What separates the best Trip Reports from the rest?


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Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 9, 2013 - 10:18am PT
What is it?
Enthusiasm? Vocabulary? Content? Photos? Location? What's the most important ingredient and what doesn't matter?
patrick compton

Trad climber
Jul 9, 2013 - 10:26am PT
Chicks and beer.

Jul 9, 2013 - 10:26am PT
Your everyday run-of-the-mill holdless proless flares smeared with Crisco and the thin blood of sport climbers.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Jul 9, 2013 - 10:37am PT
I want to be involved in the report, I want it to draw me in. I want to hear about people having fun, enjoying being with their partner and enjoying their life event. Good photos, too, I want to see good photos.
Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Menlo Park
Jul 9, 2013 - 10:46am PT
For me , without a doubt it is photos.

And maybe it is just our instant gratification culture , but I cant stand long winded reports , where every detail is relayed and expounded upon .

Shakespeare had it right 500 years ago . " Brevity is the soul of wit " .

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Jul 9, 2013 - 10:53am PT
I prefer if folks take time to actually WRITE something. Don't need or even want it to be a book. But a little more than 3 words per picture would be nice.. and more than a couple pics is good too. I like hearing about the less than perfect trips, the ones where things didnt go perfectly.. or at least hearing about something during the trip that was unexpected or a difficulty. Something challenging to the OP and something learned from makes for a better story to me. A bit of humor and something cool about your partner(s). Let your emotions of the trip show.. the good the bad ..convey that emotion.

The TR could be about driving to the store but if presented well and somehow tied in to climbing I'm probably going to enjoy it.

DMT for example does such a good job sharing simple outings with friends or family to obscure places. Good pictures and sparse but pointed writing.

Mark Hudon's take it to another level. Better than most articles in magazines. Desirable top level wall routes, Fantastic Photo's , great writing. He puts massive effort into his TRs.

Pellucid Wombat. Wow that guy should be writing guidebooks. Can be funny but his strong point is information about the route. In pro level pictures and diagrams.

Jim Henson's Basement
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:00am PT
People are like ravens.. they like shiny distracting things but their attention span is brief.

I've had several top-rated TR's so what I usually shoot for is:


*Some Humor

*Edit the sh#t out of it to get the text as brief as possible but still get the highlights across. I usually write the full TR with full details. Then edit try to cut out at least half of the text.

*Catchy titles help. Titles like: "My Winter Ascent of the NW Direct SE Face of the North Face of Half Dome" Don't exactly send me clicking for a read. Titles like that usually = a 50 page dissertation on every ponderous move of every day of a trip.

Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:05am PT
The best trip report is about an epic, near death experience, including deep soul searching questions about life and death.

A long way from where I started
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:07am PT
Something different.

A move-by-move description, even if it is of a hard climb, doesn't do much for me. How many of those can you read before they all start sounding the same, and all you want to do is scan the pictures?

But throw in something new, something different, and you're at least headed in the right direction. One of my favorites was Micronut's report on his visit to Nepal, where he did very little climbing, but traveled from village to village volunteering his dental skills. Great pictures, great story -- who cares if it wasn't full of gravelly, flared offwidths and overhanging fingerlocks?

Trad climber
4 Corners Area
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:10am PT
*Edit the sh#t out of it to get the text as brief as possible but still get the highlights across.


That being said, it is nice to know that people are reading your words as well as looking at your pics. But, I do try to keep the text brief and to the point, something I had drilled into me by several professors. I think most professional writers would agree.

It is awesome when people leave comments. I was amazed to see the number of views vs. the number of comments on TRs. It is like 40 - 50 to 1 or more.

+1 for humor, too.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:27am PT
Just post it up!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:47am PT
IMO the best trip reports are about the people involved. Climbing isn't ancillary. But it doesn't always have to be the focal point.

John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:48am PT
There has to be a story behind the words, not just a bunch of pictures and pitch by pitch details.

Favorite TR to date would probably be Mark's Iron Hawk TR. That should be published in Alpinist mag for sure!

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:50am PT
Yep, good photos and some self efacing honesty goes a long ways. Humor happens, when it's real it's great, when it is forced, it can be tedious.

Jim Henson's Basement
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:50am PT
The best trip report is about an epic, near death experience, including deep soul searching questions about life and death.

I'll give a +1 on this as well. ^ I write sit-coms.. not the dramas, but there are definitely some tales that are just too gripping to stop reading.

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:51am PT
Humility first. . . then humor.

Big Mike

Trad climber
Jul 9, 2013 - 01:33pm PT
Wwjd; What would Jim (Donini) do? ;)

It's all about the story, that's what i've learned with my recent Alpinist effort. Draw the reader in, by describing your motivations and surroundings clearly. Pitch by pitch details can get long winded really quick.

Great pics really help too!

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Jul 9, 2013 - 02:17pm PT
Honest stories - funny or epic - from mortals. The partnership between people and the places is important. I loved the cables route TR with the autistic kid.

I will also obsessively read TRs about routes I am planning to do. Beta buried in there - places where I might get lost, pro tips, approach and descent notes are all gold when I am planning a route that is big for me. I'm currently enjoying several TR about a long alpine climb and hearing of the unexpected bivvies.

The second it sounds like a hot flash for a climbing magazine with big numbers, big names, and big egos - I'm outta there. Can't learn, relate or enjoy those tales.

Tell me a story. Give me some golden nugget.

Jul 9, 2013 - 04:57pm PT
Obviously the ones with the most comments are the best! Duh! I'm gonna write one right now!

The Granite State.
Jul 9, 2013 - 04:58pm PT
Content, humility, and music.
Big Mike

Trad climber
Jul 9, 2013 - 05:05pm PT
Obviously the ones with the most comments are the best! Duh!

Or the most controversial.... ;) lol

I'm gonna write one right now!

I've been hoping you would write up your most recent roadtrip!

San Jose, CA
Jul 9, 2013 - 05:33pm PT
For me, most important is what route was reported. My favorite TR are about the routes I inspired to climb after reading them.

Social climber
Jul 9, 2013 - 08:55pm PT
Don't give away the end at the beginning. Keep a hook.

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Jul 9, 2013 - 08:57pm PT
gonna say it: some of the best TR's were written by Jeremy.

Trad climber
Melbourne, Victoria
Jul 9, 2013 - 09:29pm PT
Just try to write it like Micronut or Burch3y* and you can't go too far wrong. Funny, clever, inspiring, and irreverent.

[*although his last one was a bit off the mark - didn't even make the most of the comedic potential of having a French climber partner]
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Jul 9, 2013 - 10:01pm PT
1. Epic climbing
2. Good photos
3. Succinct writing
4. Passion

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Jul 9, 2013 - 10:23pm PT
When I'm writing one, I usually try to think about WWJD? Then I get distracted by a cat and forget what I'm doing.

Usually, when I'm finished, I read it to see if I like it. If it looks good, I completely rewrite it in an opposite style.


Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
Jul 9, 2013 - 11:14pm PT
There are many TR's that serve all kinds of purposes. Most TR's are not designed to be the best. A trip is a trip, a report is a report.

The ones I enjoy most draw you in. Sometimes all it takes are epic photos, sometimes the lyricism of the author, sometimes it is the genuine details of the experience that inspired the person to write. When you get all three of those together they sing.

beneath the valley of ultravegans
Jul 10, 2013 - 12:22pm PT
Good ones break down something like this...

Tribal rites. Not the route, but the kind of stories that connect multiple generations to intense experiences. 'My Visit to the Canoe' and just about anything that Herson guy does qualify.

Pushing the Fun Meter into the Red: [url="http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/739225/Waterskiing-Tenaya-Lake-1978http://"]Waterskiing Lake Tenaya[/url]. End of story.

Ho Man yarns never let the truth get in the way of a good story but also take the piss out of the adventure writing trope. I've heard that Leo Houlding can do an hour-long slide show with just five slides, so maybe you have to be British to do it.

For my limited attention span and reliable wi-fi nothing gets me as psyched as ThingsToLucAt. Massive nature and audacity to spare.
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