Rocks

             讀萬卷書不如行萬裡路

                          (Trial often exhibits truly wonderful results)

ROCKS

             The Ice Age (Pleistocene Epoch), which lasted from near two million years ago to 8,000 years ago, had a profound impact on the geology of what is now New York City. Glacial sheets covered hundreds of miles of land, reaching across all of New York State from the northern tundra. As climates warmed glaciers receded, they shaped the land by leaving debris in their wake. Long Island is made up of this rubble. The grooved boulders that scatter Central Park are one of the few remnants of the effects of the glacial melt still visible in the city.

             I’m no environmentalist. I mean, I recycle and shit, but I’m not an activist; I know activists. I like them, people with strong opinions (even that I disagree with) are a hell of a lot more fun than people with no opinions at all. Watching Gasland really made me angry though. I spent the length of both parts 1 and 2 trying to see things from the perspective of the gas companies to little avail. A lot of climbers tend towards environmentalism, especially the preservation of our national parks and of public lands, as these lands contain many of the prime opportunities for climbing in the United States. I have to thank some people for having the foresight to set aside public lands and parks — it’s why you can go bouldering in the middle of Manhattan



             Rock climbers talk a lot about rocks, would you believe it? The smoothness or roughness of it, its forms, position, the size of cracks in the face. On my last visit to Rat Rock in Central Park’s Southwest corner, I met a lone climber named Nico. While showing me a couple routes on the boulder’s Eastern face, he explained that this particular rock was too clammy for his liking — “the rock gets sweaty”, he told me. He pointed North, and directed me to check out another climbing spot in the park called Worthless Boulder. That rock had a more granite-like texture according to Nico, making it easier to grip. Perhaps another time I would ride my bike further into the park to feel out this boulder, but that day I spent clambering all over Rat Rock, careful not to lose my footing on its smooth surface.

            With the enormous number of climbers coming to Rat Rock, every crack, crevice, handhold, and footchip has been exploited in thousands of ways on dozens of different climbs. Because the actual surface area that can be climbed is relatively small, veterans of the spot take to arbitrarily setting limits on which features they can use to make their way up. So you end up with hundreds of possible climbs that turn what would be a relatively straightforward endeavor into a truly bewildering series of moves. The climbs are obfuscated, not for any practical purpose, but fur the pleasure of the challenge. Like the esoteric programming language Brainfuck, many of the established routes on Rat Rock serve to make the climbing more difficult or unique. They force one to twist their bodies in odd ways, make enormous jumps unnecessarily, or use only the worst possible foot placements. I’m no coder, but I do understand the joy that can be had from challenging oneself in this way, which made reading about the many forms of obfuscated code all the more relatable.

                                        读书须用意      一字值千金

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~ by caspermessmann on October 31, 2015.

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