Innovation (OR show roundup from an ambassador's perspective)
Last week I wandered around the Outdoor Retailer trade show, where companies in the outdoor industry show off their new products and do business. Personally, it’s mostly a chance to see friends, drink beer, b.s. with friends, and drink beer. Er, I mean, “network.” Fun times, but it’s great to be home and climbing again.
One thing I did notice while, ahem, networking, is that it’s pretty cool how many companies increasingly focus on more sustainable business practices, like manufacturing with recycled materials, making products more durable, and trying to lessen their impact. Granted, I’m still looking for the bumper sticker that says, “Where are we going, and what am I doing in this handbasket?”
[Dude, no way! That’s Tommy Caldwell! Photo: Becca Caldwell]
I’m fully convinced that we’re on the road to hell – The Road is a pending reality in my mind. Call me an optimist, but we’re well on our way to soon killing each other off and making our planet unlivable. So then, why care? First, everyone who has kids or grandkids definitely should care. I don’t have any (to the best of my knowledge), but, still, I can’t bring myself to give up entirely. It would just feel wrong. Just like how I don’t throw my garbage out the window, chip holds, or pour anti-freeze down the drain. Can’t do it.
Some things are worth trying for. Maybe innovation and some forward thinking can help save us from ourselves. We’ll see. I hope so.
At any rate, innovation fascinates me, maybe because I know nothing about it – the closest I’ve come is figuring out how, in an exhausted state, to do 2,500-feet of full-length rappels quickly and safely (i.e. not with the Sketch Hook) after chopping one of our two ropes on a route in Alaska. It was back in 2002, when I still had some brain cells, and though it wasn’t rocket surgery it made me feel momentarily innovative.
[The view from high on the French Route, on the north buttress of Mt. Hunter, Alaska, 2002. Chopped rope soon to follow. Photo: Scott DeCapio]
What’s innovation? My dictionary’s definition includes: “make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.”
I guess that could mean lots of things.
What examples do you have, big and small? How did you make tequila after you spaced it, or make due with one crampon, or half a rack, or a broken stove? Get from Islamabad to Anchroage with no money? Anybody ever do full-length raps with a single rope, using that Sketch Hook retrieval device? (I don’t know its real name, or if anyone who’s used it is still here to talk about it.)
Anyway, innovative or not, I’ve collected a few notes of interest from the OR trade show:
[Mmmm, bacon tastes good to Kyle Dempster. Photo: Kelly Cordes]
• At OR, you might run into superstars and, at least in my case, get them to sign my hairy chest. (see photo at top)
• Donini needs to wear his pants below his sternum. Not talking hipster low-riders showing the asscrack, that’s gross. But not hiked-up to mid-chest – age is no excuse, Jim.
[The man, the legend, the fashion icon Jim Donini. Photo: Cordes collection]
• The mullet is making a comeback. Do not fear the mullet. Andrew Bisharat sure doesn’t – he’s well on his way to rockin’ the Spanish mullet, curls and all. Proud. Gets me thinking of my winter trip to Patagonia. Everyone in Argentina rocks the mullet…any reason I shouldn’t embrace the culture and start growing now? Does the mullet bestow special powers upon the wearer?
• The ladies love Sonnie.
[Sorry, ladies, the heartthrob is taken.]
• There’s a pretty good plata tequila from Salt Lake City, and I had my share at dinner one night. It’s called…it’s called… Damn, I can’t remember its name. Maybe that 2002 innovation cost me too many brain cells.