First of all, you need to know who Arno Ilgner is. He wrote a book called The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training For Climbing that is one of the better-known training screeds out there. It talks about ways to improve your attitude, mental toughness, focus and discipline to become all the climber you can be. He’s now written a sequel called Expresso Lessons, is one of the ‘celebrity’ climbing coaches, and does stuff like this guest column in the Rock And Ice mag I have in front of me, called Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance. Although many have espoused The Rock Warrior’s Way as great, insightful, and useful for their climbing, some of the more cynical commentators on Chockstone ridiculed it as “typical Seppo self-help bullshit that could have been summed up with the list of points on the first page” and more crudely as “the Cock Warrior’s Way”.
You also need to know who Simon Mentz is. He’s best known as the co-author for the most popular and recent guidebooks to Mt Arapiles and the Grampains, which means nearly every Australian climber (and many international ones) have at least read his name, even if it didn’t register. He’s actually climbed some stuff though, notably the first free ascent of the Totem Pole (photo 32 in Simon Carter’s gallery here), a Taipan wall ultraclassic, a free ascent of an old aid route on the Dogface with Steve Monks (a wall with the terriblest and sandiest rock in the Blueys, an area known for its terrible and sandy rock), and of course placing a can of baked beans for protection on the first pitch of Passport To Insanity. Now an Araps local, he’s apparently a bit of a larrakin and also an (in)famous womaniser.
So a while ago Arno was in Oz and wanted to go climbing at Mt Arapiles. He met up with Simey and this is what happened:
…I thought I better share my story of climbing with him at Arapiles…
I heard he was at Araps so I went out of my way to hook up with him for a climb. Given that you never quite know what to expect when you hook up with new climbing partners whilst travelling, I was keen to play the sort of dangerous weirdo that you would dread climbing with.
He didn’t know me from a bar of soap, so I rocked up with Whillans harness1, elbow pads, a horrible rack of old weird gear with cams that had all seized up (I told him that I prefer to use them as passive protection), a pager (in case there were any rescue call-outs), binoculas (so I could scan the crag for any accidents), knife… you get the picture.
On the way to our climb (D Minor) I continually told him how good I was. I led the first pitch and with every piece I placed I told him how bomber it was and then when I got above it I would flick the rope so the piece would fall out. Once all my gear had slid down the rope I threw a massive wobbler and clawed my way to the belay. I then told him how easy the pitch was. By this stage the Warrior looked concerned, but he was a good sport and led through to the top. I proceeded to fall off at every opportunity and when I topped out I told him that I thought the climb was too easy and that we should do something harder.
We didn’t climb together after that.
I take my hat off to you Mr. Mentz. That prank was pure gold.
- An ancient climbing harness designed by Don Whillans, back when tying a belt of webbing around your waist was cutting-edge innovation. Infamous for having a single ‘diaper’ loop straight under your crotch, right where you’d think the worst possible place to put a seat loop would be.