Why would you want to climb a mountain, a wall or even a rock? There is no
real purpose. I always found the question``Why do you want to do this?" a sign of nihilism
(not even an ``ethos" as Walther in the Big Lebowksi would say).
Why do we do anything if we are anyway going to die eventually?
Climbing is a great paradigm. It is a problem solving task, mastering a challenge.
It is a great satisfaction to overcome an obstacle which appears impossible at first.
Some great climbing movies have reached Hollywood recently. First of all there is
the iconic National Geographic "Free Solo" movie
from 2018 which documents the first free solo climb of the El Capitan done by Alex Honnold. It
is similarly inspiring for me than the first moon landing. Both achievements did not
really serve any initial purpose but it shows what humans can do if they want it and also dare to
risk something, as the great movie ``first man" illustrates.
Before ``Free Solo", the movie Dawn wall from 2017
has made a big impact. It also is an amazing story, again also serving as an allegory of
pursuing a goal with obsession. Caldwell also appeared later in the Free Solo movie, where he
consulted and also climbed with Honnold. It also provides some hope. We live in a time (long
before the pandemic), where on every beverage the dangers of being burned needs to be pointed out,
where every park shouts with large signs about the dangers of ticks and mosquito, kids hardly
leave their homes any more, are driven to school as letting them outdoors.
Also risk-taking in scientific matters is strongly discouraged as it is deadly
for your career (well, it actually is!).
I myself never became a good rock climber. The most difficult climb I have done
was probably the Kingspitz Northeast wall
(a classical route which I climbed with Daniel Ulrich) and is a 5c climb
(the scale goes up o 9c !)
As the mouse movie below shows, being of smaller
statue is not really an excuse (even so in reality it can be if there are
just no grips to reach). It is mostly a matter of technique, equipment (shoes!) and of the mind.
I guess that I mostly focused on power and muscular strength rather than technique and that this was
entrenched early while climbing as a kid without guidance.
It is a bit like having only weak algebra skills. Then all advanced mathematics becomes a struggle.
To the right is the mouse movie done with a standard iphone. Also the pictures
in better resolution. It was a bit of luck to catch that mouse while running by especially, as they usually are
shy to be photographed so closely. This fellow did not mind, was focussed on a really hard
climb. I could not figure out what this fellow was smoking in that rusty pipe although!