Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fake Climbing for the Future

There is more to life than ticking the latest test-pieces, especially when they seem to be getting easier(or is it harder?) over time. The last issue of Climbing has Timy Fairfield on the back climbing the Web which is now apparently 13c, according to the photo caption. For more see my entry at It's back to the future for this pioneering sport route. See also comments at regarding Geminis at Rodellar, rated 8c, now 8b/8b+.

The phenomenon of fake climbing marches on with a pretty scary interview with Timy Fairfield at La Sportiva's website. Consider the implications, if you can wade through the jargon, of this statement:

"One of the most profound (disturbing for some) distinctions between the past and the future of climbing as an action sport, is that in the past, the practice itself dictated the way the industry advertised and marketed to sell gear, while in the future, the evolution of how the practice is manifested may be more influenced by the PR value of image-based advertising derived from youth marketing strategies seeking to distribute a codified identity.

The robotic language tries to present as accomplished fact a proposed effort to market climbing to people who aren't climbers. This might be a warning to those who, failing to actually make a career as climbers, might be tempted to try to earn a living in the "industry". At some point you may be asked to swallow the Koolaid about promoting the "rock-climbing industry" instead of promoting climbing. Again:

Eventually, kids won't even need to buy safety tested technical gear to consider themselves "climbers" (or boulderers). Practitioners already prioritize spending their (parents') disposable income on shoes, chalk bags and crashpads. They'll be able to buy videos, posters, clothing and watch our comps on television without ever squeezing a thing other than the joystick on their "super climber agro-dyno" video game. Sad, but it will only cost our industry a mere $4M to develop this game.

A climber who would say such a thing, even for the sake of provocation, should be asked why. Promoting a vision of climbing as a marketed, branded, sedentary virtual video game is a genuine failure of vision. Climbers sponsored by the company or those thinking about using its products should ask Sportiva to explain what it meant by publicizing Fairfield's remarks. I am reminded of a comment by Ron Kauk. He said that there are two types of people in the world; those to whom everything is sacred and those to whom nothing is sacred. We are always forced sooner or later to decide where we stand.

1 comment:

sock hands said...

seems these remarks were made in the 'punk rock' glow of mid-mall skate shop where the companies invloved enjoy their fruit of their metamorphosis from parasite to symbiote as money from the poseurs keen on the image enriches the industry after years of famine from the sport's 'core'