New Article for Climbing Mag

I got irritated reading a climbing blog the other day.  You may have heard of it,  It annoyed me because there is so much information on pro climbers EVERYWHERE!   Why do we have to idolize these people? Placing them on a pedestal like they represent all that we are.  Climbing is heading for a new status, a status similar to that of the NFL, where the player’s lives are more important than the game, and where everyone just thinks they’re better than the rest.

I decided to write an article about my annoyance, and submitted it to Climbing magazine a few hours ago.  Read it for me, and tell me if you agree/disagree.

One-Upping the One-Uppers

If you turn on ESPN these days all you see is hours of football coverage.  It seems like people just get off on what the best players are doing, who they’re dating, or what corner route they ran three games ago.  We idolize people who materialistically dedicate their entire lives to one thing while they suck up the publicity like a power hungry sponge.  When I first started climbing, it all seemed so different than that.

I left 16 years of soccer behind because it got too competitive.  Sports have become so serious that they’ve drifted away form the reason they were originally played, for fun.  I thought climbing was different, but lately it seems like everyone just wants to focus on being the next big thing.

I read through issues of Rock and Ice, or Climbing magazine and all I see is “so and so sent 5.15,”  “so and so set the new Eiger record.” I understand that climbing is a progressive sport and for it to stay that way someone has to push the limits. However, the community we’ve built doesn’t need to be centered on poster-boy climbers like Sharma, or Woods.

Sure, they send hard and we all envy their ability to crimp dime width chips on a 60-degree overhang, but do they really define us as a sport?  Do we really want to call climbing a sport? Climbing as a lifestyle has drifted away from the big picture we used to call adventure.  Climbing is an activity based on pushing ourselves as humans, for the simple goal of conquering our fears and our doubts.

I’m not going to get super stoked on climbing because I read an article about Sharma’s new 5.15.  Want me to keep reading? Tell me about Joe Smo out in Yosemite who just spent four days on El Cap for the first time ever.  That’s why I climb, for the little feats of man that connect us all in a way other athletes will never understand.

Not every climber was born and bred in Boulder, climbing under the nose of washed up World Cup competitors and gym rats.

Not every climber red tapes generic, pocket rich, steep lines in Rifle Mountain Gym.  Some climbers come from a grassroots beginning and are content just climbing for climbing’s sake.

Take Taylor Lais for instance, a prairie raised vertical adventurist who fell in love with climbing the first time it kicked his ass.  He didn’t have to be trained, he doesn’t think he’s better than the next guy; he just climbs.  Lais’s first exposure to climbing was in a gym on his college campus.

Lais went on to work at the gym his entire college career.  Although he has the gym to blame for his new passion, he spends every moment possible slotting cams outdoors.  Lais has spent multiple paychecks and skipped many days of class to climb all over the U.S.  He didn’t have sponsors, he didn’t get paid to go; he just went because it felt right.

I asked Lais why he climbs.  “It just makes sense to me.  Now that it’s become such a big part of my life, there’s no going back to normality, I now have a better sense of respect for myself, and the world around me” he blandly responded

Isn’t that the reason we should all climb? Because it defines who we are, it shapes our personalities and changes our outlook on life.  Us climbers need to reunite behind the climbing, instead of the climbers.