I find in the outdoor recreation world there are many people that pride themselves on the individualism of their passions. Often times the term "I am not into team sports" is heard. And though I am very sympathetic to this attitude, my eyes were recently opened to the potential of a team style effort in climbing. I am not talking about a partnership, you and your belayer, or even a small team attacking a big wall working together. No, I am talking about the relationship the star quarterback has with the bleachers full of fans. The great unity you feel with LeBron James as he sinks that buzzer beating shot. The type of relationship between worshipper and worshipped. This type of team environment could help me and every rock climber out there truly reach their potential. It is known as the rock entourage factor or Roctourage for short.
I discovered the Roctourage on a recent trip to the City of Rocks. I am not a world class climber. Most people warm up on my projects. I am not ashamed to hang and rest. But on this particular trip, I was one of the stronger climbers. As we were all climbing, I was drawn to a route in the 11a range. This being at the max of my ability, I was nervous to get on it. As I started climbing, I was surprised as the sequences and moves came together and I was not flailing as much as I had imagined. What has changed? I would like to blame it on something I have done, training, eating healthy, workouts in the gym. Then the light bulb came on. It's the Roctourage! After each move, I was hearing the cheers and whoops of 5 friends sunning themselves on a large boulder with a great view of the route. They were sipping on water bottles, pounding snacks, pushing positive vibes my direction, and acting like they were impressed. For a brief moment, I was a star and it gave me powers to perform at level above myself. That is the power of the Roctourage.
All of us climb with friends and are generally cheered on while we climb, so what makes a Roctourage different from your normal group of friends? It is all about status. What is your relationship with the people in your Roctourage? Your close climbing partners know who you really are and what you are capable of. The members of your Roctourage should know you just well enough that you are still able to blow their expectations out of the water.
Obtaining a Roctourage has nothing to do with your actual skill level. Anyone can have one if they select the right people. What truly matters is that they maintain qualities that differentiate them from a standard friend or climbing partner.
Here is a list of qualities that a healthy Roctourage should have.
- Hang on every word you say. Whether this is at the crag or around the campfire. They need to think you are as cool as you think you are.
- Minimal experience in climbing. They should have a good base knowledge but you never want to get one upped by a member. It is imperative that you are the resident expert on everything.
- They should love socializing more than climbing. If they love socializing, they will be sure to always bring more people. They can't go anywhere alone. Like women to the bathroom.
- Do not expect them to belay or clean your routes. They need to focus on their purpose for being there. If you expect them to climb or belay you risk them learning more and not qualifying for the above guideline #2
- They bring enough beverages and snacks for themselves and for you. You cannot waste the energy to bring your own snacks.
- They know how to spray and master phrases like "my buddy totally crushed..." and "You should have seen my friend pull through..."
- They know when to keep tight lips when around other climbers with a Roctourage. We are not asking for a battle. Roctourage is for your strength not for the diminishing of others.
So as you plan your next rock trip or weekend at the crag, consider the importance of a Roctourage. The necessity to have that extra push to help you reach a level you have never seen. No longer do you need to spend hundreds of hours in the gym trying to get strong. Just plan to bring the essentials and you are ready to send it.
- Group of starry eyed onlookers with the power to infuse you with skill and strength.
I am ready to go crush! Thanks Roctourage.