Dopey Duck: First Natural Ascent

Michael Reardon soloing at Joshua Tree
Michael Reardon soloing at Joshua Tree, with the best chalk-bag placement in history

“The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.” – Alex Lowe

Shenanigans have a long and vibrant history within the world of climbing, stonemasters with spoons and carabiners hanging off their noses, michael reardon soloing naked, taking whippers off El Cap for fun, making huge rope swings, John Sherman chugging a beer in flip-flops on “Lord of the Rings”…. We have a long history of mocking the seriousness of gravity, we have to make fun of it to survive, you just can’t be serious all the time! Better to save that for when you really need it. And hell, since when did we forget that climbing is supposed to be fun? After all, what could be more absurd than throwing yourself at some rock and attempting to fall your way up it? (for example, sport-project climbing).  If you’re not going to have fun, go home.

Yvonne Chouinard says if you take the risk out of climbing, then it’s not climbing anymore. Personally, I think if you take the shenanigans out of climbing, you’ve ruined the whole endeavour. You’re going to have fun if you’re doing it right!

C'mon guys, why so serious?
C’mon guys, why so serious?

I’ve had the pencant for climbing chalkless for a long time, ever since college when I was too lazy to move the chalk bag from my car all the way over to the climbing gym…. Hell most of the time I pick up chalk that’s already on the holds, and that’s plenty to cobble together an ascent!

Barefoot climbing has always been a hilarious pursuit, and I’ve always maintained that climbing a route barefoot says more about the route than the climber. I onsighted 5.11a barefoot a few times at The Red, but if you had instead stuck me on a 5.7 slab in North Carolina…. Not gonna happen.

Ben Rueck engaging in shenanigans on "Lord of the Rings" (5.13d)
Ben Rueck engaging in shenanigans on “Lord of the Rings” (5.13d)

To this day, I still haven’t roped up on Dopey Duck. I onsight soloed it a little over a year ago, and tend to take a good lap up it every time I’m in the area, it’s just too beautiful of a line to pass on. I watched an instagram clip of this guy performing an “FNA” (First Natural Ascent) on some V3 boulder problem, and that put the bug in my head….

It’s there, I’m there, I’m going to be soloing anyhow, so why not? Lets get some prime shenanigans! The area was remote, so I decided to solo naked. If you’re stripping everything down to the basics, might as well leave the chalk behind! and barefoot? Well, that’s just funny!

Climbing naked? It’s just kindof a jackass stunt, but isn’t all of climbing just a jackass stunt when you get down to it? Now get out there and have some fun!

 there are two kinds of climbers, those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all the rest.
-Alex Lowe


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