A Convenient Fiction


This (writing quarterly opinion-pieces) certainly is more difficult than I thought. It is a few days until the submission deadline and I have nothing of interest to use as content for this column...and Tony is already threatening to send the mob around. (Admittedly that is for over-due advertorial fees)

This, in itself, is not what is worrying me, rather the fact that nothing within our sport has motivated me to pause and dwell - I dismiss the obvious, convenient, conclusion that the participants (you) are either

  1. doing nothing noteworthy
  2. keeping anything noteworthy under wraps
  3. being good citizens and doing nothing controversial.

Whatever the case, I am forced to look elsewhere for content and inspiration... I'll return to the state-of –the-nation another time. Right now I'm forced to scan other media for topics.

I have a rather obscure insight: As climbers what we do could, arguably, be described as dangerous (to ourselves). Yet the vast majority of climbing literature focuses on summits ; sends ; good-times and motivation.

I.E. Success. Perhaps it is indicative of the persona needed to play this climbing game – that one be motivated, positive and honorable?

Allow me to elaborate:
The majority of other periodicals draw their articles and hence readership from negative quarters – scandal, disaster, insult and the current fad Alarmism. And the current hot-topic for alarmists is, of course, the environment and Global warming. As is customary for me, I went in search of the minority view...the alternative thinking (I like under-dogs) and found an interesting quote from some scientist chap:

"As it turns out, most of those making the wildest claims about global warming aren't scientists at all. Instead, they tend to be politicians, headline-seeking journalists, environmentalist, and windy Anglican bishops who can't understand why people aren't coming to church any more on Sunday."

(The environment) " much too important to be left to environmentalists (or to Al Gore) and their Convenient Fiction."

While my jury is out on the entire 'green-house debate', and I shant offer my pontiff on the church debate (other than that Sunday is on a weekend, and a great day for climbing...which to some, is religion), I will say that I agree with the argument that all too often we, the loyal subjects, are manipulated by others with ulterior it political, mass-media or the current bio-fuel advocates (as an aside, the Ethanol protagonists conveniently omit to explain that Ethanol requires more input energy to manufacture, than it itself produces, and a recent study dedicated to establishing how many scientists agree with the alarmist view, reported the following:

40% believe global warming is entirely man made. Another 40% believe man contributes, but that definitive conclusions are hard to make given a variety of other factors and evidence. The remaining 20% either do not believe global warming is man's fault, or find too little evidence to suggest it is a viable conclusion based on available information.

Incidentally, a season or two ago, when the Eiger north face failed to come into condition, and the Spider showed massive retreat, the alarmists shouted from the rooftops that global warming was about to change the classics forever. Yet when, the following season was a bumper winter, and more recently this year when the Nordwand was soloed in under 4 hours (that's 3000ft of climbing!!) by Ueli Steck (in prime conditions), the alarmists were quiet. Similarly, this year the Shroud (on the North Face of the Grand Jorasses) was in very poor nick, yet the Petit Jorasses was in exceptional condition and literally over-run by today's hard men repeating (and opening) current classics, the alarmists were screaming about global warming (re the Shroud), while the climbers were raving about the great conditions just next door!

All this allowed me a new and greater appreciation for the (non-glossy, recycled, environment friendly) climbing mag that had recently arrived in my postbox. Sure there was the usual too's-and-fro's about ethics and style, but nowhere did I feel that any article had any secondary motive lurking behind the positively intended inspiration, and the unselfish desire to share. The worst, perhaps, is reading about 'nearly-successful' endeavors – but even then the worst case scenario is reading articles which, to quote Michael Kennedy, who describes climbing sray as "putting the best possible spin on our outwardly fruitless struggles".

My only (current) disappointment is that our current 'cutting-edge' sportsmen (and women), those who are flying our flag, keeping us current internationally and pushing South African climbing are not "sharing the love".
...or maybe boulderers can't write??


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