John Sherman

John Sherman

John Sherman is the Godfather of American bouldering. Without his broad shoulders to stand on, Daniel Woods would be toproping 5.7 right now.

Stone Master

Blog #5?


Welcome to Blog 5.  What happened to Blog 4 you ask?  It was a nice little parody of how bad most climbing blogs are.  To quote DPM's editorial staff "This sucks more than a high school girl on prom night."  Ha - nailed it so good they refused to post it! 


Apparently DPM was worried that both my fans would be upset if my prose were not up to standard - in other words "Verm, we need your input so we can expand our reader base beyond the 12 - 18 year old demographic." 


"But Matt, you already publish shots of scantily clad chikas on Verm classics - all the AARB (American Association of Retired Boulderers) members are fondling themselves under their work desks right now."


"Me too Verm, but we need more.  We need conflict.  We need controversy.  Could you please please rip the new school another new one?  We'll pay you double."


If you put it that way. 


Here's what's eating me now.  Just how clueless about climbing history can the new school be?  In the last month I've had three Big Name Boulderers ask me why my dog is named Thimble.  These are double digit new school gals you've doubtless heard of.  And they have no idea that The Thimble is John Gill's historic 1961 highball that raised bouldering standards so high in terms of difficulty and risk that it wasn't repeated for 20 years.  This despite attempts by climbing's elite and the removal of the Wheelchairs-R-Us guardrail beneath the crux.  The Thimble was the most famous boulder problem in America before Midnight Lightning seized that crown.  And even now for every ascent The Thimble sees, Midnight Lightning sees 50.  When I explained this to said gals I got the same nonchalant response "Oh, I should go send that."  (I apologize to those of you who have climbed the Thimble sans rope as I realize you're now wiping your monitor clean from the beer that just blew out your nose.)  Only one of the three could name a single Gill problem. 


In my climbing youth I was excited about what my generation was achieving, but at the same time I knew about the exploits of climbers before like Barber, Chouinard, Robbins, Harding, Pratt, Salathe, Messner, Buhl, Hillary, Bonatti, Heckmair, Whymper and of course Gill. 


Is today's generation so self-absorbed they don't give a shit about climbing history? Not according to Alpinist editor Michael Kennedy who insists "Today's climbers want to be part of something bigger."  (Note to Joey - that's "bigger" not more lucrative.)  So why the ignorance? 


Is it because climbing gyms lack any sense of history?  Routes are here today, replaced tomorrow. 


Or soft parenting?  "Junior is not a D student.  You change that to an A or I'll tell the school board you sexted him."


MTV brain?  Bouldering, it's climbing for those lacking the attention span for sport climbing. 


Josh Lowell videos dedicated to prison rape sex screaming?  "Dude, screw this interview, fast forward to the tantrum."


Climbing shops that don't have Stone Crusade in the magazine rack by the cash register? 


Not being a magazine editor, I can't say for sure.  So let's stop pointing fingers and start fixing the problem with a brief bouldering history quiz.


#1        Who did the FA of the Gill Route on The Thimble?

#2        Who did the first ascent of Bachar Cracker?  Frank Sacherer, Gary Zacher, John Bachar or Ritz Cracker?

#3        Bill Murray did the first ascent of Center El Murray, true or false?

If you got 1 = John Gill, 2 = John Bachar, 3 = false, then you advance to the finals.  If you missed any of these then go to your nearest recruiting office and apply for "Infantry."

#4        Midnight Lightning is named after a song by The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, or The Village People?

#5        On Left Eliminator do most climbers throw left, right, down or up? 

#6        White Rastafarian is found on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, Indian Rock in Berkeley, Howard's Knob in Boone, Joshua Tree National Monument, or the So Ill holds plant in Carbondale?

Okay how did we do?  4 = Jimi. 70s Yosemite route names were dominated by Hendrix references, while 60s/70s Colorado routes (and many Bob Murray classics) frequently paid homage to Dylan (Bob, not Thomas).  5 = first you pull off the block over the gaping maw, realize how far away the crack is then promptly throw up.  If you don't back off instantly like most climbers, then you throw left and more likely than not crater.  Toss full bore and you throw down.  Left Eliminator is a late-60s Gill classic at the fabled Rotary Park boulders in Fort Collins, CO - a must tick for any serious boulderer.  6 = all.

And finally, a bonus question.  Upon finishing this quiz you felt: a) entertained? b) educated? c) you wasted your time? d) confused as to how Blog 4 could have been worse?


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