Now stand back, kiddo, and watch!

Thinking about TCI Expo last week reminded me of a funny situation I witnessed years ago…

The story occurred during a TCI Expo a good ten to twelve years ago. I was taking part in the head to head footlock competition at the Vermeer both, with Rip T running the show (gotta love the guy, still at it today, talk about indomitable!). At that point in time it was pretty much a footlock contest, with a sprinkling of mechanical ascenders.

So this one guy rocks up and goes into a major prep routine, stretching, squats, visualising the movements – the full monty! I have to admit that I was pretty impressed, fully prepared to be blown away.

The guy does a sort of Armageddon walk up to the footlock line (you can just picture him, all back-light silhouette, emerging from billowing mists – to fanfares and Chariots of Fire-esque epic music). He pulls on his harness – totally focused, in the zone! It seems to me like everybody is watching with baited breaths as he proceeds to install his footlock Prusik on the line.

There is not a shadow of doubt. This guy just so totally knows what he is doing, he owns this event. By this time I am starting to feel a bit intimidated and insignificant.

But hold on… just before he takes off, the guy ties an Alpine Butterfly, maybe half a meter off the ground, and hangs a bag full of rope off it.

Uhh, like, really?!

Well, long story short, his ascent was somewhat hampered by the weight of the rope bag on the line – and apart from that was pretty mediocre. I suppose he must have seen someone ascending on a stationary line with mechanical devices, where a bit of weight on the line below the climber can indeed make sense. But when footlocking? Naaaah… return to field one!

I think I laughed all the way up – until he hit the bell. 😂

This story is a salutary tale in the necessity to gain a thorough understanding of techniques not just while you are putting them to use, but rather before doing so. Should this not be so, then in the best case it may result in you looking a bit foolish or, in the worst case, you may end up getting badly hurt. In this specific instance however, I think the only thing that took a blow was the guy’s pride… he was lowered to the ground with a slightly sheepish look plastered over his face.

The other thing I took away is not to believe the hype. Great packaging does not automatically guarantee great content. Do not follow people blind, rather question the authority you are granting them,  strive to understand how and why you do things – and develop your own opinions.