UKC

/ FRI NIGHT VID: China Doll - Love, Obsession and Hard Trad

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UKC News - on 15 Dec 2017
China Doll, 3 kbOur Friday Night Video this week centres around Heather Weidner's ascent of China Doll, a 5.14- R in Upper Dream Canyon, Colorado. This story exposes the pervasive nature of unconscious gender roles and reveals differences in how men and women approach love and sport. Heather and her husband have what many climbers would call the perfect relationship. Despite external achievements and support from her husband, Heather refuses to believe in herself. This emblematic struggle is not just about discovering personal freedom, but giving oneself permission to enjoy it.

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5
stp - on 15 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Great vid, a bit more personal than most these days, as well as being well put together.

Amazed that someone gave it a dislike.
4
olddirtydoggy - on 15 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:
Great vid. Not sure her thoughts are much to do with gender as any climber will have the same head problems with self, abilty, belief and confidence. Great watch as it didn't center too much around the sponsors but got right into the topic.
Especially liked the fact it was trad based.
Post edited at 20:58
2
Deadeye - on 15 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Nice one. thanks
chris fox on 15 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Heather is a friend of mine, she's come a long way from the full time vet and part time hard trad climber i met in Indian Creek back in 2008 to where she is now. I know China Doll took her a long time to complete, it was on her hitlist and she put a lot of effort into climbing it. I was lucky enough to shoot her on a climb and then sink plenty of Makers Mark whiskey in the campsite afterwards !!! Just sent this video link over to her to know she's on the Friday night news !!

Picture is here https://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=139937

Well done Heather
DubyaJamesDubya - on 16 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Good vid. Pretty intense.
Go Heather!
bouldery bits - on 16 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Enjoyed that alot.
duchessofmalfi - on 16 Dec 2017
In reply to bouldery bits:

Climbing is ok but the rest (75%) is nauseating patronising nonse. goochy goochy goo
24
Kristof252 - on 16 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Really don't understand what 'gender roles' have to do with climbing. Women have been standing on equal footing with men in this sport for decades (Lynn Hill, Puccio, Ashima, Bereziatu, Coxsey, etc...) and nobody ever stated otherwise.

These constant attempts to inject Marxist theory into climbing to convince us of a spooky, nameless and faceless oppressive entity within the sport are becoming very boring, and we're seeing more of this divisive drivel lately. Just a few weeks ago it was something dreary and barely relevant to climbing about women working in the ropes access industry. Can we perhaps concentrate on climbing rather than this masturbatory self-victimising? Thanks
37
iceox - on 16 Dec 2017
In reply to Kristof252:

Trad climing?
Robert Durran - on 16 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I don't think I would have noticed anything to do with gender if it hadn't been mentioned in the blurb - just a bit of froth about confidence (which I am sure could apply to almost any of us at times) padding out an otherwise good little film.
scoth on 16 Dec 2017
In reply to Kristof252:

I must have missed something, not sure where issues of gender are made explicit or even implicit in this film. Never really crossed my mind watching it. I see the UKC blurb mentions it, although I didn't read this before watching, so perhaps minds were primed before watching?

Apart from the climbing, for me it was more about notions of self depreciation, whatever gender... 'to feel like you are good enough in your own skin is something I wish for every person'

Also, not sure Marx wrote much about Gender? Wasn't his writing more about class struggle, surplus value deriving from human labour and access to the means of production. Think I read he came in for a bit stick by feminist theorist for gender struggles being absent in his theory on capital.
scoth on 16 Dec 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

ha great minds eh Robert......
In reply to scoth:

May I suggest you watch again. The vid starts with a citation from Simone d Beauvoir about one having one’s wings cut. Also, if Heather experiences a gender issue who are we to say that there is none.

I think she is a bad ass climber for climbing through intense self doubt.
bouldery bits - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Dorte Bjerre Steensgaard:

> I think she is a bad ass climber for climbing through intense self doubt.

Indeed!

Although,I deal with intense self doubt if I have i make a sandwich!!!
SenzuBean - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

According to her diagram she had 17 pieces of protection in the pitch (I saw the diagram had 17 pieces labelled). And if she could lower off, I presume it wasn't more than 35 metres of climbing (70 metre rope) - which means almost a piece of gear on average every 2 metres. I wonder where the R rating comes from - I didn't see any particularly bad ones in the film. It's clearly a very hard climb though.
Anyway well done - enjoyed the film.
2
TobyA on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to scoth:
> Also, not sure Marx wrote much about Gender? Wasn't his writing more about class struggle, surplus value deriving from human labour and access to the means of production. Think I read he came in for a bit stick by feminist theorist for gender struggles being absent in his theory on capital.

Yep, totally true. I suspect the unregistered chap above was using "Marxist" in the way alt-right and counter-jihad types did originally - normally meaning "Cultural Marxism" (they also make conspiratorial and generally incorrect references to the "Frankfurt School"). This usage has unfortunately leaked like puss from a wound into wider political discussion, and when someone says "that's Marxist", they actually mean "who's this gobby women/brown person who doesn't know their place anymore?".

6
jon on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

> According to her diagram she had 17 pieces of protection in the pitch (I saw the diagram had 17 pieces labelled). And if she could lower off, I presume it wasn't more than 35 metres of climbing (70 metre rope) - which means almost a piece of gear on average every 2 metres. I wonder where the R rating comes from - I didn't see any particularly bad ones in the film. It's clearly a very hard climb though.

Maybe an assumption or two there? She seemed to be running it out a bit at the top, though.

guy xavier percival - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I think that it is interesting how there appears to be a different culture in terms of the acceptance of climbing a sport route on gear in the USA. If someone who decided to invest the same amount of effort on a similarly hard route at say Kinsey, I wonder if they would probably viewed as a bit bonkers. It maybe that there are not many good tradable sport routes in this country. I expect of them would no doubt be on steep inland limestone with huge run outs above fiddly gear.
scope on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to guy xavier percival:

A quality trad line like that would hopefully never get bolted in the first place if it was in the UK.
scoth on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Dorte Bjerre Steensgaard:

Thanks for pointing that out, missed that first time around.

My comment was a response to the earlier poster's dismissive comment around gender, I was merely referring to that (for me) it wasn't made explicit or implicit in the actual film or her dialogue.

The film maker and UKC chose to include the quote and blurb, so obviously for them it was, which is fair enough. Even though the film was a biographical, it would be interesting to know how much of it was actually Heather’s and how much of it was the film makers?


1
jon on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to guy xavier percival:

I hadn't clocked that it was a sport route she was climbing on gear. I must have missed that. Or is it a route with a few bolts?
Kristof252 - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to scoth:

Just because the original theorists (Marx and Engels) did not explicitly create feminism, they still provided the framework, and the main proponents of the first waves up until the current wave were/are strongly influenced by Marxist theory. Just replace 'proletariat' with 'patriarchy' and you have a new victim and an imaginary oppressor
14
Kristof252 - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to TobyA:

What on earth are you talking about?
14
Robert Durran - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to jon:

> I hadn't clocked that it was a sport route she was climbing on gear. I must have missed that. Or is it a route with a few bolts?

I got the impression it was fully bolted for a pitch then extended on trad.
Si dH - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Kristof252:

> What on earth are you talking about?

He was talking sense. You were talking naive guff.
2
guy xavier percival - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to jon:
It looks fully bolted and described as a sport route.
The Sea Walls at Avon has quite a few minimally bolted routes where E-grades are given with and without using the bolts.
Are there any other places where this concept of grading is applied?
Critic's Choice (E5 6b)
Partial Eclipse (E4)
The Cover Up (E5)
Edgemaster (E6 6b)

Kristof252 - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Si dH:

If you think irrelevantly pigeonholing people you don't agree with into groups like 'alt-right' or 'anti-muslim' constitutes an argument, you are naive
16
jon on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to guy xavier percival and Rob:
I'm still confused: https://www.mountainproject.com/route/105762888/china-doll-p1-2-free

Edit: just watching again he explains at about 3mins. But I'm still unsure of where she finished...
Post edited at 16:59
Jon Stewart - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Kristof252:

> These constant attempts to inject Marxist theory into climbing to convince us of a spooky, nameless and faceless oppressive entity within the sport are becoming very boring, and we're seeing more of this divisive drivel lately. Just a few weeks ago it was something dreary and barely relevant to climbing about women working in the ropes access industry. Can we perhaps concentrate on climbing rather than this masturbatory self-victimising? Thanks

All aboard the watered-down alt-right bandwagon!

There was nothing whatsoever in the film about Marxist theory, nor about gender and victimhood (not sure how the gender thing got put into the blurb). It was just about climbing, with a focus on the psychological journey of the climber.
1
jon on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> nor about gender and victimhood (not sure how the gender thing got put into the blurb). It was just about climbing, with a focus on the psychological journey of the climber.

Yes, that was my take too. Unless I missed something, it was two climbers talking rather than one of them being female and having a hard time (or having a hard time because she's female). Jeez, 5.14's hard, she's got a right to find it hard - nothing to do with her being a woman!
Post edited at 17:38
Si dH - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to jon:


> Edit: just watching again he explains at about 3mins. But I'm still unsure of where she finished...

He said the shorter version was 13c, and she climbed the whole thing - so I'm pretty sure that meant the 14a version all the way to the top of the old aid line. I don't know how high the 13c version went; the 14a version certainly looked like a fairly long pitch.
Robert Durran - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Not sure how the gender thing got put into the blurb.

Maybe Nick Brown will come back and explain.
jon on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Si dH:

But there seemed a lot of crag still above her when she got to her anchor.
Si dH - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to jon:

Agreed but I think it was slabbing off as she seemed to be stood on a ledge, so presumably that's where they all stopped. It was slightly difficult to tell from the angle of the drone cam. I thought the guy's description was pretty clear though.
1
jon on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Si dH:

Interesting that the Mountain Project description says: 'The rest (P3-5) of China Doll apparently has not gone free.'
scot1 on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Great vid but her man seems a bit patronising and up his own behind at times
2
scoth on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to Kristof252:

Might have this wrong, but it seems from your last sentence you're implying oppressors of women and those with limited social mobility have never existed?
2
Robert Durran - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to scot1:

> Great vid but her man seems a bit patronising and up his own behind at times

Videoing a proposal seems to me even more naff to than videoing a wedding............
1
alanblyth - on 17 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Great project, really nice drone shots, I hope that Heather is overselling her feeling of worthlessness, otherwise that is quite depressing,

I didn't see any gender issues, except for the statement "reasoning with a chick who is in a dark place doesn't ever work", which reinforces many of the negative stereotypes that Simone de Bauvior was challenging, so if there is a message in there, it's quite conflicted - maybe it's a cultural thing, but he sounds like a tw*t in that clip.
1
Jonathan Lagoe - UKC - on 18 Dec 2017
In reply to jon:

It is confusing, and Mountain Project is not very helpful/out of date on this one, so to clarify:

China Doll was originally a 5 pitch aid route, which then was partially bolted and partially climbed free by Bob Horan. The free and trad version per Mike Paltz takes in the first three pitches of the aid route and extends Horan's bolted version. After these pitches, the aid route did a long traverse on a mix of moderate ground and overhangs and topped out. I doubt anyone would bother to free this part.

The way Heather did it from the ground makes a 180 foot pitch in total. It's an awe inspiring line on a great cliff.
jon on 18 Dec 2017
In reply to Jonathan Lagoe - UKC:

Thanks for that, makes more sense now.
galpinos on 18 Dec 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

180ft so about 55m
benmorr - on 18 Dec 2017
In reply to TobyA:

Not actually "totally true" - Marx wrote, quite early on that one could judge the level of development of a society by the position of women within it. It is true, however, that Marx didn't make gender equality the goal of his work. It would be, rather, the outcome of successful class struggle.
It's interesting that some people are posting that gender is not a visible feature of the film - just shows why the introduction needed to mention it.
jon on 18 Dec 2017
In reply to benmorr:
> It's interesting that some people are posting that gender is not a visible feature of the film - just shows why the introduction needed to mention it.

Another way of looking at it is that it is unnecessary - for just about the same reason.

 
Post edited at 12:30
Robert Durran - on 18 Dec 2017
In reply to benmorr:

> It's interesting that some people are posting that gender is not a visible feature of the film - just shows why the introduction needed to mention it.

Given that there was nothing in the actual film to suggest it was about gender, the real question is why the introduction felt the need to mention it!

Greg Lucas - on 18 Dec 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
The introduction was truly dreadful. Few films could have survived that intro. I thought the best part was the sequence of ex-boyfriends (all anonymous). To have been once loved by so many yet still find it so hard to love yourself... effortless irony.
Post edited at 18:23
1
SenzuBean - on 18 Dec 2017
In reply to galpinos:

Okay that makes more sense then
winhill - on 18 Dec 2017
In reply to TobyA:

> when someone says "that's Marxist", they actually mean "who's this gobby women/brown person who doesn't know their place anymore?".

It starts off with a quote from The Second Sex, written in 1948/9 when SdB was a very public Marxist, she wouldn't call herself a Feminist for another 20 years.

Of course, it's out of context in this film but you really can't deny it's origins.
Michael Gordon - on 19 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

Hmmm, initially looked like this could have been OK, but gave up when I had to watch someone proposing to someone!

Out of the bit I saw I certainly didn't notice any Marxist references (I didn't know where the first quote came from, so that didn't help). With regards to cultural discussions, Marxist ideology tends to be far too simple anyway, and I would like to think that few look at gender roles or other topics just from an oppressed/oppressor point of view.
1
DubyaJamesDubya - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

> According to her diagram she had 17 pieces of protection in the pitch (I saw the diagram had 17 pieces labelled). And if she could lower off, I presume it wasn't more than 35 metres of climbing (70 metre rope) - which means almost a piece of gear on average every 2 metres. I wonder where the R rating comes from - I didn't see any particularly bad ones in the film. It's clearly a very hard climb though.

> Anyway well done - enjoyed the film.

There was a reference in the film, to the fall potential at one point, being very bad if one of the very hard to place pieces were to rip. Also we don't get to see all the pieces let alone assess their quality.
ferdia - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:
Although I too thought "oh, not another gender film", I was more than usually moved by Heather's very real battle with herself.

The simplistic narrative of the film does not mask the fact that Heather clearly suffers (or suffered) from much bigger failures of self-confidence than most of us. At least when talking about herself compared to when she is moving over rock. So I think dismisssing it as "we've all been there," doesn't quite cover it in this case.

All creative processes have unforeseen results and you can read her own take on the impact of the film on her life here https://heatherclimbs.com/2017/12/08/the-china-doll-contradiction-behind-the-scenes-of-the-film/

Although in my climbing bubble I have no cause to bang the gender drum, and would not be too quick to reduce the husband's instruction and advice to condescension rather than just one person mentoring another, I know it looms in many people's lives. And who is to say that another person's experience is inaccurate?

In Heather's blog she mentions a difficult upbringing, and watching her mother date abusive men. As we know, this influences children's understanding of what healthy relationships look like, and so the film making process may have highlighted to her assumptions she was making about her role in relationships with the men in her life now, based on those with the men in her life previously, rather than anything her husband is doing in particular. Read this way, the opening quote might make more sense. The film does allude to her assuming the role of belayer in past relationships. And he does mention his approval of beautiful women climbing hard once too often. Beyond this, gender is a more implicit rather than explicit theme perhaps.

Whatever the intended message of the film, happily, her blog suggests the output has led to her confronting her perceptions of herself and her mental game. It's also had an impact on how she and her husband relate (though this could just be 'as people' rather than as a man and a woman). The film's messages about how to ultimately feel comfortable in your own skin are also valid.

An aside: there is an amazing paucity of theories that stand up to much interrogation as to just why the balance of power between men and women has been so unequal throughout history. Though once culturally and institutionally embedded, these assumed patterns are very hard to shift.
Post edited at 16:06
winhill - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to ferdia:

> In Heather's blog she mentions a difficult upbringing, and watching her mother date abusive men. As we know, this influences children's understanding of what healthy relationships look like, and so the film making process may have highlighted to her assumptions she was making about her role in relationships with the men in her life now, based on those with the men in her life previously, rather than anything her husband is doing in particular. Read this way, the opening quote might make more sense.

I think you've misread that, with a bit of additional sexist bias too. She mentions the problem as her mum, not abusive men.

This is all she says about her childhood:

"My negative self-worth issues stem from childhood. I grew up in an alcoholic family- my mom was my best friend and role model, but she suffered from depression and wild mood swings. She stayed in an unhealthy relationship- filled with cheating, lack of communication, and when she drank- shit hit the fan."
Robert Durran - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to ferdia:

Thanks for that. It would have been good if the film had been given a bit more of a context in the introductory blurb - as it was, I think it was reasonable to assume that the issues were supposedly implied by the film, which they weren't.
ferdia - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to winhill:

I should have typed that as'emotionally abusive' I think. Thank you.

In my attempts to understand why the film thinks it is dealing with gender issues, my comment about her experiences of unhealthy relationships might still stand.
andyman666999 - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:
Could only manage halfway through as it irritated me too much.
Climbing didn’t really feature much in that half - seemed that they spent a lot of time saying “like” and videoing their proposal. Also slightly blurred lines ethically - is top roping a line to death as a sport route then leading it with gear in really “trad Climbing” ?? Not debating the step up in difficulty but seems to miss the point slightly. Anyway there is my tuppence worth.
Post edited at 20:39
3
TheFasting on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

5.14 trad climber doesn't believe in herself? How... sad.
1
Alun - on 23 Dec 2017
In reply to UKC News:

I thought it was a brilliant little film.

I find 'pure' climbing films (i.e. repeated shots of people climbing) a little boring usually. I find that context - about a person, a route, or a location - adds immeasurably to my enjoyment of the film.

This film had that in spades (in fact, i thought that the actually climbing footage was a bit average). Heather's personality is facinating, if ultimately rather saddening, especially in light of her final words in the film. I hope she eventually finds a way to recognise herself and her achievements.

BTW I didnt find it particularly marxist, or feminist. It's amazing what you can find if you look hard enough though!
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