The Future of Climbing

The first rule of rock climbing is, you do not talk about rock climbing. The second rule of rock climbing is, you DO NOT talk about rock climbing! Each and every one of you is guilty of breaking these two rules, and it’s killing this sport. Climbers from around the world follow a common progression from gumby to crackerjack that starts with the climbing gym and ends with shitting in a tube next to your best friend on a portaledge 1500′ off the Valley floor. It’s beautiful evolution from a single-celled boulderer, to the intelligent organism known as “rock climber.” Now, I’m not saying big-wall climbing is the only path leading to nirvana, I’m just saying in order to be called a climber, you have to venture above the 12 foot mark. The problem lies in this current crop of gym rats who find it extremely difficult to contain their excitement. Their stoke is like pressure in a trains steam whistle and they just can’t keep themselves from yanking on that chain and screaming out, “TSSSAAAAAAAAA!” You tell everyone how amazing rock climbing is! You plaster it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. You tag your friends on climbing gym GroupOns. In those first few years you can actually stomach watching hour after hour of Chuck Fryberger bouldering films, and still yell out “siiiiiiiiiick” when Nalle finally sticks that dyno after watching him fall off for 30 minutes. What you don’t realize is that when you finally snap out of it, and actually want to get out and do some real climbing, the crag will be so crowded with your Facebook friends, that the line-up for the one warmup route at the cliff will be as long as a McDonalds drive-thru window at 3am on a Saturday night. Climbing cannot support more climbers. It’s simple math. I already feel crowded when I go to places like the Red River Gorge, so if every climbers gets two friends into the sport, and so on, and so on…. by the year 2050, there will be over 2.3 billion climbers in the world. This is what our future looks like:

mcdonaldsclimbingcentre

McDonalds by 2050.

Climbing gyms will be a part of every day life. The Google corporate offices already have a climbing wall, how long until every office in the world has one?? In just the last few years, we’ve seen climbing surge in popularity in the media and pop-culture. Almost weekly, I post a video, be it a commercial or television clip, where climbing is bastardized in some new and perverse way. What will the future hold? How will climbing companies sell out by 2050? Celebrity endorsements, for one… Oh the humanity…. brad pitt no5Third, and least important is preserving the rock. Choss is abundant, but good quality rock is finite. Every single time you grab a hold, you degrade it. With bullet hard granite, this might be only on the planck scale, but with soft desert sandstone, it’s not long until we see routes disappear entirely. This is an artists rendition of Super Crack at Indian Creek by the year 2050:

Super Crack by 2050.

Super Crack by 2050.

The once splitter hand/fist crack, is now an unprotectable chimney. All this because you wanted to impress your friends by taking them to the climbing gym and laughing as they fall off V0’s, only to watch their jaws drop as you cut your feet and campus up a V1. Then, as you match on the finishing jug you turn your head and give them a wink. At that point, nobody could resist buying a membership. Thank you for killing climbing. So please, keep the climbing talk within the climbing community. Change your Facebook settings to only allow fellow climbers access to those sweet pics from that one time you went to Rifle. Next time someone asks you what your hobbies are, just say hiking. And if anybody suspects that you’re a climber and says to you, “oh, how’s that? Must be fun, huh? I should really try something like….” – – –  “NO!!! It’s awful actually…. A lot of carrying heavy back packs…. Getting the rope up there is dangerous… I lost 3 parters just last month when the rope snapped… I’m thinking of getting out of it.” Refer to rules 1 and 2. Wes