When I first learned to climb in 1998, there was such a dearth of information about the activity that one could reasonably read anything written on the subject. And I did. I devoured everything from dozens of classic John Long tomes to some absolutely impenetrable posts by a guy known as Passthepitonspete on fledgling climbing internet forums, which I printed and brought with me on my trip. first trip to Yosemite.
Climbers today have the opposite problem: there is so much information that knowing where to start is as daunting a task as climbing El Capitan for the first time. Now MasterClass, the online education subscription service, has jumped into the fray with an escalation series taught by Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell.
You must have heard from them. Honnold is the madman who played El Capitan solo, and Caldwell is the nine-fingered tough guy who spent ten years of his life hitting El Cap’s Dawn Wall. They are also two of the most prolific climbers of all time, not to mention wonderful and funny people, and they have teamed up to accomplish many great feats, including the first crossing of the Fitz Roy massif in Patagonia, Argentina, as as well as an ascent of the Nez d’El Cap in less than two hours with a time of 1:58:07, the current record.
If you’ve ever dreamed of playing El Cap solo or pushing him to the Dawn Wall on your own, then this course is for you. I’m kidding, of course, while wincing at the thought of all the gullible chompers who could entertain such a misguided reverie.
While all of the aforementioned climbing feats are referenced extensively throughout this MasterClass – and reinforced by an archive of video footage that will be familiar to you if you’ve seen Free solo or any Reel Rock movie – the current program only covers the basics, from basic rock climbing techniques to an overview of the equipment and how to tackle bouldering, sport climbing and rock climbing. traditional climbing.
The course’s 14 classes (each between five and ten minutes) are divided into tutorials that include footwork, climbing holds, rock climbing, and the outdoors. There are also lighter lessons, like Don’t Be a Gumby, in which Honnold riffs on the term “happy” if “semi-disparaging” to a novice climber. He admits that he primarily uses the word in a self-referential way, whenever he makes a “gumby move”.
“If you’re wearing your climbing shoes in the parking lot, you’re wrong, you’re kidding,” Honnold says precisely. And if this kind of blunt statement (classic Honnold) may offend some beginners, it quickly switches to a real learning moment: each objective requires the right equipment, at the right time.
What the MasterClass is and who it is for has been the target of a number of interesting cultural critiques, including Saturday Night Live from skits to a more serious deep dive into Atlantic. A subscription to MasterClass costs $ 15 and provides access to its entire library of online courses. Disclosure: I am a satisfied annual subscriber. (Full disclosure: I’m also friends with Honnold and Caldwell.) I like this because I can take 15 minutes of inspirational writing from Malcolm Gladwell or David Sedaris in the morning and then learn a new way to roast a Gordon Ramsey’s chicken in the afternoon. Of course, I don’t watch these MasterClasses under the illusion that I will actually become a master. But the point is, the top performers are often just intelligent people by nature that are interesting. Master class brings you closer to world-class artists. As much as I enjoy learning how to fillet a Thomas Keller Dover sole, I also enjoy being exposed to his quirks as a chef; I watched him go through so much parchment paper on his cutting boards that I suspect he must have paper toilet seat covers all over his house.
The Honnold and Caldwell Climbing MasterClass is designed for true beginners. Yet these two have such a good rapport that even advanced climbers would likely be happy to take all of their lessons, whether they learned something new or not. You’ll probably laugh at the sight of two guys wearing helmets demonstrating sports climbing over a bunch of uninspiring stuff in the middle of nowhere, when you know full well they weren’t even wearing helmets. while taking 100 foot whips on their speed climbs on El Cap, but it’s always fun to watch them do the gestures of responsible educators.