A letter I wrote to the editors of Climbing magazine in regards to the article "“STONE MONKEYS VISIONS OF THE MODERN-AGE STONEMASTERS”, issue No. 266.
Dear Gods of the revered Climbing Magazine,
I write this letter in regard to the publication of the article “STONE MONKEYS VISIONS OF THE MODERN-AGE STONEMASTERS”.
I am a little baffled as to what the author means by “to be a Stone Monkey, you don’t have to climb hard or be famous, (though quite a few Monkeys fit this bill). In fact, it’s not so much that you choose to be a Monkey as that you become one, by paying your dues.”
So you don’t have to “climb hard or be famous”. However you do have to “pay your dues.” I just wonder what “dues” I would have to “pay”. Do I have to give up education? My “9 to 5” job serving tables? Must I grow my hair long take up smoking and give up taking showers? Climb 5.15, boulder V16, and Free Solo El Capitan and Half Dome back to back in under twenty-four hours?
It just seems that the “Stone Monkey” gang is bit hypocritical. Climbing to me, and I hope for many others, is not about disassociating myself from society to fulfill a “dirtbag dream” of becoming part of an “eclectic clan” of climbers. If I am not a “regular”, or don’t go about subverting the local climbing coalition and National Park service, does that make me less of a climber; less passionate about the beloved way of life? I would hope not.
Here is and idea, O’ powerful Gods of Climbing Magazine. Perhaps you might publish an article about the soldier-climber, who is out protecting the very rights and freedoms, which we so easily abuse, to live free and climb in the first place. Or maybe about a group of college kids, who are obtaining an education in order to be productive members of society, and therefore only have the time and money to climb on the weekends, much less one weekend a month. Or the Mother/Father, who love just as deeply, care just as passionately about climbing as a revered “Stone Monkey”, but has put the way of life on hold to raise a family?
Climbing is a way to connect with nature, with the wild; and that is just what climbing is, WILD! No one can tame the cliffs or mountains. They belong to no mere human, not even a “Stone Monkey”. Mother Nature rules and owns us; we are not but guests in the outdoors. Guest who should know humility and respect; respect for others who wish to share the experiences to be had, and respect the awesome power the Wild. We are visitors and She can take us whenever She wants. I pay no dues to any “Stone Monkey”, but the Creator. One should not have to prove anything to anyone in order to climb, or partake of the beauty of the outdoors. Is the weekend top roper climbing 5.6 and 5.7, any less a climber than the sponsored “master” who trads 5.15?
Climbing, is an ideology, a way of life; passion and spirit. Not a bragging right, or call sign for revolution. I thought better of ye Climbing Magazine Gods. Will you hear my prayer?
Trent Vongchanyakul; Norman Oklahoma
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