Thursday, 11 June 2015

Whose line is it anyway? Closed projects in bouldering

This is a question Dave Flanagan asked on The Short Span’s forum. I tried to answer it there but the forum login would simply not let me in (Sorry Dave !) So I’ll paste it here instead.

I think it simply comes down to the question: where’s the glory?

Explorers don’t ‘own’ the rocks they find but I think it’s fair to say they should enjoy some sort of ‘priority’ given they put the efforts to explore and clean rocks.

But we’re also touching at what makes the essence of climbing: is it a proper sport, i.e. are we competing against each other? Or on the contrary, is it an art, i.e. are we climbing for the sake of it, to perfect our moves, to seek the most beautiful/powerful/technical moves we can achieve? See The Boulder: a philosophy for bouldering for more on that matter.

In both cases, sport and art, the glory comes from climbing something harder than expected, i.e. harder than what you would usually climb, or harder than what the people at your own level climb.

So whether a project is ‘closed’ or ‘open’, the climber’s glory in climbing it only comes from those projects which are in our own league or above.

In other words, there will be glory for you if you steal one of Ondra’s known closed project (if he has any), but there will be little for him if he steals one of our projects – no offense meant to your ego dear reader, but I suspect you’re weaker than Adam…

I don’t know if the person who stole Dave’s project was much stronger than Dave, but from what he says, it sounds like it did not take the guy a lot of efforts.

So if someone deliberately sends your project in a couple of sessions, where’s the glory for that person?

Unless the location of the said project (like the Original Route in Glendalough) makes it a 5 star problem, or unless it becomes a local testpiece (like Le Toit du cul de chien in Font), there’s none in my opinion.

Working on Ìosal, one of my own secret 'closed' projects


TheGreatWesternSquare said...

"I don’t know if the person who stole Dave’s project was much stronger than Dave"

stole? that implies Dave owned the bloc and it was stolen from him. Should the bloc be tagged in order to display ownership and warn off other climbers? how long does this ownership last? is ownership indefinite?

Pierre Edinburgh said...

Who said Dave owned the bloc?

A little bit of grammar analysis reveals that the object of the verb "stole" is the project, not the bloc, in other words the mental construct of the climb, not the actual piece of rock. This could, in fact, push us to question the very definition of a "line": can different two different beta really be considered as a single line? :-)

Having said that, I totally understand your question. I could rephrase my sentence as "the person who climbed Dave's project was much stronger than him" but it wouldn't really solve the problem, would it?

In fairness, I totally agree that projects shouldn't be "closed" or "tagged", nor that this sort of "ownership" should last for years, but if I had been that guy, I'd have waited, or at least, I'd have asked first (probably insistingly, mind you).

If you're strong (as this was the case here) there are plenty of really hard lines to try in Ireland, so why climbing someone else's known project if it's clearly below your level?