A handful of months ago a young man named Eric Jerome, living far away from Colorado, my home, wrote me concerning this blog. He asked if I’d ever considered the sport/lifestyle of climbing from the perspective of a young climber. A teenage climber or younger, he was talking about. I was happy to note that I had, many times. He then inquired about interviewing some badass youngster to glean their thoughts about mopping up projects from the previous generation, which all young, fit climbers do. He suggested Mirko Caballero, a crusher who does not yet pay attention to Gillette commercials on television. How do they view gym climbing? Mentorship? The state of the sport?
These are important questions, as a recent piece by Chris Noble touched upon (he totally scooped us, as Eric’s essay was written months ago but I just couldn’t find the time to give it the effort it deserved for an edit…my fault, Eric). I’ve heard from many different sources that the current crop of gym climbers unrolling themselves upon our precious outdoor crags like so much adhesive linoleum is the top shelf liquor of concern for the Access Fund and gym owners, alike. Lee Payne, owner of the Denver Bouldering Club, had it on his mind when I spoke to him at the recent World Cup in Vail, CO.
This idea of mentorship and guidance is more important than ever, as climbing factories and training centers spring up across our nation like so much hairy bittercress. These (mostly) shiny and (sometimes) multi-disciplined gyms spit out steel-tendoned freaks that can rage on the rock but, maybe, don’t know exactly how to interact with the rock and those of us who grew up climbing in the fresh air without a soundtrack and colored tape. But, the one thing we’ve always taken care of is each other and our playgrounds. The notion that a wave of hyper-mutant rock smashers are moaning over the next rise, ready to transmogrify our crags and bouldering areas to EDM-infested spray proms is literally shit-inducing.
Let’s not shit ourselves just yet. Mr. Noble brought some great, journalistic perspective to the table. Eric, a young crusher, youth coach and comp climber, ambassador for Evolv and Primo Chalk, has some words about the current state of youth in our weirdly exploding climbing world.
Tomorrow I’ll let him get to it. Although I don’t agree with everything he has to say, I think you’ll want to read it. I wanted to read it. The kid’s got some chops on the rock. He’s got better chops when talking about his passions, especially for a 16-year-old.
See ya tomorrow.