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

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64 thoughts on “The Future of Climbing

  1. This is the most elitist bullcrap I have ever read in my life. All through school I was bullied by people like you telling me I can’t play football, I can’t play basketball. Well buddy, now I’m a grown up man making six-figures at my tech job and I’ll rock climb whenever and wherever I want to!

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  2. your right Wes, these people don’t get that this is a sport for only the soulfull. I slaughter a goat and talk to Ravens before I solo, gym bros don’t understand my lifestyle choices and never will.

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      • climbing is weird and will always be. The ones who dont understand climbing as a lifestyle will evaporate. And I bet deans dog is alive, well, and probably has more gnar in his life then most humans. Keep jumping with your dog Dean. And who is anyone to put limits on a limitless lifestyle. What we do out there is so far beyond words and description. No laws, no rules, no COMMENTARY. Who the fuck cares. Go live.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hey Wes is your mom still making your climbing gear? You really are part of the problem. If you don’t want climbing publicized why do you have a blog? ( a lame one at that). Chipole.

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  4. Wes, you speak the truth once again brother!

    Climbing as a legitimate pursuit died with the advent of the modern climbing gym. Now people who “climb” at the gym think they are somehow “Climbers”. Their motivation however is entirely opposite of early climbers. Climbers of the past chose to climb as a means of getting away from the foolish masses and shunned attention at all costs. Today’s “climbers” climb because its rad, social, sexy, and because it allows them to compare themselves to others as they strive for attention and affection. The most prolifice example of this new attention-seeking “climber” is the 20-year old, scrawy-ass male with “Little Man Syndrome”. It is truly comical to watch as they attempt to use their performance in a gym to validate how special they are. I never knew a sport could produce so many 140 lb heros!….haha!

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  5. What is wrong with climbing is ignorant “climbers” like THEWES. Go suck plastic you gym punk. geez, you are such a pre DICK table puke.

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  6. The influx of gym climbers to out door crags will only increase. The “real” climbers out of that bunch may progress to the harder grades outdoors. If you are pushing 5.12+ or even high elevens, and getting your trad on above 200 ft aybeu are earning your stripes. You’ve got to start somewhere though. My point is the world of climbing has a natural filter.Those without the physical and mental fortitude will fall by, as the tenacious and possessed will forge on to higher hights. A new flock of people are yearning To reconnect to the outdoors and the natural order of things. On the upside this could lead to a more environmentally conscious public when people can finally see the forest for the trees. So if people get inspiration from climbers good….maybe you will inspire someone else to leave the life draining television viewing and venture in to the quality of existence the mountains, rivers and beaches provide.

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  7. Bravo. To those that got successfully trolled, I have a pair of forceps if you need them to dig your panties out of your crack. And if those don’t work, I have a nut tool that I found next to a pool of blood. Never been used and only dropped once.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Do you live under a rock? Making Super Crack wider will be a huge improvement. Since you buy all your gear used, you probably haven’t heard of this revolutionary technology by Trango called “Big Bros.” Basically, it’s a ladder rung, but way more expensive and in fun colors. So you stick them in the rock, then stand on them like ladder rungs. Now no one will have to get good at crack climbing or break through that pesky 5.10 barrier. Multi pitch desert climbing will be achievable for everyone!

    Since this is rumored to happen around 2050, can I book your guiding services in advance? I’d really like to climb this, but only if someone else puts up the ladder for me. That part of leading sounds kinda stressful and scary.

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    • You don’t have to wait that long, I’m headed to Supercrack Buttress this weekend with my drill to put up bolts on SC… I figure it’s a fair solution since people wanting to lead the route on gear can just skip the bolt ladder.

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      • Would you mind installing an actual ladder as well? I once followed a bolt ladder and found it quite stressful. I’m not about to pay a guide an exhorbitant fee and then still have to do actual climbing. I’d prefer to do a few rungs at a time, then stop and take a selfie for instagram. Or you could take the selfie of me, after all, I am paying you.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. You failed to mention anything about large corporate climbing companies churning a huge profit from the growth of this sport. It’s not just the climbers themselves…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 2050: less access, fewer dirtbags, more erosion… climbing might not support climbers where you live! World is a giant marble. The rock is only finite for the majority. The nomadic minority will find more and more lines. I’ll be 75 and trying not to fall.

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  11. Hey I just saw this, I think you’re being very unfair to gym climbers. The instructors at my local gym say that before the advent of climbing gyms, most of you outside guys could barely climb 5.9! It’s gyms that caused the standards to rise. The guys telling me this climb really hard themselves, often outside, so they know what they’re on about!

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  12. @thewes. I’ve been following you for a long time dude (like a year) and have learned a lot from you, especially about gear and other shit and knots (you still need to post about all the knots climbers should learn; aren’t there like 50 or so?). Just wanted to let you know my experience out in the wild (away from the gym). The scariest I ever felt was leading a 5.6 for the first time (seriously true); I realized I could fall to the ground and hurt myself. My attention was attracted and my life affected (although, actually, now that I think about it, this was a long time before your were posting). Yeah, 5.6, but it made an impression I will never forget. Following is easy, leading is hard – keep on keep’in on my man.

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  14. Dear Wes, I was concerned to note that the Brad Pitt/Black Diamond endorsement contains the text ‘No. 5’, but it is is actually showing a No. 4 size cam. Please be more careful with your faux celebrity mockups in future.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I do find it annoying when the gym is packed during my otherwise sacred training time. Certain nights have become social events for people who only climb once a week, and only go with 5 other friends. Not real climbers, no. But they have the right to be there. When an outside crack or wall is busy, sometimes it’s annoying as it doesn’t fit into my days schedule, but I love meeting fellow climbers. We’re the best group of people. But, if you’re so worried about what Indian Creek will turn into, how about you and your friends stop climbing there. That should ease it’s wear and tear for the rest of us. A world millions of years old, I’m pretty sure we’re not going to run out of rock crevices. Thanks for wasting 5 minutes of my life with your d-bag rant. As you don’t hold any of the soulful and feelgood traits of a climber, I’d say you’re not one- so stop ruining MY rock.

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  16. Pingback: The first rule about climbing. | the drunken nut

  17. I’ve been climbing since ’92. Dad taught me and I learned outside. Benefit of living in Montana is…NO ONE LIVES HERE! It’s a great feeling being the only one at the crag. I like talking about rock climbing and hope I inspire someone to try it. The feeling I get from pulling a roof or hanging on that 1/2 pad crimp is outstanding. I’ve been to a few gyms and feel less like a climber there than I do outside. People at gyms seem snobby and look at you with that attitude that you are expressing in this post. Everyone I’ve ever met at the crag(in montana) has been super nice, awesome, and even help with new spots to check out. Up here in the NW part of the state there are new routes being put in by the week. And we don’t even have a guide book for them. It’s all just word of mouth and hiking around looking for rock to put a route on.
    I guess all I’m saying is, 1st rule of rock climbing is, “stay out of Montana”. 😉

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  18. Hi Wesley, been following on Twitter, and just noticed you have a WordPress blog. Been away from climbing for 25 years. Been busy working, raising the family, all that normal stuff. I have missed it, but have still enjoyed keeping up with it by reading. Back then before social media, there definitely was not all the hype like there is now, and rock climbers were actually considered a “strange breed”.
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂
    ~Carl~

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  19. Now I feel guilty about my latest blog post about rock climbing. Errr I don’t call myself a climber but I love trying out climbing and I feel lucky to have had my first few tries in Utah. 😀 Do you also like climbing there? Nevertheless….following!!! Thanks for this post!

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  20. I’ve enjoyed climbing ( and the people I’ve met through the sport) for over 20 years. Read this and felt great sorrow if you represent the future of this sport.

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  21. Aw. This makes me sad. For some people, climbing is cathartic. It’s therapeutic and a break from all the trials of day to day life. I understand where you’re coming from–the inundation of our local crags with hoards of people. Take a look at our national parks and we see this happening rapidly. However if nobody talked about climbing then you and I wouldn’t be here passionately defending the sport in different respects. Climbing brings people and communities together. I get frustrated with the abundance of ‘bros’ in American Fork where I usually climb. But all we have to do is hike higher into the canyon to find solitude. The quiet rock is out there, you just have to find it:)

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  22. Hi Wes! I’m a fellow rock climber. This is such a cool Website!! I rock climb indoors because I’m not old enough to drive to outdoor rocks. You might think I’m a wanna-be-climber that doesn’t know anything about climbing because I don’t climb outdoors very often and I’m younger so I can’t have that much experience but I don’t really care if you think that, here’s my opinion; Gyms are becoming more and more packed and it’s becoming harder and harder to climb! I agree with your blog in some ways. I think not everyone needs to come climbing and it is awful to have packed gyms where it’s hard to find an open wall but I think it’s good to bring friends. Isn’t it fun to have some competition? Or feel like a better climber because some of your friends can’t climb a V0. I love that feeling and it sounds bad I know. But it’s also fun to use climbing terms to confuse your friends? I still agree with your blog but why don’t we just open up and start more gyms to climb in? I wish there was more rock to climb and more gyms to climb in but i also think Rock climbing is such an amazing sport. When you stick that Dyno grab the finishing hold. Don’t you want to share that amazing feeling?

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  23. I think it is a smart Idea because if buy the game used and only save 10 bucks why not buy it new . Now EA has given the Cuemstor a choice to make buy it used and save 10 bucks and you have to pay extra to play online or buy it new and get all the bells and whistles for free . Smart !

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