I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
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Sunday, 10 January 2010

Dream Canyon Handshake by Stevie Shaking Haston.

So what is a Dream canyon Handshake? Lots of people have asked, and a few, a very few know. I will share cos, the others are too scared, or too politically correct to say. Dream canyon handshake is a route on the infamously loose, but in reality, extremely cuddly crag called Craig Dorris in Wales. It’s a friable E7 or E8, if numbers, or grades are your bag. It is also a beautiful committing and honest route. Why honest? Because what you see, is what you get. You can suss it out from the bottom, and just try it from the ground like trad routes are supposed to be. Its not really that hard, its just that you will break legs minimum, should you muff it. Its not like a pseudo new trad, that you have to practise and then redpoint. Anyway this route in a way is just an aside, just a celebration of the real ‘Dream canyon Handshake’, a not so private joke, a reminder of how self-serving the climbing scene is, and will always be.

Dream Canyon is a lovely, sheltered, and sunny, quite canyon close to Boulder in Colorado. It is frequented by the odd climbing team seeking great pitches on high quality granite. The older denizens were bears, mountain lions, and other wild life. Years ago it was very common to come across this other life, not so much now, as the climbers seem to have monopolised things recently. Anyway what would happen is this, as a keen climber you would rush into the canyon ahead of your sniggering mates, and you would meet a guy who would introduce himself as Bob, or Geof, or Doug. Nothing odd you might think, except Bob would be totally naked, and very ‘keen’ as it were to make your acquaintance. If you were keen, or eager, the dream canyon handshake would then take place. A mutual easing of tensions, as it were would happen, to each others benefit. There was no menace, it was as you may have guessed just the local hang (inappropriate word) for homosexuals. I always thought it funny or sweet and was never threatened? I always said ‘hello’, and made my excuses as you might, and rushed on to my climb. But the image of this low earnest handshake has always stayed with me, and I coined the term to describe the kind of stuff that goes on in climbing, the self serving, the deals between climbers, you pat me on the back and I’ll pat you on the back kind of associations. I have nothing against homosexuals, and I have nothing against the original Dream Canyon Handshake, or indeed the route of that name which is captivating.

If you have the required level of expertise I recommend the route even though it is a deadly serious proposition and Craig Dorris too, but I doubt they will make you laugh. I did, and I do, cos climbers are really funny, hypocritical, often shallow and in short just human. Routes like Dream Canyon Handshake should help people understand the underlining dichotomy of the new trad climbing as opposed to the old, acceptance of risk or practise the risk out of it. And then when you have confused or perverted trad climbing enough dream up huge grades like E11 or Scottish X1 and do it with the complicity of the climbing community, cos hey, we all need to make a buck, we all need our strokes, right?