5 Things – The Climb
There is a new climbing competition show on HBO Max called The Climb. There has been a lot of excitement surrounding this show within the climbing community. Climbing + HBO, how could this go wrong.
The HBO that brought the world The Sopranos, The Wire, White Lotus, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Game of Thrones, Band of Brothers, VEEP, Entourage, and East Bound and Down. To be fair it also brought us F-Boy Island, but even if The Climb is closer to the F-Boy Island end of the HBO spectrum, it’s still climbing and it’s still HBO.
I didn’t do a lot of digging prior to watching the first episode, so I went in blind to almost all the details. Here are 5 Things I gathered from episode 1 of The Climb.
- The Cast is composed of actor/climber Jason Momoa, climbing legend Chris Sharma, and climber/ninja/announcer Megan Martin. I’m a fan of all three, particularly Sharma who really is one of the best climbers ever. He also has an unbelievably high ‘unintentionally funny’ quotient, as seen in interviews as well as the film Rampage, so that is a positive. Megan Martin is also one of the strongest climbers out there. She was also the voice of US Olympic Climbing on NBC in this past summer. And Jason Momoa is Aquaman. In addition to the hosts, there are ten competitors, who I don’t know much about, but they all seem like strong, fun, and supportive climbers.
- The Competition is based on ten amateur climbers trying to outdo each other in order to win the grand prize. The grand prize is $100,000 plus a $100,000 sponsorship from Prana. Prana happens to be my favorite clothing brand, so Prana, if you happen to be reading and feel like handing out another $100,000 sponsorship…ahem, theDIHEDRAL is accepting applications. Okay, so it seems like the competition itself takes the following format. Each climber attempts a route. The two climbers who fall off at the lowest point must engage in a “climb-off” on a different route. The climber who has the lowest point on the “climb-off” is then eliminated. The competition takes place at different climbing destinations throughout the world. The first destination is Mallorca, Spain.
- The Routes. Before getting into the routes, let me just repeat the location. MALLORCA, SPAIN!!! This means that even if you are the first eliminated, you get a free trip to go rock climbing in one of the most beautiful climbing destinations on the planet with two of the best climbers on the planet. Not a bad way to lose! Mountain Project describes Mallorca as follows: Mallorca is the largest of the four Balearic Islands–Mallorca, Ibiza, Formentera and Menorca. The island’s mountainous limestone interior is home to many epic sport routes and its craggy coast provides some of the most scenic deep water soloing in the world. The initial route is a 45’ 11d/7a deep water solo called Golden Shower. Sharma explains the origins of the name, although I don’t think the explanation is needed! The second route is another deep water solo route they referred to as The Elimination. It is a 40’ overhanging 12a/7a+, that is absolutely beautiful. Again, the loser of this competition gets to climb this route, to be so lucky! I’ll hold off on the spoilers, but the elimination route did raise my heart rate a little bit.
- The Drinking game. Climbers tend to stick to a very small array of encouraging remarks when they are supporting fellow climbers on the wall. These remarks include but are not limited to “let’s go!” “You got this!” “Come on” “Come on (fill in name)” then there’s my favorite “Breathe”, and when you’re feeling a little cheeky “allez”. That’s about it. So, at the beginning of each episode, pick one or pick all depending on how much drinking you want to do, and each time you hear one of the phrases, take a drink. Side Note: “Let’s Go” is my least favorite form of encouragement. I say it too often and each time I lose a little respect for myself. It’s overtaken every sport, and every discipline. I was at a local philosophy conference last week and during an ovation people were shouting “Let’s Go” to the presenter. That being said, I would advise that each time someone say’s “Let’s Go” during The Climb, we should all be required to take two drinks/sips/shots. It’s getting out of control; it needs to be quelled! Let’s GO!
- The Critique. My only real critique is that the climbers had to climb their first route while it was raining. I know this is limestone that gets pounded by the ocean all day every day and has been getting pounded by water for millions and millions of years, but… This is a mainstream program showing indifference to climbing on wet rock. Climbing does damage to the environment, this show will increase traffic to the destinations it showcases. I don’t have a problem with that, but climbing wet rock is not an example of best practices. I worry about the climbers who take the shows decision to feature climbing in the rain as evidence that it is okay to do so. Climbing in the rain may not be so harmful in Mallorca, but in places like Red Rocks or Hueco Tanks it can be astonishingly destructive.
The Climb is an entertaining show. I already have a favorite participant, she’s a long shot, but 53-year-old April Welch from Scotland is a real one. I’m not sure how she’ll fare, but if things don’t work out with the Prana sponsorship, maybe she’ll be open to theDIHEDRAL as a sponsor. It’s not $100,000, but we do have stickers!
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