I'm interested in what your actual argument would be for why having professional climbing comps on tv would be bad. Many climbers would not be interested in watching them, but then i'm not interested in watching most sports and it still doesn't bother me that they are on tv.
I haven't read the AAJ article, but it's interesting how climbers come to the sport with different backgrounds. Your comment on the varying approaches to risk-taking between individual climbers from different places probably has a lot to do with cultural influences (a more self-interested capitalism v. group-focused communism/socialism, western conceptions of a "frontier spirit," and exceptionalism, etc.).
I'd also be interested to hear about the affect of commercialism on keeping the sport "elite" among those climbers and mountaineers with a view from the bottom - how the high cost of trad equipment, expeditions, and training keep this pursuit limited to those who have the time and resources to devote to it. This has huge repercussions on who ends up composing that "base" of non-sponsored climbers.
Totally agree with this: "In America the whole thing was counter-culture, it was a way out of white-picket-fence suburbia, and now its all just adventure sports. Mainstream culture found a way to absorb the movement, co-opt its principles, and profit from the entire thing."
Great stuff. I don't read climbing magazines...they fill me with too much angst at all the climbs I'm not doing. The activity might bring the most happiness when it's heavily personalized. These elite types will always be out there (and Will Gadd's motivation comes from his boundless enthusiasm and love for the sport, I think you are too hard on him personally, when it's enough to make an argument against commercialization). Let them do their thing...they don't detract from your thing unless you let them!
I would say try and combine the dream of a B.C. subsistence farm with week-long trips into the Coast Range to scramble amazing peaks. You will be far from the co-opting crowds. Your victories will be unsung. But you'll have achieved Meaning, a slow-burning log.
You are probably right about Gadd, he has said some stuff, mostly not in this article, that rubbed me the wrong way but I don't mean to say that he is climbing for the wrong reasons or anything
I just recently discovered this website and an interest in climbing so I am as green as they come, although I believe we are on a similar level of understanding my friend! Thank you much for taking the time to organize all your thoughts and share them. It was well written in my humble opinion and brought on a few good laughs...especially the title for the new book and the stark contrast between the woes of commercialization with the perks of constantly evolving products...
From early on I have dreamed simply of a plot of land to farm and raise animals. I know it is naive and I am trying to evolve(yet not forsaking), but more importantly your own evolution is uplifting. Thanks and happy trails :)
I am always surprised by how many people react positively to my anarcho-primitivist spiel, yet seem wholly committed to industrial consumerism. It's weird.
Anyways, glad you enjoyed the article.
"the closest I’d been able to find to the ideals of men like Che Guevara"
so you support slaughtering thousands of intellectuals/writers/artists?
And you consider yourself a writer?
I don't know what you have read but it is not my understanding that Che Guevara was responsible for slaughtering thousands of civilians, regardless of their intellectual status. Are you referring to the crimes of the Cuban state? Or maybe those of the USSR? Because Che Guevara was not responsible for either.
It always amuses me how peoples views change (mine included) relative to their position.
For example, climbing being as commercial as it is enabled me to find some climbing partners, acquire the gear at the best price, read up on skills and techniques, even climb when the weather is poor, due to the proliferation of indoor walls. In short, the "growth" of climbing allowed me to climb.
Now though, being effectively "in", I could argue against growth, using the arguments above (damage to environment, overcrowding at crags etc) - as these could detract from my ability to enjoy climbing.
I suppose the question is how to maintain or grow with no detrimental effects.
Personally I'm not a fan of climbing competitions, though this has nothing to do with commercialisation.
This is a great insight, and represents me well too. I dislike how money-driven so much of the climbing/outdoor industry is and how tarnished the parks and forests and wilderness areas have become due to the popularity of climbing...on the other hand, I never would've become a climber if it wasn't for a climbing gym in an Indiana YMCA and the massive amounts of free material available at my fingertips these days.
Tough issue for sure; if I were to condense it to a main point, I would argue for a hyper-awareness of pushing LNT ethics to the entire outdoor community, whether you're at your local crag, on an expedition, or buying a jacket from a brand with questionable practices.
Thanks for the thought-provoking, well-researched article! Really enjoyed reading it, and a lot resonated with things I've been pondering as well...hoping the Existential Climber will be a reality! I'd love to hear more along those lines.
Especially the introspective section of your own belief system, and trying to reconcile it with the spiritual experience that is climbing and how that experience has the potentiality of being compromised by greed.
I recognize an anti-capitalist streak to your philosophy, and I look forward to seeing how you will meld that with existentialism!
Although climbing, and in particular mountaineering is based in individualistic choices, the question of choices beyond the basic "climb or descend", particularly the choice of choosing or not choosing to even make a choice to climb at all seems moot.
We are climbers! It seems to me even more basic than Existentialism can ever get, maybe even Hegelian! Being and Nothing!