The Fame Monster

"I don't want to write about climbing; I don't want talk about it; I don't want to photograph it; I don't want to think about it; all I want to do is do it." - Chuck Pratt.

I can't remember when I first came across Pratt's quote but it's stuck ever since. Pratt, after penning his classic essay The View From Dead Horse Point, never published another piece of climbing writing. Unlike Pratt, I continue to be guilty of occasionally spewing about climbing, from slideshows to this blog. Still, with each passing year and with the buzz around climbing growing ever louder, I find his sentiment more and more appealing. There was a time I used to record each climb I did: when I did it, with whom, how long it took and other like details. At some point I stopped this practice: once an experience was in the past, there seemed little point in recording it.

Yet climbing for the moment, letting go of climbs as soon as you've done them, can shade into selfishness. Just the other day I enjoyed a fantastic day in the mountains when Gery took me on a route he put up last year. Had he not recorded and shared that climb with others, I wouldn't have had that experience. The outing reminded me of a route another friend and I did last summer. Juan and I spent a couple of wonderfully solitary days in a remote corner of the North Ghost, dusting off and climbing a largely forgotten Chris Kalous project. After we'd rapped off for the last time and bounced back home over river cobbles and washboarded roads, I quickly forgot about it and moved on to other climbs and new experiences. However, now it occurs to me that with this summer's warmest days yet being forecast for next week, others might also have fun on this secluded, shady wall. And so, with that in mind, I'm writing about climbing.

Yours truly walks up to the upper pitches of the Fame Monster. Photo: Juan Henriquez.

Juan starts up pitch 4, the first harder pitch, with the gravel flats of the Ghost River far below.

Juan almost through the cruxy bits of pitch 4.

Looking up the Ghost River toward Mt. Aylymer, with no sounds other than those of water below and wind above.

Juan engages with the tricky and fingery climbing at the beginning of pitch 5.

With a full rack jangling from my harness, I start up pitch 6. Photo: Juan Henriquez.

The line of pitches 2-6  from the valley bottom.


  1. Hi Raphael!
    Like many other things in life, it presents an unresolved incongruity. I can relate to and fully understand the sentiments of your opening quote; especially, as you say, amidst the buzz of our current times.
    Yet, I personally enjoy very much reading your posts, listening to your podcasts etc. from the UK. I think that the writing and sharing by climbers of the experience and skill such as yourself can go a long way towards inspiring other people, sharing relevant and valuable information and, in general, enhance the experience and learning of other climbers.
    I am now going to read Pratt's essay - I had never heard about it.

  2. Hi Silverio,

    I hope you managed to locate Pratt's essay. I can't remember now in what obscure publication I read it. Let me know if you found it, I'd like to reread it in its entirety.

    And thank you for your perspective. I find there's a fine line between inspiration and FOMO, and the easiest way to avoid crossing it is to stop reading and writing about climbing altogether. However, just because there's an ugly side to climbing talk, maybe we shouldn't deny ourselves the pleasure of talking about it occasionally.




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