How Does the Public View Us?

Know that it's with irony when I say that I love when non-climbers talk about climbing like they understand it. (Although I do relish how the misinformed always seem to have the strongest opinions because it can be very entertaining.) Case in point: an editorial in the Standard Examiner that had this to say about climbers in Arches National Park:

"The fact is climbing areas such as Delicate Arch is more fad than sport. These natural resources are not particularly difficult to climb. Many of today's climbers are as likely to climb for the publicity as they are for the sheer respect of the terrain."

The accompanying cartoon shows a gorilla on top of an arch with an onlooker filming, saying, "Smile, sweetheart. You're gonna be Youtube famous." Wow. Aside from my initial disagreement with much of this statement, it brings two things to mind.

First, it appears that the disservice Dean Potter did to climbers by going up the Delicate Arch is still having lasting consequences in the public's mind.

Second, does the public now view climbers as a bunch of video and media obsessed goons who care more about image and spray than the activity itself? As the writer of a blog who does push the media elements of the sport, this is something I've often wondered about. In the end, are we using the internet to share our passion or to inflate our egos? I prefer to think it's the former, but I'm sure the latter is mixed in. After all, what is 8a.nu if not ego run amok? Regardless, how the public views climbers is obviously a big issue in public debates concerning access issues. This is a bigger theme than I want to get into at the moment (finals today for summer classes! ugh! Moving tomorrow!). So I'm gonna let a full blown post on this come at a later time perhaps.

But you should check out the editorial for a somewhat maddening read. And let 'em know your opinion, too.


I didn't know a whole lot about Potter's climb on the arch except for the fact that it caused a lot of controversy. I figured I should know what I was talking about before I said he did a disservice to the climbing community. I found an in-depth article on Outside's website that is definitely worth reading on the matter. Here's a quote from someone who initially supported Dean:
"There are many people who think Dean just walked up there and climbed it," Daly says. "I wanted to think that, because I have all this respect for him and this spiritual context under which he says he climbs. And I think other people want to believe that. That's why I feel so hurt. He did rehearse it. It was for a photo shoot. It was a communal effort by a group of people, and there is damage to the arch. It takes all the polish off the diamond."
A video clip is brought up in the article and should appear alongside it, as it was apparently shot after roped rehearsals. The embed on the video is disabled, so check it out on Youtube.


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