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Climbing and wealth

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Climbing and wealth

Postby Mark Straub » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:07 pm

Similar to the "climbing=white person's sport" thread, I have noticed that almost all of the climbers I encounter are middle-class. There are exceptions, as I have climbed with some more wealthy people and I have a friend I climb with who is fairly poor, but for the most part, climbers seem to be middle-class.

It seems this has fluctuated throughout time. When mountaineering became popular in the mid-1800's, it was all for very wealthy people. In the 1950's, many of the pioneering climbers seemed to be very poor. Now, it seems I hardly see anyone who isn't right in the middle class.

Any ideas?

-Mark
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Postby MoapaPk » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:11 pm

I see all levels, at least for the peak-bagging, mainly-scrambling, low-5th crowd. I've got outdoor friends living in subsidized housing, off meager social security checks. For them, gas money is the biggest limit. If they start doing harder stuff, the gear costs skyrocket.
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Postby fossana » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:25 pm

I think it's worth making the distinction between the class in which they grew up and the class in which they currently reside by choice. I have friends of all economic levels who climb, but some choose to live a more frugal lifestyle to focus on climbing.
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Postby Clark_Griswold » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:01 pm

I think that it depends on the type of climbing (or hiking) you do. If you live in Denver and do the occasional walk up of local mountains, then that really can be done by almost anyone with access to a car and some free time. If you live far from the mountains you climb and do highly technical alpine climbs that require expensive gear and expensive training classes, you are likely either middle or upper class since it is doubtful a poor person would spend 700 dollars on a winter season tent, 500 on a zero degree bag, and the untold amount of money on climbing boots, ice axes, cams, and clothing. Upper class people seem to look down on everyone else and choose to do things that separate them from the other people. Climbing once was a rich man's sport, but with the relative cost of gear being much less than it was 150 years ago, it is no longer the case.
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Postby Alpinist » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:03 pm

One of the things I like about climbing is that it is one of the few sports that seems to break down social barriers. I frequently see people with low incomes and people with high incomes talking comfortably around a camp fire, or even sharing a tent at high altitude together. The shared passion for climbing cuts through all the crap that would normally segregate people of different income levels. You don't see that much in other sports.

It's too bad we can't do the same with politics, which mostly seems to divide people here on SP.
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Postby Clark_Griswold » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:07 pm

Alpinist wrote:One of the things I like about climbing is that it is one of the few sports that seems to break down social barriers. I frequently see people with low incomes and people with high incomes talking comfortably around a camp fire, or even sharing a tent at high altitude together. The shared passion for climbing cuts through all the crap that would normally segregate people of different income levels. You don't see that much in other sports.

It's too bad we can't do the same with politics, which mostly seems to divide people here on SP.


I almost never see people who aren't well paid out climbing. Now, I haven't done sport or trad climbing, and have only "climbed" a few scrambles and walk ups in the mountains, but the people I have talked to all would be middle to upper middle class. I haven't camped or climbed with rich people or poor people, at least by my definition, so maybe it also depends on how you define "poor", "middle class", and "upper class".
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Postby mvs » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:09 pm

Alpinist wrote:One of the things I like about climbing is that it is one of the few sports that seems to break down social barriers. I frequently see people with low incomes and people with high incomes talking comfortably around a camp fire, or even sharing a tent at high altitude together. The shared passion for climbing cuts through all the crap that would normally segregate people of different income levels. You don't see that much in other sports.

It's too bad we can't do the same with politics, which mostly seems to divide people here on SP.


I agree with you, and I like the diversity around a campfire (sadly though as noted on the other thread it's very rare to run across a black climber).

A couple of my regular climbing partners are staunch republicans. I totally don't get it. If I think about it much I'll rip my hair out. I suppose they feel the same. We dip into the topic now and then but mostly we are too busy climbing to end up brawling :lol:
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Postby Buckaroo » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:16 pm

Some of the best climbers are the ones living off a shoe string, they have more time to climb because they work seasonal or part time.

At the very upper echelon it's expensive due to things like travel, unless you're a guide or on a car camping road trip.

In general you might say it's a middle class endeavor as compared to something like polo or motor racing.
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Postby Andinistaloco » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:16 pm

Alpinist wrote:One of the things I like about climbing is that it is one of the few sports that seems to break down social barriers. I frequently see people with low incomes and people with high incomes talking comfortably around a camp fire, or even sharing a tent at high altitude together. The shared passion for climbing cuts through all the crap that would normally segregate people of different income levels. You don't see that much in other sports.

It's too bad we can't do the same with politics, which mostly seems to divide people here on SP.


Good point dude. I really think it's an internet thing. Many people who'd be too polite to act like total assholes about politics in person have no problem doing it online, because this is (relatively) anonymous. One of my regular climbing partners is a pretty hardcore right winger who always carries a piece when we're hiking and we get along great - we just don't talk politics, which leaves more than enough other stuff to jam about.
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Postby Clark_Griswold » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:18 pm

Buckaroo wrote:In general you might say it's a middle class endeavor as compared to something like polo or motor racing.


Motor racing is a rich man's sport, isn't it? Except when an everyman is fleeing from the police in a stolen car.

Generally, on a climb or hike, I think conversation can be more interesting than politics since you are out doing what you love and not looking to fill the void between trips.
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Postby kheegster » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:37 pm

I make a comfortable amount of money but am poor because all the money goes straight into gear and trips!
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Postby lcarreau » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:07 am

kheegster wrote:I make a comfortable amount of money but am poor because all the money goes straight into gear and trips!



Let's not paint with a "broad brush" by over-analyzing and trying to put people into a specific group.

What we do with our money is our own business, isn't it ???

Except for that SC-MLC group, who apparently drive fancy cars and eat gourmet pizza, for
cryin' out loud ...


Mark Straub wrote:Now, it seems I hardly see anyone who isn't right in the middle class.


Or, "now, it seems I hardly see anyone who isn't LEFT in the middle class!"

Politically speaking, of course.
:wink:
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Postby Mark Straub » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:11 am

By "right" I didn't mean "right-wing" (oops!)

Must be specific to the area. Where I live, anyway (Washington), it is very rare I climb/meet someone climbing who I would consider "rich" or "poor".

-Mark
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Postby lcarreau » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:27 am

That's because <b>those</b> people are either:

(1) playing golf

OR

(2) picking up golf balls


:lol:
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Postby MoapaPk » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:32 am

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