I had always expected the Rifle scene was going to mirror the prison world. Where you had to earn respect or be someone’s bitch. My original plan was to walk up to the biggest spraylord, take one of his shoes, throw it into the river, then punch him in the face, thus earning place in the picking line. Fortunately for him, this was not required. In fact, just about everyone I’ve run into has been very welcoming and kind to me. Over the next few days several other misconceptions were completely turned upside down.
Here are several misconceptions Rifle Mountain Park has to offer:
Fronting – A practice where individuals warming up, putting on their knee-pads, belaying, etc, stop whatever it is they’re doing, and stare down passing motorists and those not climbing 13+. The reality is, people in the canyon are both friendly and approachable; even to the non-mutant masses.
Knee bars – I once thought that every route in Rifle required at least 6 knee-bars; even the lower 11s I was told. Right out false. You do not need to shave your upper thigh, superglue, and duck tape rubberized knee (thigh) pads to both legs just to get up a route here. In fact, there are plenty of routes from 12a to 13d which do not require them. Don’t get me wrong. There are many others which absolutely require this practice.As you can see, having no hair on your upper thigh is "cool" in Rifle. Go ahead and do this at home. You too can be cool like me!
Sandbagging – A practice where people who have routes at the park ruthlessly dialed claim a route is easier than listed in the guide or in reality. This usually takes place upon the spraylord’s 50th afternoon lap. He’ll proclaim, “Pump-o-Rama is really more like 12d than 13a”, which is usually stated as a matter of fact in front a potential suitor of said route. While this does happen in the canyon, it is actually quite rare.
As for Rifle being the most sandbagged area (Sport area. No one gives a shit about the Gunks), I don’t think so. I still think Smith takes the cake. At Rifle you fall off because you’re pumped or did the sequence improperly, but you can still redpoint in miserable conditions. This is not the case at Smith. At Smith you fall off because you were slightly gassy in the crux or it wasn’t exactly 55 degrees or your shoe was slightly worn.
Rifle also hosts an abundance of sub 5.11 routes, most of which are interesting (at least the look interesting) and lay completely dormant (as a self-respecting spraylord would not be caught dead on one).
Choss – Rifle climbers love to bitch about the choss. When I doubt any of them have actually grabbed a hunk of choss. In Oregon it is common practice to pry off handfuls of mud as you ascend the trade routes. Routes in Oregon are not developed. They are mined out of the petrified mud. That is choss.
Spraylords – This is an individual who (along with their hot girlfriend) will shower you with unsolicited beta or hike your project with the intention of making you feel weak. I had heard tales throughout the years that Rifle was nothing but these individuals. Fortunately, I have yet to meet one of these guys.
13a Noobs – They are a lot like noobs everywhere else. Not sure about their surroundings, unfamiliar with lingo and standard practices, etc. The difference between noobs at Rifle and noobs everywhere else is grade they climb at and the attitude they carry. Often these characters have an underserved sense of accomplishment. Like everything else Ive heard about Rifle, this too is hardly the rule.
Hopefully you’ll read this and know Rifle is not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s a fun welcoming place the whole family can enjoy!