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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Doc Goodwack- WV 's Unknown Hardman

There's this guy I know, have known for what seems like half of forever.  A few inches past 6 feet tall, he has a wide smile, an open manner and a straightforward delivery, in an unmistakable Southern accent, gesturing eloquently and making eye contact with every listener when he gives directions or beta or relates some hilarious construction tale or heinous epic in one of WV's many lost corners.

He's pretty quiet, keeps to himself, mostly, although at the crags he's usually noteworthy for the fact that he's one of the only people you will see actually working on the trail or replacing worn-out hardware at the routes, without Access Fund banners, a free T-shirt, or a horde of networking Facebook friend participants and their dogs.  You might also note that his is one of the few rides pumping serious metal as it rolls in or out of the crag... no Dave Matthews here, ladies. If it ain't metal, it's crap.

He is a master home builder and expert carpenter who has done more work for poor people for little or nothing than most Habitat for Humanity offices.  He is also an expert on the Shaw Brothers' kung fu films, and an ardent fan of science fiction and action movies, good cooking, beautiful women, motocross and the Colt AR-15.

He is a patriot in a country that has almost forgotten the real meaning of that word; a man who has stood by his ideals and what he calls The System; the way things should be done when putting up new routes, building trail, or traveling in the outside world.

This is my friend Mike Fisher, aka Doc Goodwack, the creator of some of Franklin Gorge's classic pumpfests; Two Blind Mice, A Moment of Clarity, Persephone, the fun Jump Start and the thuggish Davy Jones' Locker, as well as Pendelton County five star lines like Hunter's Moon, Shaolin Mantis, Apophus, Slight of Hand and Defenders of the Faith.  He's the man who introduced me to the key principles of the Fisher Manuals, inking them inside the front cover of my "Rockingham County Climber's Guide":

1.  Eat meat every day.
2.  Drink good wine or ale every day.
3. Work hard, play hard, go to bed hard and wake up hard.
4.  Accept NO STUDENTS!

Together, we've built miles of trail and put up somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 routes, sport and trad, many of them ground-up in bitter conditions on occasionally horrifying rock.  There are harder climbers in the region, but they don't build much trail or take the time to carefully craft high-quality routes anywhere outside "The Scene", and since most of them make a paycheck from climbing, one could view their involvement as just a trifle self-serving.

In sharp contrast to 95% of the climbers in the world, Mike Fisher has always tried to give as much to climbing as he has gotten from climbing.  He has raised the bar and never compromised his integrity to simply slap in another poorly cleaned/bolted 5.12 or impress anyone.

The Master at work: Mike Fisher focusing his chi on the first ascent of La Machina

And because I know that that few others have, it's high time I said, publicly,

Thank you, Mister Fisher.

Climbing in our little corner of WV wouldn't be what it is today if it weren't for you. Trails at the crags, especially Franklin and Reed's, would long ago have faded back into the landslides they were when we started.  God knows, it wasn't until they saw us working on those trails that the Access Fund had ANY interest in West Virginia, outside New River and Seneca, and they're still incapable of matching, as an organization with hundreds of members, the work two of us have done with little or no support or fanfare.

Most of the best and/or hardest routes I know of have your name on them, and few of mine would exist without your input, belays, and constant encouragement to never stop trying.

I have been and will ever be your friend and student, my master.

Climb on.

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