The life that appeals to your average American can seem hopelessly bland and sedentary to climbers. On the other hand, most folks probably view our best vacations as their worst nightmares, as the bumper sticker says. Same goes for Valentine’s Day gifts. If this sappy, saccharine holiday appeals at all to you and your chalk-dusted paramour, it’s likely you won’t be going the roses and chocolates route. To help the vertically inclined find a fitting token of affection for that special someone, I’ve compiled a list of 10 items that, while thoughtful, do their thinking just outside of the lace-embroidered box.
1. Heart-emblazoned crash pad – Bouldering pad maker ORGANIC is known for their custom fabric tops. For a very reasonable $25 additional charge, ORGANIC is happy to create a pad with a heart form (or other shape of your choosing) sewn on top. Now, every time she takes a digger from the top of some hairy highball, she’ll remember that she is loved, and the pain will recede that much more quickly. organicclimbing.com
2. Elite nail clippers – If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of untrimmed fingernails scraping against stone, snagging, tearing, bending backwards, etc., then you understand viscerally the importance of a good nail clipper. What better way to say, “I love you and I want you never to feel the discomfort of nails grown too long again,” than with a pair of the most badass clippers on the market. Klhip engineers their snazzy snippers from 440C surgical stainless steel to offer the most even, easy, and comfortable trimming experience possible. (Pro tip: take it to the next level and offer to trim your love dumpling’s nails for him. Hawt.) Just $89 with leather case. klhip.com
3. Beanie of the Month Club – If your bouldering partner (OK, probably a dude in this case) is the sort to always have a knit beanie (or toque, as they say north of the border) on his head, then this service is for you. Every month, HotHedz will deliver a new cap — wool, fleece, polyester-cotton blend, what have you — straight to his door… or P.O. box, in likely case that he lives out of his car. Not only will the Beanie of the Month Club keep him looking rico suave, but it will also reduce the particular odor that builds up when you combine frequent physical exertion with a bi-weekly shower schedule with his habit of sleeping with his hat on. HotHedz Beanie of the Month Club
4. Deluxe brushes – Sometimes, a clean hold makes all the difference. Discerning rock jocks grok all brushes are not created equal. When you’re looking for the best, only natural bristles like boar’s hair will do, the most popular brand being Lapis, a Slovenian hold company. Hair-care professionals and auto enthusiasts alike prize boar’s hair brushes for their softness and durability. Climbers know boar’s hair lifts more chalk and oil off of a climbing hold than nylon bristles, allowing for better grip, more success on the rock, and, by extension, a happier significant other. Lapis brushes via Liberty Mountain.
5. Couple’s sleeping bag – A good night’s rest is crucial for performance, but when sleeping two to a tent, those mummy-style bags can leave lovers feeling isolated. Why not double the fun with a tandem sleeping bag like the Big Agnes Cabin Creek Double or The North Face Twin Peaks?
6. Sexy clothes – Flatlanders head to Victoria’s Secret when it’s time to spice things up. For climbers, it’s Verve all the way. Founded and still run by Christian Griffith (who has climbed in at least one bouldering competition wearing little more than a thong and climbing shoes), Verve clothing is functional, stylish, and artfully accentuates the climber’s natural form [wink wink]. verveclimbing.com
7. Deep-tissue massage – Climbing is sort of like weightlifting, but instead of dumbbells, we throw ourselves around. No surprise then that many climbers suffer from muscle soreness, stiffness, and imbalance. A couple’s deep-tissue massage is just the thing to loosen those cranky fibers and unlock your and your partner’s climbing potential. Bonus: the sometimes-painful deep-tissue massage has been known to release not only physical tension, but also long-dormant pockets of emotional energy as well, which can deepen a relationship.
8. Climbing jewelry – Diamonds are great, but they stink for climbing (too slick!). Instead, adorn your lover’s ears and neck with sterling silver cams, carabiners, ice tools, and more. rockclimbingjewelry.com
9. Backpack-able wine bag – Long known as a “social lubricant,” vino can also loosen the tongues of those speaking the language of love. For those oenophiles among us, the PlatyPreserve Wine Preservation System is an excellent gift. These BPA-free plastic bags allow you to eek all the corrupting air out of your wine stash. Store it and a cool, dark place, and you’ll have the freshest tasting 2010 Climber Wine (limited release) in the Valley. Plus, the PlatyPreserve is lightweight, flexible, and won’t shatter in your pack. platypreserve.com
10. Chocolate – Look, everyone loves chocolate, even if they choose to pretend otherwise. But climbers are a socially conscious bunch, so not any old Hershey bar will do. To ensure Cupid’s arrow hits its mark, try for something more sustainable, like a heart-shaped box of organic, fair-trade chocolates from San Louis Obispo-based Mama Ganache artisan chocolates. Such sumptuousness is only to be indulged in after your love sends his or her project, of course — motivation plus deliciousness equals the perfect climber cadeau.
What about you? Have you come up with any ingenious gifts for your on-and-off-the-rock partner?