Pullharder did a slideshow on Feb 29 at Mesarim Climbing Gym. The focus of the presentation was preparing for and climbing Denali, but we also talked about Pullharder's approach to climbing. Instead of focusing on Denali in this summary, here are a few of the slides about the general Pullharder philosophy. Also a bit of commentary similar to that which was given in the slideshow. You can find Alaska photos in the Pullharder trip reports of the Denali climbs here: West Buttress and West Rib.
This photo is taken at Joshua Tree at the annual Intersection Rock BBQ. Pulharder is a wide umbrella of people that has since expanded past San Diego. If you train hard, push limits, and share the philosophy, that's what is the essence. We want other Pullharder climbers to inspire us, to help us push our limits, and we want to push yours. Of course it doesn't come the first day you step in the gym and just want to climb hard and have the right attitude. It requires training and dedication, hours, years of sweat. The psychology and physiology are forged in workouts.
We emphasized that Pullharder pushes our limits, but also does thing in an excellent way, without cutting corners. We give examples of excellent style vs. non-excellent. If you approach the mountains in a respectful attitude, you won't be tempted to cut corners to nab a trophy peak, and by doing things the right way, you will get more out of the process.
At Pullharder we don't believe the ends justify the means. The way you get there is important. Substance. It doesn't happen overnight. But it's more satisfying to do things the right way.
Learning, getting mentored, taking your knocks, is excellent. Paying for lessons is fine, if you're paying to learn skills and get experience. Paying just for the summit is not excellent and not learning; it's buying a trophy.
Climbing a route in pure alpine style is excellent. House approached Nanga Parbat with respect, and failed and went back with the same respect, deciding just getting to the summit at any cost was not worth anything. Eventually it worked, the Direct Rupal face was climbed. The way you do it matters. "Fair means" is the buzzword. The Jannu ascent is notable, won the Piolet d' Or, and the team had several world-class climbers. But while the teamwork and several other elements were admirable, the style it was done in was not excellent by our definition. Nailing your way by force to the top using tons of fixed ropes, and leaving them, is not excellent. It would be better to pick a slightly more modest goal and do it right.
We put up routes in the Sierra--on less famous peaks than Cerro Torre, but in much better style than that compressor butchery. Now that Kennedy and Kruk have chopped the Compressor route, we've seen a huge controversy. Pullharder, like most serious North American alpinists, back the chopping and support statements like these by American Alpine Journal editor Kelly Cordes. We do not compare the goal, but rather the method. Someone climbing even a modest route like the mountaineer's route on Whitney in a good style is more respectable than climbing a bigger or more famous peak at all costs, like putting up the compressor route. We'd rather do things right in our backyard than do a mediocre job on a more famous peak.
Climbing bold is better than overbolting and leaving your garbage there when you leave...but you knew that already. But does the big money care? And do you support companies that don't respect the mountains even though they sponsor mountain athletes?
Pullharder advocates going big--but within ourselves. If the biggest or most famous route or peak isn't within your ability to climb in good style, don't worry about climbing it. At the same time, using good style, try to climb something as hard as you can image and be willing to fail. Because then, when you do succeed, it will mean something...So the middle ground between putting up huge routes and doing something you know you can do is trying something you might not be able to do, but still with good style...
Lastly, since this was a Denali slideshow, I'll give you one Denali photo here. Once again, most of the photos from the slideshow are found in the original reports here: West Buttress and West Rib. If you have questions about how to train/prepare for Denali or a similar peak in the Pullharder philosophy but you missed the slideshow, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Punishment equals glory--pull hard!