Deconstructing guide books -

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Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Nov 21, 2012 - 01:12pm PT
If someone copies the guidebook info, I see the plagiarism, but if you do an FA and then I go have my own experience on that route, I'm free to write about. I can't distribute your description of your creation, but I'm free to make my own. Just like I can write about a meal you cook in restaurant or book that you wrote.

Yes I agree. To a point.

There is book theory... and then there's the internet. The different is in accountability as well as ease and speed of distribution.

We don't need a million guide book authors. Its a bad thing. If folks who feel the urge to document (myself included, of course), to make lists and publish them... if they would adopt a more stringent set of requirements or raise the bar in terms of their personal involvement with a route... that would be a good thing.

One way to do that is as I suggested - if you didn't do the FA then don't create an online route for that climb. Yes, please include Cathedral Peak in that.

Sure write trip reports, they're not the same thing (or mine aren't, anyway). But does the world need another route description of the SE Face of Cathedral Peak? No, I think the world doesn't need that at all.

If you didn't do the FA don't do the online route entry either. Its not your route and shouldn't be your decision. Its not a rule I want to impose. It is a personal ethic I suggest most climbers should adopt.

DMT
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Trad climber
SLO, Ca
Nov 21, 2012 - 01:19pm PT
The internet will do what it will. There will be no standards.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Nov 21, 2012 - 01:22pm PT
Dingus, I didn't mean to sound like a tosser :) hope it didn't come off that way brother.

I agree also, to your point, that guidebook authors have responsabilities above and beyond pamphlet making. Enviro impact being the big obvious one, but even more so is preserving the style and ethics of the area and keeping wilderness wild.

Peace.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Nov 21, 2012 - 01:26pm PT
The internet will do what it will. There will be no standards.

Yes, exactly right.

Back to the FA... don't tell, don't tell.

DMT
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Nov 21, 2012 - 01:35pm PT
A new guidebook is about to come to press for an area near and dear to my heart. The author is a long time acquaintance of mine, a friend. He authored the previous edition of the area guidebook and I have used that guidebook extensively.

I have a few FAs to my credit in the area and knowledge of many more for which I did not do the FA but perhaps was there when it happened, or I was instrumental in finding the area and potential route, blah blah blah.

Some of my info I shared gladly, in the spirit of all the good things in a climbing community, in an area like ours, with the guidebook author who is very good at what he does and DOES try to do all or most of the routes, etc. There is a 'give back that which I have been given' element to this, outside the normal ego gratification.

But at the same time? Its like pulling teeth to get me to divulge, lol. I really have a hard time doing it - like trying to push a cat into a mud puddle. There are areas I know of vast potential - not gonna talk about those with a guidebook author, sorry. There are other areas we found and then partially climbed out... still don't want to divulge. Go find it yourself, like I did. Its up there, you can see it from the road in fact....

So you can see I'm conflicted by this subject. I LOVE guidebooks and own a few dozen of them. I've willingly divulged FA info to guidebook authors, as well. But I've also withheld and increasingly that is my default position: do not divulge. Then I have to be talked into it. Then I have to actually remember the details.

Some folk will say... "I want it written down before I forget."

Don't do it! FORGET THE DETAILS. The devil herself is in those details.

DMT
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Nov 21, 2012 - 01:44pm PT
A good guide will sandbag you into something that's at a level that you think you couldn't do, and then give you just enough info to actually have a chance of doing it.

Edit: I'm thinking the older versions of "High over Boulder" (handy size of that one always helped).
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Nov 21, 2012 - 02:30pm PT
Rock lasts forever, Dingus, and nothing wrong with only sharing your routes with those near and dear til you've had your fill.

Finders keepers.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Nov 21, 2012 - 02:39pm PT
I personally think there is a pretty strong linkage between the evolution of the use of guidebooks with the various topics brought up on the threads related to how relevant Trad FAs are anymore.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 21, 2012 - 02:40pm PT
Dude sprayed about the FA of Cathedral Peak a few years back...

The body of the Cathedral is nearly square, and the roof slopes are wonderfully regular and symmetrical, the ridge trending northeast and southwest. This direction has apparently been determined by structure joints in the granite. The gable on the northeast end is magnificent in size and simplicity, and at its base there is a big snow-bank protected by the shadow of the building. The front is adorned with many pinnacles and a tall spire of curious workmanship. Here too the joints in the rock are seen to have played an important part in determining their forms and size and general arrangement. The Cathedral is said to be about eleven thousand feet above the sea, but the height of the building itself above the level of the ridge it stands on is about fifteen hundred feet. A mile or so to the westward there is a handsome lake, and the glacier-polished granite about it is shining so brightly it is not easy in some places to trace Front of Cathedral Peak the line between the rock and water, both shining alike.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Nov 21, 2012 - 03:15pm PT
While I understand Dingus' point of view, the on-line, open source data-base approach to reporting routes has a lot of advantages to climbers (and guide-book writers):

Ideally, when describing a route in a guide, you would want to have: (1) climbed it, (2) talked to the FA team, and (3) talked to others who have climbed it. This way, you get a better consensus of the subjective experiences you are trying to convey [difficulty, quality, gear, where the route goes, etc.] to people who will be using the guide.

On-line resources expand the pool of opinions. Sure, there are opinions expressed that deviate significantly from the norm, but you can chose to ignore those -- and in fact that is the role of the person putting the guide together -- to make decisions about what to include or exclude. To an extent, if most people think a route is harder, more difficult to protect, or better approached or descended than I did, it makes me reconsider my opinion. This is a big plus.

[Edited to Add] Limiting posting of a route on-line to the FA party seems to be an unrealistic expansion of the FA prerogative (how much fixed gear, name, etc.) I don't see the logic for distinguishing the posting a route on-line from reporting a route in a print copy of a guide. And, why would these be subject to different rules?

Like it or not, most climbers today who buy guidebooks desire more information than what guidebooks traditionally provided. Also, it is important to remember your target audience -- climbers who are more often than not unfamiliar with the area, route, approach, descent, etc.

Balancing the desire to provide this information, while leaving the climber to experience the climb with some level of adventure isn't easy and is in need of constant re-examination.
Nate D

climber
San Francisco
Nov 21, 2012 - 03:21pm PT
I have a few FAs to my credit in the area and knowledge of many more for which I did not do the FA but perhaps was there when it happened, or I was instrumental in finding the area and potential route, blah blah blah.

Some of my info I shared gladly, in the spirit of all the good things in a climbing community, in an area like ours, with the guidebook author who is very good at what he does and DOES try to do all or most of the routes, etc. There is a 'give back that which I have been given' element to this, outside the normal ego gratification.

But at the same time? Its like pulling teeth to get me to divulge, lol. I really have a hard time doing it - like trying to push a cat into a mud puddle. There are areas I know of vast potential - not gonna talk about those with a guidebook author, sorry. There are other areas we found and then partially climbed out... still don't want to divulge. Go find it yourself, like I did. Its up there, you can see it from the road in fact....

So you can see I'm conflicted by this subject. I LOVE guidebooks and own a few dozen of them. I've willingly divulged FA info to guidebook authors, as well. But I've also withheld and increasingly that is my default position: do not divulge. Then I have to be talked into it. Then I have to actually remember the details.

Some folk will say... "I want it written down before I forget."

Don't do it! FORGET THE DETAILS. The devil herself is in those details.

DMT

Ditto on this. Echoes my experience and much of how I feel... except the part about the details. I simply cannot forget so easily.

Sure, share some, but leave some unpublished and off the radar to preserve the adventure for others. Exploring beyond the pages of a guide is great fun, even if frustrating at times. And even if you come across evidence of others having climbed there instead of pure virgin terrain, it's still quite rewarding.

Maybe this has strayed a bit from the OP, but still relevant perhaps.

Any opinions out there about fully produced guidebooks that are only available word of mouth, essentially underground rather than distributed widely? Made available only to the truly interested and inquisitive? Does this achieve a balance between the desire to document for history and to preserve a quiet and more adventurous experience?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Nov 21, 2012 - 03:24pm PT
Like it or not, most climbers today who buy guidebooks desire more information than what guidebooks traditionally provided.

A most excellent reason for not providing it if ever I heard one. I mean, doesn't the fact that the oxymoron 'adventure climbing' exists at all in and of itself mean that 'adventureless climbing' now exists to a greater or lesser degree and you have to ask yourself what role guidebooks have and do play in that.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Nov 21, 2012 - 03:32pm PT
Like it or not, most climbers today who buy guidebooks desire more information than what guidebooks traditionally provided.

A most excellent reason for not providing it if ever I heard one. I mean, doesn't the fact that the oxymoron 'adventure climbing' exists at all in and of itself mean that 'adventureless climbing' now exists to a greater or lesser degree and you have to ask yourself what role guidebooks have and do play in that.

This is really an argument for not having a guide book at all. At what point do you eschew any beta (e.g., refuse to talk to others that have done the route)? Any guidebook reduces adventure, the question is one of balance.

Obviously, for a popular cragging area like Yosemite, Tuolumne, Josh, Red Rocks, etc, what is a realistic approach?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Nov 21, 2012 - 03:33pm PT
I agree healyje its yet another flavor of the same trends you talk about.

Tragedy of the Commons. The internet is built on the notion of trampling the grass... ALL of the grass, everywhere, all the time.

My generation will not wrap its arms around the Information Age. It will fall to subsequent generations, them that grew up with it, to fix all the havoc we visited upon them.

Don't tell!

DMT
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 21, 2012 - 03:39pm PT
When will google climb appear? Real time downloadable streaming information on whatever route you're doing. In other words, paint by numbers climbing.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Nov 21, 2012 - 03:40pm PT
Too funny. But, none-the-less a denialistic approach that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Don't 'deny.' Don't denigrate, don't make it a black or white situation, that is SO politard and so unrealistic. Lets not make a win/loss equation.

Rather, encourage and explain why withholding data should be considered, individually. That's what I'm trying to do in my small way...

DMT

healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Nov 21, 2012 - 03:46pm PT
When will google climb appear? Real time downloadable streaming information on whatever route you're doing. In other words, paint by numbers climbing.

'Google climb - Google Earth Edition Pro' in combination with xRez 3D mapping technology and 'Google Eyes' eliminates the need for route finding on climbs and descents. Add the nightvision option for $99 more and late start problems become a thing of the past!



[ Note: This climbing navigation system will also drive advances in fabric photo-voltaic charging systems sprayed on the backs of shirts and jackets after Werner reports numerous rescues and deaths due to failure to charge the glasses and forgetting the spare batteries. ]
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Nov 22, 2012 - 03:28pm PT
The "deconstruction" of guidebooks suggested by the original post has taken an interesting turn and raises the age-old -- and often conflated -- questions of:

Whether guide books contribute or detract.

And inexorably, whether they should exist at all (and if so, under what circumstances, to what type of climbing areas, and how much information should be conveyed).

When climbing was a fringe activity, practiced by few, or where a climbing area was/is visited by few who generally know each other, information is easily is transmitted informally. The need for a guidebook is questionable.

As the population of climbers increases and climbers become more mobile, there is an increasing demand for information that can not be easily transmitted or shared via traditional word of mouth. Historically, most written guidebooks came into existence in response to such demands and changing demographics.

Resistance to guidebooks has always existed. This resistance is perhaps most prevalent and adamant at the transition from the no-guide to first guide. In such circumstances, locals often ask themselves whether a guide will do more harm than good, particularly when an climbing area has already attained a certain level of popularity/notoriety.

Will a guide help ameliorate impacts and undesirable behavior? Will it unacceptably increase visitation such that resource and other impacts will become unacceptable? Will access issues arise through increasing popularity?

In today's climbing environment, a large percentage of people are now introduced to climbing through a indoor climbing gym. The first outdoor experience is probably at a bolted sport crag or bouldering area. This stands in sharp contrast to the "traditional" introduction of prior generations -- one where climbing was a part (or extension) of an outdoor experience.

The barriers to becoming a climber where significantly higher in the past and the typical profile of yesterday's climber and today's stand in sharp contrast. This has resulted in a continuing shift in the expectations of climbers in what they their experience should be -- as well as the amount of information that should be at their disposal. As the term "Self Reliance" has migrated so has the interpretation of "Rock Climbing" experience.

Guidebooks today reflect this shift. Guidebooks also are beginning to reflect (and incorporate) the intertwining of technology and social media into almost every aspect of people's lives. Change may be inevitable, but it can -- at least in small arenas such as climbing -- be approached intelligently.






mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 23, 2012 - 01:11am PT
"doesn't the fact that the oxymoron 'adventure climbing' exists at all in and of itself mean that 'adventureless climbing' now exists to a greater or lesser degree...?"

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305748804000684
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 23, 2012 - 02:19pm PT
When Chris Fracchia and I were making up those route cards for Millbrook, we were very sensitive to preserving the adventure-climbing environment that Millbrook represents. We showed where the routes went with lines drawn on photos, and we gave a grade, and that was it.

What we didn't put in was protection ratings, location of belays, fixed gear positions (there almost no fixed gear at Millbrook and none on the climbs we documented, but if there was any we wouldn't have mentioned it), rack recommendations and comments about the need for specialized gear, or any kind of verbal description of how to climb or protect sections of the route or how to recognize belays or traverses or other features of the climb.

It was understood that the cards documented exceptional climbs, but other than that we showed, on a photograph, how to find the route and where it went, and left everything else up to the climber.

We worried that these routes would be progressively degraded by Mountain Project posts supplying ever more detailed beta, but realized there was nothing we could do about it (other than not revealing any information), and we trusted that the climbers attracted to the Millbrook experience would not, in general, be likely to undermine the essential aspects of that experience.

I think many guidebook authors are loving their areas to death. I understand the inclination to improve on previous work, to be precise, and to give directions that a clear and unambiguous. I certainly enjoy getting highly detailed information about routes. It makes the whole experience much easier, reduces anxiety, diminishes failures and retreats and, say, the need to come back with the right gear. I get the motivations for the guidebook writer and the appeal for the climber. But the price we pay is the overcrowding of climbs, a degradation of the climbs themselves to mere performance objectives, and, a growing cadre of climbers that thinks climbing is nothing but performance objectives.

I think what we'll end up with is the sacrifice of some areas to mass-consumption climbing, ultimately as the best way to preserve other areas for those who are looking for a different type of experience. By and large, the ones looking for that different type of experience are the ones discovering new areas and doing new routes, so it is up to them, I think, to keep the game going by restricting, if not entirely eliminating, the flow of information about their exploits.
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