Beginner’s mind

I’m a real sucker for psychological types and classifications, as you’d expect from someone who came out as an INTP on the Myers-Briggs personality test. Systems and classifications, that’s my thing. Apparently.

A lonesome drive to Swanage recently gave me a few ideas for climbing archetypes.


Gnarly Old Gits

Balding, with massive biceps and tufts of back and shoulder hair showing through slightly retro vests, the GOGs are the veteran troopers of our little world. They’ve been everywhere and done everything. They’re done with campussing (tried that back in 92 and got six months off with injured elbows for their efforts), they first went to the Verdon back in the 80s, they might even have been at the Hacienda the night someone pulled a gun out.

GOGs will climb with anyone, as most of their original climbing partners have had kids, got into cycling or given up. They all want to climb 8a before they are 50. Or 60. Or perhaps as a retirement project. Either that, or they are stuck in some hellish multi-week siege of a 40ft crimpfest with the suitable magic number attached.


The Young Dudes

These little Tiggers live down the wall or the crag, bouncing around from problem to problem and route to route. In any random sample at least 10% will have dreadlocks (even today!). Tendon problems are a thing of the future which is a good thing because they worship at the Temple of Strength.

They’ve never heard of Buoux – Catalunya and Magic Wood are where it’s at – but then they’ve never heard of the Stone Roses either. They all want to climb 8a, of even 8A, but they are easily derailed by love, drugs and finals.


The Natural Geniuses

These are the true stars of climbing. Natural climbers with immaculate technique, they’re the sort of people who will throw in a drop knee on their second ever boulder problem. A lack of height or strength doesn’t hold them back, their natural creativity helps them overcome such workaday restrictions, and they take to highballing as if fear of falling were an alien emotion.

Surely these intuitives are rare comets in the climbing firmament? Far from it. I see hordes of these mini-masters every Sunday at the wall – when the kids introductory climbing sessions are in full swing. Could they climb 8a? Probably one day, but I’m not sure if right now all of them can even count to eight.

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