Dear Sir/Madam,


I am writing this letter of recommendation for Jim Herson because he asked me to. I have climbed with Mr. Herson in the past.*


Jim HersonÕs best quality is that he is a gifted crack climber. He excels at climbing all manner of cracks—painful, very painful, and excruciating, although the excruciating category is his forte. He is also, perhaps contrary to reputation, quite versatile—happy to climb loose, wet, cold, feces-coated, and sandy cracks.


Mr. Herson displays several mental qualities that distinguish him from others. Perhaps most distinctive, he is not constrained by the notions that limit most people from entertaining a broader spectrum of possibilities. This makes him willing to climb in any weather, night or day, with anyone. Jim Herson has an ability to generate unexpected ideas that further set him apart. Further, he is not afraid to Ōthink outside the boxĶ with regards to the linear dimension. While the typical climber blindly trusts that a 70 m rope is necessary to reach an anchor 35 m away, Jim Herson is willing to test such lazy assumptions.


Mr. Herson is endowed with visionary perspective. Accordingly, he is disinclined to focus on prosaic concerns such as adequate gear and equipment. And while JimÕs big picture disposition is not detail-oriented, he is not incapable of having his own, small ideas. For example, while most climbers follow the convention of clipping things together to avoid dropping or losing items, Jim eschews this practice, undaunted by the fact that it consequently makes racking and packing tedious, not to mention climbing safely more difficult when key items are dropped. This tendency makes Jim Herson ideally paired with a climbing partner who enjoys playing Pick-up Stix on hummocky terrain in the dark, since that is the person typically left to pick up all the unclipped gear in the dark while Jim works on rectifying the stuck rope situation.


Jim is dedicated to climbing. When he is not climbing he is surfing climbing forums on the internet or doing something else. His attendance record as a climbing partner is within reach of being in the top 50% percentile. He only used the excuses of two in-laws, one aunt, and one former wrestling coach dying, and household chores, for missed climbing weekends in the past two semesters. With additional time and effort Jim Herson has the potential to develop into a very good belayer. One might offer a nearly as positive assessment with respect to route finding skills. Jim Herson can find the base of the Salathe expertly, which is not trivial if you are blind or have never heard of El Capitan before.


Jim Herson possesses notable personal qualities. He is an optimist (but not about politics): he will embark on a long, cloudy climbs with neither headlamp nor raincoat.  He is not afraid to accept help from others: he will take his partnerÕs headlamp after dark and raincoat when it starts to rain. He makes earnest efforts to be nice. He believes he is funny. In general, he brings better food than Clint Cummins. Finally, Mr. Herson is a potential climbing partner. He is best suited to rope up with an individual who only climbs cracks, avoids human conversation—similarly considering climbing commands in the realm of unnecessary small talk—and rejects frivolities such as adequate gear, drinking water, and a good belay.


If you would like further information you have not been paying attention.




Dr. Monahan


* During these climbs I have usually followed because my notion of minimal placement coincides with Mr. HersonÕs definition of gratuitous placement and he has historically expressed a strong commitment to playing a decisive leadership role in controlling the gear selection. I have led pitches over terrain that Mr. Herson suggested I free solo with a pack on.  In one 200Õ lead in the dark I placed three pieces, whereafter, he did not speak to me for several hours.