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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Facebook - Camp IV on a global scale

Yosemite's Camp 4 and the infamous Midnight Lightning boulder problem at it's center.
For a few people reading this the title of the post could stand alone.  For those that haven't experienced the wonder of Camp IV - i'll explain.

Camp IV is the name climbers give to the walk in tent camp-ground in Yosemite valley that they seem to populate almost exclusively.  If Yosemite Valley has somewhat of a mecca status in climbing culture then Camp IV is it's heart.  I've travelled there a number of times but only once after i had started to break into that upper echelon in climbing's hierarchy and become a bit of a climbing bad ass myself.

It was brutal.

Badasses of Camp 4
There were maybe 500+ climbers hanging out there.  Lots of new-bies or recreational climbers just doing standard routes*.  A bunch of aspiring big wall climbers with their sights set on the Nose or some other trade-route* up El Capitan, one of the most famous cliffs in the world.  But i was in the select group that had done the moderate standards and the trade routes.  I was eyeing the test pieces* - the climbs that define a climber as someone special - and i was actually able to start doing them.

So what was the problem?  Well, every night when i'd come back down in to Camp IV from one of these epic, climb of a lifetime efforts and want to rest and regale others with my exploits, i'd be faced with a dozen or more stories from others in the same boat as me.  All of camp IV seemed to be making ambitions plans for bold ascents and what had felt like a tremendous accomplishment as i'd been hiking down from the cliff hours before quickly felt less than noteworthy.

In later reflecting on this phenomenon i realized what was happening.  I was unconsciously adding all the accomplishments of dozens of gifted and driven climbers to a single resume and then mentally comparing my own resume to that of this "Pseuper-man**".  I always felt lame.

Now-a-days Facebook is my Camp IV.  My news feed is populated with pictures of beautiful places and stories of exciting adventures and epic training sessions.  As i scroll through it my psyche seems to automatically begin disparaging itself with the unconscious notion that i'm just not doing enough.  Before i know it i feel lame again - i'm not doing anything cool, not going anyplace awesome, and definitely not training/racing hard enough.  Why can't i be more like this Pseuper-man?

Of course i know he/she doesn't exist - but this conscious thought only has power when i hold it in my attention, and i've got no time for that.  When i was in Yosemite and I recognized what was going on i had to escape or i was going to get hurt or die trying to compete (or at least climbing was going to stop being fun). So my brother and i caught a bus out of the Valley to Merced and hung out with its small town people and walked around its small town streets for a couple of days until we felt like bad asses again.

The Rostrum, A Yosemite Valley test-piece.
It's getting close to that point again.  So I'm going to check the schedule for the next e-train out of FaceBook land to Grand Forks central to spend a bit of time hanging out with my small town friends, training at my small town YMCA, and sledding with my small boys at our small sled hill.

Don't worry, i'll be back, and i'm sure i'll tell you all about it on Facebook.

*For those not climbers, here is a fitness based comparison that will make some of the climbing terms more accessible - the standard routes in Yosemite are like running a marathon.  Climbing a trade-route is like qualifying for Boston - takes some dedication and talent - not just anyone can do it, but it is still a pretty big group.  The test pieces?  Now we're talking sub 3 Hr. marathon.  Yeah, there are still numbers in this group but they are getting smaller (for example less than 2% of marathoners run a sub 3 - and less than 1% of people run a marathon to begin with....)

**Neology in action.  If you use my word, just make sure to credit my brilliance and pay per use royalties.  Thanks.
A sub 3 hour marathoner.  Pretty elite!

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