All About the Hashtag.


#Adam George Climbing Inachevée Conception in Cogne last week with his hands and feet and axes and crampons and using the rope purely for safety SHOCKER! #Amazing #History in the making #Unbelievable #Important #Not as big as the Shard.


Its 8am and I’m sitting on my bed, leaning against the wall, eating breakfast and listening to the Today Programme on Radio 4. The cream coloured duvet is rucked and crumpled; a few crumbs of toast lay scattered. In a flash my mind highlights, ‘these crumbs will cause me grief later’ and then it locks on to something else, John Humphrys has just mentioned rock climbing – he did, he really did. I quickly put down my mug of coffee before I choke. Throwing coffee over my bed will be a load more annoying than crumbs.

The news item that is being talked about on Radio 4 is Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s ascent of #TheDawnWall in Yosemite. After only a few seconds the age old cliché and massively over worked word, ‘conquered’ is used, and its followed with the usual platitudes and ignorance and damaging condescending jokey banter which interviewers generally revert to when talking about something they do not understand or see value in.

This is surely a dream. More coffee. I risk taking another sip but as I do, John Long, yes, THE, John Long, a climber whom I respect as much for his writing as his climbing enters into #TheDawnWall spray, “This is incredible, amazing, its history in the making.” I choked. Coffee sprayed across the room. Guess my duvet cover was doomed from the word go.

In society and media today, I know there is fascination with the lives of others, reality TV and general pap, its abundant and devoured and it could be said that two very driven and accomplished rock climbers successfully climbing a cutting edge new route is refreshing and I would agree. Also in the news this week was The Charlie Hebdo murders, Boko Haram had murdered two thousand people in Nigeria, innocent people with families and friends held hostage by Islamic State, were beheaded, two young girls had been used by men to act as suicide bombers and murdered at least nineteen people and of course had blown themselves to bits and here I was listening to a report on Radio 4, supposedly a serious news outlet, telling me how amazing and important and history making it was that two climbers had reached the top of a rock climb in Yosemite and as usual when climbing hits mainstream it wasn’t even reported correctly, “The first time El Cap has been free climbed.” No it isn’t.  

I am a climber… in fact; I am quite a dedicated climber, someone who can see the personal value in climbing for the individual at all levels and within all genres. As a personal achievement, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s ascent of #TheDawnWall is exceptional and I whole heartedly commend them. They are both very skilled, grass roots climbers and have worked exceptionally hard, the vision to climb #The DawWall is inspirational and I do not intend in any way to be insulting or derogatory to their ascent. In light of much that is reported under the heading ‘Climbing’ #TheDawnWall is at least grass roots and worthy, it’s actually a new line and climbed in good style and for once it isn’t the oldest, the youngest or the quickest and they have not attempted to disguise or hide the actual facts about the style of ascent, they did not use oxygen, so good on them.

In the very small pond, which is climbing, although growing bigger by the day since #TheDawnWall mainstream mega spray, #TheDawnWall ascent is history, but, and I say this as a person who values climbing and what it gives to those taking part, it is not “world history in the making”, and even within climbing, to sell this ascent as the most difficult climb in the world is hype and incorrect and devalues many other ground breaking climbs. Not for one moment do I think Tommy Caldwell or Kevin Jorgeson had anything to do with the majority of what was put out, but this is the problem when you give news of your dream climb to a media company, or leave it in the hands of an over-zealous sponsor.     

The mainstream reporting of #TheDawnWall is just another example of how headlines within the mainstream media industry need to be quantifiable, understandable and this is part of the problem, because the majority do not, and never will understand climbing. So they – the masses – will be spoon-fed platitudes, clichés, comparisons, trite jokes and dumbed-down. “They are climbing with only their hands and feet,”(Really!) And this ignorant reporting damages and belittles and actually makes climbers sound like ignorant obsessed fools who have no regard for what is actually real history in the making and truly important world events that affect humanity as a whole.

I do not have any issue with climbing being reported in the correct place and to an audience that understand – climbing sites, climbing magazines – these places and the people who report for them will at least understand the intricacies of what they report, but any climber that has direct involvement with the likes of The Daily Mail and Fox News – I mean this generically as I don’t know whether Caldwell and Jorgeson did – should really question their motives and integrity. In my mind these horrible racist and acerbic right-wing media outlets should be avoided like a sexually transmitted disease.

As the morning continued I became more and more ‘amazed’ yes, to me the truly amazing thing about this was not the actual physical aspect of successfully climbing #TheDawnWall, which is a brilliant effort, but let’s face it, it was always going to happen as it involved two of the best rock climbers in the world who are fortunate and good enough to be able to dedicate several years to working the moves, so of course, at some point it was going to happen. No, the most amazing thing was how much airtime and press and how many well-known climbers were jumping aboard #TheDawnWallGravyTrain to be interviewed and appear in, and on, mainstream media and nearly without exception, every one of these experts said the same thing … “It’s amazing, history in the making, it’s a really important, hands and feet, they shit in a tube, it’s the same as winning a gold medal, bigger than The Shard, the most difficult… “

I’m sorry, the successful ascent of #TheDawnWall on the grand scheme really is not important or amazing and it’s not like winning a gold medal – climbing  #TheDawnWall is not a competition, it wasn’t and isn’t athletics, there are no losers or winners – climbing in my mind is not sport, it’s a lifestyle, it goes so much deeper than being sport, so please don’t try to compare it with a competitive sport that a crowd pay money to watch. Once again this is an attempt to make the general public appreciate how major this ascent is for climbers, but why do we need to tell people how important this is for us? I do not really understand competition climbing and I know this is my problem. I certainly do not want to see climbing in the Olympics as I think it will dilute and affect the grass roots level of the activity, but I can see that on some level, competitions and events do pave the way to acceptance for the individual and I suppose this has to be a good thing.    

Climbing #TheDawnWall was two very skilful and driven and fortunate climbers, whom I respect tremendously doing something that is important to them, but it’s not the cure for Ebola, climbing is a privileged activity that the masses think involves a bunch of skinny and ignorant and obsessed folk who are funded by Mummy and Daddy and too lazy to do a ‘proper job.’  

Personally I think the ‘expert’, climbers appearing on TV and radio lost a great opportunity to actually say something meaningful and show the world that climbers can be rounded and world-wise and conscious of world events that actually are important? Maybe somehow, they could have attempted to explain what it is about climbing that makes it such a great activity and why climbers do what they do and why at times, may appear to forsake and try to ignore some of the inhumanity and inequality and madness. Maybe I’m being unfair, maybe I missed the reports where they did say something different and meaningful or maybe they were not given the opportunity. If this is the case, I apologise but you also had the choice to say thanks, but no thanks; you could have argued that the general public do not need the same old platitudes and clichés.

As climbers do we really need to appease the masses or act like performing monkeys? If money is that tight, and I don’t begrudge at all grassroots climbers like Caldwell and Jorgeson wanting to earn a wage, but for some of the other supposedly ‘top climbers’ out there who have been involved in forms of climbing that are more stunts than actual climbing, please make sure you sell us out for a whole pot of money that will make you comfortable for the rest of your life, don’t dumb down and ruin and make a mockery of our beloved lifestyle for peanuts, because you will only prove that we really are all monkeys.

“Good on them, they are making a living and not damaging anything.” I hear this said regularly about the ‘top climbers’ that have broken into mainstream, well I actually do think they are damaging climbing and I think much of what is being done is dishonest. Honesty and integrity appear to have been forsaken in the pursuit of lying to the public, making another headline, raising a profile and increasing the bank balance or attempting to become the next Bear Grylls or Ben Fogle. 

We can all make mistakes, everyone who has dedicated their life to a passion and activity that has costs running into tens of thousands – airfare, expedition costs, peak fees, Liaison Officer bills, environmental costs, garbage deposits and freight costs can easily be tempted, it is very easy not to see the big picture and the damage that may come from letting a PR company deal with your affairs or accepting money from a company who has no connection to climbing.

Several years ago I was part of a team funded by Samsung to attempt a new route on Annapurna III and at the time I battled with the implications of being funded by an electronics company, but in the end I accepted. The person we liaised was passionate and honest and had an understanding of what we were attempting, but it soon became apparent the company in general did not and some of their marketing strategy went against what I stood for. Fortunately nothing came of the attempt and nothing came from the marketing. Soon after our failure, Samsung moved their marketing with a lot more success to a mountain the mainstream media and the general public do associate as it has a quantifiable aspect in being the highest, even bigger than The Shard I believe, and all went well in the sale of phones because of course everyone needs to tweet from 8000m.  

I now know I made a mistake becoming involved with a non-climbing company, I was greedy and I grabbed the chance to attempt a mountain I really wanted to experience – desire got the better of me. I am now older and I have experienced and learnt, I have not been involved within a climbing capacity with a non-climbing company since and I certainly will not allow any company to act on my behalf when dealing with the press, without total control of what is being said.

If you are a climber you will know that tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson have sacrificed in their endeavours and to us, ‘climbers’ this is valuable and commendable and inspirational, but once it begins to be reported in the mainstream, all of the intricacies and subtleties go out of the window.

My fear for climbing is that once we drink from the mainstream chalice, which obviously began a long time ago and has been a part of climbing ever since, we lose control. Media climbing is escalating massively given modern technology and my fear is this,  how long is it in today’s society, a society of government cuts and austerity, before the consequences of putting ourselves out into the public domain hit – how long before government takes notice and regulations begin? How long before a rope tax or a crag tax, or you have to have private health care because you are being reckless alongside those other risk takers who smoke or eat McDonalds burgers, who, dare I say, have possibly been drawn in by advertising and it is not their fault. How long before insurance companies and major conglomerates that have nothing to do with climbing, see an angle and get involved – well, of course they already have and the damage is there to be seen. How long before something that is very close to our hearts becomes commoditised and ruled by companies that have no connection or history or empathy with climbing and climbing history or climbers as individuals, companies who do not care about their effect and the damage as long as the money just keeps flowing?

Climbers appear very fond of hashtags nowadays so here are a few of my own,










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18 Responses to All About the Hashtag.

  1. mark goodwin says:

    ‘As I Cramponed Up One Morning’
    with acknowledgment to W.H. Auden

    As I cramponed up one morning,
    climbing up Distant Peak,
    the fields upon the far off plains
    were crowds of starved meek.

    And upon the smile of a curling cornice
    I heard the weather sing
    a loud chill to the depths of lava:
    ‘Love has no meaning.

    ‘I’ll be random, I’ll be random
    as every flake of pain,
    the crystals of no meaning
    will fall and will remain,

    ‘the serac is just white blood
    stiff at the vulva of death,
    and the avalanche is the last slide
    of male cells bereft.’

    Then all the warm in the atoms
    began to weep and spume:
    a tongue of ions lit the skies
    while the mountains grew maroon.

    Rock-purple shadows coagulated
    as men in pin-striped suits
    cramponed up rock-hard accounts,
    and snowfields glazed with loot.

    The hot breath of granite entwined
    with the soft, red pulse of flesh,
    while oxygenless lungs gasped
    hollowed-out children’s deaths.

    The pin-stripes wriggled lasciviously
    on Chomolangma’s teat,
    the monk in the ice-grotto died,
    and the dust devoured the wheat.

    ‘I’ll be random, I’ll be random,’
    the snowflake laughed its fractals,
    ‘Go on, chalk the cloth of the mountains

    with lines of lifts to hotels,

    ‘and I will break the fingery dance
    and the climber’s brilliant show.
    Your money may be green in your wallet
    but not in The Abode of Snow.

    ‘Your cupboard stinks in the glacier,
    your bed-stains show in the desert,
    and cracks in icy snouts snot out
    your ancestors’ flattened hearts.

    ‘O stare, stare at the spectre
    that waves from rainbowed clouds;
    wonder at the cost of his ice-axe:
    how light, and stiff, and proud!

    ‘O climb, climb in the wilderness
    as naked as genuine grief,
    and you will reap the roots of id
    but still be born of thieves.’

    It was late, late in the evening,
    as I climbed down Distant Peak;
    the loose stuffing from my armchair
    was snow around my feet.

    And the media talked of wars and mountains;
    of how many deaths today,
    while the random fractals kept falling:
    sugary and heavy on névé.

  2. The voice of wisdom.
    I knew you were writing this blog post and I’ve had a mental tug of war with myself about being a professional photographer and media person. I know, I have huge responsibility reporting climbing and sharing my climbing adventures with the mainstream media.
    I’m still puzzled if compromise is possible or perhaps the ‘new way’ will take over and climbing (and its values) as we know it at grass root level will be one day a thing of the past?!
    Food for thought, thanks for sharing Nick!

    • Nick Bullock says:

      Lukasz, Thanks for your intelligent and thought provoking reply. Food for thought for sure. 🙂

    • Robert Rogoz (aka Polishbob) says:

      It is not possible in current format. Media feeds only on disasters, tragedies or hype. And if something is not fitting these categories, it will conform until it does.
      If you report with delay (like the FFA of the Nose, where pics were taken after the actual ascent), a person has a degree of control. However this is impossibility with live feeds.

  3. Kimberley says:

    Given your own personal journey into climbing, it makes sense that you would view lumbering mainstream interest as a most unwelcome encroachment. But, prior to topping out, Kevin Jorgeson himself wrote:

    “To anyone writing about #dawnwall, this is not an effort to ‘conquer.’ It’s about realizing a dream.”

    Corporate media’s inability to respect that sentiment, while hailing completion of the climb, lends credence to your fears and boosts your signal. And, to some extent, it seems that commercialization has already got its gnarled fingers into climbing/mountaineering. For an endeavor that often boils down to one’s self-discipline and determination, it’s awfully gear-centric and expensively attired in the “right” duds. And who isn’t angling for sponsors these days? You get the drift.

    Anyway, I’m glad you unpacked your thoughts on the matter. Reading your tweets on it, just after the climb, I didn’t fully appreciate the depth of your objections. There’s a lot to think about here.

  4. Ian Bryant says:

    Funny how lately your blogs seem to be saying exactly what I’m thinking!
    What I found #amazing about the whole dawn wall thing was why the mainstream media took any interest at all and effectively, as you say “devalue[d] many other ground breaking ascents”. Or was it just because there’s now a decent 4G signal on the east wall of the captain….?
    It was a nice change though to have people at work approach me to talk about climbing events rather than the usual guff. Whilst I may look forward to more idle climbing chat at the coffee machine, I’d prefer it with people who have a clue!
    On a similar vein, self promotion in climbing is not new I guess, as climbing’s legendary and original master of it continues to demonstrate by serving up images of climbing on the news and prime time tv! He’s even managed to get my mum and dad talking to me about climbing!
    Not all that glitters is gold!

  5. Robert Rogoz (aka Polishbob) says:

    Thank you for writing this, I could not make these points any better. I turned off all the info regarding the Dawn Wall after the first day of main stream media reporting. I agree with each and every point you make. Thanks for speaking your mind, even it goes against the tide of current hyperbole media hype.

  6. Jim Sweeney says:

    Thanks Nick, good insight into what a lot of us do.
    I found the climb and the media coverage boring as can be. It was hard to get away from the whole event. I’d rather hear from the guy who was struggling to get up Reeds Direct. .

  7. David Falt says:

    I will admit that I fell in to the “history in the making” singing. My relation to the Dawn Wall is restricted to helping a friend realize his dream of climbing an aid route that shared arts with Dawn Wall so I hooked him up with Tommy, who generously donated 4 days to climb El Cap with my friend and by doing that raising 4000 or 5000 USD for Layton Kor. This is a few years back and I remember my friend being captivated by Tommys energy intense passion for the Dawn Wall.

    We all have dreams and aspirations. Most of them stay in the back of our minds. Limited in funds and with time one needs to be realistic. Thats unfortunate. Going back again and again in the grater ranges is a luxury few can afford. Only Everest has that kind of shit show going on and that diminished the fine British route on Nuptse to a via ferret trekking trip the other year.

    I agree with you, this media hype was unfortunate and we have to question the media outlets who put so much effort in to reporting such a insignificant event in the grand scheme of things.

    The explanation for the media frenzy I think party is best put in some historic context. The Dawn Wall tickled a nerve that has been laid to rest for a long time. The sense of national pride in “conquering”some thing on a theater stage type of venue. I think media and what we witnessed with even Obama tweeting about this was a need to escape from the harsh reality of every day news of beheadings, ISIS, Starvation, overfilled UN refugee camps in Syria, CAR and South Sudan.

    Escapism fueled by national pride is part of the explanation much like media flocked in Grindelwald to follow the fatal efforts on the North Face of Eiger in times leading up to the World War. I stumbled on this Eiger documentary that is a few years old but it was striking to me how similar the events and the context is to what unfolded on Dawn Wall.

    With this historic perspective I’m less concerned of the implications this event will have on our beloved bourgeois activity. As you say its so insignificant to the public that it will fall off the radar. I’m much more upset with the commercial guiding in the Himalayas. That I think will seriously negatively impact on mountaineering för mountaineers on a lean budget but big dreams.

    Just my two cents.

  8. Ken Cox says:

    Nick, this is fine blog 28post that I very much enjoyed reading and thinking about. Thank you for it.

    David Falt, your response is spot on! Thank you for it too.

  9. Chance Ronemus says:

    “I would love for this to open people’s minds to what an amazing sport this is. I think the larger audience’s conception is that we’re thrill seekers, out there for an adrenaline rush. We really aren’t at all. It’s about spending our lives in these beautiful places and forming these incredible bonds with friends and family. It’s really a lifestyle. It’s superhealthy, and the climbing world is some of the most psyched, great people around. And if that love can spread, that’s really a great thing.”
    – Tommy Caldwell

    “Climbing brings meaning and happiness to our lives, and a world full of happier people is a good thing.”
    -Kitty Calhoun

  10. Mick Ryan says:

    I liked the bit about the toast at the start Nick. It went rapidly down hill from there.

    Whether you like it or not – and you have to live with it – mainstream media has changed, and then not changed; it will always be difficult to explain climbing to non-climbers (or ‘the masses’ as you disparagingly call them).

    “but once it begins to be reported in the mainstream, all of the intricacies and subtleties go out of the window.”

    Duh! Of course it is and to be honest they don’t need to know and probably aren’t interested.

    It was a great climbing achievement and event. It’s good for them to have some glory and hopefully make some money out of it, and they are two great climbers and people.

    Hopefully it will inspire others to take up the climbing life, and like you have a fulfilling life; just as long as they don’t stay indoors!

    • Nick Bullock says:

      Thanks Mick, and this is your opinion, and the blog post was mine. I like the bit about liking the toast bit, your message went rapidly downhill from there.

      “It was a great climbing achievement and event. It’s good for them to have some glory and hopefully make some money out of it, and they are two great climbers and people.” Duh, that’s exactly what I said so maybe not all downhill?

      “Duh! Of course it is and to be honest they don’t need to know and probably aren’t interested.” Is there something wrong with broadening peoples knowledge and perspective so maybe they have a better understanding? Who is to say they will not be interested, a little disparaging that Mick!

      I agree if it encourages people to be passionate and love an activity the same as I do, great, that’s also why in my writing I try to show there are many different opinions. Many different ways to follow a passion, and hopefully, in doing this, it will bring about debate and this leads to learning and understanding and appreciating other points of view.

  11. Grit says:

    Just a few thoughts on how/why this happens from someone with long media experience.
    1 Reporters were misled. Oh sod it, let’s be honest, they were lied to – and they were lied to by climbers. Most of these reporters had never heard of El Cap. So who told them this was the first free ascent? Or even that there was such a thing at all? Yup, that’s right, climbers. After all, if THE John Long says it’s history in the making why wouldn’t they believe him? So whose fault is it that they got it wrong? Reporters may have been complicit but the liars were climbers.
    2 These things develop a momentum. Once all those expensive satellite trucks and crews have trundled up the river to Yosemite they damned well better have some airtime to justify it. Would you want to be the one telling your boss ‘There’s no story in this. It’s been climbed before’ when rival networks have THE John Long breathlessly telling the world that it’s history in the making?
    3 Print reporters are in a hurry, websites even more so but TV reporters also need pictures in a hurry and are easy pickings. Give them an exciting shot and they’ll swallow practically anything to get it on screen.
    4 People want heroes. When it came on the TV and I told people it was b*llocks and El Cap had been freed years ago I was told I was just jealous because I couldn’t do it. So the public was hardly clamouring for the truth. They prefered the bread and circuses
    5 Apologies for the national stereotyping here but it’s America ( sorry, I mean USA! USA! USA!) where everything has to be at least AWESOME . Things get out of hand really quickly there so film of two ‘Muricans doing something AWESOME was always going to make it big.
    5 But there is some good news. Sadly, exactly the same thing happens on every story. People with vested interests, and agendas, those who want to be famous even by association, and those who just can’t stop jabbering mislead either deliberately or through their own ignorance so, thank God, these gullible crews covered this and not something more important.
    Apologies for so much cynicism in one place but, as I said, I’ve been doing this a while now and eventually it gets to you.

  12. pete harrison says:

    Nick. Your post is about how mainstream media treats climbing but there are obvious comparisons to be made with how media and climbers behave within the climbing scene.

    ‘climbing is a privileged activity that the masses think involves a bunch of skinny and ignorant and obsessed folk who are funded by Mummy and Daddy and too lazy to do a ‘proper job.’
    ..concisely sums up my impression of many characters within the climbing world. Or rather the sponsored / professional climber world – which appears to me to comprise 15% genuine wads versus 85% of self-glorifying egotists, trustafarians with a sense of self-entitlement, and charlatans.

    Caffs’ recent blog illustrates why many of us who haven’t been brainwashed by the halo effect find the idea of some professional climbers – and the climbing media’s self-interested obsession with creating news about them through the hyping of the insignificant – so ridiculous:
    Anybody working a five day week who can have the weekend and two evenings off has enough free time to climb as well as many of the ‘pro-climbers’ in the world today but with the added benefit of a reasonable salary and perhaps a pension.

    Extrapolate this fake, hyperbolic culture that surrounds professional climbers and sponsors to how the mainstream media treat climbing stories and, like you observe, it ends up in a train-crash of clichéd bullshit.
    But why do you expect mainstream news agencies to act any differently to this, when the climbing scene itself is rife with the daily twittering of crap by eager self-publicists; ”epic” stories of zero significance historically or performance-wise; and media that purports to tell stories about our pastime and lifestyle but that is really just thinly-disguised advertorials for companies aimed at enticing people to consume more goods?

    At times you’re clearly part of this bullshit media game. At other times you climb significant routes and make interesting and original observations. It’s entirely your choice to be a part of the (shit)show.

    Dawn Wall is cutting edge. Multi-pitch 9a on vertical granite = #toohardformost. The climbers have created an inspirational challenge for the world’s best because of its cutting edge difficulty, not because of any media coverage. The route speaks for itself – the way it should be.

    Oh and how about

    • Nick Bullock says:

      Hi Pete,

      Cheers for the input but its a separate subject that the one I have written about above and one I know is very close to your heart. Your passion is admirable and something I relate although you cynicism towards sponsored climbers, I feel, at times, affects your ability to be balanced and fair.

      Can you give me examples of when I’ve played a part of ‘this media bullshit game’ please? I’m not saying I have not, but I cant really think of any time I have gone out to ‘play the media bullshit game’ And personally I cant think of what I’ve climbed that would fall into this category. All of the time I go out, I go out to have a great day climbing, something I very much enjoy. I also enjoy writing, this is something that has been almost as fulfilling and healing to me as climbing and to be totally honest, as a writer, I want people to read my writing and so yes, I play the bullshit game by advertising my posts via twitter and Facebook, guilty as charged.

      And you are right, The Dawn Wall is cutting edge, and I totally respect TC and KJ, and this was what I said all the way through the post, its a pity that the route was not allowed to speak for itself and we had to be fed hype for several days by a bunch of folk who know very little about what they talk (The mainstream media) and in my mind harm the activity that has become as close to my heart as yours.

      Finally, your hashtag #climbingisjustanothervehiclethatcanbeusedforselfglorification And your point is? Because anything can be used for self glorification or making money, its consumerism, the society we live, but also, humans in general I think, like to be liked and feel good and successful about themselves and they want to share in their successes and gain the respect or creditation of their peers, it all depends on the individual to what level I suppose and there will always be people, like you, who think the majority of these people do not deserve – so be it – that is your problem, its something you possibly need to come to terms, much the same as my problem is mainstream media grabbing hold of the thing I love and fellow climbers, in my mind, having little integrity and being a part of the consumer society by selling hype to the ignorant to increase their bank balance … but like I say, its my problem and I know it is.

      I’ll turn your words around Pete, “Its your choice to be involved” and at times you very much appear to enjoy that choice.

      All the best

  13. pete harrison says:

    Hi Nick. It doesn’t appear to be a separate subject, to me there’s a clear link. You’re describing how you dislike the way mainstream media portrays climbing whilst I’m saying that mainstream media is only doing to climbing what – it’s clear to many people – the media and some pro/sponsored climbers within the scene already do; that is hyping, pushing the story as far as it will go, and maximising brand exposure. Ultimately this behaviour is designed to sell products. You are a part of this process by choice.
    I’m not knocking you for it as such, but to me it looks unrealistic and hypocritical of you to hold the outside media to a higher standard of behaviour than climbers and the media within the scene.
    I’m not saying this should or shouldn’t happen, just pointing out the contradictions in your argument.

    (off topic)
    As for being cynical about pro and sponsored climbers, I am and I’m definitely not alone. A natural reaction that stems from having a strong belief in rewarding merit / or a bitter twisted jealous rage at not being part of the game? I’d like to think it’s the former. I can look on contentedly and chuckle at the absurdity, from a high-paying ‘proper’ job that gives me the flexibility to climb the lines I aspire to.
    Contrary to what you might believe, I’d happily consider any sponsorship but I don’t consider I’ve ever done anything that merits it.
    Although writing a guide for free and re-equipping half of NW Lime is – in my mind at least – possibly more useful to the scene than a few E8 headpoints .
    Winter climbing isn’t a difficult genre in which to climb at the highest levels – many just haven’t cottoned-on to that fact yet, blinded perhaps by spray from climbers and climbing media which makes hard winter climbing appear like an elite-level thing. I can safely say I’ll never climb at the hardest level in Trad, Sport or Bouldering. In winter and mixed climbing I can in all honesty say that I believe it’s possible for hundreds of everyday climbers in the UK to climb the hardest routes.
    I publicise new routes because they’re the life-blood of climbing. Without new lines the scene stagnates. Some are ‘significant’ – relatively speaking in winter climbing terms – Wide Asleep for e.g., but I don’t think anything I’ve done is really ‘significant’. Winter climbing’s just a great thing to go out and do, a good adventure on compelling natural lines at a level of difficulty that anybody can aspire to. You don’t need to be a David Lama or a Steve McClure to ‘do well’ at it.
    (/off topic)

    I’m not going to list things, you know better than anyone which of the things you’ve done is significant and what’s just keeping your name out there for the brand exposure and the metaphorical pat on the head.

    The hashtag was just a #flippantjoke


    • Nick Bullock says:

      Hey Pete,

      Nice reply.

      The bit at the start, about me contradicting myself in the post, well, I suppose I do often contradict myself, I have said a few times in the past I am a contradiction, but I’m not sure it applies in this case as I did say, and it was a major part of the post, I think people within climbing who are prepared to sell stories – often hyped – to the mainstream media, without controlling what is said and who accept sponsorship from non-climbing companies, lack integrity and are damaging climbing and the future of climbing. I think means we are possibly of a similar opinion… (Scary!)

      So yes, climbers, and not always sponsored climbers I hasten to add, shoot themselves and lack integrity for a buck, but I am not surprised as it is the philosophy of consumerism, and apart from the example I mention in the post, I have not being involved with a non-climbing company and apart from my book that was reviewed in The Guardian by Peter Beaumont, who is himself a climber, I have not given the mainstream media permission to use my pictures or write anything about my climbing. I have been approached.

      Speaking for myself, I don’t have a problem with being sponsored by companies who are directly involved with climbing, in my experience these companies and the people who work for them, often climbers, are passionate and care very much for climbing as a whole and understand the intricacies and know the history. Lets face it, if it wasn’t for them we would still be wearing tweed and swinging alpenstocks. We live in a consumer society Pete, you make money from a company providing a service, why is it so bad that others do, as long as its done with integrity and does not damage and harm people. Personally, I would not sleep at night and struggle if I was just playing the game and doing what I do for money and if you knew me better, I hope you would realise this. Its also a little bit arrogant that you tell me, without any doubt, what I have and have not done and what’s going on inside my head. In the past I have been accused and guilty of doing the same – telling people what is going on in their own minds – I hope I have moved on and become wiser, but I’m sure I’ll make similar mistakes again in the future as we are all just human. I can honestly say I have never inflated grades for a headline to appease sponsors as you once accused me and those climbs in the Rive Gauche, the new climbs I remember you having a go at me about, are now recognised as being classics and rather tricky for the grade.

      I’m certainly not going to comment on what you say about your climbing abilities and all of that, you give yourself a bit of a rough ride, unfairly I think as you are quite good ;-), and I’m sure if everyone found it all as easy as you say it is they would all be cranking top end routes which, obviously they are not and for many reasons, hmm, another blog posting in the making that, maybe more in Dave Mc’s realm than mine though.

      Thanks for the interest and making me think Pete, now I have to let it go and get on writing book number two which will be available from all good bookstores on the run up to Christmas 2016 !!


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