Sunday, August 10, 2008

Colorado Bouldering Guidebook Fiasco

The Falcon book is out and apparently it's worse than I imagined. Go to B3bouldering for more specifics. I hope that every guidebook publisher can learn something from this fiasco. Both the author and the publisher should retract the book and seriously reconsider the project. I personally can't recall a more spectacular failure in the history of climbing guidebooks.

It will be interesting to see if any of the magazines decide to pick up the story. The angle as I see it is that we are increasingly in a post-guidebook era where new areas and even word-class testpieces are in a kind of fluid state of documentation that is ever evolving and changing over time. Falcon was trusting in an older model of recording climbs that depended on a single expert setting down an agreed upon body of problems. The new model is one where users of the "book" rewrite it as it is being written and a tentative consensus emerges within a self-created community. Hence the importance of online guides such as Mountain Project and the new generation of blog guides, as exemplified by Chip's Flagstaff guide. Eventually with new bandwidth capacities, video guides will be common for many routes and areas. This has already happened at Fontainebleau, where a single book could never encapsulate 15, 000 problems.

The move is more and more to "lifestyle" guides that emphasize beautiful visuals which climbers will buy not as references per se but as accessories that enhance the sense of pleasure they get from visiting an area. This is a very significant change that both Wolverine and Sharp End have moved forward on. Falcon, which I do not sense is run by climbers, is way behind the curve on this trend.


Jamie Emerson said...

thanks peter, oh by the way, the problem you have listed as "The right graham arete" is actually called the BH arete (I assume that stands for Bob Horan) according to the new guide book

sock hands said...

nope, just a typo, jamie. it is really "SH arete". maybe you didn't get the memo?

Peter Beal said...

Jamie is it rated V5? I may have to fix a lot of things now...

SH Arete does have a certain ring to it.

Seriously, thanks Jamie for exposing this ridiculous situation. The responses Falcon sent out were condescending and snide. An excerpt posted by Chip Phillips at his blog:
"If I might ask, given your concerns for this area, have you decided not to climb there any longer yourself? Wouldn’t your presence there, even if only in a small way, have some amount of impact on the area as well? I wonder how you might justify your time spent climbing in this area, but not someone else’s."

This publisher's credibility and sadly Bob's as well is practically zero.