Rewind: A Life Without Climbing?


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right here, right now
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 28, 2013 - 10:50pm PT
Rewind however many years it takes.
Imagine you'd never been introduced to climbing: big fork in the road type hypothetical thought experiment.

Some bases you might tag here:

 Do you think it was inevitable you'd find something else sort of risky to sharpen your teeth on?
 Were you already doing some parallel physical activity, perhaps similar in terms of passion and risk prior to becoming a climber and would you still be doing it instead?
 What would that alternate activity to climbing be in your case?
 Has that [pre-climbing] pursuit evolved to your dis-taste, or diverged from the values which climbing has inculcated within you since you left your earlier path?
 Is it likely whatever your path, that it would be essentially an individualistic one such as climbing?
 Characterize your transition from your prior passion to climbing.

This is a direct query about our innate drives and how we find an outlet for them and what other kinds of things might have met that need for self-expression.

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2013 - 10:51pm PT

From ages 10 to 13 I was into motorcycle/dirtbike riding. This was the early 70s, literally 1970-1974: the golden era of dirtbike riding when land was more plentiful, gas was cheap and effective incomes hadn't started taking a big hit yet. These were the golden years of Dirtbike Magazine and manufacturers of sleek lightweight machines abounded. There was risk, there was an engagement with the natural environment albeit with a sophisticated tool as an interface. There was a lot of balance and body english, stamina and strength involved. Certainly there was commitment and adrenaline.

In Southern California surfing and motocross were big. On any Sunday, a seminal film about dirt riding, was produced by Bruce Brown who also produced Endless Summer, the breakout surfing film. It was likely I was going to do something individualistic and highly physical. I was intelligent and was going to need something that challenged me on many levels; something I could sink my teeth into.

Lots of people got really busted up riding and racing motorcycles. I was an enthusiastic Grand Prix auto racing spectator at that time as well, because that was my father's passion. Watch Steve McQueen's LeMans to get a really good look at motor racing from that era. Both motorcycle racing and auto racing are blood sports, with the exception of recreational dirtbike riding. But motocross can be pretty nasty. The advent of Supercross really upped the ante and busted up a lot of riders. We don't even have to get into GP bikes. Both the sports were fairly expensive, auto racing almost limited to the rich. The social milieu of those sports is very tribe like and I'd say the bonds are equally strong between people who pursue motorsports to those who pursue climbing. Racing is you, machine, track, and competitor Ö And all your buddies that do it.

I was never going to be a team sports player. As a young teenager I didn't really have access to money. We essentially invented bicycle motocross, mimicking real motorcycles with our Schwinn Stingrays. Motorsports, although individualistic, could be considered to be antithetical to wilderness activities. Was it an unlikely transition? I don't know. I'm still a motorsports enthusiast and yes I believe in global warming. Cognitive dissonance? Not sure about that!

I transitioned to climbing at 13 in 1974 and quite simply it may be only because I had easier access to it and it clicked with me very quickly. The patriarch of my father's group of friends, Dave Fitzpatrick, who had land out in the desert and provided something of a locus for all of us to participate, died New Year's Eve, 1973/1974. Essentially our group of riders disbanded. My childhood friend, Doug Munoz, had access to climbing through the Boy Scouts. Very little in terms of machinery to break and maintain I thought. You could do it on the cheap cheap. Most racers are half part mechanic and half part racer. Climbing is much less encumbered by mechanical necessity. Perhaps my natural abilities were spurred by the aggressive physicality provided by riding dirt bikes. Lots of forearm conditioning happening there! Plenty of fear to manage!

Perhaps, alternatively I would've stuck with the riding, become a landscape architect, Gotta have real cash to do the motorsports gig, Ö so I would likely not have really chewed off anything so big and all-consuming as rockclimbing, guiding full-time and so forth. Maybe I wouldn't have been as dedicated to anyone thing: more well-rounded as they say. Frankly it's hard for me to imagine. I never wanted a family. I was free to throw the dice. That's how I got here!

How about you?

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:10am PT
I must think before I post because this IS a serious matter.

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:20am PT
I was also into dirt bike riding. Late sixties/early seventies, every Sunday was spent at Indian Dunes out by Magic Mountain.
Got into hiking, the climbing
Got into mountain biking in the mid eighties( but continued climbing).
As I've gotten older(59), I find myself interested in ww kayaking

edited to add, was never into team sports. I did run cross country while a freshman in high school.

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:36am PT
I've never had a life without climbing.
I'd have to rewind to 4 years old when I took my first
fall climbing the rock terrace in back of our house in Japan.

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 12:44am PT
Indian Dunes. We have that in common.

You can get the entire catalog of Dirt Bike magazines from 1970 through 1974 on CD.
I've been having a lot of fun reading each and every one cover to cover!
I actually miss it; but it isn't going to happen. Arms.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:53am PT
I just got into motorcycling 5 years ago to save gas and the polar bears and discovered it's a way to do something dangerous every single day - something I could not get from climbing because of proximity. It keeps the brained tuned to danger - even if it's just #@&%es with cellphones stuck to their ear - I pretend that's just falling rock potential. I have discovered the 'big slab' - these wonderful endless isles of concrete to rip around on - a boyhood dream come true. Course I have a dirt bike too now. It's heartening to be able to experience a thrill by just commuting.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:59am PT
Damn, We did bicycle motocross in the 70's as kids in the UBC Endowment Lands.

It got so out off hand that the owner of Dunbar Cycles at the time organized it to happen at a certain time and place. This stopped a random bee swarm of kids on bikes from terrorizing the gentle hikers. Early mountain biking with no mountain I guess.

I'm wracking my done in head to remember his name and say thanks !

EDIT: It was Mr. Schultz and It was great to have had someone like him to point the way to controlled mayhem as a way of life.

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:01am PT
My passion has always been for the mountains. I love everything about them. I was always interested in climbing growing up, but didn't know any climbers. Climbing has become my favorite way to enjoy the mountains, along with river fishing, canyoneering, caving, backpacking, hiking, photography, whitewater, natural history, snowboarding, and other things I can't remember.

My main transition was from snowboarding to climbing to avoid injuries, but snowboarding still scares me more (at least how I used to do it).

If it wasn't for climbing I would still be in the mountains, but I don't know where I'd get my adrenaline fix.

I'm paying for my love of the mountains now though. I got out of knee surgery about 6 hours ago and I'm 27. "Over use" they say... On the bright side, I'm still doped up and it's nice. I probably didn't answer the questions in order, but to that I say; morphine!


Trad climber
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:03am PT
like most of us, if i hadn't found climbing,
i'd be either dead or in prison.

not that posting to st is all that different

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:05am PT
I started climbing at age 30 and I was caving at the time, so I think the answer is yes I would have continued with other risky activites.

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 01:10am PT
i'd be either dead or in prison.

not that posting to st is all that different

hahahahahahaha KLK you rock!

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:12am PT
I would have been a loser, rather than a dirtbag.

Deep question

Will have to come back to it
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:14am PT
This last Fall I successfully fought off the urge to buy a metal detector.....was looking into them, calling about them....... I'm just not ready. I think I was in a spell of depression from healing up an Achilles Tendon.

Social climber
North Vancouver BC
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:14am PT
Started out caving in 1974 and would have continued expect my brother took a mountaineering course that included rock climbing.
He told me it was just like caving, but without the wetness and darkness and on dry sunny rocks. Daddy didnít raise no fools, we never looked back.

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 01:17am PT
Thanks folks!
This is exactly what I'm looking for.
A way for us to know something more about one another, but still on the climbing topic ... yet slightly tangentially.

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:22am PT

Probably lots and lots of surfing and high performance sailing and sail boarding.

right here, right now
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2013 - 01:23am PT
Jim Brennan said:
I'm wracking my done in head to remember his name and say thanks !

I got a hold of one of my dad's buddies, the guy who was really my mentor with motorcycles.
Had not spoken to him for 40 years. He 'still kicking, 80 years old, road bikes until he was 70.

He noted that I had good balance way back when.
I wanted to thank him for that vote of confidence: it was really cool to touch base.

Jan 29, 2013 - 01:29am PT
Leading up to my start of climbing I tried every sport out there. I wrestled, started offense/defense in football, karate, you name it. I told my parents I wanted a motorcycle at age 12 they said you have to buy it yourself. At age 13.5 I had enough to buy one.

Then the climbing part hit around 14, I quit all "mainstream" sports. We started by using cotton clothes line. Nearly died a few times but as a group saved enough money to buy some real stuff.

Do I need to do it? Yes and No. I still love motorcycles, and I picked up whitewater kayaking about 20 years ago, and I of course still climb.

To be honest, I'm not as psyched on the later 2 at the moment and want to pick up on paragliding. Never done it but looks cool as sh#t! I don't want to be 3 dimentional I want to be 10 dimentional. I climb and have religeously for 25 years but I'm NOT a climber! Or so I tell myself.

However the theme in my life has been one of "alternative" recreation, so I think I'd be O.K. without climbing but will always be a weirdo.

The Larry

Moab, UT
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:33am PT
Art collector, professor, assassin, and bowler.
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