Apr 27, 2012

Rise of the Gumby

Urban Dictionary elucidates many colorful returns to the request "rock climbing". While I will not digress into the rainbow of definitions provided (warning these definitions truly are "colorful" so buyer beware for those of you who are curious), one analogue caught my eye epitomizing anew feelings regarding the sport.

"Of all so-called "extreme sports" (activities that about 1/2 the time are undertaken, or claimed to have been undertaken, by otherwise boring people in a desperate attempt to become interesting), this is probably the trendiest way to give off a persona of ruggedness, danger, physical fitness, etc. Note that most people who express an interest in rock-climbing or purchase incidental gear such as carabiners, have never climbed and never will."

Enter "gumby". The gumby, also known as a poser or possibly noob in internet circles, is a bromidic sect of humanity native to local gear shops, Red Rocks, Nevada, and artificial climbing walls. Initially, a hypothesis stating all climbers were once derived from this genus was offered. However, this controversial assignment raised considerable discourse throughout social networks related to climbing (namely rockclimbing.com) pertaining to the definition of "egociality" (term used for the highest classification on one's self) and the existence of other gumby-like classes found in skiing, kayaking, and other badass sports. The gumby has a highly unusual combination of physical and mental attributes allowing it to, not only survive, but thrive in environments considered harsh to most climbers. One such example of the gumby's ability to cultivate a niche in a typically discordant environment can be found at your local climbing gym. While the gumby is a commonplace in this climate year round, during the summer month the temptation of actually going rock climbing routinely drives most climbers from this setting. Be as it may, the gumby's superior adaptation of never actually having gone rock climbing allow this intriguing creature to reside within the climbing gym regardless of the heat. 

Recently, an evolutionary leap has occurred allowing the gumby to take on characteristics of a climber. At a growing number of climbing destinations the frequency of gumby observations has increased nearly 10,000% in the past ten years. It appears that somehow, gumbys have acquired the ability to climb outside. As gumby populations continue to spread the native species, climbers, are scratching their heads as to the cause of the gumby expansion. Even more troubling is progressively more gumbys are implementing a rudimentary tool allowing them masquerade as a climber, the internet. The influence the internet has had on climbing in the last five years is unparallelled in the history of climbing. In the past, the evolutionary process of human to climber required a genetic mutation of cell comprising the neocortex. It appears the gumbys utilization of this tool prematurely insights a substandard derivative of the normal climbing mutation. This mutation imparts the abnormality with a exaggerated knowledge of random or "gimicky" climbing gear, an increased capacity for memorization of guidebooks, and the inability to differentiate between desirable and undesirable climbing locations. 

Perhaps the most startling result associated with the rise of the gumby is the potential implications the internet has on those establishing the authentic climbing mutation. As exemplified by this blogpost itself, the pathway leading to development of the wildtype climbing mutation may be affected by elevated internet use. So, as summer and warm days at the crag quickly approach (if not already arrived) keep this little nugget of palaver in your back pocket. Remember why you climb and why we started climbing in the first place; was it to "affect a persona of ruggedness, danger, and physical fitness", appear more appealing to the opposite sex, gain praise from your peers, add a tick to mountainproject.com or up your rating on 8a, gain fame and fortune, or mimic Stallone? Or were you driven to climb because wanted to explore the unknown, seek adventure, achieve something you never thought possible, travel, live, love, and/or be in the vertical? Despite my grandest efforts, I find myself succumbing the the temptations of the ego. But, as I repeatedly strive to remonstrate the evils of the id, I find my relationship with climbing more demonstrative. Elicit the inner gumby, force a mutation in your neocortex, and unmask your true rock climber. 

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