Reject the Celebritification of Climbing.
- Since when do people care that a someone merely has plans to try to climb a one-pitch sport route?
- Is it news when one of the world's most accomplished alpinists simply bailed on plans to repeat a 50-yr old route with only minor technical difficulties?
- Do you find it newsworthy that 2 full-time professional climbers managed to add their names to the list of 6,000+ other humans who've sucked bottled oxygen while clipped into fixed lines en route to the tippy top of Everest?
- 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.