Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring is underway

Which means I've been exercising my forearms by pulling weeds in the backyard, not on holds. I've been working on a desperate traverse at CATS that's probably V13/14, linking 3 V10 sections. Hoping for the semester to wrap up soon as well.

On the climbing news front, little of interest since the Honnold free-solo of Moonlight. Kevin Jorgeson soloed the Fly at Rumney but, while impressive, had been done before. Probably a moratorium on news regarding that "route" until it's bouldered ground-up, preferably flashed. A female ascent would be great. Speaking of which, Alex Puccio looked very strong on Trice last weekend. Not too many American women have done confirmed V12 and she is certainly strong enough to take it a lot farther than that.

I went to the Denver Art Museum's Inspiring Impressionism show which is perhaps the best one I have seen there. Probably one of the finest selections of paintings that has been hung in the museum.

Photo Issue of Climbing Review

The new issue of Climbing arrived and of course it proclaims its carbon-neutral status. However should we take into account the decidedly non-carbon-neutral sport it chronicles? The environmental aspects of professional climbing with regard to expeditions, travel, etc., not to mention the entire industry seem ready for a new consideration. How many sponsored climbers are in Spain one week, California the next and off to France after that? "Exotic" destinations (if such things really exist in 2008) seem to be the flavor du jour and frankly are a little strange. An article by Bernd Zangerl, describing 3 weeks spent searching for boulders in Peru, which by the way are at almost 15000 feet, seemed kind of pointless in the end.

For those of us who actually somewhat work for a living, the question of how these climbers can afford to take weeks or months off at a time in an economy where the cost of housing, food, and transportation has been going through the roof constantly raises itself. Economically or environmentally, the nomadic lifestyle in 2008 isn't sustainable except by drawing on a big bank account somewhere.Are "professional climbers" really making that kind of money now?

Lastly a moratorium please on repetitive stories of life in Yosemite. The antics of young men with little money and too much time on their hands wear thin quickly.Tales of Camp 4 life and "dirtbag" lifestyles lived by otherwise unremarkable climbers are an established subgenre of literature that was getting old by 1980. John Long pretty much has staked out that territory.

Lastly, climbing photography has to go somewhere new. Co-opted, literally in the case of the printed magazines, by industry PR, photographers have served up variations on the same theme for about two decades now. Part of the problem is that "shooters" are no longer photographing something real but instead a media image of climbing that has fed on itself for a long time. Thus the likes of Tim Kemple, Corey Rich, Keith Ladzinski, and others of the newer generation recycle the images of Greg Epperson, Heinz Zak, and so on. The finger crack diagonal across the frame, the wide angle, etc. etc. has been seen and done before. Has climbing as a sport been over-photographed at this point?

Anyway the photos in this issue are literally squeezed out by cheesy ad after cheesy ad. Tommy Caldwell as Sergeant Rock for Powerbar is laughable for instance and the juxtaposition of an evocative picture in Wadi Rum and a full-page nutrition supplement ad is kind of sad...

By the way go here for an analysis of Powerbar's Protein Plus.

In closing, a word to John Bachar--enough with the F-Bombs. Just because your heinous soloing exploits (though not nearly as wild as Peter Croft's) take you to the edge, doesn't mean you need to swear like a sailor. Props to Matt Samet for filtering the potty mouth.

18 comments:

Climbing Narcissist said...

I had been thinking of posting similar thoughts but you summed it up much more nicely than I could have. I especially have to agree about the carbon neutral nonsense. Simply publishing a climbing magazine that draws attention to areas can only result in an increasingly negative environmental impact. People in the frontrange should hope that an article is never written on the bouldering at Mt. Evans...

Any thoughts on Joe Kinder being named news "editor" over at MVM??

Chad said...

I don’t see a problem with making incremental steps in reducing our carbon foot print. Yes, each trip chronicled in Climbing is not carbon neutral, but why couldn’t that be the next step?

sock hands said...

bwahahahahaa - narc gots the sour grapes, yo! this was the perfect moonlighting 'job' for the narc. c'est la vie, mon foolvisage

Climbing Narcissist said...

oh sock hands...how well you know me...sort of...i just thought joe kinder of all people is strange choice to edit anything

sock hands said...

it wuz a closest of calls between the josef and myself because my spellings are impeccable and my grammAR is off the chain

Peter Beal said...

Well as long as they're not paying Joe any money it seems OK. A repeat of a 13d by Lauren Lee is not exactly breaking the big story so far.

My favorite part is the "senior" news editor.Is it MVM or CNN?

Yo Sok Hanz, you are off the hook and the chain

Climbing Narcissist said...

might have to retract my previous statements after reading the interesting interview with ethan pringle...although ethan's words are mostly what was interesting.

Peter Beal said...

Chad's point about carbon-neutrality is a good one and I would definitely like to see more eco-friendly initiatives in climbing. I know I got tired of spewing hydrocarbons over the rockies in order to say take at the fifth bolt on 7pm show weekend after weekend

sock hands said...

and this takes me back to the foundation of my political platform: flood boulder and clear creek canyons. bring dws to the masses and do away with the obnoxious crux of roped climbing: clipping! [at least clipping is the crux on the routes i actually have tried... das eazy ones]

sock hands said...

one point: despite the 'recycled' and tired themes presented in climbing photography, i still can't help but get excited about close up bouldering and trad images that show the intensity of a move.

what i was totally over before it even began is the type of artsy shots that attempt to mix media and/or use silouettes way too much. obnoxious to mine eyes.

what i really do like from time to time: sharma in nz shot by boone speed in the uc mag photo issue that just arrived yesterday. very cool to me. also, the portrait-esque shot of that rat rock dood. i think that's fantastic. ben moon's portraits on his website are great as well. though photos of hands are played out, i still found something to like in the closing shot in that ucmag issue... just well done.

one sad fact is that our whole society is based on recycling age-old themes and there's nothing more distasteful than when someone comes forward claiming to be fresh and new when they are simply presenting a half-assed twist of the old.

what's better then? embrace the old. just do a damn fine job of it.

oh, and buildering shots never get more than 1/4 page EVER, and no more than 2 in any given issue. and final addendum: any text of a climber mentioning surfing gets deleted immediately. only photos of the climber ACTUALLY surfing and on good looking waves. photos of climbers w/ caught fish and doing crochet is ok. everyone know surfing is super cool. demonstrate skills or shut up.

Matt Samet said...

Peter, a good review. You raise some thoughts I've had myself. I just read "The World Without Us" and started in on "Six Degrees" -- both doom-and-gloom global- warming and human-impact studies -- and have been thinking about the climber's nomadic lifestyle vs. the reality of what's happening to the planet.

It's a hard balance with an international magazine, because any destination story, unless it covers an area "local" to a given reader, will be a "travel" piece by default. Same with adventure stories from far-flung mountain ranges.

I do have to disagree with Climbing Narc's statement that publishing an article on a given area will have "negative impact," however -- I don't see any difference between the coverage we do vs. that at any of the online climbing sites. Same players, same places, same sport, same gist. Just switching on a computer is far from carbon-neutral, as we all know, whether it's to lay out a magazine page or a web page.

The issue here for all of us is putting thought into how and where we play and, as Chad says, making steps in reducing our carbon footprint. I think Climbing has done a great job, as a business, in doing that. On a personal level, I climb locally (within 15 miles of my home) 95 percent of the time, but I'm also lucky enough to live near some great rocks. Not all climbers have this. There are a lot of nuances to this argument, and it's definitely one that bears further discussion, because on the whole, I do think climbers are a green-leaning user group and have always been open to restructuring our activity to respect the enviroment...much more so than many other (motorized) outdoor user groups.

Matt

Peter Beal said...

Thanks Matt for leaving your comments. I think that running any outdoor-oriented business is a difficult position to maintain, balancing the need to earn a living and with the need to preserve natural values and environments. I also think it's great that the editor of Climbing would visit my blog and leave his opinions on a post that clearly criticizes aspects of the magazine. Again thanks.
Peter

Climbing Narcissist said...

Matt - My only point was that an inherent side effect for any article (print or otherwise) is going to be an increase in interest in an area. It has a positive impact on people being interested in that area which can lead to a negative impact on the area environmentally due to larger crowds, etc. It's the catch 22 any time you head out the door to go climbing.

I agree that Climbing Mag has made strides above and beyond and that is commendable.

sock hands said...

late geriatric florida vote: bootstrapping mattface: though climbers travel, they also tend to be less involved in rampant consumerism... when the energy invested in every article of clothing, gadget, and otherwise is considered, living a dirtbag lifestyle [even if just a weekend-bagger...] is a step towards a lower impact lifestyle. yosemite bums, though the bane of peter's magazine enjoyment, even help minimize food waste otherwise destined for the dumpster.

i've said this a few times, but matt, perhaps you can get that little roth whipper snapper investigating issues regarding full cycle energy savings. chuckles fryberger and i had an interesting conversation about this a few years ago on our way back from the woo...

there was a kid's book published with a name like: "stuff" that discussed hippy things like how many gallons of waste water and lbs of petrochemicals are tied up in every white t-shirt, apple, piece of paper, etc.

maybe an article about how to maintain your gear to promote longevity and how using climbing clothing until complete and utter devastation actually benefits the environment... how being out at a climbing area saves electricity otherwise spent on videogames and television.... how being healthy saves the tons of plastic garbage and the energy to produce it that is generated by the sterile implements and packaging necessary to keep one alive at the hospital due to a quad bypass surgery.

one can pretty much go crazy justifying/"proving" how much the climbing lifestyle can have a full life cycle savings of energy and waste.

i'm sure there are a number of less spurious directions to take it and prana, patagonia, sportiva, and other companies who've tried to take some 'green' steps could be psyched to up the ad ante.

my mind's got the runs, but i'm hopeful that mr. roth can give the idea some direction.

DO EET.

Matt Samet said...

Cool, cool, thanks gentlemen! I like the dialogue -- it gets us all thinking -- and all criticism is good criticism in my book.

See you soon at The Spot, Peter -- I'd love to talk more about impact and global warming and these things, because I think about it a lot, too. I'm starting to wonder what we as climbers can do other than climb locally as much as possible. It seems that gas prices are beginning to force us in that direction regardless -- perhaps a good thing, ultimately. But I know there are other things that, if we put our heads together, we can present as options to climber folk.

Peace,
Matt

sock hands said...

we can purchase gear that does not need to be replaced so often.... LIKE ORGANIC CRASH MATS...

magazine editors can start featuring 10 page articles on the contrivances of morrison and the new river wall and the barrio and the ghetto so that kids will not think they have to go to rmnp to be rad.

offices should be closed for 5 day weekends so we would all have time to bicycle to our bouldering destinations.

black hawk can be moved to golden and boulder canyon and clear creek canyon could be flooded so that no traffic fumes are generated by motorists and so that climbers need not travel to spain for DWS action.

DIA can be moved to vail.

choss can be re-heated and more rapidly cooled to have better stone to avoid the allure of yosemite or LCC or switzerland.

ticks can become extinct and snakes can all be moved to canada so that our local areas would be less crappy in the summer.

climbing could cease to exist so that i could be more efficient at work.

sock hands said...

jeffco could open ralston buttes.

Matt Samet said...

5-day weekends, and open Ralston Butte -- Sockie, I'm in!

Matt