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Test Yourself: Are You an Alpinist?
Posted on: June 16, 2008
A. What is "simul'ing"? 1. A modern sex position. 2. Someone explained it to me once but I didn't really listen. 3. My favorite climbing technique on big walls up to 5.13, M8 and A4. After that I start to pitch it up.
B. What is the greatest unclimbed challenge left for humankind? 1. Make it to my apartment (that is on the third floor) without taking the elevator. 2. The famous Everest - Lhotse - Nuptse traverse. 3. Climbing Mt. Olympus on Mars, the highest mountain in the solar system (20142m), without supplementary oxygen and getting there with my bike.
C. What are essential items for your first aid kit? 1. Clarifying lotion, clearing moisturizer, wet towels, small mirror, hand cream, hairbrush, cotton swabs, aloe vera, credit card and mobile phone. 2. Aspirin, antibiotics, Diamox, bandages, emergency blanket, iodine and tape. 3. A lot of strong pain killers, which I didn't bring because I thought my partner brought his. Besides, I don't need them because for me it's either death or glory!
D. What are the most important attributes for good climbing pants? 1. They should make my well-shaped butt look smashing. 2. They should be waterproof, but more importantly, they should match my gaiters and new orange soft shell. 3. PacLite, helium, featherweight, and every other word that inspires lightness.
E. What pieces of gear are essential for climbing? 1. The hard to find bolt gun and a sharp knife. In case of an emergency I can cut my rope and commit suicide in order to save my partner...I think I saw it in some movie... 2. Crampons, ice axes, ropes, cams, quick draws, helmet, etc... 3. Whatever they are, they should be lightweight and there should be a small amount of them so I am completely unhindered. This way I will get to climb many unprotected, exposed pitches, be very cold, very hungry and very thirsty.
F. What do you do when you wake up in the morning? 1. Roll over and sleep for two hours more before I get up, have coffee from my espresso machine and grab a large breakfast down the street. 2. Open my eyes slowly in the tent, make sure the sun is already up, then send my partner to make coffee and breakfast. 3. Thank God it's light! I was freezing to death on a tiny ledge and didn't sleep all night. After digging our climbing gear out of the snow, my partner and I keep climbing up the headwall.
G. You are in a third world country and your partner falls into a crevasse. What do you do? 1. What am I doing in a third world country? Does this mean there's no McDonald's? 2. As fast as possible I cut the rope and get down from the mountain. Joe Simpson survived it without too many problems so my partner can too. 3. Arrest the fall, construct a dead man, escape the belay, check how is he doing and then pull him out easily with a 5 to 1 system.
H. How would you describe your last summit? 1. I walked two never-ending hours on an exposed and dangerous uphill during a school trip. 2. I "simul'ed" on a non-technical peak with my girlfriend. Sex at altitude is cool but takes a bit more time. She complained less than usual. 3. It was an alpine style first ascent of a 2000m wall on a steep north face in the Himalaya. It was graded "F.A.I" (Forget about it). The climb included three planned bivis and two unplanned ones without bivy gear. The gas ran out the first day, but we stretched our one chocolate bar to last us three days.
I. You reach the summit. What do you do? 1. I check if my cell phone works from here as well. 2. I take my clothes off and pose for a nude picture with the flag and ice axes. 3. I look for difficult new routes on nearby peaks and get ready for the all-night descent.
J. You arrive back in civilization. What do you do? 1. What's the big deal? I just went for a drive in my Chevy up in the hills. 2. Ahhh...it feels so good to finally take a hot shower. After drying off I go out with the guys for beers and tell exaggerated stories so I sound fascinating and dangerous. 3. I tell the other climbers at base camp about the new ABO route we just opened. Then after a delicious meal of pasta and tomato sauce I go for a nap in the tent with the guidebook and check what else remains unclimbed in the area.
Now total the points that correspond with your answers and find out how you should define yourself.
10-15 points: You are not an alpinist. In fact, it is better said that whatever connection lies between you and climbing is the strangest coincidence. You should plan your next climbing trip to Holland.
15-25 points: You are a climber. Not a bad one, but not a good one either. You have probably read "The Freedom of the Hills." You like to climb, but more then that, you like to talk about climbing. Like a smart person once said, "Talking about climbing is fun! You can tell cool stories about your epics and courageous survival, mock other climbers who don't know as much as you, and criticize the new Black Diamond belay device. But then, when you get to the mountain, it is cold, it is hard, it is exhausting and you have to be afraid all the time. Climbing is no fun at all!" You would feel quite at home on Internet climbing forums.
25 -30 points: You are a great alpinist! You currently have two fingers on your left hand and three on the right, which is more than enough for 5.13 onsights. You put up first ascents like regular people put up pictures in their house. You have no limits. You feel no fear. You live on the edge. You look death in the eye more than you watch television. You will probably die climbing.
31 points and more: You've either lost too many brain cells due to bivis above 8000m or you cheated.