Rifle. Fourth of July. Mike and I had a day off, and our kids have drivers’ licenses, and we hastened to Rifle.
The third or so climb we hoped to do was the sweeping Rumor Has It, said to be the first bolted route in the canyon, which follows a blue-gray streak on the airy limestone walls.
We strolled up, delighted by the blue skies and holiday vibe. But wait! Three young men, perhaps early 20s, were on the route.
They were nice and friendly, and warned us, “This might take a while.”
Which seemed clear, as the first guy was saying, “Take” two bolts up.
A grade tells so little: Rumor Has It is given 5.11b, but is surely harder, shiny-slick with decades of use, and the bolts are wide-spaced according to early practice.
Anyway, we were fine with waiting, and set off on another line, the less poetically named, mediocre Tijuana Crack Whore 15 feet to the left.
The youths’ discussion continued apace, ending with a sudden, “I’m not into it!” from the leader, and a short, “Dirt me!” He lowered.
The second kid mounted the route, the first now sitting disconsolate on the ground.
"I haven't been sport climbing lately,” he explained. “Just crushing hard boulder problems."
He added, reflectively, "I haven't sport climbed since I last worked. So that was four weeks ago. No, five weeks ago."
A few bolts above, kid number 2 was saying that the clips were in bad places. "That is not how you do it! I do not appreciate this!"
He lowered. Number 3 didn't say anything, but led through to the top, falling maybe once at the very end. Silence is golden.
They packed up, and the first said, cheering, “Let’s go to a 5.12. I’m going to work it once, and then I’m going to go up and do it.”
What a funny, bombastic word “crushed” is. Climbers, to hear them talk, crush everything.
“Let's go crush.”
“She’s a crusher.”
“You’re crushing, man!”
A lot of climber words come and go. “Honed” was once used often, and with straight faces, if you can believe that: “That guy is so honed.” “Sent” is practically everywhere. But I’ve never seen another piece of climber slang as widely applied as “crushed.”
Kelly Cordes, a climber-writer I saw recently, points out that the phrase can apply to any act of living, such as, “I'm gonna totally crush this burrito.”
A search of my email yields nearly a hundred uses of “crush” just from the last year and a half, such as: “We can work over the next few months on crushing out great photos.”
A couple of days ago, I got this genuinely sweet note:
“Hi - thanks for the email and consideration. File is attached. Hope you get out there and crush something good this weekend.”
I did climb. I tried hard, but didn’t crush a thing.
What silly words do you hear climbers say?