The Choss Pile: Gumby Academy

I’ve participated in a wide variety of outdoor sports my whole life, and I think climbing has one of the most positive, welcoming communities for beginners, at least compared to other outdoor sports. I don’t mean that sarcastically. I’m being serious.

(Surfing, meanwhile, is undoubtedly the most toxic. Any new surfer who has ever paddled out into a crowded SoCal lineup can attest to that…)

It’s not necessarily that climbers are any nicer to newbies than surfers or skaters or snowboarders. We still make fun of them. But our medium is more conducive to learning, in some ways. A gumby hangdogging or falling on a route isn’t going to present a hazard to anyone else at the crag, unless he’s dropping gear or gets injured and someone has to perform a rescue. In more fast-paced sports like surfing and skating, beginners who don’t know what they’re doing at the break or bowl can definitely get someone hurt, snaking a wave, crossing a line, whatever. Nowadays, most learner climbers also train in climbing gyms, where it’s difficult (though not impossible) to get hurt even if you’re an absolute buffoon.

4 Responses to The Choss Pile: Gumby Academy

  1. Allister Fenton Oct 23, 2020 at 3:24 pm #

    Expected something quite different after reading the title 😉

  2. Ebert Nel Oct 24, 2020 at 10:35 pm #

    Chosspile: Gumby Academy :’) Too true Allister.

    RIP Gauteng sport climbers 2011-present.

  3. Greg Hart Oct 25, 2020 at 4:49 pm #

    Errrrr, no. Beginners at the crag can most definitely be a danger to themselves and others.

    Not-so-fond memories spring to mind of having to dive onto a fast diminishing pile of rope and snatch wildly to grasp the speeding cord to stop someone from decking whilst the belayer carried on a conversation with her friend, all the while blissfully unaware the leader had fallen and her brake hand was not on the rope at all. Some nice rope burns were my only reward for being attentive to my surroundings!

    On the other hand my introduction to surfing was a transcendent experience that had me instantly hooked for life. The bonds I formed with the crew at our local beach will last forever. Sometimes they dealt out harsh lessons but that was always done in your best interests and for reasons of safety at sea as a first priority. If anyone ever got into difficulty there was always someone there immediately to pull them out of the situation. We had each other’s backs and kept everyone alive whether they were a local or a visitor no-one knew.

    Maybe it’s just Americans or perhaps Allister should find another beach to surf at?

  4. Ebert Nel Oct 26, 2020 at 10:22 am #

    Lol Greg, Chosspile is a crag in Gauteng, where dust builds up on the harder routes because some are more equal than others. Animal farm vibes.

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