seen such a short but sharp article in quite a while, something to ponder :)
Thanks Berthold, just some Friday night thoughts over a beer :).
Thanks Borut, actually there is an amazing story about Beckey regarding this route, see: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/295346/
"Would you want a GPS to guide you to preprogrammed locations in Venice, or would you rather walk those streets in the moonlight...half lost, but deeply found?"
I have been semi-lost in Venice at night and it was a wonderful experience bordering on spiritual, so this point sinks in deeply for me. There has been a bit of a stir behind the scenes in the Pacific NW climbing community lately. I'm wondering if your fine article was a response to this controversy?
Thanks, and that is so great that you get my Venice thing...I've had that happen! My sister and I stayed there for 3 days one winter, it was amazing to go jogging through the deserted streets at night. No I didn't know about the PNW controversy, will you fill me in with a PM? :D
I do think that eventually we'll come back from climbs with such amazing virtual reality immersible pictures that we are (or will be) in danger of stealing about 30% of the fun which has to be discovery. I love writing TRs, sharing pics, etc., so I'd be as guilty of that sin as anyone. Maybe my article is a reminder to myself to watch out.
I live a long ways from the mountains and get one, maybe two trips a year to the high country. Consequently, I spend a lot of time gathering beta. And I can gather a lot of beta. I usually backpack into remote areas that offer 3rd class scrambles, so the beta not only satisfies my off-season thirst, it addresses a safety issue. Getting lost or off-route with the wife, kids and co-workers all depending upon my safe return is not my idea of adventure. Plus, I've never felt cheated or unsatisfied due to pre-climb beta over-exposure. But I can definitely understand why someone would want to know a lot less about a route than I do.
Thanks for the comments, indeed, good beta is a good thing and there is nothing wrong with seeking it out. Happy scrambling!
Thanks for the article, and even more so, thank you for the thoughts it raised.
Some folks here put a ridiculous amount of information on simple day hikes. It's all hypocrisy, though, since they end up going on adventures without doing all the research.
You struck a chord with me. Discovery is important. It creates memories. And this memory was very well written.
That is a good point, and I can't help but reflect on myself. Creating info pages is just plain fun, if you are in the right mood and have spare time. It's what I do if I'm too lazy to work or exercise, but not lazy enough to watch TV. I'll make all kinds of funny diagrams, which I am usually proud of. I'm not being honest if I say I made the information for others...really it's my little art project.
I guess I want to have my art project, but I also don't want to clutter up the minds of people who are hiking into some place. I guess it's an argument for privacy in an age that forgot about it. I think this is why I don't post so much anymore...part of it, certainly, is the growing awareness that what I'm doing isn't so special at all, but also I want to leave mental space for new explorers.
SP has had an unofficial, gradually toughening standard for the format of pages. Most people who contribute information here want the information to be useful, and some are a little dismayed to think that failure to include enough photos or details could make the page seem below average, hence not worth reading.
Recently, I came across a trip report, which had garnered no votes, for a CA Sierra Peak. The report was fairly "old" and had no pictures. Yet the TR gave a good flavor of the route, and was quite informative (it now has 1 vote).
In the last few years, I've gone to climber.org often for TRs, especially in areas outside the Sierra. I like the Climber.org style -- terse, describing the potential pitfalls, and with a few waypoints. The pages are not fancy, they are usually short, and are generally information-packed.
Good point! I almost think of a natural evolution taking place, kind of a process we go through individually and as a community, away from "lead me up it" kind of beta back to a terser style. My unspoken assumption had been that verbose and picture-rich beta today is purely the result of technological change, and we'll keep moving in that direction as technology improves (Go-Pro cameras certain to be involved in the next iteration, with first-person films at all the "tricky parts").
But it's only unthinking boosterism that leads that way. The old or somehow "plain" reports stand up well by enfolding a kind of magic in their terse descriptions: desire to find out more is stoked in their reading.
I noticed the problem when I read some reports that were very picture and diagram-rich...at the end of that virtual journey my interest in visiting the region had been entirely slaked!
What a shame! :)
When I get some time I will do something about this in my own works. What will look like a removal on the surface will actually be an addition. No direct thanks will come of it, but the overall "experience points" accrued by our fellows will be higher, relieved as they will be of the burden of too much information! Thanks for your comment!
Good article. I think too much beta is some times counter productive. When someone tells me that this particular pitch is tricky or involves something I do not like I would rather not lead it. When I do not get this information, I suck it up and face the challenge. Although there is some important information that should be known ("this pitch is R X" or "watch out for a solid looking death block" etc), not everything should be chewed into your mouth and fed through a straw. Climbing is about adventure, surprise, and mystery.
Thanks, Vitaliy. Yep, I agree, it's a question of balance. Some is good, too much becomes counterproductive.
I have often pondered the dual nature of climbing beta. For me what seems to happen is that I hear enough people talk about a route and I assume that my experience will be the same. I hear people talk about "run out" and "sparse pro". Naturally I tend to take that information and hype myself out. When I finally get around to climbing the route in question I am surprised that my experience is entirely different. Sure, it may be a difficult route (for me) and the climbing may be run out or hard to protect, but you can't substitute anecdotal information with intimate contact, especially not on rock. At least that has been my experience.
Exactly. And you don't want to substitute the anecdote for the real. I think the only stories that should rightfully give you pause are the ones accurately describing objective hazards. Formerly frozen gullies might be getting more dangerous in our time...it might makes sense to cross a route off your list for such cases. But indeed, "runout" is pretty subjective. Once I climbed a pitch with two pieces of pro, feeling great. Another time I came back agog and said "you mean I was SOLOING THIS?!?" :D Have a great summer!
I think this is a terse but vivid article, touching the topic of our days: the excess of information may destroy the adventure and the pleasure of discovery. It strengthens the culture of securisation, turning the climb into an arid gymnastic activity...but don’t we fall into the opposite extreme: the culture of the risk.
I think the magic word is “equilibrium”!
Thanks for your contribute.
Thanks Silvia, I agree with you, it is a search for balance, both for those of us who like to write about our trips and those of us who consume the information! Thanks for reading it and I hope you are having a great summer in those beautiful Italian mountains!
the lure of the unknown draws heavily upon the unsettled soul. Well done, takes me back....
Thanks Joel! Clearly you have traversed the mental landscape of climbing as well as the countless moraines, glaciers and ridges!