RunOut #23: Offwidths Getting Called Out

05.24.2019 - By The RunOut Podcast

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The rarified world of hard offwidthing enjoyed a little dust-up this month when Tom Randall of Wide Boyz fame posted a polite but insistent argument that Pamela Pack’s infamous routes Dark Passenger and Kill Artist were considerably easier than the posted grade and considerably safer than the hype implied.

Supertopo and Mountain Project threads ensued and 10s of pages of witty repartee later, left me, as usual, dumber than when I’d started.

And really, we meant to talk about the tradition of the call
out in climbing AKA the letters, articles, and posts where one climber publicly
questions another climber’s motives and integrity. And we do cover that a bit,
but god damnit if those silly offwidths didn’t just keep sucking us back in.

So looking and all this offwidth tit for tat essentially between only a handful of climbers that operate at the 5.13 and up level got Andrew and I wondering about some essential questions concerning offwidths: How are the curiously specific hard grades assigned without reference routes to build upon? Where is all the odub hype coming from in the first place? And finally, is it a worthy style, or just a place where otherwise poor climbers can eke out some fame?

These questions led to few answers, more questions, and even a couple of our own call-outs on today’s show. So lube up those big cams and kick back for a free-wheeling offwidth discussion by two wide-crack pretenders.

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