BREAKING NEWS - Nothing Happened Today!

Reject the Celebritification of Climbing.

  • Does it merit its own story when two climbers who have climbed El Cap's 'Nose' 100+ times (and many times already for  speed) are thinking about doing it again? Shouldn't they have to actually succeed first? Or Try?

These questions make me conclude that internet traffic must be driven simply by the frequency of posting headlines, or by the use of certain names in these headlines. And that bothers me. Posting something (especially something with Mr. Famous) is apparently better than posting nothing, even if, in reality, that "something" IS nothing.

I have no way to tell if these non-news hyped-up prespray stories get a bunch of website hits, though I assume that they do since smart people run the sites that continually publish them.* And that thought bothers me.

One of my favorite aspects of climbing is the frequent interraction between members of our "tribe" who may climb 5.6 or 5.16, yet both share a belay ledge or snickers bar and not feel distanced from one another relative to the experts and novices in other disciplines. When we, the web-clicking public, await with baited breath for every mundane update about Honnold or Sharma's daily goings-on, how are we different from Paparazzi-fied Justin Bieber fans spending $40,000 for a lock of hair because of the name attached to it? 

Climbing accomplishments are amazing, inspiring, and deserving of praise, but they don't make you a good person, and they don't make you a celebrity. We're all out to have fun, explore the outdoors, and push ourselves forward. We volunteer at the same crag cleanups, repair the same trails, read the same articles, and burn our hands on the same overflowing jetboils when ignore the over-fill line.

  Let's not pretend that doing nothing is newsworthy, because if it were, the sad truth would be that we're following the name, and not the news. 

*Edited to add/clarify: this isn't meant as an attack of the folks who publish these items. If they are generating more views and interest from readers than other stories, it is obviously rational and makes good business sense to write them on the website. I just hope, from a personal and subjective viewpoint, that they don't generate nearly the amount of interest or number of views as stories where something has actually been accomplished.


  1. I particularly liked it when, in a later article about Adam not sending the flash, R&I called his attempt "heroic". I thought being a hero meant that you risked something. I guess that day that I decided to stop waiting to be in shape to OS the naked edge and just go for it so I could finally climb the mega classic, well I was a hero that day too... I love being a hero. Or maybe I'm actually a superhero and nobody knew it...


  2. Great point, Blake, and I'm glad you brought it up in face of the fact that you're discussing some periodicals for which you write. I whole-heartedly agree: not news and unworthy of the title of "news."

  3. I love this Blake. I've noticed these "stories" linked on the front page of Mountain Project for months now... R&I and Climbing editors have admitted that their goal is to generate hits to their websites, and when there aren't stories, non-stories suffice. When I realized this, I stopped clicking the links.

    Of course long ago I stopped buying the magazines because they're total tripe. Climbing and R&I have struggled for years, and now with the superiority of the internet, they're clearly desperate.

    It seems only Alpinist remains as a source of good climbing literature - the others are just tabloids.

  4. "Edited to add/clarify: this isn't meant as an attack of the folks who publish these items."

    Way to try to save face with your occasional paychecks.

  5. "Save face"? Not quite. I don't think you understand the premise of my post.

    If a product is demanded, whether it's an online article, a type of clothing, or a TV show, it is the rational and intelligent choice for a business to offer that product. I'm way too libertarian to pretend otherwise.

    It may annoy me that the Kardashian reality show is a success on TV, but its the folks those who demand it, not the ones supplying it, who I am annoyed with.

    If we all ignore celebritified non-news climbing stories, I strongly believe they will cease to be written.

  6. "It may annoy me that the Kardashian reality show is a success on TV, but its the folks those who demand it, not the ones supplying it, who I am annoyed with."

    So you're not really a libertarian after all.

  7. Hey Blake- you nailed it. I didn't realize how often I succumb to celeb-watching while at the same time making fun of folks who watch reality shows. By the way, climbed Gorrillas in the Mist with Zickler and you guys put up one for the ages! My best, most challenging day in the mountains to date. Psyched to try the. Direct!

  8. "Newsworthy" is in the eye of the beholder.

    Not sure why you're twisted up about this.

    Perhaps you would have preferred:

    "Blake Herrington Sends Another Anonymous Route in the Cascades!" ;)

  9. Thanks for the comment, I agree that any news' "worthiness" is inherently subjective. I'd just like to see the news-consuming public (you, me, and anyone reading those links) ignore (and thereby discourage) stories along the lines of "Famous Person does the Mundane".