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Awesome climbers and absurd deaths

by Ted Welch Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 05:34:56 PM EST

Patrick-Edlinger-Cover-s

This has little to do with economics and energy, nor is it a personal diary; it's more about what we do with life beyond bare survival and how some people only really come alive a fingertip from death - and create a frightening beauty in doing so.  One of them summed up his philosophy of climbing like this (rough translation from French - and only a French climber would put it like this):


"I climb to feel in harmony with myself, because I live in the moment, because it's a form of ethical and aesthetic expression through which I can realise myself, because I seek total liberty of body and mind. And because I like it."  Patrick Berhault


berhault-patrick-text

I like the way the net can take you to new areas; well, not exactly new, I even did some easy climbing in my youth (partly to challenge my vertigo). However I hadn't kept up with what's been happening in recent years. Then an ex-student drew my attention to an absurd irony: Patrick Edlinger, a legend in climbing circles in the 1980s, had been killed falling down the stairs at home. In fact the exact circumstances don't seem to have been established, but he did die at home aged only 52, after a battle with depression and alcoholism following a bad fall. 

Today it is so easy to check up on something and I went to Google to find out a bit more about him, which took me to film on Youtube of him climbing, and then on to one of his climbing partners, Patrick Berhault, and also to their heir, Alex Honnold - the most awesome (really) climber today. Like them he's a modest guy who lives for climbing, but whose astonishing ability edges him ever closer to death. 

Patrick Edlinger

edlinger-s

Patrick Edlinger was one of the most extraordinary sportsmen of all time. He never won an Olympic medal. He never became a millionaire.

For a few years in the 1980s, he was celebrated far beyond his native France for turning rock-climbing into a compelling but terrifying version of gymnastics or yoga, performed far above the ground without safety equipment.

Mr Edlinger, whose death aged 52 was revealed this week, became a mythical figure partly because he defied the glitzy spirit of the 1980s. He had the looks of a film-star, the body of a ballet-dancer, and the long, blond hair of contemporary tennis and football idols. But he clung to an ascetic, bohemian existence, living in a white camper van and claiming that he survived on water and sandwiches."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9709332/Patrick-Edlinger.html

Here's a tribute to him (it's 4.49 secs). Someone who climbed with him said that he didn't want to just succeed in doing a climb; he wanted to do it elegantly, you get a sense of this especially from the end:

But it was his style of climbing that left the biggest impression. In one celebrated scene in La vie aux bouts des doigts, a solo and ropeless Edlinger climbs out underneath an overhang, hangs effortlessly off one arm several hundred feet off the ground while dipping the other into a bag of chalk, utterly indifferent to the danger, before swinging his foot into a crack above his head and pulling himself up.

When such a scene was mimicked by Hollywood, most notably in the opening sequence of Mission Impossible 2, it appeared ridiculous. Yet Edlinger made the move look entirely natural -- if none the less terrifying. His physical prowess was awesome." 

ibid

Here's a recent interview with him, discussing his climbing in a very philosophical way - Sartre would have approved his emphasis on freedom, even turning down sponsorships which would have inhibited his freedom:


But Edlinger was content to pursue climbing for its own sake, which he did with an almost innocent, childlike joy. "When I climb I feel an interior peace," he recalled in an interview a few years ago. "You can compare it to a form of yoga. You're obliged to concentrate totally on the here and now and you forget your problems."

  ibid  


Patrick Berhault

berhault-writing

Here's "the brother I never had", as Edlinger called him, Patrick Berhault. I thought while watching some of these videos how much more aesthetically satisfying I find it than the modern dance I've seen; it's real "grace under pressure" (as Hemingway described bull-fighting). Then I came across this video; the movement is just beautiful and charged with tension as he pushes his body to achieve amazing things. It's called: "Berhault Climbing like Dancing on the Rock":

But as I researched this, I found that Berhault had been killed in a stupid accident, doing a traverse, not roped to his partner as it didn't seem difficult, just four years before Edlinger's death:

Edlinger remained very close to Berhault and was particularly affected by his death in 2004. "He died stupidly after slipping”, he told his autobiographer. "Maybe we'll all die stupidly."

ibid  

berhault-book
"Roped up but free"

Alex Honnold

Today their pioneering efforts are carried yet further by a young prodigy, as obsessive as them, he too lives minimally, in a camper van most of the year. He's charmingly modest, while also demonstrating what a marvellous thing the human body can be. Can limits be pushed further than this ? 

Free soloing--climbing without a rope--represents the ultimate extreme in rock-climbing, and Alex Honnold is perhaps the most gifted free soloist on the planet right now. "

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/05/yosemite-climbing/free-solo-video

It's 13 mins, but worth it, my palms were sweating by the end and I was so relieved he made it (though I knew he would):

"This is surreally cool ... it's awesome."

I hope his luck holds out, I think eurotribbers share his attitude:

alex_honnold

 "We should all strive for less impact on this earth. There are less destructive ways to live."

Display:
Dying without belay is dying stupidly.  Period.
by rifek on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 06:05:07 PM EST
We should all strive for less impact on this earth.

then rope up!

There are less destructive ways to live.

but they're too easy...

there's definitely something almost Japanese about this level of death-transcending obsession.

as metaphors go, they do a great job of symbolising the Human Condition.

the landlubbers' version of big wave surfing. then yer high-freefall divers representing the air element.

what's the extreme sport for fire? classical ballet on red-hot coals?

this diary is about a few people trying to do something about overpopulation, and prove darwin right at the same time.

bless 'em, they leave some awesome optics as legacy.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 08:00:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but we never have any pictures of the street pizza they end up as.  As a former coroner, I've had to clean up some messes like this, and I think people should see what high-velocity impact does to a body.
by rifek on Wed Dec 5th, 2012 at 11:37:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you imagine these climbers are ignorant, you're mistaken. In fact, everyone who goes out on to the road in a car is at greater risk of pizza than they are. In countless climbs, there have been very few falls.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 01:50:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But cumulatively, they end up dead. Funny that.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 03:54:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As do we all...

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?
by budr on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 08:03:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[citation needed]

There's a small number of people doing these hard climbs without ropes and a lot of deaths. The death rate from cars is pretty low, there's just an awful lot of trips made.

Cave diving used to have a fatality rate of something like 1 in 10 long term cave divers dying in a cave. This has now dropped due to improved modern equipment and better protocols, but it's still pretty damn high.  Almost all the cavers I knew thought they were insane. A few still wanted to try it.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 04:43:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
a lot of deaths

[citation needed]

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 05:01:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very hard to find useful stats on this. The nearest I can get is on UK gov Health and Safety Executive.

"Rock climbing" of course doesn't zero in on the free climbers alone.

The numbers offered on that page for road accidents are not comparable.

Annual risk of death by road accident averaged over the entire population:

1 in 16,800

Annual risk of injury by road accident:

1 in 1,432,000 kms travelled.

A secondary but not irrelevant point is how much rock climbing a person does compared to how much road travel.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 08:28:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, not comparable at all, but if you want to guess even one trip a day per person (and a Google search suggests that a figure two or three times higher would be more accurate) you end up with a risk of death of 1 in 6.1M trips, which is immediately an  order of magnitude less than climbs, which includes all the people who are climbing with safety equipment on well known routes well within in their abilities.

I'd say the contention that cars are more dangerous than climbing, and especially solo free climbing isn't doing too well on those numbers.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 09:37:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I still want to see numbers on solo free climbing.

As for cars, hrumph. Unless a climber falls on someone else (haven't heard of a case) s/he is only risking her/is own life. There are extreme sports where that is not the case, like off-piste (or is that piste-off?) skiing that sets off avalanches. It's not the case for driving, either. And, whatever the death rate per car trip (about which I was wrong), the road accident aggregate is a considerable social problem, which is not the case for rock climbing accidents.

I still disagree with rifek's attitude to these climbers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 10:56:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]

"I still disagree with rifek's attitude to these climbers."

I agree :-)

In fact there are very few solo free climbers and sometimes they climb with protection.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 04:49:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, what attitude is that?  I'm just tired of activities such as this being displayed in the manner of Ancient Greek theater.  All the heroism is on display so the audience can ooh and ahh, but the blood is all off-stage, with the chorus just coming on to describe what happened.
by rifek on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 10:49:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What attitude is that?
by rifek on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 10:45:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your terse opening comment offered a closed opinion and no further discussion: "Period." When you did engage further, it was to say that people needed to be aware of the mess a climber can make at the bottom of a crag. You appeared to me to be dismissing these climbers as irresponsible idiots, and that is what I reacted to. (If in fact you didn't mean that, you could easily have nuanced your comments, but you didn't).

I think these climbers are acutely aware of the risk. It is what conditions their entire approach, the obsession with physical fitness, their total concentration during a climb. I also think (since in this comment you take exception to the show aspect), that the spectators are acutely aware of it too, it's part of the thrill, like high-wire acts at the circus. And I'm afraid a lot of people are in fact morbidly interested in the fall. And the gore. Making them look at it wouldn't cure them of the fascination they feel.

To be fair to the free climbers though, they mostly don't seek to be in the public eye (certainly this was the case with Patrick Edlinger). They tend to be loners, only happy when they're climbing. What's more, there's now an entire generation of them who have moved climbing techniques forward by a big jump. Not just by free climbing, but by climbing with safety equipment too, since either way they're top climbers. As far as I've been able to observe (from afar, I couldn't climb a six-foot rock with steps on), there has been intense discussion since the 1980s on lightening and minimising safety equipment while remaining really safe (a point of debate). And all rock climbing has benefited from the techniques pioneered by the free climbers. So I think their contribution, including in terms of risk for a greater number than just their group, has been positive.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 11:33:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I don't climb any more, but I used to, and I'm not going to change my position on ropes.  Their work didn't cause the transition from pitons to chocks, nor have they done anything significant toward rope and chock placement and removal.  Further, which was my original point and I'm sticking to it, however "elegant" or "spiritual" their techniques may be, there is nothing elegant or spiritual about the result of the first "oops."
by rifek on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 11:57:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you have made your point, which I consider was understood by anyone with any sense. If you mean that there are senseless people gawping at the spectacle, that's a more general criticism that can be spread to a whole gamut of risk-seeking behaviours. (Take the prominence, in sport and movies, of fast, dangerous driving, for example.)

Considering the free climbers have contributed nothing to the evolution of climbing techniques over the past thirty years is to pass over not only the techniques they have shown in action (spirituality I don't care about, but there's something wrong with elegance?), but also the fact that they are also among the very best rope climbers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 9th, 2012 at 04:09:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Also it's arguable that climbers like Edlinger (who died at home) and, in an earlier generation in the UK, Joe Brown (who is still alive), actually saved lives by inspiring thousands to take up climbing, get fit and healthy and avoid or give up smoking to reach the level of fitness required.

What's sickenly absurd is the huge number of avoidable early deaths due to smoking - in Nice it seems as if just about every young female smokes, guys a bit less, maybe because more of them do some sport.

As to the spectacle element, as afew says, many of them are loners, climb where there are few people and few films are made of the tiny number of solo free climbers. Sport climbing was developed in the US - where else? - and is done on artificial walls, in front of spectators, but with ropes and mats. Not ghoulish at all.  

It's spread to France and woman compete too - watch these gals go  - in a speed competition (and I bet neither of them smokes).



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 01:32:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering that the car travel to the climbing spot is much longer than most daily commutes, and takes place on countryside roads that are much riskier than suburban/city driving, the trip to the climbing spot is of the same order of magnitude of risk as the climbing itself...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Dec 8th, 2012 at 02:50:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I don't believe they are ignorant of the risk.  I'm just a big believer in ropes.
by rifek on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 10:45:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Very black and white judgment, Mr former coroner. It seems it was not so much "stupid", as an error of judgment, and we can all make these at any time. Today, I crossed the road between some almost stationary cars and a motorcyclist speeded by dangerously in a narrow gap between cars and pavement, luckily  just before I crossed.

It seems they were doing a huge project to climb a whole set of high Alpine peaks in a limited time, they had done similar challenging projects before. These require taking calculated risks about roping up in order to do it within the time-limits involved. It was apparently a very easy traverse, well within their usual limits. Of course to be really safe one should avoid mountains - but that's not how Berhault wanted to live his life and he'd survived many challenging situations.

I had a bad fall recently, just failing to see in dim lighting, and while avoiding traffic, a large stone  placed to deter parking in a large square. It would have been safer to stay indoors at night - but I don't think I was foolish to venture out although there was no need to :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 04:47:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then an ex-student drew my attention to an absurd irony:

Reinhold Messner once locked himself outside his home, and fractured his heel climbing the wall to get in through the back.

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 01:52:13 AM EST
who is a climber. Part of that generation, born in the 1960s, and of that clan. She was never into the rope-free stuff, and pretty much dropped out of "serious" climbing. She took me to the calanques of Marseille, and she taught me some basics. But evidently didn't think much of my potential (the relationship didn't last).

She was both scathing and fatalistic about those guys. She knew what drove them, the aesthetic and the search for perfection, the transcendence that seemed worth defying death for. And she understood that death was the inevitable end of that constant striving, and she hated that.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 04:01:48 AM EST
It's not the "inevitable end" - there are surviving solo free climbers (though very few try it at all) and some give up doing the more dangerous stuff:


 I go trad climbing two or three times a year, on moderate routes. I'm not, ever again, going to test myself by trying to climb, say, 5.12 above little nuts tweaked in sideways. I'll still happily push it above a chunky bolt.

http://www.rockandice.com/news/2376-tnb-the-perils-of-sport-climbing



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 05:34:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not trying to generalise, I was only relating my girlfriend's sentiments about Berhault and other Lyon-based climbers of her generation. I had the impression from her that there had been more deaths in that group.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 05:50:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 On Eurotrib a diary about the aesthetics of climbing turns into a squabble about cause of death statistics - what a surprise :-)

Did anyone view the videos and appreciate the beauty and the frisson - apart from melo's sarcastic "bless em"  comment ?

In fact both Edlinger and Berhault also climbed with ropes and some solo free climbing (done by VERY few climbers) was over the sea - others do challenging climbs on boulders, with mats underneath. Edlinger died at home, Berhault in what should have been a very easy traverse in a race to climb many high Alpine peaks in a limited time.

Many sports involve danger, but most try to stay within their limits and take many precautions.

Absurd deaths can occur in apparently safe conditions, yesterday morning, before writing the diary, I had my weekly chat with my rather frail ex-philosophy teacher neighbour. We sat outside a local cafe, just by the window, but, as there was a cold wind, went inside. Five minutes later, a large, heavy sun shade, wrapped around a metal pole, fell onto the chair where my neighbour had been sitting.  Across the road from the cafe is a small supermarket which I used to use daily. About a year ago a guy who had recently retired was killed as he was about to enter by stone falling from a terrace above.

OK, that's no reason to increase the risks - but life isn't just about surviving for as long as possible and civilisation would not develop without risk-taking.

This climbers's worst accident occurred as he was sitting down having a sandwich, but some kids above him dislodged some rocks and he had a lucky escape - then the same sort of thing happened - to his disbelief - a year later - and this was sport climbing - not solo free climbing:


 I love the relative safety of sport climbing. Sometimes I wonder how much--with more demands on my time than in yore, and less acceptance of risk--or in any case how hard I'd even climb anymore if it weren't for sport climbing. I go trad climbing two or three times a year, on moderate routes. I'm not, ever again, going to test myself by trying to climb, say, 5.12 above little nuts tweaked in sideways. I'll still happily push it above a chunky bolt.

http://www.rockandice.com/news/2376-tnb-the-perils-of-sport-climbing



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 05:24:12 PM EST
Ted Welch:

melo's sarcastic "bless em"  comment ?

i am attracted to movies that depict man's struggle for survival againat death-defying odds, shackletonian epics in extreme condidtions, and i admire these climbers, and envy their courage.

my snark i realise was prompted by horror at their fearlessness, as well as the fantastic gift they give us of showing us what humans can do.

the most inspiring thing about these examples of concentration and focus is that their choice of challenge and theri success in realising their goals motivate me to pursue mine with greater diligence, seeing as their difficulty pales in comparison.

thanks for sharing it Ted, sorry about the previous vent, reread now it was less than gracious.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 07:28:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Glad that, on reflection, you feel like that melo.

In a funny way the article itself was a bit like their climbing; I set myself goal of finishing it that night, so a bit under pressure, and I wanted it to be interesting, have some elegance. It meant moving quickly from point to point, finding the right "holds"/videos/photos, getting the code right, etc. It was good to reach the top that night, though there were things I could have added - e.g. reference to the great Brit climber of 60s, Joe Brown, and his very understated Brit manner - but I can add that in a comment, like the comment with link to female climber added tonight.

It was good to see that, despite the pace and pressure, others were interested enough to read it.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 07:44:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]

It's not entirely a male preserve, here's a beauty doing a beast of a climb - a failed attempt (she had a rope) - but she later did it - hardest level climbed by a woman - as far as we know:


Nineteen year old Sasha DiGiulian made the first female ascent of Chris Sharma's route Era Vella (9a or 5.14d) in Margalef, Spain. 9a is the hardest grade ever climbed by a woman. Her climb will be featured in the 2012 REEL ROCK Film Tour




Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 at 06:13:32 PM EST
'Twas a great diary, I thought. 'Must have been, as I've been into all the links for the past hour or more.

I just can't fathom what muscular shape those guys and gals must be in to be able to do that, then add the mental/emotional challenge.

Time to put the chinning bar up in the doorway like my grandfather used to have.  

NVA, a viable option when the political process fails.

by NorthDakotaDemocrat (NorthDakotaDemocrat at gmail dot com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 05:19:00 AM EST

Glad you got as absorbed and awestruck as I was.

Apparently Edlinger used to do 1,000 press-ups a day - some on his little finger - allegedly. He made his own chinning ladder - as you might have seen in the "omaggio" to him - nothing so easy as separate rungs; it was rounded battens on a solid surface, and he jumped - just using his arms - up them. He said he wanted the training to be harder than what he'd encounter on the rocks.

Must use those dumbells I bought :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 08:25:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I love sport and have played competitive ball sports all my life - mostly table tennis and tennis. None involved actual danger beyond a rib breaking fall on on a slippery court, but I can understand the exhilaration of playing well.

A lot of competitive sports involve the control of ego, fear of failure, the temptation to show off, the utter frustration of not having played to ones potential, the joy of doing better than you thought possible, the camaraderie of team-mates and opponents.  

When you are young, you think the sky is the limit, and even many graceless falls fail to dampen your optimism. As you go older you realise you are reaching your limits and you become more philosophical, enjoying the game itself and being much less focused on the the winning.

Some years ago I lost the sight of an eye making hand eye coordination very problematic. Then the challenge became reaching my former standard by compensating and improving in other areas.

All of this is utterly pointless from a utilitarian point of view - beyond perhaps helping to control ones weight and general physical well being. The point is the sheer joy of the game itself. The maximisation of what talent and opportunities one has. The social interaction of the game.

I can't imagine extending sporting endeavor to actual life threatening sports like free climbing where the risk sometimes seems gratuitous and where ropes could reduce that risk. But then hang-gliding also carries an unavoidable risk factor. Adrenalin is a drug which can become addictive, and some sportsmen suffer from depression when they can no longer get those highs.

But these sportsmen generally harm no one but themselves. Their modesty and solitary nature belies any motivation to show off or obtain commercial benefits form their sport. We should respect them for what they are. Many young men go to war believing it will bring them excitement and danger, a chance to shine or do something for a cause they (perhaps) believe in. There seems to be something endogenous to the human condition which means we don't have a rational approach to danger - we sometimes revel in it.

Perhaps the adrenalin buzz of danger confers some evolutionary advantage to our tribe, race or species, even if the most extreme protagonists often leave no progeny behind. There is value in channeling such instincts into less destructive modes and sport has often been a melting pot where historic enmities can be played out in less destructive ways.

I leave you with WB Yeats writing about a friend and rival in love who had volunteered for the airforce in the first world war:

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by W.B. Yeats - poetry on 'The Beckoning'

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 08:34:40 AM EST

Thanks for this thoughtful contribution, and the poem.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 01:20:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't imagine extending sporting endeavor to actual life threatening sports like free climbing where the risk sometimes seems gratuitous and where ropes could reduce that risk.

I don't think these free climbers are sportsmen. Seems more like a way of life, like asceticism, being a hermit.

he clung to an ascetic, bohemian existence, living in a white camper van and claiming that he survived on water and sandwiches.
There seems to be an aspect of communing with nature that makes it almost like a form of meditation. There's the quotation
Edlinger was content to pursue climbing for its own sake, which he did with an almost innocent, childlike joy. "When I climb I feel an interior peace," he recalled in an interview a few years ago. "You can compare it to a form of yoga. You're obliged to concentrate totally on the here and now and you forget your problems."


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 01:35:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps our experiences of sport are different, but I can identify completely with what Edlinger says based on my experience of trying to wring the last bit of skill, power, anticipation, disguise, bluff and improvisation out of what ability I have. Don't get me wrong - I now play at a relatively low level - but that's not the point, you lose yourself trying to do stuff you really shouldn't be able to do. Living in a camper van has long been a dream of mine - and I am no ascetic - and can well imagine it is the ideal home for a climber, living among the mountains one tries to master.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 02:31:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really enjoyed this diary Ted. Even though I have a dreadful fear of heights and this would never be my sport of choice.

Even when I have little interest in the topic, I know if I go ahead and read your post I'll learn something new. Because your diaries are like that. They're interesting, well-written, and usually have tons of pictures or clips. You bring human interests, the arts, culture etc. to ET when most often its focus is only on practical matters. That's nice imo.

I hope you continue to post, any time you have the chance.

by sgr2 on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 12:08:44 PM EST

Very nice of you, much appreciated.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Dec 7th, 2012 at 01:21:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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