Humor. Essays. Adventure.

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How to Tell People You're Not Climbing the Dawn Wall

12 totally legitimate excuses

(Brendan Leonard)

12 totally legitimate excuses

Nowadays, every time you’re at the climbing gym, people are coming up to you and asking, “So, are you climbing the Dawn Wall this year or what?” Sure, they’re just trying to make conversation, but it’s a little annoying, am I right? Next time someone asks you about your Dawn Wall plans, try one of these responses:

It’s Not My Style Of Climbing

Honestly, climbing an incredibly sustained, difficult, technical 32-pitch route on granite in the world’s most famous big wall Mecca, sounds great, but it’s really not the style of climbing that truly motivates me.

I Have a Nagging Finger Injury

I know it doesn’t look like anything when I hold up my finger and show you, but trust me, every time I try to do this one crimpy sidepull on the red route over there, it feels like a bolt of lightning is hitting it right at this joint. I mean, I can climb still, just not 100 percent. So I think the Dawn Wall is out for now.

My Mom Won’t Let Me Do It

I asked my mom, and even though Kevin, Tommy, and Adam are climbing the Dawn Wall, she said no.

It’s Not a Classic

Look, the Dawn Wall only has a 1.7-star rating (out of four stars) on Mountain Project. Hardly a classic climb. Not to be an elitist, but I have a list of much higher-rated climbs at Happy Hour Crag that I want to tick before I think about doing some route that doesn’t even merit two whole stars.

I Can’t Take That Much Time Off Work

With the kids’ schedules, and the holidays, and three friends’ weddings this year, plus the trip to Mexico, I’m out of vacation days. So a Yosemite trip is out.

It’s Too Crowded

Back in 2015 it was cool because nobody had heard of it, but now everybody knows about it and you can’t even get a parking spot. I blame Instagram.

I Haven’t Been Climbing That Much Lately

I don’t know, I have a lot of other stuff going on, so I’ve only been able to climb five days a week for the past six months. I feel like if I were to do the Dawn Wall, I’d really have to get serious about training for it.

I Have Nothing To Wear

I just don’t have the right outfit for a late fall/early winter ascent of the world’s most difficult big wall free climb. I mean, all my climbing clothes just look so frumpy.

It’s Right In The Middle Of Ice Season

Winter is ice climbing season for me. I cannot think about anything else besides freezing my ass off, chopping at frozen waterfalls with sharp tools, catching shards and small blocks of ice with my face, and getting the screaming barfies at the end of every pitch. I can’t even consider anything else.

I’m Too Obsessed With My Other Project

There’s a 40-foot sport route at my local crag that I’ve had my eye on for a few months now, and while it is easier climbing by several grades and approximately 3,000 feet shorter than the Dawn Wall, I’m just too fixated on it to think about other goals right now.

I Have To Clean The Garage

Have you seen my garage? I can’t even get a car in there right now. It’s a mess. To paraphrase Tommy Caldwell, cleaning the garage is my own Dawn Wall.

I Am Physically Incapable At This Point Of Climbing That Hard

You know, I was at work the other day, staring out the window, thinking to myself, “Am I one of the top, say, dozen rock climbers in the entire world?” And I gotta be honest with you: I’m not.

Filed To: Climbing / Ice Climbing / Yosemite
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