Climber expresses himself on steep rocks

'The Climb' Survival Guide

As remarked in various places, climbing's recognition as an olympic sport and the rapid proliferation of bouldering gyms, along with popular media success with films like the Oscar-winning Free Solo, suggest it is becoming more and more normalised in wider culture. One measure of climbing's ascent (descent?) into the mainstream is when it finally gets its own reality TV show. This was the case for other dangerous, niche activities such as mixed martial arts (also known as 'cage fighting')—previously illegal in many places—but the advent of the reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter (now 30 seasons long) had a massive effect, exposing the activity to audiences of millions and making entertainment outfits like the UFC an enormous sporting brand.

With the unveiling of HBO's new show The Climb, climbing as a sport may well have reached that point. Climbing being the awesome activity that it is, this seems largely inevitable and perhaps even surprising it has taken people so long to cotton on to this fact. The show is executive produced by actor Jason Momoa and his best pal, famous climber Chris Sharma. Apparently, these two first met 25 years ago at Hueco Tanks, though it might be possible that Sharma is confusing Momoa with his old bouldering buddy Nate Gold (last seen humping a rock at Flock Hill in Mike Call's movie Big Game). The show sticks to the tried-and-true reality TV contest formula. Ten would-be climbing heroes compete against each other on climbing challenges, with contestants being regularly eliminated until only one is left. The winner is apparently 'the best amateur climber in the world' (because we all know the olympics are just all about money and the spectacle) and gets the prize of being friends with Chris Sharma and Aquaman, plus $100,000 sponsorship deal with Prana. Now, if you are genuinely excited for this show, the rest of this article is not for you, please move on to the next one, thank you for your time and have a pleasant day.

Two portraits
Left: Nate Gold during the filming of Big Up's Pilgrimage (2007). Right: Jason Momoa on the set of Game of Thrones.

Many veterans of the sport might bemoan the shifting of values and dilution of an outsider mentality which comes with the mainstreaming of climbing and for those people, we publish here today a survival guide for confused old traditionalists who feel like they have to watch the show. Now, the best solution to any problem is often the simplest one, which would be not to watch the show at all. But, if like watching your climbing buddy solo some awful off-width, you have that feeling you shouldn't be watching but also can't look away, here is some important advice to help you survive the experience.

According to neurological research carried out by this institute, watching cringe-worthy footage can cause extreme sweating and discomfort, including a raised body temperature and risk of heat stroke. The best remedy for this is to ensure you stay hydrated while watching The Climb. To assist with this, we've come up with a little game, let's call it a 'hydration game', that you can play while watching the show and to ensure that you stay properly hydrated throughout. You might find that watching the show with a group of your friends assists with this, as you can all keep reminding each other to stay hydrated and play the game safely together.

The rules are simple, sit down to an episode and arm yourself with a good supply of water, fruit juice or chocolate milk, preferably in a vessel like a pint glass and with a pitcher of extra supply available nearby. Now, if your water is contaminated, you are worried about the sugar in fruit juice and are lactose intolerant, you could use another beverage, such as … say … beer. But we must point out that excessive alcohol consumption may lead to intoxication and that this is not something NZAC recommends.

In order to keep yourself hydrated, we've identified some of the most-cringeworthy moments in the show and we will use these as triggers to prompt you to hydrate yourself. So, everyone should drink from their vessel when the following things happen:

  • Whenever Sharma says something that is cliche, a triusm or internally redundant. An example from the first episode might be when he says 'climbing fundamentally changes you, at the deepest level.'
  • Every time Khal Drogo talks about how important climbing is to him.
  • Every time anyone on the show uses the word 'challenge' or a close synonym.
  • Every time Sharma says 'psyched'.
  • Every time there is a fist bump on screen.
  • Every time Sharma says 'I am really proud of all of you' to the would-be climbers.
  • Every time Meagan Martin provides a functional instruction to the competitors, such as 'you'll need a belayer', or does something else organisational, such as blowing an airhorn.
  • Every time Sharma explains how the crux of the climb is done to Meagan.
  • Every time Sharma and Duncan Idaho sit together in a rocky location and reminisce about being bros.
  • Every time Sharma makes a "joke" and all the contestants laugh on cue.

Players should also select one of the contestants as their avatar for each episode (it must be someone who has not yet been eliminated and is still in the running, so you may need to select a new one for a new episode if your climber gets eliminated). These provide some more general hydration prompts, as well as some specific ones for each character. You should hydrate when:

  • Your chosen climber expresses fear, anxiety or self-doubt.
  • Your climber talks to or about a family member or friend who inspires them.
  • Your climbers hugs, or is hugged by another contestant.
  • Your climber falls off a climb (this should be the remaining contents of your vessel).
  • If your climber is Cat, you should hydrate every time anyone (including himself) mentions he is short or makes an allusion to his stature and its relation to the rock climb.
  • If your climber is Dom, you should hydrate every time someone describes him as 'ripped', 'strong' etc, whenever he is wearing tighter shorts than the other male competitors and whenever he does a footless move on a climb.
  • If your climber is Tiffany, you must hydrate every time she cries or is seen wiping a tear.
  • If your climber is Robyn, you must hydrate every time she is seen on screen with, or talks about Brad. Also, whenever she is shown wearing tights or a down jacket, or both.
  • If your climber is Brad, you must hydrate every time he is seen on screen with, or talks about Robyn. Also whenever he girdles 'off-route'.
  • If your climber is Mario, you must hydrate every time he appears on screen wearing a scarf or expresses frustration in regard to his own climbing performance.
  • If your climber is Maiza, you must hydrate whenever she moves her feet on a climb ineffectively with her arms bent and tense. Or any time her toned midriff is exposed.
  • If your climber is Deco, you must hydrate when he uses strategy as if the show is a competition, or when any American fails to understand the concept of strategy or competition, or whenever any other contestant talks about it being a competition.
  • If your climber is Alice, then you should hydrate every time she appears to lack confidence.
  • If your climber is April, you should hydrate whenever she appears in retro clothing or generally emits a 'funky granny' vibe.

Following these guidelines should help you stay hydrated while watching the show and keep it all fun. And remember, always hydrate responsibly.