14ers, climbing, and popularity

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TallGrass
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Re: 14ers, climbing, and popularity

Postby TallGrass » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:01 pm

"2. How much of the current popularity of climbing can be attributed to sites like 14ers.com?"

Enthusiasts disseminate via available communication technology. E.g., Muir and Emerson used print. It is not humans that have changed as much as the speed of transmission.

"3. Does this flood of information help make mountain climbing a safer activity? ... allow us to not have to critically think ... becoming safer or more dangerous as a whole?"

Safety is a matter of risk management. Risk carries a factor of personal perception. While critical thinking is necessary to generate or cull prudencies, it is not a requisite for general hazard navigation. The average motorist's daily commute is a good example (e.g. passing another 3,000lb steel object within eight feet and a dV of 120mph... i.e. two-lane blacktop). Differentiation tends occur with the onset of novel stimuli and or situations.

"4. With the increase of popularity, do you see a decline in the idea of Ecotourism?"

Do you see a decline in National Park interest? While ecotourism may be the new catch phrase, by description it's popularity tends to correlate with 1. urbanization and 2. leisure time. A nature walk is nothing new, not by centuries, though accessibility (logistics, money, time) does evolve.

"5. Do you think think these activities could have happened 20 years ago? 5-10 years ago?"

How about 80 years ago?
Image
Yes, they failed to post a TR on 14ers.com so it probably didn't happen.
Image
Source: The Hull Cook Journals

"How much credit/blame should be given to online communities and new media for the so-called "birth" of these variations?"

Zilch. That would be like crediting the Colorado Revised Statutes for the creation of law.
Technology does not "birth" or create this, people do, and as the above illustrates, the times may change (more appropriately the tools, tech, materials, or resources as well as accessibility), but "boys will be boys."
See response to #2.
Correlation is not causation.
Simple order of discovery does distinguish between a progenitor and a mere cohort artifact.

"6. [D]o you believe you could have formed these relationships before places like 14ers.com existed?"

Interpersonal communication and social skills/desires exist without regard to technology. Though the latter may facilitate, it's absence has never precluded its exploration nor fruition.

"7. How much of the technical skills needed have been pushed to the side, in exchange for the "If you have the money, you can climb" mentality?"

Read up on the history of the first summiting of the Matterhorn. You had a party of X trading his money for Y's local experience, and Y trading his experience for X's money. nihil sub sōle novum
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:
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Tiredness is the shortest path to equality and fraternity - and sleep finally adds to them liberty."
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Craig Cook
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Re: 14ers, climbing, and popularity

Postby Craig Cook » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:26 pm

First and foremost - thanks to everyone whos has responded.

I want to apologize for question #4. Ecotourism was a term my professor used when I gave him my topic for the project, and I misread what the definition was. Yeah, driving across the state, flying across the country, etc. doesn't exactly demonstrate ecotourism.

What my question should have said was something more like this;

4. With the increase of popularity, do you see a decline in traditional climbing practices? How so? For example, there was a recent thread about people pooping on summits. People who leave toasters on summits, blatantly going against LNT principles. People walking across tundra (This past summer while hiking the DeCaLiBron, I saw a "trail" next to the real trail, made from people who I assume didn't want to hike up rocks and instead walked on the tundra - and enough people followed it that now, instead of tundra, there's a long skinny line of dirt).

Or perhaps, is the popularity and outreach of online climbing communities actually a tool to help educate a greater number of people about these practices? Does it allow more people to become educated and involved in conservation of these environments?

For example, CFI does a lot of work on trail restoration. As more and more people hike/climb mountains, the work of groups like CFI become much more difficult. But on the other hand, CFI also won a new truck last year via online voting. And if you look at the large banner on the home page, you'll see CFI has the opportunity to win tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars through CHASE via online voting - would this have possible without new media?

Is there a balancing act? Where does that balance begin to tip one way or the other? Do we need to start issuing limited permits (a la Half Dome) to maintain these mountains for future generations?




TallGrass wrote:"How much credit/blame should be given to online communities and new media for the so-called "birth" of these variations?"

Zilch. That would be like crediting the Colorado Revised Statutes for the creation of law.
Technology does not "birth" or create this, people do, and as the above illustrates, the times may change (more appropriately the tools, tech, materials, or resources as well as accessibility), but "boys will be boys."
See response to #2.
Correlation is not causation.
Simple order of discovery does distinguish between a progenitor and a mere cohort artifact.


I agree with you in the sense that people have always done seemingly crazy things. My interest is in how social media and online communities have accelerated that process. Someone else mentioned the "checkmark" theory of climbing, which I find fascinating. Has new media stripped us of the simple joys of the mountains in an effort to check a little box? Are we more interested in the success of a climb or in how quick we can get those photos uploaded to Facebook?

TallGrass wrote:"6. [D]o you believe you could have formed these relationships before places like 14ers.com existed?"

Interpersonal communication and social skills/desires exist without regard to technology. Though the latter may facilitate, it's absence has never precluded its exploration nor fruition.


Again, you are right - people communicated before the internet. I should have asked if these relationships could have formed to the extent they now do without new/social media. For example - before hiking this summer, I discussed meeting up for climbs with multiple people via 14ers.com. Without this site, I would have never known those people even existed, let alone try to plan a climb with them.
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Craig Cook
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Re: 14ers, climbing, and popularity

Postby Craig Cook » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:19 am

Shameless bump to try to get a few more responses to the discussion.

Anyone?
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Re: 14ers, climbing, and popularity

Postby San Juan Ron » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:32 am

I would just add that, in my opinion and there have been many articles confirming this, the number of hikers doing 14ers in Colorado has exploded in the past 20 years BUT the number of hikers on non-14ers has declined over the same period of time. Lots of great trails and hiking areas that do not see traffic while there may be large groups of people on nearby 14ers. SJ Ron
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Re: 14ers, climbing, and popularity

Postby milan » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:22 am

Craig Cook wrote:1. For those who have been climbing for a long time, how has the landscape (figuratively, not literally) changed over the last 20 years? The last 5 years?

2. How much of the current popularity of climbing can be attributed to sites like 14ers.com?

3. Mountain climbing sites like this one provide a vast array of information and data to aid any hiker/climber, from a newbie going for their first mountain, to experts who have done the 58 14ers and are looking for more obscure peaks. Does this flood of information help make mountain climbing a safer activity? Or does it's ability to allow us to not have to critically think while in the mountains actually present more danger (e.g. - getting into situations a person can't get out of)? In other words, as popularity grows, are we becoming safer or more dangerous as a whole?

4. (Please see my post on page 2 of this thread)

5. As with any popular activity, people have begun finding ways to put a new twist on an old hobby. Pajama parties. Summit kegs. Hot tubs. Do you think think these activities could have happened 20 years ago? 5-10 years ago? How much credit/blame should be given to online communities and new media for the so-called "birth" of these variations?

6. How has new media affected your ability to form new relationships with climbing partners? Do you have a set group of people you climb with? How did you meet them? If it was through online communuities, do you believe you could have formed these relationships before places like 14ers.com existed?

7. Popularity is increasing in hiking outside of Colorado as well. With it comes all sorts of guides that can take you up a mountain for a fee. How has this changed the climbing culture for mountains such as Everest, or Denali? How much of the technical skills needed have been pushed to the side, in exchange for the "If you have the money, you can climb" mentality? Or closer to home - if you have a route description and topo map, you can climb. This ties into question 3, about how money and easy acces to beta affect one's personal climbing abilities.


1. I am not sure what you mean by this question. Earlier I was climbing in different mountain ranges, some much more visited than the rockies, some much less. I guess in general, more people are going there and it leaves more impact.
2 . They do increase popularity of mountaineering, for sure - how much, I don't know, I started because I had a lot of friends climbers and I wanted to participate on their adventures. Maybe you should ask primarily the forum here something like: "What inspired you that you started climbing mountains? and suggest it as one of the answers." Otherwise you will just get guess...
3. It surely increases the level of safety. Sites like this are a great source of information, personal opinions, gear suggestions, people sometimes get here together to teach each other new skills. For those who need it, it provides very accurate route description and advice how to climb over the difficult parts. But even if you rely havily on those description, the final decisions and technique of the moves will be depending on your skills. Maybe some people don't develop enough routefinding and compass/map skills because of abundant pictures but it never was my problem. On the other side, together with the popularity those sites encourage, I think more rookies go to the mountains and they may get in troubles, however, I didn't see this as a large problem.
4. I think that LNT practice is a pretty new thing. People used to throw cans and garbage in the mountains, hike all over; I found 50 years old cans comming out of a glacier in Caucasus. Nobody cared about alpine tundra and wildlife. What actually changed is the number of people there. So one rusty can is not an ecological problem, its just aesthetic problem, it does not do any harm there. A foot thick layer of rusty cans is an ecological problem because grass can't grow there and marmots will starve.. Or one hiker on an alpine tundra is no big deal but 25 hikers a day is...The more people in the mountains, the bigger harm to them even if the behavior of each of the hiker would be much better that behavior of a single climber in the past.
5. Those things were always there as you can see from other posts, maybe they become more popular because people want to put those pictures on facebook.
6. A very complex question. Start from the end. Yes, I was in a group of climbers far before the internet became a popular media. We connected via collecting fossils, trespassing to quarries and mines and we were in an organized climbing club. There is such club (or more of them) in every city all over the Czech Republic, Europe, they are up to 100 years old and you have those in Colorado as well. That used to be the way to find your partners. Climbing gyms came later and it was another place to meet new climbers. After I came to Colorado, I naturally flocked with Czechs in the chemistry department at CU where I worked and since one of them was a climber, we were partners for my first three years there and did about 25 14ers together. After he had left, I got in troubles, I met several americans - hikers/climbers and learned how unreliable many people in the USA are, very often planning trips for 3 weeks, including every detail what we need to bring and finally cancelling the whole trip the evening before because they have more important things to do. That time I started to hike more and more solo, I still planned stuff with people if they wanted but learned not to care if they bailed on me last minute, learned to always bring everything with me (not to divide stuff like you bring a tent, I will bring food). During the last year, I started to look for climbers on this web site and I had to say, it worked well. I joined larger groups climbing easy mountains and on every trip I found somebody who I liked to hike with and who I hiked again because we clicked. Those people turned to be more realiable again and I was looking for them for more difficult climbs. I still climbed solo a lot but this summer I went for the most difficult classic 14er routes and I wanted other people around. Sometimes, I posted a thread here including my plann and usually got response from others and when I climbed with them, it turned great. I got very lucky with meeting people climbing in Chicago Basin, the Bells and Pyramid, Wilson Pk, Crestones, Culebra and Capitol and I count them as close friends. I think it was not only luck but also the fact, that those peaks are being climbed by more advanced and experienced people, people who love mountains and not just random rookies who don't know what they are doing there. So, yes, meeting people works here well but you have to be selective and try to find who are you climbing with. With less luck, you may run into a stranger.
7. I would have mental difficulty to take a guide up the mountain, first of all, I am cheap. Second of all, I like both the friendship and I like solitude. This makes me to pick, either go with friends or go solo, depending on mood, confidence with the terrain. I would probably have some sort of block if there was money - business issue between me and the guide. I actually was on a guided trip in Caucasus Mountains, 3 weeks with a group of friends and what happned, we stayed within this group, became friends with only several more people on the trip but stayed kind of away of the group leader and actually most of the others. We just didn't click and didn't look for it. I would never go for Everest, its far above my skills and I'd hate waiting in a line until so many people pass by.
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Re: 14ers, climbing, and popularity

Postby GeezerClimber » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:57 am

I started climbing about 30 years ago. Here's some of the changes I've seen:

1. Number of people on summits: not much change, especially on the easier ones. There were large crowds on front range and mosquito summits 30 years ago. At the time, Borneman and Lampert's guide was given much credit (or blame) for this. Prior to that, there was a CMC guide which was not of much use. Gerry Roach's guides were even more thorough and he felt compelled to actually write an essay "In Defense of Mountaineering Guidebooks" in his Colorado Fourteeners book. Some people criticize the desemination of info out of fear the mountains will be overrun. Now 14ers.com gets similar praise or criticism. Colorado's population has increased a ton in the last 30 years and no doubt more people head to the hills for recreation. But in my admittedly unscientific observation, I don't think climbing has kept pace with the population increase. Demographics may be playing a role. Thirty years ago, it seemed like we were all young on summits with an occasional "old person" (over 50). Now, I'm usually the oldest on the summits and there are a lot more 40 and 50 somethings. People tend to give up climbing with age. One of my contemporaries commented that all his old rock climbing pals had turned into fat sofa spuds.

2. Trails are much better overall and much thanks goes to CFI. It makes climbing and route finding easier and more importantly has reduced environmental damage to slopes that once had many trails and invited serious erosion. I have reclimbed quite a few summits in recent years that I first did 20 or more years ago and the difference is often dramatic.

3. I actually find less trash on trails and summits than years ago and much of it appears to be of the accidental type, not conscious throw aways. Like most hikers, I pick up trash when I find it. Trails and summits are remarkably clean considering their heavy use. I find more trash hiking in other parts of the country.

4. Equipment has improved a lot from packs to clothing and food.

5. Generally speaking, I don't think people can have too much info. When planning a new climb, I use 14er.com guides and photos as well as reports from other climbers. On harder climbs in particular, good planning is an important key to overall safety. Allowing enough time, staying on route, etc. are very important. I try not to overdo it because I still want some sense of adventure and discovery. I don't think I see any more unprepared climbers now than I did 30 years ago. People who are new at it, especially from out of state, are often unprepared and unknowlegable about the risks, especially weather. It is not unusual to pass people on the popular peaks that you know aren't going to make it because they have no idea what they have bitten off. This was true 30 years ago as well.

6. I think of "ecotourism" as a term invented to separate urban dwellers from their cash. Going on an "ecotour" makes the customer feel better about themselves. I doubt the internet affects the practice in any way.

7. People used to join clubs to find like minded people for recreation and shared interests. Clubs of all types are finding it more difficult to recruit and retain members in the internet age. I don't waste brain cells trying to decide if this is good or bad because it is inevitable.

8. A final note: without the internet generally and 14ers.com in particular, Missy the dog would have perished miserably on the sawtooth. Internet communities such as this can lead to a lot of good.

Dave
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Re: 14ers, climbing, and popularity

Postby MtHurd » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:20 am

Craig Cook wrote:1. For those who have been climbing for a long time, how has the landscape (figuratively, not literally) changed over the last 20 years? The last 5 years?


The climbing landscape is vastly different than it was 20 or 30 years ago. I started off in the San Juans and Sangre de Cristos since for me they were actually closer than other ranges. I saw very few people on the summits, most of the time we were by ourselves. As time went on the people started to increase in numbers. In the last 5 years it's gone way up. The Sanges and San Juans still have less people than the front, but it's still way more than it used to be.


2. How much of the current popularity of climbing can be attributed to sites like 14ers.com?


Climbing sites like 14ers.com play a huge part in the popularity. It's the ease of information available for the 14ers and the ease of climbing the 14ers in Colorado. If many of the summits were as difficult as Rainier or North Pal, internet or not the popularity would be vastly diminished.

I started off with Borneman and Lamperts book and then moved on to Roach and Dawson for information. Now the internet dominates and I rarely even look at those books for the 14ers. Fortunately I've moved on to other peaks so I don't have to share the summit with so many people now.


3. Mountain climbing sites like this one provide a vast array of information and data to aid any hiker/climber, from a newbie going for their first mountain, to experts who have done the 58 14ers and are looking for more obscure peaks. Does this flood of information help make mountain climbing a safer activity? Or does it's ability to allow us to not have to critically think while in the mountains actually present more danger (e.g. - getting into situations a person can't get out of)? In other words, as popularity grows, are we becoming safer or more dangerous as a whole?

In some ways it makes it safer, in some ways it doesn't. For instance my first 14er was Eolus by the South Ridge route. I had no book, just a map. It was pretty scary for a 16 year old kid on a boy scout trip. But we survived. When I got home I bought my first 14er book and I didn't make the same mistake again by taking a technical or semi-technical route without knowing it first.

On the other hand, all the hype about finishing the 14ers does seem to attract a lot more weekend warriors that don't understand the dangers of climbing the 14ers or are simply not fit enough to climb the mountains safely. Just the sheer numbers of climbers increases the odds of an accident as well. I've also seen some accounts of people trying to rush to the summit with a storm coming in simply because they want to get finished with the 14ers quicker. I don't blame the websites or the books. It's a free country and everyone should be able to be accountable for their own actions.


4.With the increase of popularity, do you see a decline in traditional climbing practices? How so? For example, there was a recent thread about people pooping on summits. People who leave toasters on summits, blatantly going against LNT principles. People walking across tundra (This past summer while hiking the DeCaLiBron, I saw a "trail" next to the real trail, made from people who I assume didn't want to hike up rocks and instead walked on the tundra - and enough people followed it that now, instead of tundra, there's a long skinny line of dirt).

I would say no to this. The more people on the summits, the more likely you will find idiots (like the ones that haul kegs of beer up to summits and then have a drunken party). I think most of those that I see in the hills have a high regard for the environment.

5. As with any popular activity, people have begun finding ways to put a new twist on an old hobby. Pajama parties. Summit kegs. Hot tubs. Do you think think these activities could have happened 20 years ago? 5-10 years ago? How much credit/blame should be given to online communities and new media for the so-called "birth" of these variations?

Other than someone smoking weed on a summit, I would have never imaged seeing a pajama party or a hot tub parties on a summit. I think the internet allows like minded individuals to come up with something like that, so yes, the internet probably has something to do with it. Without the internet I doubt someone who wanted to haul a hot tub to the summit would be able to find someone else to share that experience with them. Now all you have to do is post it on the internet and the odds are greatly increased that someone else would find that to be a good idea.

6. How has new media affected your ability to form new relationships with climbing partners? Do you have a set group of people you climb with? How did you meet them? If it was through online communuities, do you believe you could have formed these relationships before places like 14ers.com existed?


Some of my climbing partners to this day happened as a result of the internet. Some of them are my best friends. I would have never met these people without the internet. I do have a group of climbers I climb regularly with, but I also seem to meet new climbing partners every year by talking with people on 14ers.com.


7. Popularity is increasing in hiking outside of Colorado as well. With it comes all sorts of guides that can take you up a mountain for a fee. How has this changed the climbing culture for mountains such as Everest, or Denali? How much of the technical skills needed have been pushed to the side, in exchange for the "If you have the money, you can climb" mentality? Or closer to home - if you have a route description and topo map, you can climb. This ties into question 3, about how money and easy acces to beta affect one's personal climbing abilities.

I don't have enough knowledge to comment about anything other that what I've seen on TV about Everest. Seems like Everest has been ruined. Have you really climbed it if you spent $60 grand and had all your gear hauled up by a Sherpa? In my opinion not really.

..........


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