Common sense

Here is another thing I realised after TCI Expo…

I spent the show mainly on the Teufelberger booth, supporting Gina, Angela and Dave when it came to climbing-specific questions.

I was struck by one conversation I had: This guy turns up and asks me about a piece of kit and takes off on a long, convoluted train of thought of how he might include this in his base-tied anchor. Or maybe a canopy-tied one – and so it went on. I suppose there came a point where I must have been looking at him in a slightly non-plussed fashion, he asked me whether I climb SRT (stationary rope technique). No, I said, I have tried it and remain interested, but at this point in time I have questions regarding the tools available to do so, the technique does not really suit my style and also it is not that well suited the type of trees in our area. Call it personal choice. But as I said, I remain interested and will be following developments closely.

Ah, he said, so you climb old school. 

Really? *sigh*

OK, I get it, some people are pretty passionate about SRT techniques. SRT does some specific things really well, better than DdRT (doubled rope technique). Yet DdRT does a very wide range of things really well, situations where you might well be struggling with SRT. But this is not the issue. SRT is here to stay, as a further tool that we incorporate into our tool box, along with all the other techniques we use, to be employed wisely and in the right instances, allowing us to reap maximum benefits in terms of ergonomic gains or increased efficiency.

What this is not about is about choosing one over the other. In a sense, there is no old or new school. We ought to be aiming for a position based upon common sense and reason.

It is tempting to discard all that went before, as being less evolved or as being somehow primitive.

Richard Dawkins has very strong views in this matter when discussing evolution: Evolution, he says, is not a linear process, rather it takes a messy and piece-meal approach, trying things out, experimenting and discarding, returning to earlier iterations to re-use them or to mix them with new variations. For this reason he is scathing about the graphic that depicts the evolution from an ape all the way through to a modern human being. We are not the pinnacle of creation, but a mere blip on a time scale, part of an evolutionary process. And why, laments Dawkins, is the pinnacle of creation in this graphic always depicted as guy and never a woman?!

So there you go, I would suggest that we apply some Dawkinsian logic to our discussion regarding DdRT and SRT, viewing them through an evolutionary lens, as this allows us to understand them for what they are: as stepping stones in an evolution of climbing techniques. The question is not which one to chose one over the other, but rather to be familiar with the history of our climbing techniques and looking forwards in anticipation of what the next step, building on what went before, is going to be.