In a time when some still seem to have issues with accepting indoor and competition climbing as "real" climbing, dedicating a magazine to competitions and performance could be considered bold. That's exactly what The Circuit does.
I don't make a lot of reviews these days, and I don't think I have ever reviewed any kind of magazine, so why this?
Well, first of all, this is not just another climbing magazine (and to be honest perhaps this is not a proper review).
It only comes out once a year, there is no news section and it doesn't pretend to cover everything that is climbing.
In fact, this first issue is almost exclusively about bouldering and mostly about the World Cup and its players, featuring interviews with:
Guillaume Glairon Mondet
Mélissa Le Nevé
Chris Webb Parsons
Mina Leslie Wujastyk
All this, plus photo features from Grampians, Sydney Bouldering and Fontainebleau, in ONE issue without adds. No joke!
Still, making the hardest ascents on rock ranks higher among most climbers and I've got the feeling even some competition climbers have to sort of excuse themselves for being just that - competition climbers.
This is kind of a paradox of course as virtually all of the best climbers on rock have done very well in comps earlier in their careers...
Be that how it may, but I think that, in a few years, much like alpine skiers still ski off pist from time to time, similarly comp climbers will still like to climb rock, but I can definitely see a shift where World champions and WC-winners will be the biggest stars of our sport, though the ones pushing the limits on rock will always be held in high regard.
Consequently it's only natural that we get a magazine that follows the competition part of the sport seriously.
Instead of just scraping the surface, we get in depth interviews providing a multi angle view of where climbing (bouldering in this particular issue) is at today and where it's headed. People are given enough space to really articulate their opinions and what they want to say.
In short, The Circuit is a coffee table book in the shape of a magazine.
Eddie Fowke, the man who has created all this from scratch almost entirely by himself, has taken the time and effort to meet up with everyone on location both in Australia when possible and also on World Cup competitions in Europe.
After reading the magazine, I asked Eddie a couple of questions:
Who is Eddie Fowke?
A burnt out, beer bellied, has been average climber who always dreamed of making it to the world cup. I didn't take the normal path but I made it in my own way. I've always loved photography and writing but lacked the confidence and focus when I was younger to do anything about it... Then I realised it wasn't worth throwing these oppertunites away so I saved up, flew to Europe, self funded myself to the comps, came home, learned how to put a magazine together by watching/reading everything I could... And I did it. 95% photos are mine, 95% of the text is mine... I did the design and layout and paid for the printing... Now I have a magazine.
How and when did you come up with the idea?
I've always loved climbing magazines, they're like the documentation of our history as a sport. It's so common to be at a gym and look at an old mag and still be inspired. To me with the right content climbing magazines have great collectablity as they document the history of the sport.
However, they don't (or the English language ones don't at least) focus on the elite of the sport, the progression, the competition aspects. So... I decided to change that, to release a magazine thats almost more like a journal/yearbook which lets the reader get right into the action with the best in the world. To hear their thoughts, dreams and experiences and to be inspired by photos showing just what these amazing climbers are capable of. Giving the reader a ringside seat to the sport.
So I flew across the world, interviewed the greats, took the photos I needed and did it. No one else was and the sport needs it so here I am.
What IS the idea, i.e what do you want it to be?
Pretty much captured above. To be a coffee table quality magazine to inspire climbers and enthusists by giving them the best seat in the house. Photos from right in the thick of the action, interviews to give personality to these amazing athletes we are only seeing on streams of the comps or youtube clips.
Surely to emulate and follow in the footsteps of the best it helps to know the path they've trodden.
If you're even remotely interested in the competition scene and its players, you will no doubt enjoy The Circuit, so give it a chance and order your copy today, you won't regret it.
Surely, starting a brand new magazine from scratch on your own is taking a big risk but as Eddie puts is:
Sometimes in life as in climbing you just need to commit!
We wish him the best of luck!