As a companion to a new essay (with accompanying paintings) that has just been published in Alpinist 32, an online feature I wrote titled "Climbing and Art" was added. In the online essay, I argue that it is time for a new vision of climbing:
"In other words, the outer frontier in any objective sense is now closed in climbing. It's my view that only within inner frontiers does the art of climbing have any future. We have yet to see very many contemporary portrayals of the inner vision of the climber that compare with examples from the 1960s and '70s."
In the essay I argue that a long time ago, writers in major journals took these questions seriously with a view toward maintaining some vision of integrity in the sport. I cite Harold Drasdo's important 1974 essay, "Climbing as Art" as one important example.
I am definitely concerned that with the newly emerged category of the "professional" climber and the emphasis on exploiting the commercial potential of the sport, important and creative voices are being buried. Especially worrying is the thought that climbing continues to be a reflection of a leisure class with seemingly endless amounts of time and money to burn, a class that is overwhelmingly white, prosperous, and self-satisfied with its view of the world. While I recognize that this has always been the case, any real innovation in the sport, and of course in society as a whole, comes from those outside the system. Trends in the society as a whole, not to mention the Great Recession, are working against diversity of voices and views, a situation that is unhealthy for both climbing and the broader social picture.