The death of mantle topouts?

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rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jun 15, 2007 - 10:51am PT
During a pretty long bouldering and climbing career, I never met anyone who could mantel like Ament. In those days before climbing gyms, his manteling prowess inspired the rest of us to indulge in ridiculous training and achieve...ridiculous strength.

But Pat had something I frankly never saw in anyone else: manteling style. It didn't come from strength, although he had plenty---it was balance. I recall a problem on the Columbia boulder that Pat did with, among other things, a pair of linked mantels, including a mid-mantel hand change. It looked as smooth and elegant as a pommel horse routine, and as is evident, I never forgot it. I eventually managed the problem with the antithesis of Ament's style, teetering precariously on slipping palms, losing sight of footholds while trying to get a little extra friction with my chin, tilting over backwards and just barely recovering, stalling out in mid-press---a veritable festival of ungainliness.

Nowadays, the mantel seems to be something of a lost art. There's a hard one in the Gunks I did years ago, right in the midst of some popular problems, that I never see anyone even try. (Ok, I admit, it is a bit contrived, but it's a mantel fer god's sake.) A few others are overgrown and totally forgotten, not that they have any claim to being memorable.

Boulderers on routes so hard we walked past them without recognizing even the potential, much less the actuality, get to the top and then blow mantels we'd do for warm-ups. Or---oh unpardonable stylistic faux pas---they throw a leg over before pressing. Pressing strength just ain't "in," perhaps because climbers go to climbing gyms rather than gymnastic ones, and sport climbing terrain is way too steep for mantling to matter.
G_Gnome

Trad climber
Knob Central
Jun 15, 2007 - 11:38am PT
Bob Kamps could mantel with the best of them. He still has problems at Stoney Point that no one else does/can do. I have seen a few of those people that can touch their elbows together and that lets them mantel just about anything, but Bob wasn't graced with any special tricks. He just wanted it more than you did and was patient enough to take the time get it.
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
New York, NY
Jun 15, 2007 - 01:11pm PT
Caution: Old School Technology Below(What did we ever do before video!?)

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......so, this would be not so stylee, then? Poooor Brandonnnnn.....

Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 15, 2007 - 01:24pm PT
"..Or---oh unpardonable stylistic faux pas---they throw a leg over before pressing. Pressing strength just ain't "in," perhaps because climbers go to climbing gyms rather than gymnastic ones, and sport climbing terrain is way too steep for mantling to matter."

Or maybe it's just that standing on top without falling off is the intuitive goal for those of us who never got coached on the rules?

Honestly, I didn't kow there was a stylistic faux pas to heel hooking the top out. Trying to climb using moves that are seen as stylistically superior when they are clearly functionally inferior just doesn't make sense to me.

Maybe it's a shift away from seeing bouldering as contrived practice for something else towards seeing each boulder problem as its own worthy route? Of course, some of you guys must have seen it that way back when too. Baffling...
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jun 15, 2007 - 02:05pm PT
Kamps was a dear friend of mine and I bouldered with him a lot. What he excelled at was getting his foot onto the @#!!%$ hold after pressing up. But his manteling couldn't hold a candle to Ament's.

It is getting harder and harder to write ironically or make a joke unless you label it with some sort of emoticon to alert literal-minded readers that humor is happening. The faux pas comment was meant in jest. :-) ;-) :-o :-} There ya go.
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 15, 2007 - 02:15pm PT
Even with a winky face, I still wouldn't get it.

Why did you guys have a style 'rule' (in jest or not) that valued an often needlessly difficult way of topping out? Clearly this was somewhat of a value (perhaps a big one?) or there would be no discussion here.
Tahoe climber

Trad climber
a dark-green forester out west
Jun 15, 2007 - 02:27pm PT
I'm thinking he was joking the whole time and didn't, in fact, have a style rule regarding heel hooking on mantels.

But that's just me.

-Aaron
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Jun 15, 2007 - 02:28pm PT
wow Missy.... you are really getting into this mantel thingy.... It is kinda like "soul"..... "If I have to explain it to you, you just won't understand"

try this:
Clean top outs get more style points. Belly rolls and whale flops look like shiit.... simple really. The mantel topout is a showcase for power and control. Two things that were desirable pre-1988 or so.

Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 15, 2007 - 02:32pm PT
I appreciate the explanation, Russ.

I get the whale hump loss of points for the sheer ugliness. But not a stylee high steppin' rock on to the summit like the young fella who sent the V14 who was getting a style point deduction for his top out.

Even if it's a joke, there's some value that people have there that I was trying to understand. No one is making comments with a wink or a nudge about the way he stuck the sloper with an nice sturdy slap.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Jun 15, 2007 - 02:39pm PT
Heel hooks are sorta ok....
but there is nothing like a pure butterfly mantel to finish off a problem.... toes pointed straight down, buttocks clenched tight, a nice clean press showcasing unreal power... so much power in fact, that if you plugged wires into the back of said manteler, you could light a small city.....
Seems much better than pawing at the teflon summit with heel hooks, rand scum, fupa friction and all the rest. Hit the dip bars and impress your friends on your next topout.
Tahoe climber

Trad climber
a dark-green forester out west
Jun 15, 2007 - 02:42pm PT
I'm a fan of the stylee heel hook, myself, Mel.

Though the "clenched-buttock" show of strength shows great promise.

edit:// Can we get a pic? (Preferably of Melissa - NOT of Russ!)

Ouch?


bwahahahahahah!
close edit://
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jun 15, 2007 - 02:42pm PT
Yeah, maybe it was a matter of soul, certainly at the top of a boulder with a nasty fall in the offing. But maybe also it had something to do with the fact that some folks got extremely strong and went looking for opportunities to show off. Do correct me if this ingredient is utterly absent from modern bouldering.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Jun 15, 2007 - 02:46pm PT
Rgold: the strength seems to be there.... but the expanded skill set is knott.....

add a visual edit:

Here is a fair rendition of a mantel..... the fall is pretty bad as you start on an undercut boulder about 10 feet up.... except for my feet kicking a bit (late in the day!) this is a typical 1980's - early 90's press on adequate terrain. (Note the clenched butt for Tahoe Climber)

http://fishproducts.com/movies/sputnik_mantle.mov
AWhit

Trad climber
Bozeman, MT
Jun 15, 2007 - 03:08pm PT
Manteling is an necessary art of bouldering. Tom giving a "Shambar Toast" at the Playground.

TKingsbury

Trad climber
MT
Jun 15, 2007 - 03:11pm PT
Uh-oh - I'm boned.....no style fer me

The 'toast' goes like this BTW....

Here's to us!

who's like us?

Damn few.....

and they're all dead!



Cheers,

Tom
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 15, 2007 - 03:48pm PT
The pre-88 rule I was brought up with was that if you touched your knee on any top-out, you owed your whole crew a round of beers at the latest incarnation of the Boom Boom Room (JT).

Any day above ground (or the mantle-Oli) is a good day. Raw power is just gravy. But style should matter.

Mussy, do you have a shot of Lechlinski doing the Stem Gem Mantel? Or Kurt Albert doing all those butterfly moves in Fontainbleau?
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 15, 2007 - 09:00pm PT
Thank you, my dear friend Rich, for you kind words. You are an inspiration, as always.

I wasn't very strong, really, but I discovered I had a flair for pressing and manteling, and I began to develop it a bit for the sole purpose of perhaps getting up certain kinds of rock I wouldn't be able to get up otherwise. On Flagstaff, there is a shiny crystal and very little other than that, if anthing else at all. The crystal sticks out of the sandstone about a foot above the height of one's forehead, and the rock undercuts below the crystal. I realized I could never face climb such a face of rock, but putting the heel of my hand on the top of the crystal I could envision doing a pull and then a mantel and, possibly, like Kamps, getting my foot somehow on something or even on the crystal... I tried the problem a few times, if I recall, and did it. Then I could do it again and again. For years no one could do it again, though Christian and Holloway, and maybe other newer super stars began to get it. There was no other way, at least for me, to do that climb. It had nothing to do with style, rather it was the way to succeed.

Later I began to contrive mantels a bit. Kamps and I bouldered at the One-Arms Rocks, on Flagstaff, one evening, staying there well past dark, in an effort to do every route on that little formation with only one hand. We succeeded at all of them (and that's how the rock got its name, actually), but I did one route Bob couldn't do, now called the One-Arm Mantel. You climb up first by reaching with the right hand a small finger hold. Pull up with one arm, then hop the hand to a high ledge -- not a great one -- and, pull up and mantel, finishing by stepping onto the foothold. John Sherman has a photo of me doing the route in his book Stone Crusade. That route is a beginner's walk using both hands. So yes it was contrived, but whenever I got on any real climb, if I caught sight of the slightest ledge it became a mantel possibility if I turned out I was unable to do it any other way. That skill gave me a little extra to draw upon, if needed.

Now I have never cared much how anyone finishes a boulder or a climb, if they use a knee or throw a leg or heel up. Kor would go bouldering with me, and he was awkward on the boulders. He'd use his knee whenever it was necessary, and that was simply the great Layton full of spirit and a will to climb almost stronger than anyone else's I can remember. I believe in doing what works best, and what keeps you safest and in best control. If that means throwing a leg up, fine. If that means gripping the hold strongly and manteling in some kind of pure fashion, fine also.

Some climbers are simply very artistic, and it never meant much to them to flounder up a climb. They felt the best doing it in control, smoothly, artfully, and sometimes that meant a pure mantel of sort at the top, rather than some kind of beached-whale scratching and clawing and kicking and... turning upsidedown. But no one should belittle anyone if the latter example is their best way. It's all climbing and climbing only...
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 15, 2007 - 11:46pm PT
The photos posted above don't look like mantels to me, rather just regular top-outs. Even the last one, going over that slab of rock, doesn't seem to be a mantel problem, although I might be seeing it wrong. The first photos, though, don't show a mantel at all.
mojede

Trad climber
Butte, America
Jun 16, 2007 - 02:13am PT
What Oli says is great truth. Come on, Cali-climbers, where's the picture(s) of the infamous mantel on "T-Crack" at Gibralter Rock, Santa Barbara? Good placement, must-do moves, and a nice photo perch, make this a real gem in mantel-land, no ?
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jun 16, 2007 - 03:55am PT
Pratt had a great body for climbing, and especially for Yosemite. He wasn't heavy. He had big biceps but very wide shoulders. His chest was surprisingly thin. So he could slip tightly into some of those offwidths and with that shoulder width get great leverage, but he was exceptionally good at mantels. His mantels were a tour some of us dreamt about and worked at each visit to the Valley. I wonder how many people now even know where those mantels are, or if those mantels are included in the new Yosemite bouldering guide. I felt I had really accomplished something when I did all those mantels. The fact remained that Pratt didn't train at gymnastics, as some of us did. He simply had a gift.

I'm trying to remember that double-mantel thing you described, Rich. It's not coming to me just at the moment. Do you mean left or right of the Steck Overhang?
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