Unsent: How to Name a Climbing Route

Avatar:
Kevin Corrigan
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
626

Unsent /un-sent/ 1. To have failed so badly on a route you had previously climbed that you negate your redpoint. 2. A humor column.

Rock Climbing Unsent Route Names

Photo: Andrew Burr

This summer I spent a weekend climbing at Lime Creek, Colorado, and got on a route called Pineapple Thunderpussy (5.11b). Of course I got on it. It’s called PINEAPPLE THUNDERPUSSY. How could I not? Imagine my disappointment when I got home and pulled the route up on Mountain Project, only to find that Pineapple Thunderpussy was just a placeholder name. It’s actually called Magic Carpet Ride. Yes, the movement was exceptional. It was an interesting, challenging, and extremely fun route—but I’d unclimb it in a heartbeat. Who wants to climb Magic Carpet Ride? There is a real Pineapple Thunderpussy, but it’s in Montana. I’d been catfished. Perhaps the most important decision a route developer makes is what to name their creation. A great name can put a climb on the map. A boring name can help it fade into obscurity. Here are some tips for crafting the perfect rock title.

Do's

  • Puns are encouraged. Try inserting a climbing term into a widely known phrase, e.g., To Bolt or Not to Be (5.14a) in Smith Rock, Oregon.
  • Make your name completely nonsensical. Other climbers don’t need to know what it means; in fact, the more confusing the better. See Diet Coke below.   
  • Make your route name long. It can be an entire paragraph if you want. It can be a book. Our sport has no overall governing body, and there are no rules about what you can and can’t name a route. Again, see below.   
  • Be clever. The Young and the Rackless (5.9), the name of a four-pitch, heavily bolted sport route in Boulder Canyon, is so goddamn clever it hurts. Having climbed it, I can tell you that one of its three stars can be attributed to the name alone. The first ascensionists should get honorary degrees from Yale for coming up with that one.
  • Be vulgar. Again, there are no set rules about what you can and can’t name a route—your route name can have “fuck” in it—so feel free to use words that would make an old-timey Southern lady exclaim, “Well, I never!” Most routes in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, are like this. For example, The Incredible Horse Cock (5.13d).      

Don'ts

  • Don’t make a penis route. There are already way too many route names that make dick references, and they’re not clever. We can be better. I believe in us. (Note: There are always exceptions, such as the Horse route mentioned above.)
  • Double entendre routes are pretty hack. Leave that kind of humor for uncles and third graders. We all know jugs and slopers sound like terms for boobs. Yes, our butts have cracks and so do rock climbs. You don’t get extra stars for pointing that out in your route name.   
  • Don’t name a route by its line or obvious feature (West Ridge, North Arête, Direct Face, etc.). These are not bad names, but they’ve all been taken—by Layton Kor, in 1960. Creating the 500th Direct Route will only lead to confusion.  
  • Don’t include current pop culture references; it’s the fastest way to date your route name. Climbers five years from now won’t know the one-hit wonder or mid-season replacement sitcom you think is so funny today. There’s no way to know what current culture will stand the test of time, so it’s best to stick to the classics, like puns based on Hemingway novels (Farewell to Arms, various) or old-school hip hop songs.

Route Name Hall of Fame

Available Route Names

Route developers, feel free to use any of these four-star names for your next masterpiece: 

  • The Sharma-Chouinard Smiletime Direct
  • Poopybutt Avenue
  • Stop Licking Me, Daniel
  • The North-East-South-West Ridge-Face-Arête-Crack
  • The Taylor Howard Swift Memorial Route
  • Some Holds to the Top of a Cliff, I Don’t Know
  • The Crimps Are Alright
  • Wubalubalubalubaluba Skidooooooooooo
  • Pitches Ain’t Shit, Feat. Snoop Dogg
  • If You Climb This Route You Have to Buy Pizza Later
  • Big Holds, Huh? Alright, Welp, See Ya Later
  • The South Face of Mount Murder (This is a good one for a boulder problem. Is this part of the name or an aside? You decide)
  • Countrytime Lemonade
  • Tapas Tapas Tapas Tapas Tapas Tapas Tapas Tapas Hamcakes!
  • Not Beckey’s Route
  • Carl