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Faded Dream

Posted on: July 28, 2008

A few years ago, I decided that climbing would be my life. I had never really touched rock, much less used any of the equipment required to indulge in this activity. But the pictures of rock stars and those capturing the magic of the mountains were enough for me to quit my job and delve into this new passion. I was ready to escape the mediocrity of my job scene, where people were so catty with each other. I couldn't wait to meet people who were beyond such pettiness. And so I signed up for the many clinics around the country—the Red Rocks Rendezvous, Goddesses on Rock, the Ouray Ice Festival, the Squamish Mountain Festival, Women's Rock WE, etc. I wanted to learn fast, and thought that learning from the best would be the only way to become an accomplished all around climber.

I met many of the athletes often pictured in magazines. It was a lot like meeting really movie stars. I would take clinics with them, spending hours on end with them. I was in awe. I would pick their brains about climbing, about how they got where they are at, about how great it must be to belong to such a community. And this is when I found out that any community suffers from the same issues that us, normal people, experience everyday.


Recently, I was taking a rock rescue clinic and my teacher yet another famous athlete started telling me about the negative sides of this dream world. "In the climbing community," the athlete said, "people are most hypocritical. They pad each other on the back when they see each other, but otherwise, they just trash each other. People criticize others non-stop. It seems like bad mouthing is even more a passion than climbing! It's as though people are so insecure that to shine brighter, they just dump on other people. It's a shame that there is such nauseous competitiveness amongst elite climbers and alpinists, but it's the reality of it!"

I had left my job, aspiring to belong to a pure spirited community. Yet, I have disappointingly come to realize that the snow is just not any whiter on the other side of the ridgeline.

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Keese Lane

Second that Ander.

2011-12-15 02:45:39

Damo- nice post.

2011-12-13 21:51:54

"A few years ago, I decided that climbing would be my life. I had never really touched rock, much less used any of the equipment required to indulge in this activity. But the pictures of rock stars and those capturing the magic of the mountains were enough for me to quit my job and delve into this new passion."

Um...excuse me, but how exactly can you have developed a "passion" for something you hadn't even done yet? Sounds like your 'passion' was for an image of climbing as projected by your ego, and all the special status it would potentially bestow upon you in the eyes of others. You sound like someone who abandoned one religion for another, replaced one form of escape with a new one, without taking a moment to ask yourself what was motivating you at the core. You may very well love climbing, but with all the distractions you've built into it, how can you really tell? Reading your story, I certainly can't.

Building your entire climbing apprenticeship and schedule around the clinics and festivals circuit sounds like a grand opportunity for spending 100% of your time sucking up to 'famous' athletes, entrenching yourself in the role of stargazer, and deluding yourself into thinking the jaded ramblings of business climbers and the show and tell-all pageantry constitute the totality of the climbing experience.

Like Damo points out above, spending as many of your free days as possible out in the mountains, actually climbing, in the company of close friends, is a lot less sexy than hobnobbing with celebrity athletes; but if self knowledge, life changing comradery, and a simpler way of life is what you've been've been looking in the wrong places, sister.

2008-07-29 14:44:27

I empathise with your desire to leave what you felt was a mediocre existence, and I applaud your actually doing something about it. But I think you would have made a happier transition if you examined your motives and desires a bit better before you jumped. From what you write above, it sounds like you're more a self-imposed victim of celebrity culture than anything to do with climbing itself.

You can't buy your way into the best essence of any lifestyle, you have to create it yourself with like-minded companions. People who want to DO it, not just be SEEN to do it. Paying to take shortcuts means you miss out on so much of the personal internal stuff that makes climbing so special for many of us. Starting by paying for so many clinics, with an overt view to meeting 'famous' climbers is a bit weird. Maybe it would have been better to start a bit lower down the food chain and just enjoy days out with new friends of similar ability. But I guess that's not sexy, eh?

Lots of pro climbers are how you describe as that's what often happens when your passion becomes your job. If they don't like it they should leave and get a real job. Chasing money does that to people - everywhere, not only in climbing. Just avoid pro climbers and go climbing. Do you actually enjoy climbing? Or just the idea of climbing as portrayed in magazines?

I make these comments not knowing you, or what else you may have done. But what you've written above blames 'climbing' and not you yourself. That is not a good balance.

You became disillusioned because of the path you took, not because of the destination.


2008-07-28 19:55:15
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