Video Fridays: Mountaineering, Monty Python & My Son The Rock Climber

jclimbing2It’s been WAY too long since I wrote about My Son The Rock Climber!

That’s him six years ago, age 12, in the lede photo here, climbing on the wall we built for him in his bedroom. By the time this photo was taken, he’d been climbing for about six years, he’d joined a local youth climbing team six months earlier, and a year later he qualified for the national championships!

Well, while My Son The Rock Climber, now age 18, no longer competes, he still climbs and is AMAZING!!!, he works as a route setter at a local climbing gym, and when he climbs he looks like this:


In some ways, not much has changed. In other ways, EVERYTHING seems to have changed.

Anyway, last night he and I went together to the 10th Annual Reel Rock Film Festival, a collection of short films about rock climbing and mountaineering. It was inspiring for him, but it was terrifying for me.

See, while I’ve been super supportive of My Son The Rock Climber’s climbing for years, and while I know that the vast majority of climbers are hyper-safety-conscious, the Reel Rock films are chock full of some of the most intense, dangerous climbing you can imagine, and the thought of My Son The Rock Climber somewhere like, let’s say, 2,000 feet up the face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, fills me with anxiety and dread.

For now, he’s solely interested in the relatively safe form of climbing known as bouldering, consisting of difficult, technical routes typically no more than 20 feet high.

But last night he expressed an interest in ice climbing, a component of mountaineering, and the film that focused on mountaineering, A Line Across The Sky, the most terrifying of the evening, was about two climbers who climbed this:


That’s Fitz Roy in Patagonia, Argentina, and the two climbers were and thankfully still are Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold.

For Video Fridays, then, I thought I’d spread the terror around a bit by posting the trailer for A Line Across The Sky, encouraging you to seek out and see the whole film, which, beside being terrifying, is absolutely gorgeous to look at and an inspiring story of human dedication, perseverance, and achievement.

Following that, I’ll share what I turned to for relief from the anxiety at the thought of My Son The Climber ever doing anything remotely that dangerous.

At least one of the members of Monty Python had to have been a mountaineering enthusiast, because mountain climbing featured prominently in three different skits from their Flying Circus days, and the technical terms peppered throughout make it clear that they knew what they were talking about.

Here now, then, the serious and not-so-serious side of a very dangerous activity.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

3 thoughts on “Video Fridays: Mountaineering, Monty Python & My Son The Rock Climber

  1. As a rock climber and an actuary, I guesstimated that among serious every weekend mountaineers, the mortality rate is about three per thousand per year. “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills”, is still a great introduction. Also, each year, the Chicago Mountaineering Club provides members a copy of “Accidents in North American Mountaineering”. In its 70 years of existence, with about 100 members, CMC has experienced three climbing deaths, most recently when a man downclimbed to retrieve a camera, one in setting a belay for rock climbing, and one long ago in Utah. Most CMC members, like me, rarely venture out.

    1. Very interesting info, John. Thanks for sharing that.

      I’m reminded of what people who are afraid of flying in airplanes are often told in well-meaning efforts to assuage their fear, that statistically it’s WAY more dangerous to travel in a car.

      I’d venture to guess that most people who are told this do not feel safer just having that information.

      See, it doesn’t matter how often people are injured or killed flying in airplanes or climbing mountains, it’s the fact that it is even a possibility that causes the fear.

      Also, I’m sure if you could ask people who died in plane crashes or avalanches, they would say that they do not feel any better about having had their lives cut short knowing that they were of the unlucky few. 😉

  2. Having a child point out some risky move (in our family it was a snowboard move, but my nieces and nephews are rock climbers, bike riders among other sports) is just plain not nice for the next week of nightmares. On the other hand, I’m glad for kids who are encouraged and just get out there and GO.

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