Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

November 16, 2011 at 1:33pm

Climb it like Beckey

Fred Beckey / Photo credit: Patagonia poster 2004

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I was introduced to rock climbing in the mid-'80s. David Lee Roth was singing and swinging from a rock during one of his lame MTV videos. I had the hair; all I needed was the skills. However, TV sports broadcasts portrayed climbers as unbalanced rock-hermits who feasted on vertigo. As an impressionable youth, I received the message: Just say no to rock climbing.

But I said yes, and by the mid-'90s, I was swinging, but not singing.

Having rock climbed many times, I must pass on a bit of wisdom: Don't climb unless you're willing to accept the risks. Rock climbing involves inherent risks, risks that define the sport's character. Remove these attributes, and you're left with a staircase. If you crater (fall to the ground), you'll be fodder for the naysayers who thrive on heralding this sport as the pastime of lunatics. Be smart: Seek professional instruction, exercise good judgment and know when to back down - the rock will be there another day.

Once you mastered the skills, you need to know where to climb.

Fred Beckey knows. He's climbed the hell out of the Cascade Range Wilderness. He wrote about his adventures in such books as Mountains of North America, The Range of Glaciers: Exploration and Survey of the North Cascades and a personal narrative titled Challenge of the North Cascades.

Beckey will speak Friday night at the Kilworth Memorial Chapel on the northern end of the University of Puget Sound campus. Yes, it was originally scheduled to take place at the Tacoma Mountaineers Club. Folks went nuts for the tickets, so it's been moved to a large venue.

Tickets are $5, available through Brown Paper Tickets.

[Kilworth Memorial Chapel, Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., $5, North 18th and North Warner, Tacoma, 253.566.6965]

LINK: Bouldering basics

Filed under: Word, Sports, Tacoma,
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