Pro climbers' income?

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Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 9, 2017 - 11:49am PT
I've always wondered what kind of income so-called "pro" climbers make. I know many sponsored climbers are just getting free shoes/ropes/whatever, which helps a little, but it don't pay for Sprinter vans and oceans of diesel fuel for the endless road trip, let alone post send brewskies, health insurance, etc. Just wondering about the financial realities of this life style. I know Bachar did pretty well as the sole Boreal rep for years. Of course, Honnold must be bringing in six figures. But these are outliers, the best of the best. What about your second, third tier crushers? Anyone got the inside scoop?

Don't worry. I have zero illusion of switching careers. I'm happily retired after reading tens of thousands of crappy essays, although I still have a touch of the PTSD. (shudders...the horror....)

BAd
zip

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Nov 9, 2017 - 11:55am PT
I think I make around $125 a year with medical, dental, vision, six paid weeks of vacation, and I get a pension too.
xCon

Social climber
909
Nov 9, 2017 - 12:54pm PT
including all the gear their constantly pawning off?
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 9, 2017 - 01:27pm PT
I think I make

The only people that I know that might say that would have to call their accountant to find out,
and the answer would be a considerable multiple of $125K.
caughtinside

Social climber
Oakland, CA
Nov 9, 2017 - 01:38pm PT
I think it's more like a fun internship than a profession.
zip

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Nov 9, 2017 - 02:21pm PT
Reilly,

I just don't know. It varies. Depends on how much OT I feel like working.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Nov 9, 2017 - 02:29pm PT
I suspect we all know the difference by now, between pro climbers & Large Pizzas?
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Nov 9, 2017 - 02:38pm PT
Disney starting wage with free use of apparel and gear. :)

Credit: T Hocking

Credit: T Hocking
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 9, 2017 - 03:21pm PT
Heh. This is turning out as well as I'd hoped. Keep 'em coming, you rogues, scoundrels, and ne'er-do-wells!

BaaaaaAAAAAAhhhhad
Robert L

climber
Nov 9, 2017 - 03:31pm PT
The top Patagucci ambassadors get at least 30k USD per year.
Perks include free use of a chalet in Chamonix.
But they pay for their own flights, food, and lift passes.
To afford their own land with a house or cabin on it, they live very simply, or need a second family income, royalties from a few books, and slideshow revenue.
Selling their photos only earns a few hundred bucks per go.
Other perks include free gear, but they don't always get their choice of colour.

Ueli got most of his money from non-climbing sponsors.
This included free loan of a serviced and insured Audi.
Out of his sponsor earnings he had to pay for some of his own promotion, such as having to pay for photographers recapturing his solo speed ascent of the Grandes Jorasses.

Source: Mech Engineer, in the supposed loop, who looks after the Grands Montets uplift.

Bullsh!t Klaus. Pro-level climbers that don't/didn't come from rich families dolling out fistfulls of coin: House, Cordes, Steck, Messner, Rebuffat, Bonatti, Ozturk, Dash, Kellogg, Swanson, Blanchard, Caldwell, Copp, Kennedy, Prezelj...
zip

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Nov 9, 2017 - 03:46pm PT
Nice Disney shot.
Hereís my view today.

Credit: zip
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Nov 9, 2017 - 03:54pm PT
According to that short film about Brad Gobright, Alex Honnold has a net worth approaching the million bucks, and that was before soloing El Cap.

But you're right, he's definitely an outlier.
seano

Mountain climber
none
Nov 9, 2017 - 04:32pm PT
A friend of mine was a professional mountain biker, and based on his experience, I would say "not many, or not much." A few cyclists lived comfortably, a handful got by, and most of the rest worked other jobs to pay the bills. This is in a sport with 100% markups on $10k bikes. Climbing? You may make enough to live, but not enough to retire.
Jody

climber
Occupied Territory
Nov 9, 2017 - 04:55pm PT
I think I make around $125 a year

You must be one of the worst pro climbers out there then. I could get paid that little to climb.

Six weeks paid vacation=$14.42

Pension on $125...say 3% per year and you climb for say, 20 years, your pension would be $83.65 per year.

Now the Medical/health/vision...say $1500/mo...THAT is your real benefit...so adding it all up...you are STILL well below the poverty level.
zip

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Nov 9, 2017 - 05:16pm PT
^^^^

Well done.
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Nov 9, 2017 - 05:26pm PT
According to that short film about Brad Gobright, Alex Honnold has a net worth approaching the million bucks, and that was before soloing El Cap.

But you're right, he's definitely an outlier.

Wow, a "Pro" climber finally broke through the grass ceiling!
Robert L

climber
Nov 9, 2017 - 05:32pm PT
A friend of mine was a professional mountain biker

A dear friend is the reigning XCO olympic and world champs gold medallist.

When he started out, he was allowed the time to train and race while being paid as a member of the Swiss military. Things blossomed, and he now makes good coin and owns a nice house in Chur.

Mountain bikers contracted to race on UCI registered teams make minimum $60k per year. Gwin is on over $500k. Todd Wells owns houses in Durango and Tuscon. Batty drives a Porsche lent to her by a dealership. Henderson/McConnell made enough with Trek Factory Racing to put a deposit on a nice enough house in Canberra.
Jody

climber
Occupied Territory
Nov 9, 2017 - 05:34pm PT
Wow, a "Pro" climber finally broke through the grass ceiling!

Nice! LOL
Robert L

climber
Nov 9, 2017 - 05:36pm PT
Now the Medical/health/vision...say $1500/mo...THAT is your real benefit...so adding it all up...you are STILL well below the poverty level.

Quite a few Patagucci Ambassadors have to pay for medical insurance out of their own pocket.
seano

Mountain climber
none
Nov 9, 2017 - 05:55pm PT
A dear friend is the reigning XCO olympic and world champs gold medallist.
Gold medalist. My friend was top 10 at worlds, but not top 1, and racing in the US, not Europe. There's very little money in second-tier sports, and climbing, like mountain biking, is a second-tier sport.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Nov 9, 2017 - 05:56pm PT

Bullsh!t Klaus. Pro-level climbers that don't/didn't come from rich families dolling out fistfulls of coin: House, Cordes, Steck, Messner, Rebuffat, Bonatti, Ozturk, Dash, Kellogg, Swanson, Blanchard, Caldwell, Copp, Kennedy, Prezelj...

Pretty sure Klaus meant the current flock of Tier 2 and Tier 3 "professionals" not the Tier 1 that you've mentioned here.
moosedrool

climber
Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
Nov 9, 2017 - 05:57pm PT
I'm pro climbers. Where is my money?

Moose
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Nov 9, 2017 - 06:07pm PT
Oh, how it has changed over the years!

Credit: guido

"No contest for glory among men."

"No renown to hope for."

"No audience to encourage him apart from his companion on the rope."
splitclimber

climber
Sonoma County
Nov 9, 2017 - 06:24pm PT
thanks for that guido
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Nov 9, 2017 - 06:59pm PT
Seems like the Skinnerís and the Honnoldís make a majority of their cash on the speaking circuits, telling the code monkeys in Mountain View to chase their dreams, not let fear hold them back, shift the paradigm, etc, etc.

Interesting bank shot when you think of it. Athletic achievement as prop on the motivational speaking tour.
Hoser

climber
Vancouver,Rome
Nov 9, 2017 - 09:56pm PT
I know Bachar did pretty well as the sole Boreal rep for years.

I thought for sure there was at least three fundraisers to pay for medical bills and such...doesnt sound all that glamorous to me.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Nov 9, 2017 - 10:08pm PT
Guide FTW!
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Nov 9, 2017 - 11:34pm PT
Regarding Alex Honnold, don't forget about his Citi Card TV commercial. It got a lot of play here in the USA and he told me that it was going to start showing on TV down in Australia. Its all about the residuals!
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 10, 2017 - 06:48am PT

Interesting stuff, Robert. Thanks.

@Guido: Well, damn. I was always in that old school camp. Can't beat old Lionel for a truth smack down.

@Hoser: Good point. I have no idea how he managed his personal finances, but Bachar was buying property and driving decent rigs when his lesser talented cohort were living off Alpo. And with all things medical, it's no problem running up bills that call for fundraisers, even with insurance. RIP to the master. He had a tough go of it those last years with the car accident and its aftermath.

I would think mtn. bikers would do a lot better as I thought it was a much bigger sport. I think it will be in the future, but with climbing coming to the next Olympics, the race is on. I know in my old home town of Tehachapi--tiny, middle of nowhere--the local community developed a pretty vibrant high school mtn. bike racing program. Pretty cool.

One thing re. "pro" climbing that has always seemed to me to be pretty damn annoying--if I had the chops to even be at that level--is the constant need to create and distribute "content." Gotta have the damn camera out all the time. Gotta set up shots, spray on social media, blah, blah, blah. I can see for sure how some folks might like the creative aspects of all that, but if you're in it for the climbing, ugh. BITD, you'd take pictures, maybe keep a journal, and all the rest would happen post climb. But it seems that today, the climbers have to do all this shiz all the time.

BAd
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Nov 10, 2017 - 07:35am PT
I haven't seen many pro climbers remain active for more than a few years. The exceptions are just a handful, everyone can name them, even those seem to be low paying. Lynn Hill had some interesting comments in one of her Enormocasts. Her primary income these days is Air BnB. She was at the top. Overall, the pro climber seems to be a rather brief low paying career. Kalous generally asks his Enormocast guests how they make do, lots of other interesting examples.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Nov 10, 2017 - 07:54am PT
How does being a model make one a pro climber? That's being a pro model, innit?

A nice underwear ad, while perhaps cute or hawt, isn't a pro climbing. Sorry you have to exclude all that income from the pro climber column.

Same for being a photog of the climber stars... pro photographer. Or a pro writer. Or a pro lecturer / speaker. They leverage their notoriety as climbers but their profession is something else.

What makes one a pro climber is getting paid to climb. Guides, um, guides, and um, competition climbers, and er, guides. What am I missing here? Guides? Oh, climb class teachers, those kids are rolling in dough right?

DMT
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 10, 2017 - 08:05am PT
Interesting definition, DMT.

When I think of "pro climber", I think of folks who afford their lifestyle by being a climber, not necessarily being paid to climb.

That puts models back into the mix.

An example of this from another sport would be Anna Kournikova. She was never in the top of the top, but, her income crushed many, many better players. Still does more'n likely.

More money in "climbing" now, it seems, especially since its become much more mainstream. There's gravy out there for the taking. Kids just need to learn how to show up. Those that do, do ok I'd think.

Anyhoo...interesting.
seano

Mountain climber
none
Nov 10, 2017 - 08:43am PT
Seems like the Skinnerís and the Honnoldís make a majority of their cash on the speaking circuits, telling the code monkeys in Mountain View to chase their dreams, not let fear hold them back, shift the paradigm, etc, etc.
I clearly need to work on my message. "It hurts, and it's more likely to make you dead or quadriplegic than rich" probably doesn't encourage tech-bros to open their wallets.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Nov 10, 2017 - 09:32am PT
nteresting definition, DMT.

When I think of "pro climber", I think of folks who afford their lifestyle by being a climber, not necessarily being paid to climb.

That puts models back into the mix.

And stock brokers, real estate guys and really good sales people.

But a pro footballer gets paid to play football. The underwear ads are just side income modeling gig.

I would think sponsored climbers get paid some amount to climb, guys like Donini are probably (or were) pro climbers. I'm thinking that is a very modest income but what do I know?

DMT
Robert L

climber
Nov 10, 2017 - 10:43am PT
^^^

Jordan probably made more money from what was outside his NBA contract.

Pro mountainbike cult leader Cedric Gracia owns all his property through part-work in real estate. It's common for pro mountainbikers to hustle together minor sponsors - such as an energy drink company - to help make their race seasons feasable.

Lama probably gets more coin from Red Bull, than from climbing gear company Mammut. Same with Will Gadd.

Without their high-level work in their sport, none of the above examples would have much of an audience to sell shoes, energy drinks, docos to.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 10, 2017 - 12:40pm PT
I would think sponsored climbers get paid some amount to climb, guys like Donini are probably (or were) pro climbers. I'm thinking that is a very modest income but what do I know?

My guess is J Do did a'ight. But, as a rep, not necessarily as a "pro climber" per se?

Maybe that's parsing it a bit. Maybe he'll chime in and drop dime...ha ha.

I think the folks that figure out how to do it ain't sayin'. Although, you gotta show up.

Its interesting to me. I've known a number of people who climb who are either in that industry, or, support themselves though some time of climbing (guiding, teaching, etc). Gear rep'n and private clients. Not sure anyone's gettin' fat off it, but, reasonable row to hoe it seems.

Find a significant other who pays the bills...

Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 10, 2017 - 02:12pm PT
I had a little conversation with Peter Croft, and he mentioned a mix--guiding, work for The North Face, some writing, etc. I'm sure occasional slideshows. His wife does real estate. Except for just a couple of people at the very top, it's not really a "career." At least the young studs can make a few bucks while they work out some sort of income stream.

BAd
darkmagus

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Nov 10, 2017 - 03:36pm PT
I've always wondered about the role of "family money" in pro climbing. When you follow some of these dudes (well, two in particular) on instagram, you see nice cars, nice places to live, trips to nice restaurants, and endless international travel. I bet many people here will be able to guess exactly who I'm talking about.

Just something I've been personally curious about. It wouldn't change the fact that they're amazing climbers, but it would help to explain how and why they're able to dedicate their lives to it.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Nov 10, 2017 - 04:27pm PT
Definitely some trust funded climbers out there - but not that many, IMO - still just outliers.

By far, the pattern I see is youth and fame - and it lasts like 2 years.

Open any climbing mag from a mere 2 years ago.

My career has spanned about 30 years at this point. I think your typical Joe middle age middle class white collar professional - seem to be several on this forum - likely have more in assets than any pro climber will ever have.
Robert L

climber
Nov 10, 2017 - 05:36pm PT
Open any climbing mag from a mere 2 years ago.

The guys in the Alpinist 2 years ago, are still crushing it now or have died trying.

Perhaps such correlates with the quality and intent of a climbing magazines content.

Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
Nov 10, 2017 - 06:01pm PT
Probably all trustafarians to some degree these days....

But, a million years ago when I was actually in the industry... the rate was pretty small, even for big name climbers (the biggest) climbing for the biggest (again, maybe the biggest) companies. I remember the rate was like $100 t0 $300 a month on a shoe contract... ropes less, and other junk just a use it and keep it sorta deal. Pretty grim.

Bachar was a different case... he was 1/2 owner (or so, can't remember) of Sole Survivor Corp, the distributor/importer of Fires, and their hood ornament. So, there was a pretty large salary attached to that position. I don't think he was ever a rep though... maybe after it all went down the toilet.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 10, 2017 - 08:23pm PT
Interesting, Russ, about Bachar. I assumed rep, but ownership makes more sense. I have a good friend who loves and trains hard for beach volley ball. She actually won a little money from a tournament or two, so she joked about caller herself a "pro." I suspect it's the same with climbers. Virtually all of them must have a supplemental income.

Mamas, don't let yer children grow up to be pro-climbers. Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such....or however that old song goes.

BAd
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Nov 10, 2017 - 09:49pm PT
I think for a sport to support well off athletes it needs one or more of the following

-expensive equipment

-large spectator following

-competitions with big purses

Climbing has none of the above. Yet.

Also,
"No contest for glory among men."
Not to ruin the nostalgia but I doubt this was ever the case in climbing.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Nov 10, 2017 - 11:33pm PT
It's always been interesting to me how low on the totem pole "professional" climbers are when it comes to income and making a living. Even our few outstanding outliers don't even come close to lower tier athletes from other disciplines that would be considered fringe sports in the sportsworld, like skateboarding.

Skateboarding. Riding a skateboard.

Nyjah Houston is worth 6million.....and he is 20th on the list of earners.
Credit: micronut

Eric Koston 15 million......

And we are not even talking about the BIG guys like Rob Dyrdek and Tony Hawk 75-100 million.






Most "pro" climbers get some shoes, some clothing, some swag, a part or two in a climbing video..... possibly some small income to keep them climbing. Most who are passionate about trying to stay in the outdoor industry seem to rely on their creativity as filmmakers/photographers and public speakers as a means of staying connected to the larger companies who appreciate their style and commitment to the outdoor lifestyle so that they can be an "image" for the company in hopes of selling clothing etc. somebody up thread hinted that it was similar to a nice internship, which I would agree.

Kind of wild considering they're often out there risking their life. When riding a skateboard, bass fishing professionally or playing Playstation games on "the circuit" can earn more than I do in medicine.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Nov 10, 2017 - 11:39pm PT
Some "online gamers" stats for ya!


Credit: micronut


Credit: micronut

And you really want to spend a year working the moves on your highball V15 to get some new shoes and a 32nd spot in DOSAGE 8?
Crump

Social climber
Canyon Lake, Texas
Nov 11, 2017 - 07:25am PT
Back in my day, early 80ís-90s. The only way to be ďProĒ was to guide. You can make some money there, may $200-$300 a weekend, but it is seasonal and hard work. Guiding is a service industry.

I did get some sides, speaking events, free gear, discounted gear, but mostly I taught at UTexas and at a high school during the week and guided on the weekends. And I always felt like I had the poors. It did pay for me to get my degree in Physics which gave me a carreer.

One of our key strategies was to smuggle Mex-Green to Colorado (before legal) to pay for our summers climbing!

But we were young and stupid back then and did not even know how to do sport climbing!
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 11, 2017 - 07:29am PT
The whole pro video gaming thing just blows me away. I know there's even one college with a team, so there must be others. I guess it's all about the scale of the market. Climbers are still pretty fringe even with our talk of the sport going mainstream. Climbing will, I think, always have fewer participants than these other sports/games--at least I hope so. Gyms have really changed the scene, however. But, at least with outside climbing, it's pretty intense with sometimes serious consequences for mistakes--unlike basketball or video gaming. You might sprain an ankle on the court or get a sore thumb yanking the joystick. (Er, that last predicate was not meant to sound dirty...)

BAd
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
Nov 11, 2017 - 07:48am PT
Most pro athletes in outdoor sports are more or less low paid employees in the companyís marketing department. There are not really that many sports that people will actually pay money to watch as spectators.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Nov 11, 2017 - 09:04am PT
I don't understand the skateboarding thing - where's the money?

Skateboards are cheap, their clothing t-shirts.

Seems like a fringe sport with a few low tax bracket participants who generally live at home with their parents.

Skiing, motocross, video games, I get that - skateboards - no - fuk no...
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 11, 2017 - 09:52am PT
Yeah, hard to see where the bank is in skating. Those companies must be laundering drug money.
chainsaw

Trad climber
CA
Nov 11, 2017 - 10:59am PT
I kindof relate to the guy Knish in "Rounders." He played the odds and worked a daily grind at Texas holdem to make ends meet. No glory. He got to meet a few high rollers now and then. My daily grind was to sharpen a chainsaw, answer phones, give estimates, write contracts then go out and strap on the spurs or throw a rope. I spent as much time dragging brush on the ground as climbing. In the gym it was basically the same. Silkscreen shirts, make travel plans, teach classes. Belay hundreds of kids. Set a route. Climb routes to impress clients and onlookers. Put up a toprope. Guide outdoors. I got to know alot of the top pros. I got to climb with a few people on the cutting edge. My trad partner for many years was on Northface A5 team and West Coast Pimp. But I was never a rockstar. Just a daily grinder like Knish. But I made a living off climbing for 20 years. Am I a pro climber? I dont think so. Just a grunt making a buck doing what I love. Made $225 for four hours work Wednesday. I will probably start guiding again next spring....
originalpmac

Mountain climber
Timbers of Fennario
Nov 11, 2017 - 12:06pm PT
It's all about the perks.

Credit: originalpmac
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 11, 2017 - 12:24pm PT
Letís be honest, eh? The dirty little secret that keeps a lot of guys in the guiding game is the hope of hooking up with Da Shugga Daddy! I only guided on the side. Then I Ďinheritedí my Shugga Daddy when my homie bought the farm. One Christmas Mr Shugga gave me a nice little present of Ďsomeí shares in his company. Weíre not talking 2 shares and his company wasnít the espresso shack down at the strip mall. 😜
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Nov 11, 2017 - 01:33pm PT
There was the Canadian guide who led a prominent mutual fund guy. He got the guide set up in the financial biz.
The guide made millions.
Robert L

climber
Nov 11, 2017 - 01:55pm PT
Most pro athletes in outdoor sports are more or less low paid employees in the companyís marketing department

An AMGA pro moved to Les Houches, and has a role in Patagucci's marketing team. Money seems better than low pay. And the company paid for the kids to be flown back and forth to accompany on work trips.

Partner pursued IFMGA certification, not the least because it was seen as potentially offering decent pay for flexible work - more so than an engineering job.

Some climbing-related pros do well-enough. This couple's kids are a couple of wonderfully healthy fellas with a strong family supporting the future ahead of them.
mikeyschaefer

climber
Sport-o-land
Nov 11, 2017 - 04:04pm PT
Iíve more or less made my living on climbing for the last 17 years. Iíve been involved in almost every aspect of the sport besides competition climbing. I started out working at the Mountain Shop in the Valley, moved on to working for YMS as a guide, then as a climbing photographer, as well as a sponsored athlete for Patagonia. Iíve been involved with marketing, field testing, designing, public speaking, rigging/rope access and even the talent in photoshoots (still hard to imagine why anyone wants photos of a short hairy dudeÖ) Iíd say my story as a professional climber is pretty similar to a lot of people in the industry, it has been pieced together. There might be some professional climbers that get paid solely to just go climbing but there are very very few of them. There are so few that I canít actually think of any that just climb. If you are sponsored by any of the major brands part of your job is to be a marketing asset and a face for the brand. Some brands incorporate their athletes into the design and testing process and some donít. As a Patagonia ambassador it is a big part of our job. It is usually awesome but occasionally we freeze our asses off in products that werenít as warm as expected..

I definitely canít comment on any specific incomes but there is a huge range. Most people start out with a simple product budget and then the occasional plane ticket. If you stick it out for long enough this might turn into a very small salary (think 5k or less). Eventually given enough time, energy, climbing talent, and charisma sponsorships can and do lead to six figure salaries. This is obviously the very top tear and probably only a handful of climbers. So basically there is everything between a free pair of shoes and enough money to buy a 2nd home somewhere nice.

Lots of people are quick to say that most pro climbers are trust funders, this just isnít true. I do know a couple that are fortunate enough to have been left with some support from their parents but I know just as many non pro climbers that were left with nest eggs.

Personally I have been able to make it work over the years but am slowly trying to transition away from basing my income around climbing activities. Iíve always lived a pretty frugal life, living in my van for 12 years, eventually saving enough to buy a house in Central Oregon. I rent out the house and live in a small studio on the property though I still spend more time on the road in the van. Iíve got health insurance, a 401(K) and have made some small investments here and there.

Obviously my story is anecdotal and there are others that have had varying results.

Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Nov 11, 2017 - 04:07pm PT
Only a select few can afford rent....
Robert L

climber
Nov 11, 2017 - 04:22pm PT
Love your photos, Mikey. And initiative to give back by pledging to donate a period of sales last year.

Hope yo, and yours, future is "everything's coming up Millhouse".
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 11, 2017 - 05:12pm PT
Nice to hear you're making it, Mikey! Even some retirement stuff. You are way ahead of many of your peers even thinking about that stuff.

BAd
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Nov 11, 2017 - 08:37pm PT

Nov 11, 2017 - 09:04am PT
I don't understand the skateboarding thing - where's the money?

Skateboards are cheap, their clothing t-shirts.

Seems like a fringe sport with a few low tax bracket participants who generally live at home with their parents.

Skiing, motocross, video games, I get that - skateboards - no - fuk no...
X-games + do tour + tons of participants = advertising $$$$$$ (lots!)



Also, Mikey, you sound like you're wise and gonna be just fine. Sweet!
SilverSnurfer

Mountain climber
SLC, UT.
Nov 11, 2017 - 11:42pm PT
The Twitch streaming service was started in 2011 and sold to Amazon in 2014 for 970 million dollars.

The top Twitch video game streamers are pulling up to high 6 figure incomes on subscriptions and ad revenue. At any given time these players can have upwards of 10k viewers online-and that's with no team play or travel required.

A player can start streaming their own channel for a few hundred bucks in equipment. I work with a lot of millenials in the tech world and my experience has been that their interest in viewing, or paying to view, traditional sports is very low.
hamie

Social climber
Thekoots
Nov 12, 2017 - 12:41am PT
"No one's gettin' fat,
'cept Mama Cass"
ryankelly

Trad climber
Bhumi
Nov 12, 2017 - 10:05am PT
My take on the corporations that profit off public land and young athletes is this:

return value to the land and to the people you leverage for your brand

Corporations (the dominant institutions of our time) are legally obligated to primarily return value to owners / share holders

(with B corporations being somewhat of an exception)

Bears Ears inspired some activism but the "corporate climbing world" mostly resembles the rest of sports industry = leverage talent for sales, then discard in favor of younger talent

"pro-climbers" are just another example America's disposable work force at play

Owners, share holders, decision makers: invest in the land and the people for the longterm
BJ

climber
Nov 12, 2017 - 10:49am PT
"pro-climbers" are just another example America's disposable work force at play

Owners, share holders, decision makers: invest in the ......... people for the longterm

Hardly, this isn't helping anybody bring anything tangible to the surface of the earth, it's about paying for somebody to have fun. What does society get if "we invest in professional climbers for the long term"? Not a lot, and they get to have more fun. Good for them, but to think that they are some disposable employees being victimized by a machine is incredible.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Nov 12, 2017 - 11:46am PT
The more important way to look at income is to ask how sustainable is it? What will life earnings look like?

What is the length of the pro climbers's career? With age and incoming talent, how long can you stay at the top? Whoa - I'm making 6 figures - buy a fancy car - 10 years later you're lucky to get a job spinning around a brass pole.

I've seen this pattern play out my whole career in every possible way - if you're not busy creating true economic value in some way, things will likely change for you soon enough, the economic forces will eventually play out.
jgill

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Nov 12, 2017 - 12:43pm PT
10 years later you're lucky to get a job spinning around a brass pole


Good point, but I'm having trouble visualizing Honnold with dollar bills in his undies.
ryankelly

climber
Bhumi
Nov 12, 2017 - 01:00pm PT
@BJ

my idea of a compensated climber would be a "climber steward" position (similar to what happen in Yosemite by NPS) where they intentionally join the legacy of climbers advocating for the earth and for wild place like John Muir, David Brower, Yvon Chouinard, etc...

In some ways Patagonia's concept of a "Climbing Ambassador" approaches this but could be developed more fully

Anything to move away from the single minded focus on athletic achievement or Instagram likes
Mike Honcho

Trad climber
Glenwood Springs, CO
Nov 12, 2017 - 02:00pm PT
These days, for my 'High Angle Rescue" services, my Wife and I get our airfare and hotel paid for a few times a year. All over the globe, but this is for BASE jumping and I'm also an EMT, though emergency medical services while you're hanging from a parachute on a cliff is not something I'm really doing.. just get to them, secure them, and deliver them to the real pros on the ground ASAP.

BITD, I made about 400bux per competition just as an appearance fee, If you did well it went up. Getting a picture in a magazine with a logo presented properly was also a sliding scale. TV or movie incentives didn't really play a factor unless you actually got on TV or a movie.

To be clear, I never have or never will consider myself a pro climber, just a regular yutz.

Caylor
Lovegasoline

Trad climber
Brooklyn, NY
Nov 12, 2017 - 08:17pm PT
A Yosar climber is paid by the Federal government (??) and enjoys a benefit package which includes free rent and discounted meals.
fivethirty

Ice climber
CA
Nov 12, 2017 - 10:51pm PT
I don't understand the skateboarding thing - where's the money?

Skateboards are cheap, their clothing t-shirts.

Seems like a fringe sport with a few low tax bracket participants who generally live at home with their parents.

Skiing, motocross, video games, I get that - skateboards - no - fuk no...

I watched some interview with Tony Hawk where he says he made most of his money from the Tony Hawk video games. Kolston was in the games so maybe that's how he got his too, but I have no idea.

Nyjah has made over a million from winning street league comps alone in the last few years.

tl;dr Skateboarding is big business. Nike sponsors skaters for a reason.
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
Nov 13, 2017 - 07:40am PT
There's tons of professional musicians, but only a handful of rock stars. For the most part, professional climbers are happy to get gear, plane tickets to far-away places, any some spending cash for grub.

On the other end of the spectrum, the real rock stars get a bit more. I knew Sharma when he was at his peak (in terms of press). Man, I was jealous! That guy got flown to the most exotic places in the world and got paid handsomely on the side.

When you constantly put up the hardest routes in the world, you get to call some pretty good shots. When you're on the second rung of the climbing ladder, the wages are not so much monetary.
nah000

climber
now/here
Nov 13, 2017 - 08:02am PT
yeah, thing about the size of the skateboarding ďindustryĒ is that iíd assume itís not the hardware thatsís being sold that drives the profits.

guaranteed, itís mostly the fashion [read especially shoes] that is consumed by a much wider segment of the population than those who actively skate.

think patagucci vs black diamond in the climbing world...

and so in that sense the highest paid skaters [and climbers as well] are more models who are athletes in regards to what they are actually being compensated for...
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Nov 13, 2017 - 08:05am PT


DMT

WBraun

climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 08:07am PT
Yah all way too busy talking to be pros.

Now git to work ...... :-)
Hubbard

climber
San Diego
Nov 13, 2017 - 08:36am PT
Tom Curren said it long ago that he wasn't so much of a pro surfer as a shoe and sunglasses salesman.
fivethirty

Ice climber
CA
Nov 13, 2017 - 08:57am PT
Yeah for sure fashion drives revenue into skateboarding. I think one of the reason you see a lot of wealthy skaters is that a lot of successful skateboard brands were started by well known skaters. That doesnít seem to happen in the climbing world yet, as thereís just less money floating around/our fashion is less cool.

Skateboarding actually has a somewhat real rule on what makes you a pro. If a company sells a deck with your name on it youíre pro.
Robert L

climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 10:58am PT
^^^
Off the top of my head, 'fashion' companies started by people who played alot in the outdoors:
 Patagonia
 Black Diamond
 The North Face
 Outdoor Research
 Royal Robbins
 Mountain Designs
 Rab
 Mountain Equipment
 Lowe Alpine
c wilmot

climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 11:03am PT
Without the generous donations by the Royal Robbins company the valleys trails would be in rough shape.
Slightly OT- I used to go through skateboard decks faster than I would my shoes. It only takes one bad landing to break em in half. You can skate with a hole in your shoe- not so much with a broken deck
fivethirty

Ice climber
CA
Nov 13, 2017 - 11:18am PT

Nov 13, 2017 - 10:58am PT
^^^
Off the top of my head, 'fashion' companies started by people who played alot in the outdoors:
Patagonia
Black Diamond
The North Face
Outdoor Research
Royal Robbins
Mountain Designs
Rab
Mountain Equipment
Lowe Alpine

Yeah you're right. But the list of skater founded companies that do good money selling clothes dwarfs this perhaps not in revenue for anyone one company (Pata and TNF are huge) but certainly in number. There are a lot of small brands that still make money. Less so in the climbing world.

It is (or maybe was, I haven't really skated in forever) also a thing for skaters who become big enough to leave their deck sponsors and start their own. Toy Machine, Baker, Birdhouse, Girl, etc. You don't see Honnold leaving TNF to start his own clothing line. That was more my point. There is a model for pro skaters to become successful business people. There is in the climbing world too I guess, but it's less pronounced.
Dave

Mountain climber
the ANTI-fresno
Nov 13, 2017 - 01:00pm PT
My wife is a wedding photographer, and after years in the industry she is giving up on it because it is so hard to make money - actually turn a profit. She made decent top-line revenue, but it worked out to like $4/hour after expenses and taxes.

The people who make money in photography are suppliers - those who sell to the photographers, or the top 0.1% who also educate the rest.

Why? The market is saturated by people who want to be photographers and who will underprice themselves and the market to get "in", the public doesn't know the difference (and doesn't care) so the only ones hurt are those who make quality product.

Climbing is somewhat similar - every young hotshot wants to make a "career" climbing, whether guiding or with sponsors, or whatever. So unless you happen to be Sharma or Alex Honnold or Peter Croft (i.e. the top 0.1 or 0.01%), you are not going to actually make a career out of climbing.
Robert L

climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 02:02pm PT
Without the generous donations by the Royal Robbins company the valleys trails would be in rough shape....

I am more-so interested in people and company's which give to the community and environment, than in those who use their revenue in other ways. Props to Royal Robbins et. al. What percentage of revenue does Arcteryx, Mountain Hardwear, and Adidas Outdoor donate to directly funding environmental stewardship?

What environmental and social initiatives do the big skate, surfing, and MTB companies give big sums of money to support?

Is there any pro athlete out there, in any sport/pursuit, who is donating as high a percentage of their own actual money to improve people's opportunities as Alex Honnold?
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Nov 13, 2017 - 02:04pm PT
VF Corp (Vanity Fair) own The North Face AND Vans, haha. And a whole lot more too.

DMT
Robert L

climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 02:12pm PT
^^^
I wonder what circumstances triggger whether a Honnold, Sharma, Caldwell, House, sign and decide to remain with one major clothing retailer?
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Nov 13, 2017 - 02:15pm PT
I suspect it goes a little like this.... :)



DMT
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Nov 13, 2017 - 02:28pm PT
Music!

Robert L

climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 02:47pm PT
DMT: Think Honnold made Retseck do that?

Guessing the diferrential offered by the major clothing retailers is marginal.

Though some companies will offer more long-term terms.
rwedgee

Ice climber
CA
Nov 13, 2017 - 03:02pm PT
Much better to be a Jackass;

Johnny Knoxville has a total net worth of $75 million
Bam Margera's net worth at approximately $45 million
Wee Man net worth $12 million
Mike Honcho

Trad climber
Glenwood Springs, CO
Nov 13, 2017 - 03:40pm PT
Much better to be a Jackass;
Robert L

climber
Nov 13, 2017 - 03:59pm PT
^^^
Whenever in doubt of whether to try something, ask thyself, 'What would Hank Caylor do?'
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