- technical climbing is no more or less better than any other kind of human-powered mountain activity.
- A technical climber is ALSO a hiker, skier and snowshoer BY DEFINITION. The technical part is only the specialization that happens on a trip provided that a particular X/Y coordinate was reached and the weather is safe to fool around with ropes.
- Somebody who elevates one specialization above another, or above the general case, is merely denigrating himself. The moment I fail to appreciate the forest I hike through on the way to the cliff is the moment that I fail to offer the mountain environment and it's experiences the respect that is deserved.
- Respect other people. Sometimes I don't want to read 3 paragraphs about the long traverse through old growth below the moraine. But I'm perfectly happy to read 3 paragraphs about the "crux move" on my current objective. There is a skill I can apply without lashing out at others, called "skimming."
For most of us, our first experiences in the mountains were on foot. And likely our last will be. It is simple, and in touch with the earth. That simplicity is only boring when we treat the mountains like a gym. Summitpost is for all of us who walk the mountains and have something to say on return. Despite my recent activism for changes in the way we edit the site, anything that makes a group feel "less than" is a wrong move.
Maybe some other technical-types will have a story similar to my own. All I wanted to do in the beginning years was walk. I moved from Texas to the Northwest because of the vast public lands covered in forests and glaciers. Once, as a teenager I got in trouble for trespassing across a vast ranch. I just wanted to walk, and couldn't do it in Texas. I thought that was sad because of the outsized reputation Texas has for rugged prairie and open sky, but oh well.
The whole technical orientation came on gradually over several years. It grew from a natural curiosity about what the environment was like on the more forbidding cliffs and snowfields. Like any "intense" activity, it's one that can seem a world unto itself. However it exists, or should exist from my point of view, as a special environment nurtured by the broader and more forgiving realm of hiking. I've seen there is a magazine called "Urban Climber." Okay. I don't get it.
I do more hiking than climbing, and until we get jet packs to reach the alpine cliffs, that will always be true. And every year I go on some multiday hikes that are rewarding in a different way from more technical goals. For years I've loved something Kev Reynolds, author of Alpine hiking guidebooks said:
"...from the point of view of the walker who is, after all, in the most favoured position to witness and enjoy mountain scenery in all its abundant variety. The motorist is divorced from all that is best in the Alps by being restricted to the highway. The non-active tourist is confined to mechanised means of uplift, the climber's attention is for the most part taken up with the intracacies of his chosen route, while the downhill skier needs full concentration in the rush to get to the foot of the slope without accident. Only the mountain walker, the individual with good general fitness, a modicum of scrambling experience and an eye for the hills, can move far enough and at the right pace to enjoy the full range of wonders that the Alps so generously offer."
For me this statement is absolutely true. And as I look years into the future, I become a hiker again, with the years of climbing becoming an exciting memory. I recognize that this is my unique path. We shouldn't misapply our natural inclination to build hierarchies to a place where it's neither helpful nor desired.
Feeding the soul with a multi-day hike near Bormio, Italy.
Feeding "the rat" in the Wilder Kaiser.