Does Spider-Man really need MJ, you ask? Well, this is no Marvel comic and there ain’t no Mary Jane. Boulderers and MariJuana, all that there is.
Trying a hand at bouldering helps one observe the paradigm and its intricacies and so did I. Having been introduced to the sport lately, I found exposure to a ‘free folk’ culture built around it. Men and women flaunting their six packs in a pair of shorts and sports bras. A grueling sport that requires immense core strength and a fit body. A sense of achievement and satisfaction exists as a reward for the climbers and why shouldn’t it? Chipping off nails, severely injuring finger tendons and worse, what else could compensate this better?
An inertia of happiness exists in completing problems of different grades. Every time one moves up on the Fontainbleau scale, the sport gets more intoxicating but some find little escape in the sport and rely more on substance use.
A familiar smell lingers around bouldering sites. Loud trance and hillbilly music on boomboxes set the mood for a climb.
The climbers squat near the crash mats smoking chillum with rolled up eyes and as their senses hit a high, they jerk their hands and shoulders and feel the rock. Like an artist feels paper. Fingers smeared with chalk like a pencil that would draw on that boulder canvas.
The climber either solves the problem or comes quite close to solving it and falls with a thud on the crash mat. A trust fall in the arms of the spotters shouting ‘allez’ who absolutely have no idea of the climber’s dilemma to hold on or to let go.
The climber dusts his shorts off, gets up, settles himself on an unnoticed stone and digs in his pocket for a light. He picks out a rolling paper from the wad and gives the cigarette behind his ear a couple of taps on a sued ‘stash purse’. He then rolls a joint and holds it out in your face saying, “ best **ckin’ stuff yo!”.
Until now the climber had not recognized your existence, he was zoned out. Another ‘blow’ is necessary before the effect wears out.
The problem is you do not smoke up and politely refuse the offer. Suddenly, the glimmer in the climber’s eyes fades away. You seem a jaded insipid character to him. You feel a muck among the climbers there and you realize that everyone is in his/her own psychedelic trance.
As I dive deep into this sport, I realize how different I am from some of these men and women as I do not smoke. I question myself, “Whether or not, I fit into this community?”
Recognized as an ancillary to gymnastics by John Gill, also known as the father of modern bouldering, the sport has been given a very different perspective over the years.
Although the early inception can be traced back to camp 4 but has the sport really covered a long journey?
Has there been an evolution? If no, then why?
If yes, then I guess, one needs to use a gray scale to filter this ‘colorful’ era.
Author: Kshitij Gupta
Kshitij at 4play designs content and partners with athletes. He is an outdoor aficionado who likes to pick up different adventure sports and has already been pursuing alternate sports for a long time now. He has just begun to climb and pursues skateboarding alongside.