basically turning it into a vertical compression into the legs), one would want to contract directly into the heel with a backflag, avoiding a cross-body link. This then forces one to go to the poorer upper hold after the match because the tension remains along the right half of the body. V7… 6?

This uniqueness is why Jill and I and many others climb outside as often as possible. Because plastic can be so boring. Because plastic can be reachy for no reason other than lack of setter talent. Because real rock fucking rules. It’s that simple, and when it gets damaged, it’s gone. Period. The very essence of the above beta is special because the movement is a product of marginalism. Meaning, it’s the marginal nature of holds that most plastic pullers hate that makes the movement so special. You see, the movement is not in the action to go to another hold, or even latching it. It’s in finding a way to make a move off such shitty holds, find a sequence that works with your body type. It’s the unlocking of the secret sauce in movement, not the ‘exercise’ of pulling a ‘powerful move.’ That’s what plastic is for; it’s distilled movement to nothing more than the physicality of it.

The mystery, the secret sauce beta, the beauty of nature-driven moves is NOT normal or predictable in any conventional sense. Gym movement is too often based on gravity holds and pulling. Available training information is often all about pulling. When the holds are just pressure points, the core becomes necessary, not just for something that improves the send style, but to make movement actually work…outside. Indoor movement patterns reflect grab and snatch stunts that makes one feel netto, because it’s so dynamic. Outside, dynamics take on a different tone. They’re reserved for necessity as holds often require care and effort to hold/use and be successful with. Real rock sucks… but so good. It hurts, but we keep wanting more. And when it works, finally, it’s not good in a workout sorta way, but in a “that’s cool that actually worked” kinda way…and it’s always an original… a one-of-a-kind, every time.

The only approach to dealing with this, as I see it, is to downgrade the problem to reflect this change.* The alleged chipping was done because the move was too hard. But I’m sure the perpetrators will claim their ascent was pre-chip. When self-serving humanoids modify stone for nefarious reasons or just because they lack a good self-image, it’s best to point out the options without the chipped hold, if possible. In the case of Blood Diamond (JTNP), one can easily avoid the chipped block hole and still climb it as a 10. That’s cool. For Black, Shoot The Moon is limited for taller folk that use the original beta. For Dream Tiger, we’ve lost another endangered species. That leaves Der Kapitan… I hope.

Now, Dream Sequence is another gym problem to be stripped and remade in its likeness, an ugly likeness that has fitness written all over it.

(For the record, these acts don’t appear to have been done recently. Fellow climbers today that have been on it, and now knowing what it was like in its original state, can speak up and date their experience of the hold character. This can help put a timeline on any actions.)

*This is one of many problems with the new Black Mountain guidebook that lacks grades. Chipping becomes more acceptable as the grades themselves are the only way to put such nefarious actions into perspective. And remember, grades are the sole domain of those that send. A fundamental fallacy of the argument to attempt to offer a grade “range” for all climbers (presented in the gB).

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~ by r. mulligan on 2017/07/08.

2 Responses to “Chipped, Twice At Black ?”

  1. Dang! I somehow missed this post. Has any new information come to light?! I have had to slightly rewrite my code of conduct in terms of cleaning and ground up ethics to cope with the massive amounts of vegetation and shit rock in Oregon but hold modification is clearly not only against all (“most” apparently) climbers wishes but is also just super weak!! I don’t buy anyone pleading ignorance or “cleaning” when it comes to this.

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