Climbing all up in the Interwebs
What’s in the Internet water these days? People are being nice, even in forums. ‘Tis the season, I suppose.
• Someone started a random thread on Mountain Project thanking Matt Samet:
“Aside from replacing a boatload of bolts for the ARI, putting up a bunch of routes, and writing a lot of funny articles over the years, I just wanted to publicly put it out there that the Climbing Dictionary is *effing hilarious* and deserves to be in a lot of stockings. Well done, man.”
How cool. The thread is one big love-in for Matt, who’s a kind soul while remaining his cynical, dark self (no wonder I like him so much). The thread did, however, confuse me for a moment. Given that Matt edited Climbing and Rock and Ice magazines in the past – you know the requisite over-the-hill grumpy climber statement: “Aw, them damn mags are all the same poseurs and the same crap, I never read ‘em. You see that piece of shit article on page 32?” – and given the odd toxicity that comes from mixing climbers and the Internet, I instinctively scrolled down the page for words like “asshole,” “choad,” or “dickweed,” along with their misspelled variants. What, it hasn’t descended into puerile postings? Wait a second…this ain’t a climbing forum!
I emailed Matt, and he seemed astounded by the praise:
“This must be the first time in world history that a website thread was thanking me and not calling me a loser.
Still, it’s hard to top the post on rockclimbing.com 9 years ago in which someone said I write like a ‘teenage rimjob princess.’ I mean, you can’t buy that sort of praise!”
• Speaking of those damn mags, there’s another thread, “are the mags passe?” Though perhaps a passe thread, it remains a relevant question as mediums shift. Change happens. I still like the mags, though indeed I’m prematurely over the hill (which implies that I once crested the proverbial hill, thus a problematic statement, but I digress). They aren’t The New Yorker, but nobody claimed they were. I think Alpinist, Climbing, and Rock and Ice all do an excellent job in a difficult market (I rarely read Deadpoint or Urban Climber, but I’m glad they’re surviving, too).
Regardless, in the holiday season maybe it’s best to “consume” things that enrich us in a way that our materialistic orgy of consumerism does not. The arts are a great example. Read, watch a good movie, take-in some music.
• The November issue of Climbing magazine had a good piece called “The Future,” in which they interviewed four generations of top climbers: Tommy Caldwell, Lynn Hill, George Lowe and Angie Payne. Here’s part of Tommy’s reply when asked about changes he’s seen in his 30 years of climbing (yeah, he started when he was three):
“Well, right off the bat, I feel like the tension has gone away. I feel like people have embraced all the different kinds of climbing as their own independent facets. And then it’s kind of cool how they’ve merged, too. People realize that hard bouldering or hard sport climbing are really good for doing big-wall free climbs.” He added, “The whole scene is a lot more harmonious.”
I like it. And I liked that issue of Climbing (their 300th edition!). Their “Face Off” on the closing page was great, funny, creative – a bracketed tournament of who/what wins against each other. But I’m not sure if I agree with their finalists – I think it should have been Fred Beckey vs. PBR. Yosemite’s pretty good, though. In their “Six Crags that Shaped the Sport” list, I was thrilled that they excluded Rifle, for fuck’s sake. I’ve had enough of Rifle covers, full-page photos, and articles for awhile. Seems to me that, unfortunately, only so much of interest can be written or photographed about single-pitch sport routes in the same marginally scenic canyon. No matter how good they are. I suspect Climbing’s exclusion was strategic, as each publication needs to differentiate themselves, and my friends at Rock and Ice seem to have Rifle pretty well covered. Along the lines of covering the same material over and over, Climbing must have gotten some flack for including three ‘Rado crags in their list of six: Eldorado Canyon, Shelf Road, and Indian Creek.
• Got the first “official” review of my blog (big time, here I come), and my first “A” since college, on a site called A Blog About Blogs. A fun site, even if there’s nothing official about it – all the better. I love how the Interwebs allow people to just go for it with their ideas.
• Putting together a climbing magazine is hard, thankless, low-paid work. People bitch more than they thank. Here’s a shout-out to the folks at the mags: Thank you for your work. Although I sometimes criticize – and I firmly believe that fair criticism is important (speaking of which, how good is Anthony Lane? Always sharp, funny, insightful criticism.) – most of the climbing mag people are butterflies, samurais, and even ninjas. Which reminds me, since the holidays leave plenty of time to surf the web while getting drunk, wading through family tension, and getting surly at parties (growling at the stranger across the table: “I never did like you!”), I’ll close this rambling post with a music video that’s stuck with me like a bad rash, one that strikes the delicate balance between creepy and sweet, the sort of thing that you kinda like but don’t know if you really should. With luck, it will similarly stick to you – after all, the holidays are for sharing.