The Spray Dictionary

Aug 27 • Climbing Culture, Dirtbagging, Humor • 16022 Views • No Comments on The Spray Dictionary

spray: 1. Climbing talk. 2. A climbing conversation in which the unconscious ego enters, steering the chatter towards graceless self-aggrandizement.

Sometimes in writing you write something, completely forget about it, and then scramble to find the piece. This happened the other day, I remembered writing The Spray Dictionary for Climbing magazine. I didn’t have a copy of the file in my records, but through a Google search I found in on Kim Havell’s Havell Travels website. Thanks Kim! Here it is: The Spray Dictionary. Enjoy.

[by Luke Mehall]

How and whom we talk about our climbing endeavors is tricky business. We want to share, but most of us don’t want to seem egotistical. I first became conscious of my own spraying when talking about climbing became more of a comfortable habit than a reflection of passion. So I brought the matter up with friends. They, too, studied their spraying habits; some even tried not to talk climbing at all – no mean feat – while others simply stopped bragging. Others made fun of themselves and fellow climbers, relaying certain situations in which they’d become trapped. As a result, we began to observe climbers at crags, campgrounds, kitchens, bars and restaurants, dissecting the different types of spray, and then naming them. Here are our results:

almost-did-it-spray: Spraying about a climb not successfully completed.

beersay spray: 1. Making plans, while intoxicated, to do a difficult climb the following day, and more often than not the plans are abandoned due to a hangover. 2. Beta given under the influence. Might result in a beer-saturated topo and exclamations of, “It’s the best route ever!”

e-spray: Spray via our beloved interweb. This can be via blogging, Facebook,  or forums.

gym spray: 1.Boasting about an outdoor climb at the gym. 2. Spraying about a gym climb, outside.

hearsay spray: Spraying about a route you’ve heard about, but never actually climbed.

instant spraydown: Occurs when a spraylord spews unsolicited move-by-move beta, telegraphing to onlookers the fact that said spraylord has intimate knowledge of the moves (and has climbed the route).

invited spray: Asking for it. Setting yourself up for spray by actively seeking a spraymaster’s advice.

name-dropping spray: Stating a famous climbers name with implications that you know said climber, therefore making you cool somehow.

on belay spray: The belayer gets sprayed down by a third party, while the leader is climbing.

pantomime spray: Occurs when a climber uses hands and feet to mimic the beta of a problem or route. A dynamic, physical way to spray; animated facial expressions and heavy breathing are often displayed.

pre-emptive spray: Spraying prior to actually climbing something; often guarantees failure. Also appears as a form of beersay spray.

spraydown: The act of receiving spray; might involve two people spraying at each other, or even in a group, though it’s typically one person getting sprayed down by another.

sprayee: Person getting sprayed down. Often an innocent bystander.

sprayfest: A gathering of climbers talking about climbing nonstop, commonly induced by substance use.

spraylord aka spraymaster: Someone who sprays in excessive amounts; often the spray is unsolicited.

spray-turation: A point in the conversation at which the sprayee simply can’t take it anymore; a look of supreme annoyance or uneasy resignation will steal over her or his face.

Luke Mehall is the publisher of The Climbing Zine, and the author of Climbing Out of Bed, available as an e-book on Kindle and Nook. Check out the latest Volume of The Climbing Zine, number 4. Volume 5, The Dirtbag Issue, was released this spring on Kindle. A print version will follow.

A version of The Spray Dictionary was published in Climbing magazine, issue 267, July 2008. Thanks again to the Havell Travels website for posting the original document on her site!

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