I was thinking a bit about community yesterday as I was hauling rocks around Flagstaff Mountain to help with a trail building/rehab project. This was much-needed work for one of the most heavily climbed on areas of the mountain, meaning de facto one of the busiest bouldering areas in the country. It was a nice sunny Saturday, a little hot for the kind of manual labor being undertaken, but overall not too bad. But as I looked around the crew of volunteers, I noticed that, well, I didn't see too many people I knew. That is, if any of Boulder's many serious boulderers or climbers were helping out, they were being pretty stealthy about it, or maybe what is more likely, they were heading up to snag a prime day in the alpine instead of giving back in a tangible way to the climbing community. Here's a look at what they should have been doing.
Flagstaff Trail Day September 8 2012 from peter beal on Vimeo.
This got me thinking about a few things I saw last week. One is the excellent short film by Andrew Kornylak called the Tribe
The Tribe from Andrew Kornylak on Vimeo.
Made in support of the famous Triple Crown Bouldering Series on its 10th anniversary, the film celebrates climbing in the South and conveys a sense of awareness of the greater community of climbers and their environment. Upon a little reflection, I could not think of a similar film having been made about Boulder, even though it claims the title "Center of the Climbing Universe."
Then I thought about a recent item posted by Gustavo Moser titled "the climbing industry is growing, let’s understand what that means." Moser says that while many applaud the mainstreaming of climbing, few are willing to step up and take responsibility for the resulting impacts and that this needs to change, especially at the industry level. This is something I agree with completely.
But I want to argue that change also begins within each individual. We each make a choice on how to spend our time and our resources. And up to a point that's fine. But at some point we have to come together to recognize that a shared responsibility exists to physically maintain and protect the environments in which we live and climb.
In my view, what is needed at places like Flagstaff (and many other locales) is a serious continuous long-term investment in stabilizing and rehabilitating the physical environment to reflect the reality of human impact. This kind of investment of time and material and labor is not feasible on an individual level. It takes resources and commitments that only a community can make, commitments that are ongoing and substantial. It takes hard work, lots of planning and occasionally sacrificing a prime weekend day to help out at an area you don't even climb at. I haven't climbed at Flagstaff in many months myself.
What I would love to see, as the crowds converge on the Trash Bash on Wednesday, and then just down the road for the Reel Rock Festival on Thursday and Friday, is some serious publicity at both events for the Flagstaff Trail Days work and a big uptick in climber participation in the next two sessions on the 22nd of September and the 6th of October. It's good for the environment, it's a good hard physical workout, and it's great for creating a sense of a genuine climbing community here in Boulder.