/ Pat Littlejohn on the Petzl Roc Trips

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Did I miss it, or has there not been a thread about Pat Littlejohn's comments in last months Climb about the Petzl Roc Trips? He thinks that they give a very bad image of climbing, particularly like the one in China that took place in a national park. He called them the creation of "sport climbing resorts" and worries it could get climbing banned and perhaps most damming of all, suggests Petzl are just trying to increase sport climbing in developing countries so they can grab a big piece of the market in the emerging economies. That last bit sounds a bit fanciful to me, and I've always thought that Petzl did lots of work with local communities and authorities when they run the trips. Are the Petzl Roc Trips really "completely at odds with the sort of low impact exploration ethic that's been developed in the mountains over the past four decades"? Perhaps they're aren't to the the "mountains" so it's a different (and OK?) ethic?
AJM - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:

The impression I have is that they worked quite closely with the locals for the China one, and certainly I recall Steve Mcs articles on the Mexico one mentioning some of the locals who were presumably involved. The French ones will obviously be done in conjunction with the locals because that's what they do (and that covers, what, 4 of the last decade's Roc Trips?), Kalymnos welcomes climbers with open arms anyway - my gut suggests he doesn't like them because of the bolts and because they're different to what he does when he goes on holiday.
In reply to AJM: I had read similar about the China trip. People had been there, or had been going there for more than a year in preparation. Then again you get the impression in China that anything that brings economic development can get given priority over conservation, perhaps even in national parks?
jon on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I haven't read anything at all about this, but I'd be in complete agreement with him. Of course Petzl aren't into it out of the goodness of their own hearts. This is one of Pat's hobby horses - I remember a few years ago he was complaining about the Alps becoming a giant theme park. One of my worst nightmares would be to have planned a dream climbing trip somewhere only to arrive to find one of those god-awful events going on, complete with entourages of photographers and film makers capturing every move of the beautiful people. This sprung to mind a few months back when I read all that crap and saw the photos of the Nesscliffe extravaganza complete with a attendant crowd of fawning, adoring groupies. Jeez, is this what climbing is coming to?
Matt Vigg - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to jon:

It is - climbing's becoming a spectator sport, wasn't there a thread on here a little while ago with someone asking for people's favourite climber? It's what media like UKC does, and I don't blame them for it - it's for us to see through it.
The Pylon King on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> This sprung to mind a few months back when I read all that crap and saw the photos of the Nesscliffe extravaganza complete with a attendant crowd of fawning, adoring groupies. Jeez, is this what climbing is coming to?

Yeah - The Odyssey

Odyssey my arse!
Michael Ryan - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> Did I miss it, or has there not been a thread about Pat Littlejohn's comments in last months Climb about the Petzl Roc Trips? He thinks that they give a very bad image of climbing, particularly like the one in China that took place in a national park. He called them the creation of "sport climbing resorts" and worries it could get climbing banned and perhaps most damming of all, suggests Petzl are just trying to increase sport climbing in developing countries so they can grab a big piece of the market in the emerging economies. That last bit sounds a bit fanciful to me, and I've always thought that Petzl did lots of work with local communities and authorities when they run the trips. Are the Petzl Roc Trips really "completely at odds with the sort of low impact exploration ethic that's been developed in the mountains over the past four decades"? Perhaps they're aren't to the the "mountains" so it's a different (and OK?) ethic?

Or the TNF Kalymnos Festival, or Mammut Team Trips, or Mountain Hardwear.

It is a trend to market through events, Red Bull being the best example.

I was on the Petzl RocTrip China, and have been involved with others.

Yes, Petzl put a lot back into the local community.

See this:

PETZL ROC TRIP AND RRGCC ROCKTOBERFEST BRING IN OVER $30,000 TO PRESERVE RECREATIONAL ACCESS

“This year’s Petzl RocTrip showed what can be done when a company with heart and soul gets behind something it believes in,” said Robb Shurr, Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Access Fund, a national non-profit organization dedicated to keeping climbing areas open and preserving the climbing environment.

“Having places to climb is fundamental to Petzl’s business, but they took it one step further and got behind a local access issue with national importance and really pushed for success. It’s exactly this sort of involvement, vision, and stewardship that will keep climbing and recreational areas preserved and viable for the future.

The Access Fund has always been proud to have Petzl as one of its biggest and longest standing partners—we’re especially proud after seeing the success of this year’s RocTrip.”

http://www.climbing.com/news/petzl-roc-trip-and-rrgcc-rocktoberfest-bring-in-over-30-000-to-preserve...

I know that Petzl are continuing to work with officials from Getu, China and it's region. It's not a cut and run deal by any means. Petzl are passionate about climbing and access.

Mick

Iain Peters - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> This sprung to mind a few months back when I read all that crap and saw the photos of the Nesscliffe extravaganza complete with a attendant crowd of fawning, adoring groupies. Jeez, is this what climbing is coming to?

Unfortunately, it is Jon, at least on one level, because we live in an X Factor age of celebrity worship affecting every aspect of society, including climbing. Mind you it has ever been thus, starting with the outright jingoistic attitudes towards the early Everest expeditions, Mallory was the Superstar of the post WW1 era, and then the late, great Tom Patey's TV extravaganzas (Remember his brilliant article "The Greatest Show on Earth, poking fun at both himself and his Allstars team?).

Sponsorship is a double-edged sword as the recent Red Bull fiasco in Patagonia proved, a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. If you're a top climber with the right face and the skills to match it must be very difficult to ignore the offer of fame and (a fairly minor) fortune, and, having worked in marketing and PR I do know how easy it is to work on an individual's (or a company's) ego to promote a product.

I also fear for the long-term prosperity of a small Greek island (or a community in China) that has suddenly become the centre of the sport climbing universe. I lived and worked on an Ionian island that embraced package tourism big time. The bubble lasted for a decade and then the big multi-nationals pulled out virtually overnight, leaving those owners who had spent huge sums of borrowed money providing mass accommodation with empty rooms, large debts and no means of repaying them.

However, I am an optimist at heart, and for every star-spangled rock tour involving a handful of Galacticos there are thousands who quietly (OK not so quietly at times!) get out on the rock and do their own thing.

Morgan Woods - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:
> (In reply to jon)

> I also fear for the long-term prosperity of a small Greek island (or a community in China) that has suddenly become the centre of the sport climbing universe.

I think you are over-dramatising it. The locals appreciate climbers because they come in the shoulder and off-seasons thus balancing things out. A lot of the development there is geared to people coming in summer. I imagine the Greeks would appreciate a bit of "prosperity" anyway.

I'm sure Pat Littlejohn is just filling up column inches and playing the grumpy old man. Climbers travelling to exotic locations, coming together under the guise of a French gear company and putting money into locals' pockets....oh how terrible.
Michael Ryan - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:

This is a good read too..

http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/roctrip-argentina/site-description

Conservation and archeology: The Petzl Foundation's commitment


The La Buitrera canyon is a fragile zone that needs to be protected; car traffic, domestic animals and fires are forbidden. There is rich fauna and flora in the sheltered areas. You will undoubtedly come across families of chinchiyon, a wild rabbit with a long tail and powerful claws. He likes to position himself on top of a boulder to observe traffic, but one false move will make him run into the cliff at lightning speed! You may notice small lamas in the area, or a wild guanaco, or more rarely, a herd of nandus, small wild ostriches. Although always invisible, the puma still populates this wild place...

This exceptional site merited a visit by the Petzl Foundation, to encourage the development of a crag where the climbing is respectful of the environment and history of the site.

The goal is to focus on the balance between practice and conservation. Supporting development of tourism in the broad sense, while respecting historical, heritage and environmental elements, is part of The Foundation's role. So its mission here has been directed to three major areas:

Supporting the political process that will guarantee access to climbing crags, which are located on protected land, while protecting the environment.

Helping protect the archaeological site in the La Buitrera Canyon. The rock shelter, located outside the river's flood zone, served as a dwelling for the area's first inhabitants some five to ten thousand years ago. Although important discoveries have been made at the digs, the site is presently not protected, in particular from animals seeking shelter from the rain.

The Foundation will help implement protection and distribute information on the digs. On the other hand, some climbing routes were too close to the archaeological site, and the footsteps of climbers could have compromised future research. In agreement with the archaeologists, these routes were taken down and will no longer be climbed. These agreements thus defined a climbable zone. This way it was possible to keep the first historical routes, like Mickey Mouse, left of the cave's entrance. Win-win negotiations!

Contributing to an better welcome for climbers. Presently, the campground near the canyon has no infrastructure. The Foundation will participate in creating a sustainable set-up that is respectful of the environment (dry toilets, for example), while the owner of the campground will provide a better welcome for visitors.
..............................................................

This is very similar to when I was living Bishop.

A once obscure area that suddenly became popular (I was something to do with that but not the only one)....... through the internet, magazines, guidebooks, word-of-mouth.

First thing we did before any publicity.... we contacted the Bureau of land Management and worked with them in advance of publicity to deal with sanitation, trail, camping, flora and fauna and archeological concerns; developed a code of practice, built a new campsite, did trail work, only publicised certain areas, fundraisers, climber days etc...

It has worked quite well.

Mick

Iain Peters - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Morgan Woods:

Of course the locals appreciate climbers, and no-one could argue against wanting a bit of prosperity, but it has to be sustainable in the long-term.

I know plenty of small Greek communities and villages which have turned away from any major involvement in tourism, given the fickle nature of the visitor.

I have also experienced at first hand how many companies view their sponsorship programmes, sat in on meetings where the main topic of conversation is "what's in it for us and our shareholders?" Loyalty to a cause is not part of the deal, and targeted sponsorship is an extremely cost-effective form of advertising, ask any Red Bull executive, many of whom spend much of their working lives looking out for the next "Big Thing".

I'm sure Pat will be delighted to be called a GOM on a public forum: I've been telling him that for years!

Robert Durran - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Any event/expedition/whatever whose title begins with the name of a gear manufacturer sets off my Rampant Commercialism Alert and I go into default Sceptical Mode.
In reply to Robert Durran:
> and I go into default Sceptical Mode.

I didn't realise you had other modes Robert! I'm almost feel let down. ;-) You're not impressed by all those athlete-ambassadors?
Michael Ryan - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:
> (In reply to Morgan Woods)

>ask any Red Bull executive, many of whom spend much of their working lives looking out for the next "Big Thing".

You mean this Iain:

http://www.redbullstratos.com/
jon on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Ambassadors... aaaaargh. Yes, I've seen the Patagonia brochures too.
Iain Peters - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:

Hi Mick

Yup. Isn't he hurtling down towards mother earth at this very moment, a can of RB flattened against his face by the G Force?!
Michael Ryan - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:

I think its been delayed.
In reply to jon:

> Ambassadors... aaaaargh. Yes, I've seen the Patagonia brochures too.

Don't encourage Robert, he'll be on about it for ages again. ;-) Actually, I don't see a problem with the word ambassador, it means a representative after all. And they do represent the companies - hence Dean Potter IIRC getting sacked by Patagonia after his 'illegal' climb.
Robert Durran - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:
>
> I didn't realise you had other modes Robert! I'm almost feel let down. ;-

Of course I have other modes. Remember my post telling all the Olympics cynics and sceptics to shut the f*** up? (I was, of course, as usual, amply vindicated).

> You're not impressed by all those athlete-ambassadors?

I'm not impressed by the the idiots who call climbers such things.





Arms Cliff - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> ...particularly like the one in China that took place in a national park.

Climbing in a National Park, whatever next! It wouldn't happen in the UK or the US, oh...

It's a shame some traditionalists can't see the good these sort of trips are doing, perhaps they are sad climbing has moved on from the days when men were men, and mountains were scared of multi week sieges, pegs, hammers and 'combined tactics'.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Goucho on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH: Whichever way you call it, it's just part of the marketing strategy (and actually a damn site cheaper than a conventional media campaign) with the end result being the bottom line.

Also, these kind of 'community' events, can be offset against corporation tax (it is technically classed as a charitable donation)- these are not altruistic gestures, it's still all about business.

Nothing wrong with that, and Petzl shouldn't be criticised for this approach, but lets at least call it what it is!
Michael Ryan - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Goucho:

It's both Goucho. Both marketing and altruistic. These events can, if done right, benefit many.

Yes, nothing wrong with that.
Iain Peters - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Perhaps Petzl, Patagonia and others might like to organize a Roc and Sno trip to a large mountain community in desperate need of help in re-establishing their national identity, their culture and their faith as well as preserving their environment, Tibet, these days nothing more than a Chinese colony. I wonder how much of the money generated by foreign climbers actually reaches the Tibetans?
abarro81 - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> my gut suggests he doesn't like them because of the bolts and because they're different to what he does when he goes on holiday.

+1

I think the trips look awesome and I invariably enjoy the video that comes out of it. The only thing I dislike about it is that I don't get to go.

I'd certainly rather go on a trip and bump into the Petzl trip than bump into a bunch of old people complaining about the state of climbing nowadays ;)

In reply to Arms Cliff:
> perhaps they are sad climbing has moved on from the days when men were men, and mountains were scared of multi week sieges, pegs, hammers and 'combined tactics'.

You might disagree with Littlejohn on the Petzl thing, but suggesting he supports siege style is ridiculous, or at best that you know nothing about his alpine record.

Arms Cliff - on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA: It looks like he may have helped climbing move on from the Whillans harness and as such is a saint, and has made redpointing sport routes more comfortable for all! http://www.mountain-heritage.org/item.php?ID=969
chris j on 09 Oct 2012
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> ...but one false move will make him run into the cliff at lightning speed!

Cue visions of rows of stunned rabbits as a boulderer saunters down the canyon...

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