Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
snowleopard_x

"Business Climbing"

Recommended Posts

In the new AAJ Steve House has a provocative article (p157) on what he calls "business climbing". That is, climbs that have big budgets and big productions for the masses. Skilled TV crew, satellite computers, etc. where the climb is often done to be covered/filmed for the media. (He spoke of Alex, Synnott and Ogden's ascent of Great Trango. Which was all over the 2 main mags, Mzone.com, and on TV). He's not completely against it, but he seems to lament that climbs like those done in the mid-80's by the likes of Voytek Kurtyka, Erhard Loretan, etc. that were very cutting edge, are potentially not rightfully appreciated (and thus, perhaps not fairly funded).

I find this argument more fascinating than the endless "is guiding weak clients good/bad?" argument, and would love to hear some thoughts on the topic from anyone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, this is an interesting question that I have given some thought over the years.

The short answer is, Americans and Europeans need heros, and the media caters to that. Ther is nothing wrong with funding, any professional would love to be paid (more) for what they love to do. Media coverage is not evil, it simply gives people what they want - Real TV, Survivor. People want to live vicariously through others.

As for the Poles and the Czechs, the hard routes established in the Himalaya and elsewhere are no different. Easter European climbing was state and club sponsored for a very long time, making notable achievment necessary for continued funding abroad. If you were a Pole and wanted to climb, you better have some results after each season, to show your club or state that you deserved continued funding.

The fact that the Pole and Czech (etc) contributions eclipse most Western contributions is a factor of the severity of failure under two distinct systems (western, and soviet). In the West, if you back off a hard route, chances are your sponsor will not drop you - you lived to climb and speak on tour another day. In the East, things are a little different. The Czechs who did Sultana and hard routes on Denali didn't go home to any better conditions, rarely went home to speaking tours, but didnt have a chance in hell of coming back should they fail. The need to succeed is higher, the result is a commitment to severity that is often missing in Western accomplishments

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good post Alex. But now that the Eastern Bloc has totally been wiped, there are still routes done that House was speaking of these days. Tomaz Humar on Dhaulagiri, or even House, Twight and (I draw a blank, forgive me!) just this year on Denali.

I have no problem with the heroes theory. And I don't think House does either. I think his point, and I agree, is that there is something golden with those ascents like what the Poles did, or Humar, or he and Twight (and many others) have done. And he's worried that might get lost, or even forgotten, beyond just not appreciated, with modern gadgetry. House gives a big thanks to things like the Polartec Challenge and other sponsors that do give money to these extreme climbs that get little media coverage.

A point House didn't even touch on is that with modern toys, such as digital video palmcorders that take TV quality video, and all the Palm Pilots, sat phones, etc. It actually isn't THAT hard, or even expensive, to document even the most hair raising climb at least a little. What it then comes down to is connections. Do you have Outside or Quokka willing to follow you? Can you get 20 minutes of good footage and edit it well enough to get into festivals? And so on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a note of claification. Most every palmcorder these days weighs less than one pound and delivers stunning quality. I believe the Sony PC1 weighs a scant 9 oz.

The time to film factor may be something else on a climb such as the Czech Direct though. I guess I was only trying to point out that it's getting easier to actually get some decent footage of extreme climbs and the world between the "business climb" and harder, not often mentioned climbs, is not that far apart when it comes to documenting at least some of it.

It's going to say below here I edited this post. Here is what the edit is: I looked up some spec's and Sony is cheating with the weight on the PC1. They are not including a battery or tape. It is closer to a pound after that. May as well take your cool rock collection and weight set along too then, huh?

Hey Hal, was this post edited by anyone? And when?

[This message has been edited by snowleopard (edited 10-24-2000).]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Modern toys help but nobody trying to do the Czech Direct on Denali in 60 hours as Twight, House and Backes (to fill in the blank) did you're simply not going to carry any of that stuff, nor are you going to waste time filming the climbing. If you think you can't take a sleeping bag because it'll slow you down then you're not going to take camera gear instead. Twenty minutes of good footage is probably about an hour of raw film, time you could be climbing. For these reasons I don't think you're ever going to see cutting edge alpine climbing making it as "business climbing".

I think all that's been said about climbers from the old Eastern block is pretty much true. I was lucky enough to spend a summer there and the system certainly seemed to make you focus on getting to the top (enough said). I also think that having really crap gear probably makes you a lot keener to summit and get down fast! I remember meeting a guy on the glacier below Khan Tengri (~7000m), he looked like he had just been hiking around the glacier judging by the gear he was wearing. In fact he'd just summited the mountain in a less than 24 hour round trip!

Those articles are all very thought provoking. Money for climbing is never for free. If someone's paid for half your trip it's hard to look at a mountain and decide that you just don't fancy it, for whatever reason, an go home.

Ade

[This message has been edited by Ade (edited 10-20-2000).]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Snow...

Better not let Mark Twight ever hear you say "Most every palmcorder these days weighs less than one pound and delivers stunning quality. I believe the Sony PC1 weighs a scant 9 oz."

A "scant 9 oz."!!!! Twight couldn't justify carrying much more than a two pound belay parka on his 60 hour climb! No bivy, no half bag...nada. smile.gif

Take a look at his book "Extreme Alpinism" and you'll see that he counts every gram of weight he carries on a trip.

- Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I posted something, but it was off-topic. Sorry.

[This message has been edited by Alex (edited 10-23-2000).]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jim, That's why I wrote that exception for the Czech Direct!

BUT...

Twight and gang did indeed take a camera on the Czech Direct route! I have seen the photos! I'd be curious to know what it was, and how much it weighed!?!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well my camera, weighs about 6oz. But then it didn't cost $1000 (which seems to the the cost of a Sony PC1 thingy). I'm sure I could manage to shave a few ounces off if I wanted to throw money at the problem. Time is the real issue here. To make good film footage you need time to do it. You also need to be a lot more interested in making a film than just climbing.

In fact I think what really defines "business climbing" is the desire to turn your climb into a production rather than just an ascent. Laptops at basecamp, phones, radios, web sites, film footage, corporate sponsorship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Twight and gang did indeed take a camera on the Czech Direct route! I have seen the photos!

 

Ya, and Twight uses the photos to generate slideshow "business".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I posted something, but it was off-topic. Sorry.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Alex (edited 10-23-2000).]

 

This post is worthy of wonder. Back in the day, indeed. hahaha.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can you get 20 minutes of good footage and edit it well enough to get into festivals? And so on.

 

I would think that the cinematography would be the biggest problem for alpine-style climbing.

 

As an example, look at Splitter. Yes, there's some badass footage in there, but cinematographically, it sucks. Climbers can watch it, because it's cool climbing in cool places, but not the general public.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×