Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Welcome to ToeHook(soon to be).com! 

If you're reading this, then chances are you know who I am. But I thought I'd take this opportunity to tell you a little about myself and what this here blog is (gonna be) all about. Also, it's raining and I've already climbed in the gym and there are no good climbing videos to watch and I have a paper to write, but this is more fun. 

What is Toehook.com? and why should I take time away from cool climbing websites to check it out?

Toehook.com is a climbing blog which will focus not on individual sends or how many v19s Adam Ondra can crawl up one handed, but rather on local beta. Before you freak out about how I'm going to ruin access to your local secret stash, let me explain. 

This weekend I was at Little Rock City (Stone Fort for those of you not from the area) trying to climb amongst the hoards of newbs. If the increase in climbing popularity and new guidebook weren't enough flame to stoke the already blazing fire of LRC access, the new radio commercials by the golf course pretty much guarantee that Chattanooga's crown jewel of bouldering will be furthermore overrun by newbs with boom boxes. On Saturday, I literally saw a family of people climbing around on rock faces in their socks since they didn't have climbing shoes. That's when I knew I had to do something. 

The biggest problem in the climbing community in my opinion, is that the sport is growing faster than the community is able to handle. 

What I mean is this, I was introduced to climbing by my friend Ben Heacock. We worked together at summer camp and he introduced me to the ranks by taking me to the Obed and listening to me bitch all the way up a 5.9 sport climb. He tried his best to make me a trad climber, which I'm sure I'll one day be, but was unsuccessful in keeping me from getting into bouldering. He wasn't perfect, but Ben took the time to teach me about a sport and a culture that I was otherwise unaware of. After climbing with Ben I joined a local climbing gym and haven't looked back since. 

That family on Saturday didn't have a Ben to mentor them into the world of climbing. Now one can argue that they didn't care enough or know enough to search one out, and I'd say that's fair, but let's face it; rock climbing is only going to get more popular. So instead of sitting around complaining about all the gumbies who don't know not to bring their dogs to the crag or how to send without screaming, this blog is for you. But it's also for all the dirty hippies who've been rock climbing since they climbed their way out of the womb.  This is your chance to constructively explain the local beta to your crag/boulder field/backyard. I'm not going to ruin access by spraying about secret stashes, nor will I condone this site to be a place for releasing climbing secrets. But I think it could be helpful for us climbers who've been at it for a bit to pull our ideas and explain a little bit of the culture to those who we don't know. 

I'm not naive enough to think that this blog has the ability to replace a one on one mentorship of a new climber to the world of rock climbing, but I also think that it may be a start. 

All that said, here are some of my preliminary ideas for the blog: 

  • Area beta/advice for publicly known boulder fields or crags- such as LRC is $3 to climb, but don't bring your boombox!
  • Words of Wisdom from old-timers- I'd love to get some articles from climbers who've been around for a bit to comment on the current state of the climbing world beyond my feeble knowledge
  • Local News- This might be a good spot to contribute local news about gym comps, trail days, etc. 
  • Gumby of the Week- Stories of gumbies being well.... gumbies 
  • Gear Review- eh... who knows
  • Climbing Friends- List of blogs both pro and weekend warrior which are fun to read when not climbing

So what about you, what's the worst thing you've seen at a climbing spot lately? Do you agree we need more mentorship in the community? How many v19s will Ondra send?


  1. I totally agree with you, Jordan. Since I started climbing a few years ago, I have noticed an obvious change in the beginning climber. From my recent climbing trips to Rocktown and LRC, I came across climbers using steel brushes, climbing barefoot, spraying foul language, hopping on to your project without permission, and annoying dogs that I just want to kick in the mouth because their owner locked them up to a tree. And I think it's happening this way because of what you already said: the sport is growing faster than the community is able to handle.

  2. It's funny. Not too long after you moved to Chattanooga and started pebble wrestling,* I stopped taking so many newer climbers outside. Maybe that is a good thing, because we sure did do a lot of stupid shit back in the day! I think the picture of us on the bridge at Obed says it all! Looking back, if you weren't free thinking and intelligent, I could have really turned you into a major idiot.

    Anyways. Over the last couple years, climbing has become a lot more self-reflective and humbling for me. Its hard to explain, but the word "passive" is what comes to mind. The longer I climb, the more it becomes this way, the more I don't feel special for being some sort of "climber" and not a member of an inferior laity - the dreaded "non-climber."

    I have started taking people out again, especially climbers with some experience who want to break into the trad and/or multipitch game, and it is very different from our days at Obed. I guess one of the things I've realized is that teaching is an important part of YOUR development as a responsible, courteous, and humble climber.

    Love the blog. I'd love to write for it sometime...

    Hapy Climbing!


    * Okay, I really do respect bouldering. I only make fun, because I'm jealous of how small your holds are.

  3. Thanks Brett, and Ben dude I'm glad you took a chance on teaching me the trade. I know what you mean about getting more passive and respective towards climbing. For me I really feel like I fell in love with it here in Chattanooga and my battle for the past few years has been to not focus on it too much. I constantly go back and forth between feeling like I should become a dirtbagger and live out of my van at the red for the next two years and feeling like I should give it up all together. All things in moderation is what I've come believe. But if I can find a way to make a living by being in the outdoors and teaching others about themselves through that environment then I'm all in.

    Also, I'm ready for trad. I was talking to a friend recently who told me that sport climbing and bouldering are what people do who want to play sports, trad and multipitch are for those who want adventures. I want adventures.

  4. And also I'd love for you to write for this blog!

  5. I just stumbled on this blog from a post you left on URG's facebook. I can easily say I'm happy I found it. You have found your way into my bookmarks! Keep it up!