Punks Not Dead


Some punks might be dead.

27 is a dangerous age for superstars.

A whole bunch of stars burned bright and hot and then out when they were but 27-years-old, scant more than babes in swaddling clothes, really.

The Club, as it was dubbed by his heartbroken mother when in ’94 Kurt Cobain decided it was all too much and took his own life, boasts some big names; The* Jimi Hendrix, the man who made graffiti art Jean-Michel Basquiat, poet-singer-force of nature Jim Morrison, and most recently the very sad and soulful Amy Winehouse.

This weekend just passed the classic Araps test-piece Punks in the Gym turned 27. A dangerous milestone for a superstar.

We are going to get a little anthropomorphic and assert that if a climbing route can be a superstar then Punks in the Gym is. Everyone knows Punks was the World’s first 32 (that’s 8b-ish** in Frenchy-speak) and that it is part of the oeuvre of Sportclimbing maestro and patron saint of those who spend a life in the vertical, Wolfgang Gullich (who, despite making it past the ominous mark of 27, also died before his time).

Like most modern superstar divas, she’s had a little work done (a dab of restorative glue here, the hint of a chip there), but we forgive her such things as the trappings of fame and agree that such controversy only adds to the mystique.

Bubbly, beautiful, bullet-hard orange rock; asking not only power but equal amounts precision; unforgiving of flawed-technique and repelling of the advances of all but the most committed. Part-poem, part-power ballad, all art – 27 years young and it has lost very little of its allure.

Yep, it’s still a coveted send and Punks’ star shines brightly at the minute, and not in the least due to the “we’re-not-in-competition-but-we-are-in-competition” rush to notch up the first female ascent of Wolfgang’s Aussie baby, which is on in earnest.

Mayan Smith-Gobat is putting time in (you can read a little about Punks and her in our interview, which appears in VL issue one – download it here), Jarmila Tyrril is focused on it and having seen her working it a couple of times we can confirm she is indeed super close, and Andrea Hah could be making a quiet run that might see her come over the top of them both. If Punks doesn’t die, the first female tick is going to happen soon.

Happy birthday Punks, you rockstar you.

Note: Punks did not fall down (shoot itself in the head in a fit of depression or choke on its own spew after binging on too much booze) this Easter weekend. Long live Punks.

* surely Jimi deserves a definite article.

** Grades, grades, grades. Clearly Punks is no gimme at 32. Grade debates though provide glorious fodder around fires and forums alike. In his coming-out-column for Vertical Life, Steve Kelly churns the self-styled useless debate that positions Punks in the pantheon of B.A.D. routes – download it here.

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