Enrico Baistrocchi: Japan, climbing, respect
Enrico Baistrocchi shares his experience in Japan, where he worked as route setter for the Pump Climbing gyms. His sojourn in the Land of the Rising Sun revealed some secrets, first and foremost respect.
Basically I’ve always traveled to climb, either to go cragging myself or to work as route setter or coach. The common denominator of all these trips has always been a direct contact with the climbing communities and, consequently, with the local people and their cultures. With all their peculiarities therefore.
I've always found this the most interesting aspect of my travels. And since climbers are, broadly speaking, all a very similar kind, I can savour and better comprehend the various cultural differences. Being with them I see things which a simple tourist doesn’t.
Bearing this in mind, I just couldn’t wait to finally travel to Japan and test myself professionally, and also to try and understand why they’re so good at climbing. To tell you the truth, I think I now know why. But this I’m going to keep for myself! What I will share with you though is something I thought I’d find, and which I noticed as soon as I got there.
Behind all the many faces that I met, the many hands that I shook, the many words that I exchanged and the many holds that we set, I always perceived something absolutely fundamental: respect. This is perhaps the starting point that makes Japan and its people an absolute reference point, not just for climbing.
Respect, care and attention to every single detail, from a climbing move to choosing a place to visit, from brushing the holds and the care given to a garden to the important custom of always taking your shoes off.
Respect for the routes just set; there’s almost a degree of shyness among those who are the first to try them, as opposed to the usual "consuming" of routes that instantly makes them lose their essence.
Respect and tidiness in every corner of the forest, that translates into crags and bouldering areas that resemble carefully groomed Zen gardens.
Respect for oneself, which translates into the personal commitment to constantly put oneself to the test and improve. In climbing terms, this translates into having fun and finding joy in trying a single problem over and over again, refining every individual move and making it your own.
I encountered this respect in every single generation I met. From the young World Champion to the over 60-year old, bouncing with enthusiasm and super fit.
The result of all this is an average climbing ability level which is far higher that anything I've ever seen before, without a shadow of doubt!
A heartfelt thanks to Ondy, Yuki, Takahashi, Naito, Iguchi and all the people I met, for opening the doors to your Japan and sharing all this with me. And thanks Flo!