/ Why do only (or mostly) white people climb?
I have seen very few non-whites at some indoor climbing walls, but never outdoors, not in the UK, not in Europe!
And apart from the sherpa's or locals who assisted famous mountaineers outside Europe, name me any famous non-whites who climb for sport. Have they even tried?
If not - could this be merely due to income reasons? Or is it simply far away from their cultures, family traditions, etc.?
Do you personally know non-white outdoor climbers?
I kinda expected more colors up on the British hills and crags.
and Trevor Massiah
and the Giri Giri Boys
and my mate Ian who is Chinese and who actually chose to go to North Wales today to try to climb, in the current bad weather
and me (I am not 100% white), I was out on rock today
and Masa, a chap from the Far East who is one of the stronger climbers in my locality
and Dalvinder Sodhi
Plenty Indian, Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese mountaineers. I guess climbing as a sport can be considered a luxury, so in global terms is dominated by developed nations, so Europe, North America and richer Asian countries.
In the UK ethnic minority communities tend to be more urban.
Hi. Sorry, I just checked your profile and saw that you are new to climbing. My previous reply might look a bit "spiky", if so, it is because this aspect of climbing has been discussed ad nauseum on these forums. You were not to know that.
I gave you a bunch of examples, both "famous" and "people I know". But overall, it is true that climbing seems to be massively dominated by Caucasian people.
The question is - is this a problem in the eyes of anyone other than those who like to find "problems" where none exist? I have never observed a coterie of white climbers showing any sort of hostility to a non-white...
You get the picture.
Good luck with all your climbing, by the way, and good on you
You know, it was only just reading this thread that I realised the joke in the black guy on south park being called 'token'.
>I never see non-white people...
Sorry to sidetrack, and also maybe sound pedantic, but I don't like the term 'white people' very much e.g. when applied to supposedly 'white' (Caucasian??) people in Britain. You might enjoy these sites,
Doesn't "climbing" also include "swimming" "running" and "cycling"? Most of my African customers would never see themselves doing ny kind of sport, they are usually too knackered to run around or too unfit because getting around means sitting in an air-conditioned car. More importantly there isn't anywhere for them to do sport - most money for sport gets chopped by their politicians and sports facilities are non-existant or broken.
A colleague of mine wanted to play tennis in Lagos so he joined a prestigious sports club in Ikeja. The tenniss committee consisted of a bunch of old blokes who just used the club house as a private bar where they sat around drinking beer all day. After a couple of months of trying to persuade them to refurbish the tennis courts he gave up and pooled his resources with several other young Nigerians who also wanted to play, brought in new nets and equipment, refurbished the clay making machine and even bought rackets and shoes for the ball-boys. Between them they even paid for a young Nigerian to come to the UK and learn how to coach tennis. After a while the old boys began to realise this was serious so they invited him to join the committee, which he declined. Subsequently he found a better place to pay and now the country club courts are getting run down again, with brokn kit and big gullies caused by rain in the clay. There's a lack of will and a lack of energy to get things done.
As ice cube says in deep blue sea...
Black men have enough ways to get killed without climbing up some mountain in the middle of nowhere. You need to leave that to the white folks, brother.
In reply to OneLifeOneHeart:
I am from Mauritius and have lived in England, Australia and some other places around the world.
I have climbed all over the Alps, NZ, Pakistan, Africa etc
I am non White.
My alpine guide once told me that he was glad he was guiding a non- White, as few non whites climb. In new Zealand, I only saw White people climb. In Pakistan, totally different matter.
I think mountaineering is a sport of luxury and you have to be able to afford to do so, peoplemin Pakistan etc just do not have the money, but if they get employed, they are amazing, like our 59 year old cook had climbed broad peak and come to within 50 mof the top of manga par bat when he was younger. In Thailand, non- whites climbed for fun, and they did in Africa as well.
I think being in England has something to do with it. Crap weather, hills not too big, winter conditions hit and miss and it being very expensive, notwithstanding the recent immigration rules changes that makes even a tourist visa expensive and almost impossible to get.
My income is good, I am a doctor, but I was always going to study first and then do other things. cultural differences do come into play, as for Asians, making a career is important and parents place, rightly or wrongly, a lot of empahsis on that.
England is a predominantly White country as well, and you need to remember the reason immigrants come over. It is not to climb, I didn't come over to climb to start with....
My thoughts are slightly haphazard, but hope it answers something....
Most people in Scotland are white, so it seems consistent that most people you meet on the hill are white too. It just reflects the demographics of the country. Scotland is 97.95% white, so it's to be expected that about 98% of the Scots you meet in Scotland are going to be white (local anomalies notwithstanding). Of course, people from outside Scotland will travel to Scotland, but most of them are going to be wealthier, and therefore more likely to be white.
In my opinion, it makes perfect sense that the majority of folk on the Scottish hills are peely-wally.
Brad, thanks for showing the photo...
My mate Phil said when the above pictire was taken, "I'm the only black on the mountain!". Although interestingly as a Cameron (his grandad was Scottish), he was apparently not that welcome in Glencoe
It was LL Cool J.
Do all black rapper / actors look the same to you?
Thanks for the links!
I think some of it depends where you live; a lot of the UK is 'white'.
Some of it is opportunity and role models and exposure - everyone plays football as kids because it's so easy. climbing is more 'difficult' because it needs more equipment, teachers, travel..
But the Scouse Ascentionist Sam Farmer is changing this ;-)
(some fab pics of kids giving it superman/I can fly poses :-) )
> Tangent on.
> Thanks for the links!
> Tangent off.
Tangent on again.
Tangent off again.
Sport probably follows culture so mass participation may take a while. I was delighted o meet a Sikh couple last time I stayed in a lakes hostel.
Climbing is one of the most inclusive of sports - probabbly because many climbers come from university educated, liberal left wing backgrounds ( to strerotype ) the day professional football and its fans gain such open-mindedness is still a long way off I fear.
In japan, korea and china all the climbers seem to be asian....
> Do you personally know non-white outdoor climbers?
1 or 2, but that's it.
IIRC the country is about 95% white-ish, so even assuming a proportionate number its still going to be rare. However as to why it appears even more rare than that I have no idea.
the last few years piolet dors should answer any wonders: lots of kazakhs, japanese, korean and chinese winners/nominations.
dai koyamada consistantly punches high. yuji hirayama gets attention. jimmy chin and pete takeda have impressive resumes. dan osman was half. yan dangdong was just killed.
the koreans fill the BCs of the great ranges. thais obviously fill krabi.
aside from HAPs pakistanis like nazir sabir have summitted dozens of major peaks.
iranians, azaris and georgians have major climbing cultures (not sure if they are white or 'other').
most of the big gear companies have local chapters that sponsor regional athletes. the giri giri boys collectively are sponsored by every big name you can think of. theres money in it.
so yes, 'they' have tried it. tho with ok stuff all over their homelands not all non-white climbers end up wandering around britain.
A little explanation as to why I asked this, at least the UK part:
I am not British, but European, and live in the UK since a couple of years.
There's no other country in Europe like the UK in which which there are more non-white businessmen, politicians, celebrities, sportsmen/women and other "important" people.
I am also aware that many British people are of very diverse origins, which adds darkness to their complexions - and whenever I am in large cities, I don't see the "95% whites" some people talk about. It rather looks like non-whites are around 40-50%... Maybe that's different in the smaller villages/rural areas, but I still assumed that if there are so many British of Asian or African descent, who even play rugby and cricket (isn't that considered a quite classy sport?), it would be at least plausible to ask oneself why they aren't seen so often with ropes and karabiners.
In a country like Austria you don't see many non-white people moderating a TV show or managing some aspect of the country's politics - whereas in the UK I had the impression that apart from a few exceptions, British people white or non-white, engage in quite similar ranges of activities... in the UK rock climbing is done at schools and indoor walls can be found at many gyms.
In other European countries, mountain and winter sports seem to be driven by the family rather than by school/community.
Anyway, these are merely my personal perceptions, impressions, not statistical data!
Also - my original question was related to non-whites in general, not just those on the British isles :-)
Whenever this (very tedious) subject comes up, I remember one of my favourite ever UKC remarks.
"Of course there are famous black climbers. Look at Kenton Cool."
I believe the poster in question was simply making a mistaken assumption, but if it was satire he certainly had me fooled.
That seems to assume the vast majority of uni kids are white, when in fact ethnic minorities tend to be well represented.
I've certainly noticed that Vancouver, which has a MASSIVE Chinese population, and a large Indian population also, seems to have crags and skiing areas very much dominated by white people. It's not like Chinese people don't like getting out, they seem to love snow shoeing for some reason. Would it be racist of me to suggest that perhaps the Chinese are, on average, a little more risk averse than their white counterparts?
If there are reasons, good or bad, preventing other people from engaging in such a great activity (or from even discovering it in the first place), their root needs to be identified, named and tackled.
This gives a more accurate breakdown of ethnicity by area so may go someway to answering the question.
In certain sports the same question could also be asked though worldwide.
Road cycling is one I can think of which is dominated by Caucasians.
Why? If they want to they'll do it, if they don't why drag them there? Aren't they able to think for themselves?
Thanks for this excellent explanation of where your question came from. Sorry that so many of us have been repeating that the subject has been "done to death" on here, this has been unfair on you as you are framing the question with a lot more intelligence than some other people who have asked similar.
One person in this thread mentioned swimming, which is another interesting one. I rarely see, for example, black or oriental people in UK swimming pools, and if I do, they are barely swimming - just bobbing around really. A few more non-oriental Asians (Indian, Pakistani etc) but again they are rarely swimming "seriously"
Liberal left-wing is an oxymoron.
There are no more intolerant, self-righteous, hypocritical bigots than Guardian readers. They are deeply, fundamentally illiberal, as recent incidents have graphically illustrated.
I noticed this, then I realised I don't actually care to think about it further. Then I realised I've seen someone who is part black every time I climb... myself. When we stop worring about people's skin colour the world will be a better place.
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored" (Aldous Huxley)
"The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
I am not saying the disproportionate ethnic spread of climbers is evil. There were much fewer women climbers 20 years ago and young women climbers were even more scarce. Demographics have changed and will continue to do so, the question should be "Are we doing enough as a community to be open to everyone ?"
> There are no more intolerant, self-righteous, hypocritical bigots than Guardian readers.
Does that include people who just follow a link and read the odd Guardian article? Or what about those that read the paper on a Saturday because they like the Review section, but don't read the politics?
Where's the cut off point, Simon?
Right, off to knit some yoghurt.
> Does that include people who just follow a link and read the odd Guardian article? Or what about those that read the paper on a Saturday because they like the Review section, but don't read the politics?
> Where's the cut off point, Simon?
> Right, off to knit some yoghurt.
Yeah I buy it on a saturday too, for the Guide section as much as anything. And anyway once a week is all I need to have my lefty illiberal prejudices reinforced and give me a nice glow of smug self-satisfaction to go with my hand-woven organic mung beans :)
"Are we doing enough as a community to be open to everyone ?"
I have a bit of a problem with statements like this:
Firstly climbing is not a homogeneous 'community'. By and large it is a bunch of individuals with only at least one interest in common. The climbing 'community' is an abstract.
Secondly, 'open to everyone' (which I'm fine with) has a habit of being misinterpreted by many as 'encouraging participation by everyone' (which I'm not).
A lot of it is down to the ways that people get involved with walking and climbing - for quite a lot of people, they'll have done at least a bit of outdoorsy stuff with parents or friends when they were younger, so they'll have a bit of background knowledge and awareness of what the options are and what's involved and why they might want to do it.
This means that if you live in a community where very few people go climbing or walking or whatever then it's a lot less likely that you will, and a lot of non-white people in the UK live in communities where that's the case. It's like the fact that not many people in Britain play Aussie Rules Football - for a lot of us, there's nothing actually preventing us from getting involved, it just doesn't occur to us as something that we might want to try, so we stick with things that our mates do or that our parents did or that we did at school.
As to whether this is something that "we" need to "do something about", I'm not sure. I generally encourage people I know to try climbing, party because I enjoy it and I'd like to see other people enjoy it, and also because more people (and more diverse people) getting involved in climbing and walking increases the strength of access campaigns and suchlike, as well as supporting more and better climbing walls. So I guess it makes sense to extend that to people who I don't know...
I think that from a practical point of view, there's likely to be a bit of a change as more walls open in more places, which effectively advertise to people by saying "hey, why not try climbing? It's fun and we can tell you everything you need to know."
> dai koyamada consistantly punches high.
I don't think the Welsh count as non-white, do they?
....best answer I think, -so many multi-factorial reasons embedded in history, sociology, current society and personal differences, it's oddly both an interesting question, and a trivial one. No, Not 'trivial' - that implies 'very simple', but more of a 'is there any point asking'-type question. I mean, is it a problem that needs solving?
I agree climbing's actually pretty inclusive, and in any case it doesn't seem an anomaly compared to, say, sailing, cycling, rowing, fencing - all probably traditionally regarded as well-off gentlemanly pursuits, even if inexpensive. Football and boxing were always more traditional outlets for youths of working class in urban areas, hence unsurprising that non-caucasians are highly represented.
Fishing and swimming, now those stand out to me - anyone shed any light? Does buying a rod make you racist?
Seems a pretty daft question to me, who is this "we" who is charged by who to make sure that "everyone" should do anything?
If there was the slightest indication that climbers as a whole were stopping anybody from taking up the hobby you might have a point, possibly, but there isn't.
What's with this need to save people from themselves?
None of my family had the slightest interest in climbing... come to think of it do you think the likes of Joe Brown etc came from a climbing background? I don't think you'll find they did.
> None of my family had the slightest interest in climbing... come to think of it do you think the likes of Joe Brown etc came from a climbing background? I don't think you'll find they did.
Working class lads from Manchester going out rambling wasn't exactly unheard of though, was it?
You beat me to it - that one still makes me laugh
> so, the question should be "Are we doing enough as a community to be open to everyone ?"
As I said previously, universities are full of ethnic minorities (many just visiting), but if they don't want to join the climbing club one can only assume cultural differences are stopping them.
However, I do think that if certain people (anyone!) are not exposed to something "by nature" (or by nurture/culture), simply because of their default background, family etc, they might not have the initiative to try something new - so they might benefit from encouragement.
I grew up in between the Alps, one of the most famous mountain ranges of the world, and yet my family never had much to do with climbing, skiing or any winter sports whatsoever.
Would I have found the initiative to try it by myself, as a kid, as a teenager, or when I was a young adult?
Would I have enjoyed it and pursued it regularly if someone took me or encouraged me to do it?
Do I enjoy it now? Yes, after just one time scrambling in North Wales!
So yes - I believe that social, ethnic and national background may close some opportunities.
I can't recall any 'Chalkie' in the KMC but I do recall that whenever one of the Siddique brothers did a climb it was alway a first 'Pakistani' ascent!
If they don't have the initiative then its not something they want to try badly enough. Simple. Leave it at that.
> A lot of it is down to the ways that people get involved with walking and climbing - for quite a lot of people, they'll have done at least a bit of outdoorsy stuff with parents or friends when they were younger, so they'll have a bit of background knowledge and awareness of what the options are and what's involved and why they might want to do it.
OK, there may be something in that, and the fact that I always wanted to climb after the successful Everest expedition in 1953, but it doesn't explain why the Siddiqui brothers took climbing on board in the 1970's.
Something else must have lit their boat.
My Dad took me out to the Peak but he was never a climber himself, he just allowed me to scramble on the rocks at Wyming Brook and after that I took it from there.
> I don't think the Welsh count as non-white, do they?
oddly, tho ive missed the joke in there i still find the punchline funny.
> OK, there may be something in that, and the fact that I always wanted to climb after the successful Everest expedition in 1953, but it doesn't explain why the Siddiqui brothers took climbing on board in the 1970's.
> Something else must have lit their boat.
Oh for sure, I'm not saying it's impossible for anyone to get into walking or climbing without knowing anyone who's involved in outdoors stuff, just that it makes it less likely that you will...
It seems a bit weird to say that if someone really wants to climb then they'll seek it out though - I know a lot of people who got into things that are now major parts of their life and that they get a great deal of enjoyment out of after initially getting dragged along to keep a friend company or fancying the girl on the Freshers Fair stall or whatever.
I don't think we've necessarily got a moral duty to make every man woman and child in the country experience the outdoors, or to keep nagging them to go climbing regularly until they get into it, but I think that getting people to try new stuff that they might enjoy - particularly if it's stuff that might not otherwise have been on their radar - is generally a Good Thing To Do from an altruistic point of view.
It's not just among the climbing and hillwalking community that there appears to a racial imbalance when you consider the ethnic mix in the UK.
I see very few coloured racing cyclists - or even 'club' cyclists.
Both climbing and cycling are very much lifestyle sports, that have a pretty good reputation for being 'classless', and in my experience very welcoming to people of all backgrounds - as long as they have a keen interest.
I guess it's something that has built up over the years that there's little history of black and asian people participating an 'outdoor pursuits', and as such many youngsters do not not feel as though it's something for them.
And do a bit of trekking...
> If they don't have the initiative then its not something they want to try badly enough. Simple. Leave it at that.
Or maybe it's a wider problem (not necessarily an ethnic one) that some sections of society aren't encouraged to take initiative to the same extent that others are? Which kind of would need addressing, if it were true, but that goes way beyond climbing.
White Men Can't Jump.
I see very few top class sprinters who are white. Should we do something to include more white people in sprinting?
Conversely, I don't see very many black rugby players, and even less Asian ones, even though I know from provincial club level that they are as welcome as anyone else.
These aren't 'problems' that need 'fixing', other than sports being open to anyone who wants to participate regardless of ethnicity or economic background. On that subject, if you visit Westway climbing centre, which is probably one of the most cosmopolitan climbing centres in the country, there will still be considerably more black and Asian people playing 5 a side or using gym facilities than there will be climbing. Prices are comparable, so that isn't the cause of choice.
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