I am a firm believer in the idea that we all need to be knocked down a peg every now and again in our lives.
For example, about a week ago I was sitting on the couch with my friend Dylan (who happens to be a way better park snowboarder then I will ever be) and we were discussing a handrail on campus. I mentioned to Dylan that he was a pansy for not hitting that rail yet and that I would hit it next semester. This handrail happens to be a wooden rail on a narrow, kind of rickety stair-set. At the time the handrail seemed so feasible, I wasn’t looking at it and I was high on yobeat videos. Then, this past Saturday, I managed to punch myself in the eye while falling off of a flat bar. Now I have a mildly swollen, red, half-baked looking right eye and that handrail suddenly seems much further from reach. Boom, I was put back in my place. My father jokingly asked me the next day if I was stoned when he saw my eye; I had to respond with, “Nah, I’m just a chump.”
I began to develop the study of chumpology after a weekend of climbing with a dude named, Will. I only climbed with Will for that one weekend and he probably doesn’t remember me, but he was my buddy Brandon’s climbing partner over the summer. The reason Will plays such a large role in this is not because I met him and thought, “oh this dude is the chumpiest of all chumps” it is because of something he said.
One of those days I went out with a large group of friends to the deadwater crag in the Lake Champlain region of the Adirondacks. We had led a few routes and thrown up some top-ropes by the time Will had shown up. He was just sort of hanging around, chatting and catching a belay when he could. After some time my friend Pali lowered off of a climb he had just led and began to discuss the little bags of sand he found hidden in its cracks. He was telling Will about how hard the climb was compared to what he believed it would be, when Will responded with, “yeah man that happens, everyday I realize I’m just a chump.”
That response made me so happy. It is such an honest statement, especially regarding the climbing community. How many times have you gotten really confident in yourself, began to on-sight harder than you have before, then you go to do a “warm-up” and it kicks your ass? Or how about, “I’ll take this new climber up this easy climb I haven’t done before” then all of sudden you’re shaking on lead and they cruise it behind you? How about getting off route? Tossing your rap lines into a tree? Forgetting your shoes? Allow me to take this peg you’re on and knock you off of it.
I’m sure all climbers have been in similar situations as these. When I say all climbers I mean ALL climbers, even Adam Ondra is a chump. Seriously, if you don’t believe me then watch this video of Ondra missing a clip during the Lead Climbing World Cup qualifiers. What’s that Ondra? Rock and Ice’s so called “Best Climber Ever”? Allow me to knock you down a peg.
This is the theory of chumpology. We all have moments in our lives where we are on top of our game and we embarrassingly fumble, seemingly out of nowhere. How one responds to this chumpish act is also a part of this study. See this is more than just the flails that we have, it is the response to those flails. I have seen many laugh in the face of their own chumpliness, but I have also seen many more cower abashedly or worse, get angry, in their moment of realization.
The response is everything during the realization of chumpliness. It is natural for many of us to feel shame for what has just happened, I have been embarrassed by those situations many times. When we are around people we don’t know well, or if we are trying to impress the other sex it is often quite hard to laugh at ourselves after those scenarios. Though when someone confidently recognizes they are a chump and doesn’t put on the persona that they are up on some higher level it makes everyone around them a little more comfortable. While at climbing competitions I’m always more drawn to converse with the person who falls, shakes it off and smiles as compared to the guy who is cussing at the plastic wall in front of him. A little frustration can help one to push themselves, but the manner in which it is presented says a lot.
So, let us all come to terms with our own chumpliness and carry on as confident climbers. If you need more justification for how chumpy we as climbers can be check out the Rock and Ice videos dedicated to chumpology, Weekend Whipper.
Here are some more chumpy moments caught on camera.