Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Balance and Climbing

Chuffer just left a great comment on the last post about Dave Graham's Udini interview. Where can people find balance in life--Is it better to pour all of oneself into a pursuit like climbing or to consider other directions? The reason I'm interested in the question is that it seems to me that the direction that professional free climbing is going is one that to a great extent limits one's options in a way that wasn't the case before. A good example would be to compare the careers of Ron Kauk or Wolfgang Gullich or any number of late 80s-90s star climbers. They branched out in all kinds of directions even as young men and I don't see that so much today at least in America. As a college professor, my job is to point out to young people just how complex and fascinating the world is and how difficult it is to understand. I get concerned when I see someone in his mid-20s, very bright, but with no experience in any other world than high-standard climbing, which as I've said before, is an increasingly confined one.

When I think about better role models, I think of David Hume who by now has, I think, completed a PHD in physics (?) and is as strong as anyone else out there. Or even Tori Allen, who had the wisdom to forego the over-hyped comp scene and like Katie Brown, now avoids the climbing spotlight. Dave Graham, who I recognized early on as possessing immense talent and energy when he was still relatively unknown, will need to make a choice as soon he will not be driving the standards. In some ways, this is already the case. I want other young climbers to recognize that there is a price for obsession and that's not discussed in the magazines or websites. Maybe there should be a disclaimer at the bottom of every photo of a "sponsored" climber: "Climbing may be habit forming and could lead to serious injury or death. Your chances of actually making a living from this sport are practically zero." Maybe that would help enlighten young climbers make more realistic decisions about the future that would make them happier in the long run. Who knows? Hardly anyone really talks about it which I think is a shame.

1 comment:

sock hands said...

werd to the dave hume mention: another young, top-notch human being who just so happens to climb rocks well.

another warning for the subtext: preoccupation with climbing can and will impact your occupation and may potentially hinder your professional development; it may also affect your ability to find and have a lasting relationship with a significant other, children; and may even affect your ability to properly use punctuation or spell.

finally, climbing itself can be taken from you in an instant due to a variety of injuries, illnesses, maladies, and dieseases. if it's all you have, what will you be left with?

i often feel regret at being an unreliable friend despite my unwavering reliability in showing up to climbing sessions. friendship is not just giving a spot when asked and sharing a ride to a climbing area... it's being there in all of the other, more profound and important, aspects of life. for me and many others, this is the crux and illustrates the selfishness in climbing.

just more rambling.