Pulishing guide books to such "adventure climbing areas" as Black Canyon, Zion.


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Gym climber
Roca Rojo
Sep 2, 2010 - 10:28pm PT
I am still here. I love adventure more than ever.

There are no stopping the bolts, topos, or Palin.


Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Sep 2, 2010 - 11:19pm PT
I'd note that Chris's claims about unclimbed routes in and out of the guidebook may be true for the West, especially if you count the vast canyonlands, but it isn't even remotely close to describing the situation in, say, the Northeast.

I heartily agree with the idea that guidebooks are good and obscurities are good too. But the human need to broadcast achievements is way too strong to keep many areas in the adventure category, unless access is extremely difficult.

Adventure means, I think, that many things are unknown. Where to go, what to bring, how hard it will be, and perhaps how to get there and how to get down. Guidebooks provide information that makes climbs easier, and those easier climbs attract people who wouldn't be there if the information wasn't available. I consider these obvious facts; I am not trying to make pejorative statements about whether this is or is not desirable.

People who say "just don't read the guidebook" seem to think that "unknown" and "ignorant of" are synonymous. Putting on an artificial pair of blinders, denying yourself information everyone else knows, may occasionally be an exercise in bad-assery, but it is very far from the spirit and reality of confronting genuinely unknown challenges. It seems kinda stupid to purposely reject widely available knowledge that might critically affect the outcome of your enterprise.

Again, I'm not necessarily arguing that adventure is good or bad, but I am saying that those who say you can artificially create adventure once the real thing has been lost do not, I think, understand the idea in the first place.

Moreover, as the "less-adventurous" population increases, so does the pressure for more and more of the information they were raised on. As the internet, mobile devices, and global positioning technology provide more and more ways to acquire and share data, we can anticipate that ever more detailed collections of climbing beta will become available, making the old-fashioned topo look positively obscure. All this data expands the comfort zones of climbers and, for better or worse, brings more of them to the places that have been extensively documented.

In view of the inevitability of these trends, I think it makes sense, at least in the populated and overcrowded regions, for climbers to try to preserve at least some tiny backwaters where information is less available and less detailed. This means that future generations will have opportunities to experience the full spectrum of climbing types---rather than a much narrower and more uniform experience---without having to mount an expedition to faraway lands.

I also think that it is past time for guidebook writers to consider restraining themselves, rather than engaging in an endless pursuit of ever more fine-grained data. A minimal account, rather than a maximal one, will be good for climbing and for climbers.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 4, 2010 - 06:48am PT
That was a remarkable post even without using the term "bad-assery".
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Sep 4, 2010 - 07:52pm PT
If you close the door
the night could last forever
Leave the sunshine out
and say hello to never
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 4, 2010 - 09:24pm PT
If you show,
How the trick is done.
They will know,
And the magic's gone.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Sep 4, 2010 - 10:35pm PT
I wouldn't pretend to know what AW's verses have to do with the issue at hand, other than a vague sense that maybe it's not nice not to share the details of a climb.

Which actually brings up a very contentious point: in the spirit of devil's advocacy, what exactly is so terrible about not documenting climbs?

If a few people find an area and climb in it, what principle obligates them to publish what they have done? If they fail to do this, they are accused of harboring a "secret area." But why exactly is the rest of the world somehow entitled to know about this place? It isn't as if the frequenters had somehow cast a spell that made the region invisible. If they found it, others could find it too.

If you do a bunch of climbs somewhere and don't report them, you will have to live with the fact that someone else may (or more likely will) find your little paradise, repeat your climbs (perhaps in worse style), and claim the first ascents. If it is important to you to prevent this tragedy, then of course you must document what you have done.

But this is the dilemma of the activist who is out in the puckerbrush doing the routes. The rants against "secret areas" all seem to assume that if someone knows something, then everyone has some kind of absolute right to the same knowledge, typically without putting in anything like the work that was needed to acquire that knowledge originally.

We are all grateful to people who convey the details of their explorations. But how does that gratitude somehow transmogrify into a sense of entitlement?

from where the anecdotes roam
Sep 5, 2010 - 12:21am PT
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