“There’s some strong climbers here,” was the first thing Wolfgang said after scouting a new cliff. “I mean, like, REALLY strong!”
We were checking out a “secret” crag in Slovenia, back in 1993 or 4, the rumored training ground that had pushed the Slovenians to the label of world’s strongest climbers. This was before internet, accessible video, and a world where new hard routes were presented to the public as soon as they were done. Sport climbing was still new and we were all looking for secrets. The Slovenians, who had a long track record in elite alpinism, had found a cliff that was supposed to be the best in the world, allowing them to churn out an entire generation that was supposedly wreaking havoc on the standards.
While all that turned out to be more-or-less true–we ran into a group of virtual unknowns who were all climbing at a higher standard than any American–it’s not what this story is about. Wolfie had bumped into “The Banana Man”, as we came to call him, who was, and still is, the most ripped person I’ve ever seen in my life.
The Banana Man wasn’t Slovenian, or even that great a climber, but man did he look like it. Running into me, a person who searched out strange diets, seemed like fate. I spent the rest of the trip attempting to tap into his logic.
You see, this guy ate bananas. A lot of them. Like a gorilla, which he looked like. He had a massive bushel of bananas in his van that took up more space than a person. It was the craziest thing I’d ever seen. On my return to the US we began to eat far more bananas.
pic: leather is always in. wolfie and gernot with the grand dame of osp, slovenia. she would sell you climbing gear but only if you had a glass of wine with her first.
I never, however, got really into the full-on banana diet. The banana man didn’t climb any harder than me. It’s simple to deduct if you eat nothing but bananas you’ll be ripped, since your diet lacks almost any fat or protein. But, still, he was performing at a high level on a diet that didn’t seem possible to survive on, which was a great example that what we learned in school about nutrition wasn’t set in stone.
I’m bringing this up because I stumbled on the above video and the site 30 Bananas a Day, which seems like it’s run by the same friggn’ guy (who also makes a great case for cycling your coffee for performance). Also, one of my older posts has an anecdote from a couple of utlra runners who live on mainly “expired” fruit they can buy from the grocery store for almost nothing. Their health is still fine, and they win a lot of races. Hard races.
The moral of today’s story is the nutrition science still has a lot of unknowns. Take advice with skepticism and don’t be afraid to experiment. As for me, I think I’ll get back on the bananas and see how it plays out this time around.