Do Americans have an Interest in their Climbing History?

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Avery

climber
NZ
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 12, 2015 - 01:03am PT
Do Americans have an Interest in their Climbing History?

As a Kiwi, cataloging some of the more colorful mountain routes in the US, I sometimes wonder whether I'm just wasting my time: there appears to be so little real interest.
The threads I put together are not done for my own private amusement. I always hope to engage people with something interesting and maybe spark a bit of debate (or spirited discussion). Alas, looking back, I've only been partially successful.

What are your views? Is there too much climbing history on supertopo (or not enough)? What do people like myself need to do to engage the reader?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Aug 12, 2015 - 01:41am PT
You're doing an excellent job.
It's hard to measure the interest level, because as far as I can see, supertopo does not display a "page views" counter on Forum threads.
It just counts the number of followup posts.
(For Trip Reports, the "views" number can be found on the index page)
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/forum_trip_reports.php

It might be worth asking if there are other formations / routes that people would like to see more detailed history for. Or maybe it's the photos more than the climbing history that are of interest?
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Aug 12, 2015 - 02:40am PT
Keep it up Avery. Personally, I have more interest in rock climbing history, since that has been my focus throughout my life, but I like it all.

I have very much enjoyed all the alpine threads you have put together, even though I haven't posted to all of them. I understand your frustration with threads you have worked on falling off the front page.
Avery

climber
NZ
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 12, 2015 - 03:33am PT
Thanks Survival.
It's not so much falling off the front page that frustrates me. That's inevitable at some stage. Besides, if you fall into that trap you find yourself posting all sorts of meaningless nonsense, just to stay there. (I'm sorry to say I was guilty of that myself in my early ST days).
There's a lot of work involved in these threads, and I do enjoy putting them together. The bottom line for me, however, is interest and feedback. Without that, these threads are nothing more than dry historical documents.
Avery

climber
NZ
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 12, 2015 - 03:48am PT
I agree with you Clint.

I think a photo is worth a thousand words, particularly when climbing is involved. I've personally contacted (literally) dozens of people for climbing pics. They've all been very enthusiastic about contributing, but when push comes to shove the vast majority have evaporated. I'm not blaming anyone in particular. The simple fact is, people are too busy living their lives to worry about minor concerns such as climbing threads. Having said that, It would save me a lot of time if people were up front about their real intentions from the beginning. I understand how the world makes unexpected claims on our time.

Many thanks to the people who have contributed.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
Aug 12, 2015 - 06:44am PT
History threads are great. But, you aren't going to get all the froth and lather that are the mainstay of the political, religious and personal attack threads.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Aug 12, 2015 - 06:47am PT
I have climbed thru the last 50 years of American climbing history and have, as such, gained an appreciation for some of the amazing accomplishments over the last half century.

When I first started climbing in the sixties I devoured books written by Gervasutti,, Bonnatti, Terray and Buhl. I was enthralled by the adventures of these larger than life climbers.

As my climbing progressed I became more involved in doing it than reading about it. I now rarely read about climbing unless it is an article about an area I'm interested in visiting.

I am always amused about the nostalgia I see on Supertopo for old gear. I don't have any climbing gear that isn't the latest, state of the art, equipment. To me gear is a means to an end and nothing more.

I personally think that if you really live climbing you become, to some extent, infused with it's history. Sometimes, as climbers age, they become more interested in the past then in the present. I hope that never happens to me,

mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Aug 12, 2015 - 07:10am PT
Good and well-presented points, Jim. You are nearly unique in that you have lived the history in that span of time, yet rarely stop to crow about your successes or be bitter over the fails.

For the average climber, needing to raise a family, to start a career, or to go into business, life calls him to those different paths, and he must content himself with the state of the art as it is revealed in magazines and on the net, practically stealing time from his pursuit of success to go relax during a casual weekend filled with camaradarie and moderates. I imagine the older one gets the less time one must spend on getting ahead or at least even, but the time for doing major ascents is nearly past.

One learns to "settle for less."

That means reading reports/threads like Avery's or Marlow's, too, on historic routes and historical figures involved in these ascents and others. It's not like they want to get into a discussion, just read the story and go on to another, then go put the kids to bed or go sit figuring out bills.

Avery, people DO read these and it would be interesting to know the exact numbers, but good luck with that! You and Marlow, both you guys are doing a service and a thank you is in order.

People just have so much time to recreate, be it for reading or actually climbing. It's no wonder they don't even bother to say thanks, I liked reading that. They haven't the time and don't expect you care, either, I suspect.

Cheers and keep it up. And thanks.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Aug 12, 2015 - 07:20am PT
The history is the best part of this forum. Keep it up.
Is it just my impression but do the youngsters these days care less about history than we did when young?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Aug 12, 2015 - 07:26am PT
Another thought Avery. Your threads are in the same category as TR's......they are much more appreciated than the number of responses would indicate. Look at a typical TR and the number of views vs. posts......usually ten times more views.

Political and religious threads stay on the first page because a few posters with closely held and wildly divergent views argue back and forth ad nauseum.

I've always said that viewers who enjoy a climbing content thread should post a little thank you even if they don't have more to contribute.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Aug 12, 2015 - 07:28am PT
When I first started climbing in the sixties I devoured books written be Gervasutti, Bonnatti, Terray and Buhl. I was enthralled by the adventures of these larger than life climbers.

As my climbing progressed I became more involved in doing it than reading about it. I now rarely read about climbing unless it is an article about an area I'm interested in visiting.

I am always amused about the nostalgia I see on Supertopo for old gear. I don't have any climbing gear that isn't the latest, state of the art, equipment. To me gear is a means to an end and nothing more.

I personally think that if you really live climbing you become, to some extent, infused with it's history. Sometimes, as climbers age, they become more interested in the past then in the present. I hope that never happens to me,

For me, the reverse. Started climbing int he 70s, and me and my friends only cared about the here and now, the moves, the excitement, the thrill of it all. History? Old guys? They were slow and in the way. It was our turn. Could not give a damn.

It took many years for me to slow down a bit, to look around and appreciate something of where climbing came from, where it's going, to want to understand the motivations of others.

I can't climb as well as I used to but my wider appreciation of climbing history, of the context for why we find ourselves clambering awkwardly up yet another stupid cliff, makes up for that.

Have at it Avery. Supertopo is far from ideal as a repository for climbing history, many supertopo posters appear not to care at all, but the threads you start will likely be around long after we are all gone, for others to enjoy, when it's their time and they come looking.

Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Aug 12, 2015 - 07:32am PT
I dig both the Avery and Donini perspectives.
One still climbs and remembers and one doesn't climb but still remembers.
I'm glad you both post-thanks and keep it up.

Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Aug 12, 2015 - 08:12am PT
Climbing history is good, excellent stories of climbing or other adventure are even better...

... often history defaults to the best and most durable stories...
Roots

Mountain climber
Tustin, CA
Aug 12, 2015 - 08:18am PT
Nope, climbing history sucks. No interest here! Now if you could only post a political history lesson. That's money...

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 12, 2015 - 08:38am PT
you may also be suffering from a misperception that no one is reading your threads, a perception based on the number of responses you receive...

If you look at the Trip Reports from that tab you'll see the number of "views" far exceed the number of messages posted to the TR thread.

It might be nice to know how many "views" other threads garner... but if that matters to you (in terms of deciding whether or not to continue to produce in the manner of the great threads you have authored) you might post your "histories" in the Trip Report section of SuperTopo. There is a precedence in doing so, since you are usually discussing particular routes or areas (though they might better appear in the "route beta" tab area, that is not currently setup like the TR area. Not only that, your ability to get fresh material from the teams definitely constitute a belated TR.

One other possibility has to do with Chris McNamera "promoting" some Forum threads to the "Articles" section of SuperTopo, which currently has only a select authorship (Chris being prominent).



as for history, it is usually more an interest to older people. There is only so much time in the day, and how one decides to spend that time involves a process of prioritizing competing opportunities. If you could go out and "make history" why wouldn't you choose that over writing/reading history? As you get old, you might "make history" by just showing up and being the oldest to do this or that... but this reflects the ability to survive in reasonable enough physical shape... not some actual climbing talent.

There are exceptions, but as Donini taught me, of the three factors involved: heredity, luck and life-style, you only control one.



The short answer to your OP title question is: no.

For the most part, American's possess the attribute of forgetting the past. Part of it has to do with the nature of America's creation, representing a new beginning and leaving the "old world" behind, along with all it's history. Many of the good things about America have to do, precisely, with forgetting about the past.

As a culture we value the new, it's not that we don't like the old, we just have no memory of it... this allows us to catapult enthusiastically into affairs without the slightest notion that others have done it before, and with no preconception of the impossibility.

While there are often spectacular successes in this approach, there are equally spectacular failures.



Finally, I apologize for not participating and contributing more to your threads... I am the victim (and it is a lifelong affliction) of trying to do way too much and not getting even a fraction of it done. Sitting next to me on the floor is the box of Mountain magazines that has a Bridwell article apropos of one of your thread topics, waiting to be scanned and posted.

Climbing intervened, along with other climbing projects, and all that other stuff too...

Bushman

Social climber
Elk Grove, California
Aug 12, 2015 - 08:41am PT
Climbing history should be is as important to climbers as world history should be to humans.

I remember Tobin talking one time about lines on a mountain or face, of their beauty and how they almost begged to be climbed. Of the handful of short routes I have put up in my life, the line and the route beckoned to me to climb it. There is no other explanation other than that climbing them was the only true way I could have experienced them. Much goes the same for all the routes I have climbed in general. Of course the fear factor was greater on longer and more difficult routes but the motivation was the same, to experience the beauty of the line and the route.

Knowledge of our history gives us perspective beyond our own experiences and abilities. It also gives us an appreciation for our place and the place of other climbers within the sport.

I deeply appreciate reading, Avery, your threads on great climbs, the alpine routes, and their climbing history.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Aug 12, 2015 - 09:19am PT
Years from now, this will be a vital document in the history of gear. For posterity:

[Click to View YouTube Video]
Branscomb

Trad climber
Lander, WY
Aug 12, 2015 - 09:22am PT
I think when many people begin climbing, they really aren't too interested in the history aspect. But natural curiosity may prompt most climbers to delve into the past and once you start, it's really interesting to understand how this funny occupation has evolved, not only equipment-wise, but, more interestingly, how the people in each generation of climbers pushed the mental and physical limits to the present state.

I think most climbers, if they stick with it for a while, do get into the history. Even Americans, with our infamous inability to remember anything beyond the last sound-bite.

Don't be discouraged. It's a worthwhile endeavor and adds greatly to the richness of this strange and funny thing we do!
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Aug 12, 2015 - 09:25am PT
I am one of those climbers that started out in a gym but mountains are in my DNA and I gravitated towards understanding the origins of our sport pretty soon into it. I think there are many who share that gene I got.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Aug 12, 2015 - 09:56am PT

Donini is a wise man...

Though I remember stories about a certain Patagonian route, Maestri and a couple of excitable young guys...

So interest in history?

Is history just... history... the past?
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