Thursday, February 3, 2011

Has Climbing Reached The End Of The Frontier?

Peter Beal discusses the recent attempt to film a climb of Cerro Torre by rap bolting it.

“It seems to me that there is an instinctual understanding out there that we are truly at the end of the frontier phase of climbing. Not everything has been climbed, but now everything can be climbed. It is not the murder of the impossible as Messner puts it….But I think the whole project of a ‘free ascent’ of an immense wind-buffeted rime-encrusted spire seems petty and media-driven in the first place. What is missing is not adventure but purpose. We are at the saturation point, squeezing what we can out of the most spectacular walls and summits while we can. What does a ‘first ascent’ mean when anything can be climbed, even by so-called ‘fair means?’"

[ED: I bolded the term “what is missing is not adventure but purpose.”]

There is quite a lively discussion at the link about whether or not climbing has a purpose. And quite a discussion here of “Murder of the Impossible” a term Reinhold Messner used to describe the bolting of routes. I personally don’t think climbing has an important purpose – not like raising a family, holding a job, taking care of your family/friends/neighbors. I also think it can be fun, exciting, allow us reach personal goals, discover new areas of the world, build friendships, etc. And I, for one, am convinced without the bolting that was done to make so many routes safer, there would not have been the explosion in the popularity of climbing that has happened in the last 20 years or so.

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