The five stages of “backing-off” climbs.

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Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 19, 2009 - 03:04pm PT
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's book, "On Death and Dying” identifies five stages of accepting death.

• Denial (this isn't happening to me!)

• Anger (why is this happening to me?)

• Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)

• Depression (I don't care anymore)

• Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)



When I think about the many climbing “back-offs” I achieved attempting new routes in Idontno, and difficult routes elsewhere: the five stages sound remarkably similar.

Most all the below happened to me BITD. I even won several of the annual "Most Backoffs" awards from the "Decker Flat Climbing & Frisbee Club."


DENIAL:
“I don’t think that lightning storm is heading for us.”
“It won’t rain for long.”
“You really think this belay won’t hold a lead fall?”
“The rock just can’t be that bad everywhere.”
“There must be someplace to get some protection in.”

ANGER:
“I can’t believe you don’t want to try that next lead.”
“What the hell are you afraid of?”
“Do you think we’re going to melt in a little rain!”
“I really don’t know where the hell we are going, or how you propose to get there.”
“When is a belay, ever, ----really good?”

BARGAINING:
“If it quits raining in the next ___ minutes, the rock will dry out real soon.”
“If that lightning storm doesn’t get closer, I’m cool with continuing.”
“If you can get up this lead, I think it gets easier above.”
“I think we just need to hope that there’s a place up there to put a belay.”
“If I carry both packs, can you lead this one?”

DEPRESSION!
“It sure got cold fast when the shadow hit.”
“There is no way we can get up this before dark, and we are not equipped for a bivy.”
“We are in way over our heads.”
“I think the lightning is getting way too close.”
“If it keeps raining like this we’re f*#ked.”

ACCEPTANCE:
“It would be nice to be warm again.”
“I sure am so looking forward to being off this.”
“I vote for trying this again, with the right gear, in better conditions.”
“Think this tree would hold a rappel?”
”I can nearly taste those couple beers we put in the creek.”

Dirka

Trad climber
SF
Dec 19, 2009 - 03:08pm PT
Quality work.

I like when acceptance hits- Just go numb and go along for the ride.
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
Dec 19, 2009 - 03:10pm PT
nice jeans there; great for waiting out a thunder storm. ha

I've never backed off anything, so I wouldn't know about stages... lol
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Dec 19, 2009 - 03:23pm PT
Bonatti backed off the Croz Spur 7 times before doing it.
I believe he said "Great climbers die in their rocking chairs."
lars johansen

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Dec 19, 2009 - 04:17pm PT
Classic!!

I've sure had my share of self imposed failures.


Bailing, for good reason....
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
Sprocketville
Dec 19, 2009 - 04:36pm PT
you know, i get the same feeling every time i over pack the bong?

1) crap, this stuff can't be that good, but it's still expanding!

2) how could i be such a fool, been smokin for 50 years, can't happen here,

3) please stay down, i promise to pack a lighter bowl and not be so greedy!

4) diesel #1, - oh shit! diesel #2 and #3, crap, it's gotta come out!

5) i don't care about my burning lungs and throat, i feel so frickin good!

serious, the only bud i backed off of was the Big Sur Holy Bud

jeezus H Crap!

Got Chronic?













































Return to your homes, ladies and gentlemen, there's nothing to see here.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 19, 2009 - 05:06pm PT
I tend to short-circuit all that and go directly from the true stage zero - fear - directly to acceptance, but then I can be fairly gracious that way.
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
New York, NY
Dec 19, 2009 - 08:22pm PT
funny!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 19, 2009 - 09:50pm PT
I just received a reply to my post from my "rope rocket" friend Kim.

After a couple months guiding treks in Nepal, she and her husband are "warming up" in Thailand.

I tested the post on her this morning and this is her comeback.

//From Kim:

Things are a little different for us sport climbers here in Thailand

DENIAL:
But it's only five ten!
ANGER:
This sunburn is ruining my concentration
BARGAINING:
If I send it, I won't eat drink any more beer
DEPRESSION:
But I might have to leave A biner
ACCEPTANCE:
Hey! Grab that Singha lady!//

Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Dec 19, 2009 - 10:23pm PT
On many of what I now consider to have been some my best climbs, if my partner had even mentioned the idea that we might not have to really do this we would have been down in an instant.
Scared Silly

Trad climber
UT
Dec 19, 2009 - 10:23pm PT
Speaking of five stages ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCoaBN6iOu0
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Dec 19, 2009 - 10:25pm PT
Fritz - that is ABSOLUTELY CLASSIC, and a great throwback to the 70's and 80's when climbers used to write lots of cool stuff like this, but don't seem to any more. This is the type of thing that belongs in the anthology Games Climbers Play. Man, I miss that stuff.

I think you should dress it up a bit, and send it to the mags who are sure to publish it, because it's really good and funny and original.

You should also more precisely quote your reference, and its year of publication which is 1969. Most of us are familiar with it, but I had to look up to confirm that you referenced the original, which you did - well done.

Surely one of the best posts of the year.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Dec 19, 2009 - 10:54pm PT
Can't find it right now, but wasn't there a Tom Patey article (Perrin's anthology, Mirror in the Cliffs maybe) about "gracefully withdrawing"?? that presages this thread? I like this thread of course, just keep remembering something I think Patey wrote. Loved him! Or maybe per above, it was Lito Tejada-Flores in the games climbers play thing of his.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 19, 2009 - 11:27pm PT
Peter:
I am sure that Patey’s “The Art of Climbing Down Gracefully” was perhaps lurking in my sub-conscious when I concocted this post. However I was exploring similar ground with a different approach.

After checking my library: I find


“The Art of Climbing Down Gracefully” was part of a series that Patey wrote for “Mountain” before his death. It was published posthumously in both Mountain and then in the Patey bio “One Man’s Climbs.”

Later it was fully published in “The Games Climbers Play.”

The story contains 16 different ways to avoid climbing, or if forced to climb, ways to immediately and gracefully remove yourself from a route.

BITD: It was one of my “must reads” in “Games Climbers Play.”

I always favored the ploy in #11: Various Time-wasting tactics.

Commando Pace!
-
-
-
-
I did learn a lot of ploys from Patey.
-
-
The annual “MOST BACKOFFS AWARD” was highly coveted -----BITD.

tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Dec 19, 2009 - 11:38pm PT
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 20, 2009 - 01:45am PT
Nice post OP!

That photo above looks like are real pain picnic~!

Peace

karl
tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Dec 20, 2009 - 03:00am PT
Just another outing with Bill McConachie to do some ice climbing during a snow storm on Upper Sentinel Falls, December, 2008.
Fletcher

Trad climber
The beckoning silence
Dec 20, 2009 - 03:07am PT
Awesome... I'm crackin' up!
Eric
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 20, 2009 - 03:16am PT
Classic stuff here. I think the reason for my first successful El Cap route was picking a route that was way hard to back off of. 1982, the Trip, in winter. If for some strange reason you find it necessary to deal with your Ego, learning to back away with grace is an art form or a lesson in futility.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Dec 20, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
Delightful post! I was raised in the Vulgarian tradition, which viewed The Fiasco as one of the highest forms of climbing achievement. But of course we've moved on, and with "progress" seem to come fewer and fewer ways to enjoy the manifold delights of abject failure.

Indeed, perhaps as a side-effect of the self-image industry, the entire concept of failure has been nearly erased from the climbing lexicon, being replaced instead by various finely titrated degrees of success. Think about the dictionary's worth of terms in sport climbing used to describe, in some positive sense, the fact that the climber was not capable of doing the climb. (I recently heard the celebratory announcement, "I one-hung it!" and only barely managed to suppress the reply, "Well hung, dude!")

To paraphrase an Yvon Chouinard quote about a route a did in the Gunks years ago, "I could have a thousand such successes and forget them all tomorrow, for it is only the great failures that live on forever in one's mind."
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 20, 2009 - 01:17pm PT
I think Messner backed off more Himilayan stuff than he was successful on. The stages also have to do with age:
In your 20's - We can't back off they will laugh at us in the bar
After your 40's - Who cares, we got out, failed, can always come back later.
The ice climbing temperature limit follows this as well:
In your 20's - It's not any colder than -35 we can do this
After your 40's - My God its like -20 C we had better wait for the Chinook.
The most rewarding ice climbs at this stage feature
an approach involving running shoes and tights.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 20, 2009 - 07:40pm PT
Fellow "Back-offers" Thank you for posting up.

I haven’t really thought about the fact that “backing off” is out of fashion.

In the early 70’s I did a slideshow on “New Routes in the Sawtooths” for the U of Idaho Outdoor Program.

After the show, a student came up and talked with me. He was genuinely puzzled that I also showed two new routes that I had “backed off.” He had never seen a climbing slide show with that sort of stuff in it.

I tried to explain that we were climbing in a area with no guidebook and a lot of summer thunderstorms. I added that the “backoffs” were future projects.

I don’t think he got it.

A “slight disagreement” over route-finding in the Sawtooths. Of course the gentleman with the rock was correct.
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Top of the 5.2-5.12 Boulder
Dec 20, 2009 - 07:43pm PT
The gentleman with the rock is ALWAYS correct, eh?
lars johansen

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Dec 20, 2009 - 08:19pm PT
Jeff Altenburg used to keep a "chronicle of descent" written on his insulite pad!!
bvb

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Dec 20, 2009 - 09:32pm PT
nice jeans there; great for waiting out a thunder storm. ha

I've never backed off anything, so I wouldn't know about stages... lol

heh. if this is true all it tells us is that you've never tested your limits.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 20, 2009 - 10:36pm PT
BVB: Thanks!

After reading your post carefully, ---I see you also know that “backoffs” are a sign of character and wisdom.

There is a lot of “wisdom” in retreating before the thunderstorm, rather than in the thunderstorm.
10b4me

Ice climber
Ice Caves at the Sads
Dec 21, 2009 - 12:47am PT
"you know, I don't think I'm up for it today"
said by me after a long walk from TM to the base of the west ridge of Conness
nutjob

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Dec 21, 2009 - 03:58am PT
Maybe this back-off thing is coming back into fashion?
It was my best year of back-offs:
 North Buttress Middle Cathedral
 Conness Harding Route
 Quicksilver
 Reg Route Higher Cathedral Spire (started close to sunset, windy, storm)
 Braille Book (rain, sleet, snow)
 Coonyard Pinnacle
 Marginal (2nd pitch anchors getting too dark to see, no headlamp)

Before that, only back-off was Hawkman's Escape and I got my vengeance during this last year.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 21, 2009 - 12:24pm PT
Nutjob: That is an impressive list of high-quality backoff's.

I think you are in contention for:

"BACKOFFER OF THE YEAR!" award.

Any other qualifiers?

One lead sport climb backoffs don't count.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Dec 21, 2009 - 12:39pm PT
The late Serge Couttet, one of the famous Couttet brothers (Roland)of Chamonix guide fame, once told me (in his heavy accent), "The mountain, it will always be there, you will enjoy it much, at a later time"
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Dec 21, 2009 - 03:41pm PT
relevant new post:

http://supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1041277/STEVE_WUNSCH_NOBLE_PARTNER
deuce4

climber
Hobart, Australia
Dec 21, 2009 - 10:51pm PT
dang if that "acceptance' part is a good feeling though. Lots of agony before getting there though. Only backed off a few major projects, tough times! Worst one was backing off the Sea of Dreams after a lot of weather setbacks over a period of a month or so, then it was pretty much winter.
rlf

Trad climber
Josh, CA
Dec 21, 2009 - 11:13pm PT
For me there is only one phase:

"F*#k this!"
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Dec 22, 2009 - 12:13am PT
I only have one back off that bugs me, the rest, very quickly end in acceptance. Once you've done a lot of climbing, the back off is easier to do.

The thing I worry about though, is that once you've backed off a few things, it gets easier to do too.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 22, 2009 - 12:36am PT
When I was young, I almost never backed off anything. I was all "Do or Die!"

Then I was taking some old friends up Triple Direct and just before Gray ledges I took an extra long whipper (One pulled piece and some bad belaying) Burned my hand good, or rather Bad.

I finished leading up to Gray ledges and we crashed. Next day it was obvious that they (high school buddy and ex-girlfriend) weren't up to leading anything and I couldn't know if my hand was going to get wrecked if we kept going so I made the monumental decision to bail.

I decided not to get my panties in a bunch about it either,

In fact, we had good weather and plenty of food and some booze so the next day we rapped to Heart Ledge and partied in the pleasant sunlight for the rest of the day. Rapped the rest of the day the next morning. WAY more fun bailing than climbing as I was hauling every pitch and the ex-girlfriend brought silly things like a whole bar of soap!

Peace

Karl

Fogarty

climber
BITD
Dec 22, 2009 - 12:51am PT
Fritz

Well Said and final Answer!
Victoria Vulture

Trad climber
Victoria, BC
Jan 4, 2010 - 05:13pm PT
It seems that in the last two decades backing off climbs has come to be considered as failure rather than part of the adventure.Few ascensionists appear willing to admit or discuss retreats. Can't we laugh at our own folly any more or are participants confusing these games we play with "serious" occupations ?
imStein

Mountain climber
Triumph, Idaho
Jan 4, 2010 - 06:19pm PT
Attached is a photo of Fritz contemplating stage two on his first big back-off. The approaching thunder storm kept us from getting in over our heads on Old Hyndman. (That mountain is half choss anyway)
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 4, 2010 - 10:07pm PT
Tacoites: A Big Welcome to Stein Sitzmark!

One of my first climbing partners and a constant contender for the coveted "Backoffer of the Year" award from the "Decker Flat Climbing & Frisbee Club" (DFC&FC).

Our first Sawtooth summit was Mt. Regan 10,200 Ft. in 1970.

That trip also marked the start of the DFC&FC.


Stein led the "Tylorian Traverse" and then helped to "Stabilize" dangerous rocks on the summit.


Welcome Stein!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jan 5, 2010 - 12:11am PT
hey there fritz.... say, i am not a climber... though a hiker... (haha, well, was a tree climber in my old days)...:))

but i must say:

as to this:
BVB: Thanks!

After reading your post carefully, ---I see you also know that “backoffs” are a sign of character and wisdom.

There is a lot of “wisdom” in retreating before the thunderstorm, rather than in the thunderstorm.

so very true... i have really been enjoying your post here...
there is a hight skill art in backing-off---even as there is a high skill art, in pressing on ...

yet--if AND WHEN either skill comes from the ol' gut, they will never be used wrongly, or "become a habitual" weakness (as if quitting) or folly (as in pursueing beyond reason)...

the true challange is to be the master of the rock-at-hand and the time-at-hand, by god's good grace...

really good stuff you have here...
as in "real" life issues other than climbing, there TOO is a time to back-off whether one would inwardly not want to... but by doing so--later, with wisdom, proper timing, and reflected insight, come the victory...

a very cherished thing, is victory...

say, graet stuff...
and:
a happy hearty welcome to your friend and climbing partner, imstein....

(hope i spelled that right)
:)


*say, feel free to make "imstein" a welcome to the forum, post, if you like... sounds like he's got a treasure full of posts to share, too...

if not, mabey one of us will... will check back later...
god bless...


neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jan 5, 2010 - 12:23am PT
hey there say, also, as to "backing-off"... and the huge vastness of seeing yourself have to retrace-back-down (hard work, etc, all seemingly being for naught) without the goal in hand, can sure be a huge let-down, unless one sees the adventure within THAT, as well...

thus... when-and-if the time comes to do it again, there seems to be a greater powerer to re-take what was lost, but in new and fresher ways...

kind of like in the "daily life" issues too...

that is, unless one looks at the "retracing back" too deeply in the wrong ways... ;)


*i suspect many a back-off climbs, would not deter one for the true conquer, yet to be, if one was truly living for the rocks... his gut would bring him back, until he had his "trophy" and his life, from said adventure, and an inner joy, far to meaningful and hard to explain...

*though, i am surely NOT knocking the vast experience of roughing it out, in the midst of adversity--as that equally had a power to work in a man's heart, for needed stamina and insight, for the inner man, too--though in other ways...

wow, you all... which ever is at hand, i really cheer you all on!!!
:)
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2010 - 09:53pm PT
More research today in my 70's & 80's climbing literature-----on "Backoffs".

It appears Baron Von Mabel knew of the joy of suviving to backoff: after "A SUFFERFEST!"


Captain...or Skully

Social climber
You wanted to!
Jan 28, 2010 - 09:57pm PT
Hiya, Stein.
You guys have some good tales between ya, I'll warrant.
tinker b

climber
the commonwealth
Jan 28, 2010 - 10:21pm PT
i usually hand draw the topo of the route the night before the climb. i have a collection of topos from the routes i have backed off of that i carry around for when the time is right. the latest has my partners blood on it from his fatal fall. i wish i had known to walk away from that one.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2010 - 11:18pm PT
Tinker B:
I remembered reading about the accident that took your friend, and I appreciate your ongoing mental pain.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=946005&tn=80

I think working through the pain is the healthiest path, as opposed to suppressing the ugly memories.

Please let me share advice that I have learned.

You need to express yourself, as you are doing tonight. It is also important to get out with others. Have a few drinks or tokes. Talk about life and loss.

There are others on the ST, that are working through their own losses. They want to share and help people that are feeling their pain.

Keep talking about life and loss----but remember that you need to live for your friend now.

I commend you for sharing your trauma and your feelings. Fritz
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - May 14, 2010 - 09:40pm PT
This thread works very nicely with Melissa's Five Reasons to back-off climbs.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/798086/Top-5-reasons-for-bailing-Humor-please

Somehow: I had not seen her thread until today. Great fun!
Mimi

climber
May 14, 2010 - 09:44pm PT
Besides being yeller, none of those reasons really fit for me. Sometimes circumstances were such that a powerful thirst prevailed after having severe route finding difficulties on a north facing route in early spring. Having to retreat for any reason is a dreadful thing.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 14, 2010 - 11:46pm PT
Most of my Bails are Ice climbing. If you perfect the art of bailing you can do it before you even suffer the approach. It is critical to keep the binoculers away from your partner when roadside bailing unless your partner is a gung ho rope gun.

So many excuses to be used roadside.

Wow! It looks rotten up there!
See how white that ice looks, it's a death trap!
man when the sun hits that thing its gonna get super scary up there! Supposed to be 35f today....

Looks like those guys ahead of us are pretty slow. No point waiting in line on a cold day like this.

P2 looks like theres no pro and with all that snow up there the upper gully could slide....


Then we went and learned how to make V threads and now we can bail from almost anywhere with only the cost of some accesory cord...

Man, did you hear that pillar crack? I am out of here!

Too many good reasons to bail from ice climbs to even begin to list them all ;)
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - May 15, 2010 - 12:16am PT
Tradman: My last frozen-waterfall “backoff” was from a ski-trip up Little Cottonwood Canyon above SLC, UT.

I lived in SLC the winter of 1983-84 and hosted an old climbing & ski buddy from Alaska for a few weeks mid-winter.

At that point: I had been surviving waterfall climbs since 1974 with no “ugly incidents.”

There had been a lot of “close calls & hanging it out.”

So-------we were driving up Little Cottonwood to go ski powder at Alta, and Mark notices the easy looking frozen-waterfalls on the other side of the canyon.

I am dealing with traffic and icy road-----and concentrating on those problems.

After Mark repeatedly brings up climbing the waterfalls --------from out of my subconscious, I answer:
“I think I’ve used up my luck.”

When I thought about the subconscious reply: I decided to listen to my subconscious mind.

I had used up: “a lot of luck.”

I have not climbed frozen water, since that day.

tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 15, 2010 - 09:17am PT
Thats pretty cool. I will say that the modern gear has made ice climbing a lot more tolerable, fun and safer than it was in 1983!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 22, 2010 - 10:36pm PT
Well now! It has been a summer of "challenging conditions" in much of North America for climbing.

Perhaps we at Super-Topo should consider adding a "backoffer of the year" award to the annual recognition on this site.

Please review the thread on the subject of “Backoffs” and post-up your thoughts------or award-winning backoff epics.

Maybe even two categories would merit awards:

1. Most Backoffs in 2010. (One pitch routes don't qualify).
2. Most spectacular Backoff in 2010.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Oct 22, 2010 - 11:45pm PT
THE CRAVEN (adapted by Karl Baba from Edgar Allen Poe)

Once upon a rockclimb dreary, while I floundered, weak and weary,over many hard and crimpy moves that almost made me soar.
While I trembled, nearly crapping,
suddenly I dreamt of rapping,
instead of falling, arm’s a flapping,
rapping to the valley floor.
"Let’s bail this epic" thus I muttered,
"let’s rap right to the valley floor!"
"Only bail, and climb no more!"

Ah, distinctly I remember,
it was in the bleak September,
And each separate, desperate pitch,
kicked my ass upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;
vainly I had fought to follow
Splintered cracks that caused me sorrow,
but not my partner Leonard.
The bold and well-honed cranker
whom the devil named Leonard,
fearless here forevermore.
And the sickened, churning brewing,
of my guts before their spewing,
filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart,
I stood repeating,
"Let us get our butts retreating!
Rap down to the valley floor!'—

Deep into that abyss peering,
long I stood there, gripping, fearing,
Visualizing screamers no-one ever whipped before;
Come on Dude, let’s save our asses!
This is not Grandes Jorasses!"
the only other word I mentioned
was my frenzied plea for "Tension!"
This I yelled, and his echo countered back,
the word I feared he said was "Slack!"
Merely this, and nothing more.
Back up to the belay turning,
all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I dreamt of rapping,
to save my life and pants from crapping,
rap down to the valley floor.

Finally then I made the belay,
when, with hardly any delay,
Up there climbed my macho partner
of the old school days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he;
not an instant stopped or stayed he;
But, with quiet disdain,
he clipped into the bolt belay,
Perched upon a ledge of shale,
mocking me in my dark hell,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this old hardman was frowning,
at the fear in which I was drowning,
By the grave and stern decorum
of the countenance he wore,
"Though your chest is ripped and hairy,
why must we do climbs so scary?
Ghastly, grim, and ancient wall rat,
living like a climbing whore?!"
"Tell me what your ego game is,
on Grade V’s with rock this poor?"
Quote my Partner, "One pitch more!"

"Bullshit!" said I, "the climb is evil!
Bullshit still, if sport or traditional!
If we send this climb or rap and bail,
hang on gear, or aid and nail,
Desolate and fully daunted,
this is not the fun I wanted!--
On this climb by horror haunted,
tell me truly, I implore,--
Are there -- Are there -- brews in store?
tell me,--tell me, I implore!"
Quote my partner, "One pitch more!"

"Bullshit!" said I, "the climb is evil!
Bullshit still, if sport or traditional!
I’m quite finished, no more pitches!,
I won’t climb with sons of bitches,
Tell this soul with sorrow weary,
what’s so fun in flail and fearing?
Will you score a red-hot maiden,
just by climbing like a whore?
No one here will even pay us, greet us, like us,
much less lay us!"
Quote my partner, "One pitch more!"

And my partner, never flinching,
his stubborn buttocks still is sitting,
on the belay ledge, far above the valley floor;
I had to leave his ass up there,
I lost my mind, was so damn scared,
And the headlamp from him streaming
throws light upon the valley floor;
I took my rope and rack to bail,
just survive, admit I flailed,
and I rapped down to the valley floor.
I hope his eyes will see the morrow,
and that SAR his chalk will follow,
and yet I hope and pray
that his vengeance won’t be sore.
If I offer some repentance,
I already hear his sentence,
to amend for rapping down,
after climbing once so poor.
He will get me on the sharp end,
if I want to make his amends,
he’ll demand and I will quote him,
we will just climb "One Pitch More"
The Lisa

Trad climber
Da Bronx, NY
Oct 22, 2010 - 11:59pm PT
A respectful lurker here, I MUST post my awe and appreciation for Karl Baba's 'The Craven' - that is inspired!!!!!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 23, 2010 - 12:06am PT
Karl: Full moon tonight and it is almost Halloween!

Awesome backoff climbing poem contribution!

Dude! You are phenomenal at literary adaptations!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 23, 2010 - 12:41am PT
I have suffered the author's guilt of never wanting to bump my thread without someone posting on it.

Damnit!

I'm bumping for Karl Baba's backoff poem!
kc

Trad climber
sj, ca
Oct 23, 2010 - 12:48am PT
Absolutely awesome. That needs to be published somewhere!

Nice job!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 23, 2010 - 01:00am PT
One more bump for Karl Babas "Backoff poem."

It is just "too cool." Original is on the previous 20 posts!


Karl Baba


Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca Oct 22, 2010 - 08:45pm PT
THE CRAVEN (adapted by Karl Baba from Edgar Allen Poe)

Once upon a rockclimb dreary, while I floundered, weak and weary,over many hard and crimpy moves that almost made me soar.
While I trembled, nearly crapping,
suddenly I dreamt of rapping,
instead of falling, arm’s a flapping,
rapping to the valley floor.
"Let’s bail this epic" thus I muttered,
"let’s rap right to the valley floor!"
"Only bail, and climb no more!"

Ah, distinctly I remember,
it was in the bleak September,
And each separate, desperate pitch,
kicked my ass upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;
vainly I had fought to follow
Splintered cracks that caused me sorrow,
but not my partner Leonard.
The bold and well-honed cranker
whom the devil named Leonard,
fearless here forevermore.
And the sickened, churning brewing,
of my guts before their spewing,
filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart,
I stood repeating,
"Let us get our butts retreating!
Rap down to the valley floor!'—

Deep into that abyss peering,
long I stood there, gripping, fearing,
Visualizing screamers no-one ever whipped before;
Come on Dude, let’s save our asses!
This is not Grandes Jorasses!"
the only other word I mentioned
was my frenzied plea for "Tension!"
This I yelled, and his echo countered back,
the word I feared he said was "Slack!"
Merely this, and nothing more.
Back up to the belay turning,
all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I dreamt of rapping,
to save my life and pants from crapping,
rap down to the valley floor.

Finally then I made the belay,
when, with hardly any delay,
Up there climbed my macho partner
of the old school days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he;
not an instant stopped or stayed he;
But, with quiet disdain,
he clipped into the bolt belay,
Perched upon a ledge of shale,
mocking me in my dark hell,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this old hardman was frowning,
at the fear in which I was drowning,
By the grave and stern decorum
of the countenance he wore,
"Though your chest is ripped and hairy,
why must we do climbs so scary?
Ghastly, grim, and ancient wall rat,
living like a climbing whore?!"
"Tell me what your ego game is,
on Grade V’s with rock this poor?"
Quote my Partner, "One pitch more!"

"Bullshit!" said I, "the climb is evil!
Bullshit still, if sport or traditional!
If we send this climb or rap and bail,
hang on gear, or aid and nail,
Desolate and fully daunted,
this is not the fun I wanted!--
On this climb by horror haunted,
tell me truly, I implore,--
Are there -- Are there -- brews in store?
tell me,--tell me, I implore!"
Quote my partner, "One pitch more!"

"Bullshit!" said I, "the climb is evil!
Bullshit still, if sport or traditional!
I’m quite finished, no more pitches!,
I won’t climb with sons of bitches,
Tell this soul with sorrow weary,
what’s so fun in flail and fearing?
Will you score a red-hot maiden,
just by climbing like a whore?
No one here will even pay us, greet us, like us,
much less lay us!"
Quote my partner, "One pitch more!"

And my partner, never flinching,
his stubborn buttocks still is sitting,
on the belay ledge, far above the valley floor;
I had to leave his ass up there,
I lost my mind, was so damn scared,
And the headlamp from him streaming
throws light upon the valley floor;
I took my rope and rack to bail,
just survive, admit I flailed,
and I rapped down to the valley floor.
I hope his eyes will see the morrow,
and that SAR his chalk will follow,
and yet I hope and pray
that his vengeance won’t be sore.
If I offer some repentance,
I already hear his sentence,
to amend for rapping down,
after climbing once so poor.
He will get me on the sharp end,
if I want to make his amends,
he’ll demand and I will quote him,
we will just climb "One Pitch More"
jmap

Social climber
NC
Oct 23, 2010 - 01:19am PT
That's very funny, but I think you're UOTC of bargaining.

1. If it quits raining in the next *.* minutes, I'll never take a surface dump again.

2. If that lightning storm stays away from us, I'll clean up all the messes I leave when dumpster diving.

3. If my partner gets up this lead, I'll never wear spandex again.

4. If there's a place for a belay on top of this pitch, I'll drink nothing but water for a year.

5. You get the point.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 23, 2010 - 01:41am PT
Jmap: UOTC???

I like your bargains, but can we just rappel?




Now??






There is a funnel cloud coming up the valley!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Oct 23, 2010 - 01:44am PT
Thanks for the good vibes on my poe rip-off!

The original is on my site at

http://www.yosemiteclimber.com/CravenClimbingPoem.html

if anybody wants to bookmark it

Peace

Karl
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 23, 2010 - 10:47am PT
Karl backoff poem bump!
OfBlinkingThings

Boulder climber
Los Angeles
Oct 23, 2010 - 01:38pm PT
Awesome poems!
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 26, 2011 - 08:56pm PT
I need to bring this thread back. If you haven't read it, find Karl Baba's back-off poem and enjoy it.




Any good back-off epics in the last year?
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2012 - 12:09am PT
Nearly two years have gone by since the last post.

Any good back-off stories?

I am still agitating for a "Back-offer of the Year" Award!
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 6, 2012 - 01:04am PT
So here's the trick: bump something from the second page to push those oxpeckers down where they belong.

As for backing offf, I have been to Dinner ledge four times and have never topped out on the Column. That is really sucky.
nutjob

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Nov 6, 2012 - 04:06pm PT
Bump for Karl's "THE CRAVEN" adaptation

I added another 10 pitch rap bail and a "failure to bail when I should have" in the last year or so. I still have a few more prime months in 2012 for perfect bailing conditions.
cowpoke

climber
Nov 6, 2012 - 05:24pm PT
thanks for the bump -- the op is a clever observation = backing off is a grief process. very funny and enlightening to consider it that way.

although you get "do-overs" in climbing. when a person is gone, they stay gone.

and, with do-overs comes selective memory: a friend recently teased me because I could easily remember a clean ascent, but had conveniently forgotten a preceding back-off and not-so-clean ascent.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Nov 6, 2012 - 05:26pm PT
Selective memory is one of the important traits for serious climbing.

rlf

Trad climber
Josh, CA
Jun 11, 2014 - 02:43pm PT
First off, you guys have it all wrong. There's only thee stages of "backing-off" a climb.

Flail
Wail
Bail

If you want a prime example, read the following trip report:

http://www.socalclimb.com/tr_teamstooge.html

tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jun 11, 2014 - 06:01pm PT
I had a pretty decent ice season this year. I tend to bail from serious ice climbs that I have thought about climbing for a long time. usually go back and get them on the 2nd or 3rd try. The 1st time I backed off of Possitive Thinking WI5- @ Poko Moonshine was 2007 It was one of those single didget Farenhight days in the North East. The ice was bullet proof, thin and abused. I got a bottomed out stubby about 20ft up and then nothing forever. the pitch looks like it goes on forever and it gets steeper as it goes. I was at about 70ft withjust the one really bad stubby 50ft below me and the ice was brutaky thin and abused. It looked like I needed to climb10 more feet to get a 10cm screw in blob of ice that was peppered with old screw holes. Did not have the mojo to make the moves so i down climbed the whole thing. Safely on the ground I look at it and decide it really does not look that bad. Take two! I tip tap my way back to my previous high point and make one more move. Picks and front points in an inch of ice that is battered to the point of semi uslessness 70ft above the talus I chicken out and down climb again. people have been killed on this climb.. Again safely on the ground it does not look so bad. Take 3 gets me to the same spot and annother gripping downclimb. I give up and drag my poor frozen belayer up Waterfall. It is steep and fat and takes as many screws as I can fire into it:) My poor frozen belayer only manages to get 2/3rds of the way up the pitch before he falls out of is tools leaving his gloves stuck in the leashes.
My 2nd encounter with this climb was the following winter with Isa. the climb was fat and took screws right off the ground but I was scared silly from my previous encounter with this beast. I sucumbed to my PTSD and bailed the moment the sun came out and a few icicles fell down from up high. This winter I finally got back over there and basicly hiked it.I was bit scared on the 1st pitch but climbed well. As soon as I got to the belay on top of P1 I had slayed me demons and the rest of the climb was simply fun.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 11, 2014 - 07:47pm PT
trademan! Woohoo! Glad to read that you kept coming back and enjoyed an ascent!
Aerili

climber
SLC, Utah
Jun 11, 2014 - 09:56pm PT
Thanks for bumping this. The OP was pure gold. Very clever.

Also, tradman, I am super jelly of your X-Dreams. They fight wars in my head with Cobras to win me over as my next ridiculous climbing purchase.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 12, 2014 - 12:30am PT
Thanks, Fritz, for starting this wonderful thread, and for all who bumped it. How could I, a master of the yellow point, have missed it all these years?

I was raised in the Vulgarian tradition, which viewed The Fiasco as one of the highest forms of climbing achievement.

That explains something I've always wondered about, having spent my entire climbing life on the west coast. My main climbing partner since the 1960's is an MIT grad, who seemed able to create the apotheosis of any fiasco.

He's rubbed off on me so much that whenever anything in life goes wrong for me (a common occurrence), the thing I'm most likely to say while it's happening is "Just think about what a great story this will make!"

John
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jun 12, 2014 - 02:47am PT
X Dreams seem to be about the best thin ice tool on the planet but are not as robust as Nomics.

Annother bail and then sucess story from this winter. i went and had a look at Repentance WI5 @ cathedral. the first try with Isa i managed to talk myself into thinking that P2 was too thin and abused for my skillset. Isa was comming down with the flue so she was eager to bail as well and did not give me her usual cheerleading boost. I came back the following week and sent in much worse conditions:) annother shot of the X Dreams this one @ the lake
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