Sunday, December 9, 2012

What's In A Name?

A recent question over on Mountain Project about the name of a local boulder problem got me to thinking about the the meaning/history of some others names around the area. Here's some off the top of my head that may have had people wondering, "Where the hell did that come from?"

Paul Dusatko at the business of She Made Me Do It.
The one that started the discussion was Rick Fredland's awesome traverse, She Made Me Do It at Skofield Park and also the sister problems, She Had Nothing To Do With It and She Didn't Want Me To Do It, both at Lizard's Mouth. The 'she' at issue was Rick's girlfriend at the time. He'd been working The Skofield traverse for a while without success and one day after some drama with the lady, went out there frustrated and promptly sent. The Lizard's Mouth problems were casual plays on the naming of the first one (and he didn't even name the last one). No sordid story here, he eventually married her and they continue to live happily ever.

Thomi Adank on the first ascent of The Dancing Outlaw.
The Dancing Outlaw at The Brickyard got put up in the late 90s when we were watching the Indie documentary about West Virginia's Jesco White, called, you guessed it, The Dancing Outlaw. If you've never seen this movie, stop what you're doing and find it on the internet somewhere. There's lots of snippets on Youtube as well. We were so fascinated with this flick that we had it playing near daily for a while at the house. Also, this is one of those problems that had a name before an ascent, I started calling it The Dancing Outlaw pretty much right off the bat, it just fit. And since my good friend Thomi had scooped the prize of the boulder while I was on the disabled list, I had to settle for putting up the right side version of The Dancing Outlaw, which I named after a line that Jesco says during one of his stories in the movie, Double Super Buzz. I'd try to explain it, but it's much easier to see/hear, so skip to 1:38:

Also, The Dancing Outlaw boulder was originally called the Bluegrass Boulder, primarily because I was climbing with Jonathan Kingston a lot back then and he liked bluegrass music. Dancing Outlaw was too classic a problem though and it just took over the name of the boulder since that's how things work. Anyways, that's why all the old problems (that don't involve Jesco) are names of, or lines from, bluegrass songs: Old and In the Way, I Ain't Broke But I'm Badly Bent, Lonesome Pine, etc. The mega-classic and wonderfully named Smooth Criminal (after the Michael Jackson song) went up a bit after all these, courtesy of the dynamic duo of Neil Crancer and Dave Hunt. I was psyched they kept a sort-of theme going with the Outlaw/Criminal element. Genius name for a genius boulder problem.

See Ya at The Yard, Meat. kingston images
Unknown attempting Grotesque Old Woman, Friday 12/7/12.
See Ya at The Yard, Meat is a line from the only Kevin Costner movie ever made that was worth watching, Bull Durham, except nobody seems to call it that but me (generally referred to as The Font Problem). Science is A Cruel Mistress is a line from the opening scene of the old Castle favorite The Big Blue. No significance here, I just thought it's a funny line. When I first started working All Mod Cons I realized it had a little bit of everything: cave, slab, kneebar, toehook, heelhook, campus move, crimps, a pinch, slopers, even a mono. All Mod Cons is a British slang term for "All Modern Conveniences". It also happens to be the title of one of my favorite albums by British punk/mod band The Jam when I was a kid. Grotesque Old Woman and Mister Witty are just Leube-isms and Austrian traveler Chris "The Normal Guy" Leube has left his mark on numerous bouldering areas around the globe with identically named problems so you can always tell he was there. Bishop boulderers will likely recognize both names from problems at The Happies. Chris also lent his name to one of my all-time favorite problem names, Leubering With Intent, a crimpy V8 at The Sad Boulders that he projected for a bit too long before Wills Young swooped in to nab the FA and coined it with its brilliant moniker. Wills has always had a pretty good knack for naming stuff.

Dr. Kristin Collins attempting King Dinosaur. kingston images
Over at the Lizard's Mouth, stacks of problems went up during what was called Martini Summer of 1996, and the brunt of them were coined after film noir references. The High Hat is a line from the Coen brothers' finest film, Miller's Crossing. Phyllis Diedrickson, the femme fatale in Double Indemnity and Kathy Moffat the femme fatale from Out of The Past. King Dinosaur was a favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie while We Brought the Atom Bomb, I Think Now Would be A Good Time to Use It is a line from King Dinosaur. The Dena problems: Dena in the Hole, Dena Goes to Gulf City, Steady Diet of Dena, Vamp, Ketel One and Gordon's all derived from a certain dark haired seductress who tended bar and poured martinis for the boys at The Blue Agave. Serious as a Deacon (if I recall correctly) is a line from Sweet Smell of Success, but was also one of many lines poached from various films in the brilliant homage to film noir that Steve Edwards and Todd Mei made in 1998, Icarus Descending. The best problem busting out of the Meilee Cave: Faded, Fat, Greedy Women is a line from Shadow of a Doubt.

I could write pages about names of the problems at our dearly missed Swimming Hole. Jeff Johnson has always taken pride in giving proper names to proper ascents and couple that with the perennial jokester Paul Anderson and you had an area stacked with great names. Entry Fee was the most obvious line on the first major freestanding boulder that marked the beginning of the Swimming Hole bouldering (AJP was 1/4 mile closer upstream but not really 'the beginning' of the real concentration of boulders). It was said that everyone must pay their Entry Fee, and it wasn't cheap, a delicate bit of 5.11 climbing on absolutely perfect stone. The Wave was a perfectly smooth boulder with minimal features and a mini-dihedral leading up a curling face, Microwave was a miniature version around the corner of the big boy.

The Heckler. Johnson spotting, Reardon shooting video.
The Texas Flake Boulder, aptly named for the enormous detached flake shaped almost exactly like the left edge of Texas, had the ultra-thin Paul Anderson testpiece, The Heckler, named after the prodigious amounts of shit-talking that frequented Swimming Hole sessions (Paul was and is the master). On the corner was the devious Troublemaker and the sister problem Makin' Trouble, both are regarding Wills and if I remember correctly, Troublemaker was Johnson directed at Wills, and Makin' Trouble was Wills firing back at Johnson. Genius.

Thomi trying to slam dunk Magic Johnson.

One of the greatest problems that ever existed on the planet, Jeff Johnson's Magic Johnson, was so perfectly named because it was such a classic double entendre. Firstly, the move up to the sloper was a massive palm open slap as if you were slam-dunking a basketball and secondly, success seemed so implausible that it was like a magic trick when it worked. The 'magic' theme carried on to the other problems on the boulder, Smoke and Mirrors, which was less magic, and just brutally hard, and the easiest of the tri-fecta, Hocus Pocus. Also in the area that we lovingly referred to as The Pit of Power, was Meateater, a very high and very committing arete that Jeff named after vying for the first ascent with Wills Young. The story was that Wills was eating nuts and berries (or something like that) while out bouldering and Jeff thought it was kind of funny. Jeff and Wills weren't exactly seeing 'eye-to-eye' at the time, shall we say. (It should be noted that Wills was not and as far as I know still isn't a vegetarian). Starting around the corner from The Pit sits The Handicapper, named so for obvious reasons. As far as I know the veracity of the name was never tested, you either didn't get very far off the ground or you sent. Left of The Handicapper started The Mad Cow Traverse, which along the same time as some tension between Jeff and Wills, Jeff got first and coined it as a dig on the British-raised Young (Mad Cow disease in England was big news back then).

.........I could go on about the Swimming Hole, but damn it gets depressing to think that everything I mentioned here is gone. And hell, with two blog posts in two weeks I don't want to get carried away.


  1. I'm psyched you are posting again!

    1. Oh, I've got stacks of half-written and never-started history, video reviews, and miscellaneous crap that's been sitting around. I'm so fucking lazy though. Motivation comes in spurts.

      Was digging through photo archives and found that old She Made Me pic, never really liked the photos from that day but I tweaked with this one in Lightroom a bit and it popped a little more. Kind of nice now, eh?

    2. Yeah the photo looks sweet! I'm missing SB a bit... didn't realize how rad it is until I left. Now I'm just a dime a dozen Colorado ripper.