Editor’s Note: To stay current with the climbing populace, we occasionally have field reporters observe and report on climber behavior. Recently, we sent an intrepid contributing editor (CE) to Shelf Road, a popular limestone sport destination in southern Colorado. Although he went missing under suspicious circumstances, we were able to recover his notes and tape recorder some weeks later, scattered across the hillside. With these, we reconstructed the day’s events.
Our reporter arrived on a crowded March weekend, settling into a hollow below a piñon tree 100 feet from the cliff to document the dozens of craggers. The day progressed predictably — with standard-issue hanging, Beta-spraying, and snacking — until around 1:30 p.m., when a booming voice sounded from the trail: a certain “Daddy,” announcing his presence, his terrified bottle-blonde “Babydoll” in tow.
For reasons that will become clear, our observer was hesitant to leave his hiding place. But he could see through the trees that Daddy had a stickclip, pit bull (“Adolf”), spiked, frosted hair, and “muscle fat,” while Babydoll had outsized artificial breasts, booty shorts, and a garish slab of make-up. Daddy had also driven his jacked-up conversion van along the blocked-off grade to the old parking lot, running over the “Voluntary Road Closure” signs.
A thorough analysis has revealed that our ill-fated reporter chanced upon America’s most horrible sport-climbing couple. Here we document, in chronological order, highlights from our CE’s two hours of tape recordings so you can contact the proper authorities should you encounter these specimens. We have also applied with the local naturalhistory society to name this new species: Cragus Ignoramus Dooshbagus (Americanus).
Daddy [real name unknown]: Hey, Babydoll, Daddy thinks we should safe-rope up a nice 5.9 to warm up. Daddy’s got this one on lockdown because he uses it all the time to get ready for the twelvers and thirteeners. So shake that pretty tail and flake down the rope right here.
Babydoll [real name unknown]: But, Daddy, 5.9’s the hardest I ever climbed. And besides, there’s people on this route already.
Daddy: Don’t sweat it, doll. We’ll tie up Adolf next to their stuff as a little hint to get movin’. Then I’ll just stick-rope the up-clippers and make you a nice, safe free-line through the top hooks. Daddy just wants you to be safe, Babydoll. Daddy thinks maybe first-roping’s a little too dangerous for you on 5.9.
Babydoll: OK, Daddy. Whatever you say.
Daddy: That’s right, doll—Daddy knows best.
Journal Entry, 1:37 p.m. (excerpted from our CE’s field notebook): “Daddy short-chains his beast to a tree three feet from the belayer below the 5.9. Belayer tries to sidestep the snarling dog and move the backpacks while keeping a brake hand on the rope. Daddy pre-hangs his rope and draw on the first bolt of the already-occupied route. Climber lowers off nearly atop pit bull. Confrontation ensues. Original party hastily packs up and departs.”
Daddy: That’s right, hit the road, you Boulder limpdicks! This here’s Daddy’s warm-up and ain’t nobody gonna tell Daddy different. Daddy’s been warming up here for years. Hell, Daddy mighta even installed them top hooks himself.
Journal Entry, 1:45 p.m. to 4:07 p.m.: “Daddy spends the next two-plus hours stick-clipping his way up the 40-foot route, frequently fumbling quickdraws, the stick, and doing about one in five moves free. The climb appears to be a pocket ladder with straightforward reaches between deep solution holes. When Daddy latches a pocket, he makes pull-up moves, his feet dragging against the rock. Each time he hangs, he screeches, ‘I said “Take!” you f—king whore!’ before again becoming apologetic and saying he just wants his ‘doll to be safe’ and that ‘Daddy just gets a little scared sometimes.’
“At the bigger, hueco-sized pockets, Daddy kicks his feet into the air, screams ‘Footloosin’!’, and then whoops at Babydoll before demanding that she ‘Reel in the up-line and keep Daddy on a tight brake!’ Eventually, Daddy reaches the anchors, where he clips in with a daisy chain, threads the rappel rings, whoops again, and tells Babydoll the ‘security line’s fixed and ready for down-roping.’ Babydoll lowers Daddy, and they eat Cheetos, drink Dr. Pepper, and French-kiss, discarding their trash in the cactus.”
Daddy: OK, up you go, doll. Now don’t out-climb Daddy! (Just kidding.) You know how Daddy doesn’t like it when you climb better. (Just kidding). Daddy had to 10-rest it, but maybe you can do it nice with a one-rester and make Daddy proud.
Babydoll: I’ll sure try, Daddy. I always feel safer knowing Daddy put the rope through the top hooks.
Journal Entry, 4:30 p.m.: “Babydoll doesn’t look challenged by the climbing, but hangs a few times anyway, which seems to please Daddy. As she climbs, Daddy yells up a continuous stream of Beta. Key phrases include: ‘Feet loose!’ ‘Core parallel!’ ‘Hips extended!’ ‘Reach-hang it!’ ‘Gasto-cling!’ ‘Knee-block the fi ngerhut!’ etc.
“Since much of Daddy’s logorrhea is drowned out by Adolf’s incessant barking, I’ll record some of Daddy’s physical characteristics. I’ve used my binoculars for a closer look:
•Daddy has ice-blue eyes one might call ‘lifeless’ or ‘sociopathic.’ •When not climbing, Daddy puts on a No Fear hoodie. •When climbing, Daddy wears a Tour de Pump muscle shirt. At what he deems to be the ‘free-cruxins,’ he’ll remove the shirt and tie it doo-rag style over his head for a move or two. •Daddy has both ears pierced with multiple hoop earrings. •Daddy’s tribal armband tattoos seem to be of a Native American pattern enclosed in rings of blue-inked barbed wire sitting atop a flaming-eyed skull with hieroglyphs on both sides. •Daddy is between the ages of 28 and 54, indeterminate. •Daddy wears knock-off Terminator-style sunglasses with a skulland- crossbones pattern along the stems. •Daddy spends more belay time admiring and flexing his biceps (what he refers to as his ‘Peace Keepers’) than watching his climber. He also has an odd fascination with his crotch, framed as it is by the leg loops of his harness. •Daddy chain-smokes. •Babydoll is basically the female version of Daddy.
“Once Babydoll completes the climb, Daddy gives her what he calls ‘Daddy’s Special Speed Lower,’ and she smacks the ground with an audible thump . . .
Daddy: Sorry about that, doll. You gotta have faster reflexes like Daddy when the ground comes rushing up at you. But Daddy got you back on the ground sooner so he could have himself a little sugar!
Babydoll: You hurt me, Daddy.
Daddy: Daddy didn’t mean to. Daddy’s real sorry, doll. Daddy would never do anything to hurt you or your fine fanny.
Journal Entry, 4:42 p.m. (final entry): “I could continue to observe this horrific spectacle, but I believe I have enough data for a preliminary assessment— plus, Adolf, to my alarm, has started sniffi ng in my direction.
“I can only hope that these were singular specimens and not a new breed of climbing couple, though I’m alarmed to realize I’ve seen incipient shades of these noxious traits in my own and others’ behavior at the cliffs. But surely it’s impossible that such couples have proliferated across the American crag-scape. Think what it would do to our collective morale. Think what it means for our sport: that the vandals have invaded the temple. That the ‘Jerry Springer’-esque hordes now frequent the cliffs, and climbing’s not so special or countercultural anymore. That climbers are possibly just as shitty as the rest of the human race. The thought is just too depressing. For now, I must leave.
“Crikey, I think they heard me turning off the tape recorder. He — they — Daddy has spotted me. What is he taking from his pack?! He’s coming. The dog, the dog is . . . I —OH, WHAT THE . . . !”
Matt “Not Daddy” Samet has written for Climbing since 1997.