We knew the man as a force, a smiling face in the face of big ice, cold nights, high winds, and frightening leads. But we also remember him sharing ice cream, bending his glasses back into something halfway functional, and failing to control his wild hair.
While the dirtbag may be a dying breed, the insouciant idea of the dirtbag has captured much of climbing's soul. Living out of the truck, climbing every day, dumpster diving, scraping by with nothing but the fervor to climb. This certainly existed but in parallel to the hundreds of climbers who fed their addictions as weekend warriors. And where do Ron Kauk's Ford Broncos, John Bachar's Gillettes, and Chris Sharma's perfumes fall into the reimagination of the dirtbag?
The neocons were a dangerous group, and their realignment of world power was exposed in the brutal deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. Bolton's dismissal of the United Nations decried an inflexibility incompatible with the real world (despite very real criticisms of effectiveness). His tenure as National Security Adviser will be the whisperings of Iago into Trump's ear. Fear. Revenge. Attack.
I see Facebook posts mourning children. And the immediate response from those who side with killers. I grow weary of these men. Bearded and begutted, bellies hanging low over the belt with the weight of years conforming to stereotype. Words, so meaningless, thrown into the wind of social media. Rights. Constitution. Patriotism. Men whose identities have become so wrapped around a constructed narrative they can no longer question it.
So what do we do, climbers? Do we abandon the temples of rock climbing to the hordes? Do we focus on education? Do we enforce regulations? Do we tell bereaved families that their son or daughter should have known better? Do we limit what is considered grounds for lawsuits? Do we avoid the Fifty Classics? Do we stop writing guidebooks? Do we seek ever further adventures, necessitating going harder? Do we give over to the guides leading folks from Maryland up Forbidden Peak? Do we adopt the pernicious attitude of "I was here first, and I can't share?"