Ken Wilson on the BMC Presidential Election Guest Editorial

© various
Herbert Hoover Congratulates Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), winner in the 1932 US Presidential election.
Jack Geldard's likening of the BMC Carrington/Scott Presidential choice to the Obama/McCain battle (UKC News: BMC Presidential Election - The Race Is On) is entertaining but ill-judged as, notwithstanding Obama's clear popularity and allure, his administration has still to prove itself.

A far better analogy is Roosevelt/Hoover in 1932 when the great depression threatened. Scott as Roosevelt, Carrington as Hoover. Carrington appears to be the nominee of a failed BMC faction recently re-emboldened by government pressures in the run up to the Olympics. The only champion they (the BMC competition pushers of the past) ever produced was Simon Nadin who tried competitions for a season, became "world champion" then quit ... clearly indicating to all the facile nature of such activity when compared to the real thing - Nadin's "real" and lasting achievements being his great gritstone climbs. It was this "proper" climbing that led to his prowess.

Scott is a seasoned anti-bolt, anti-competition campaigner who, along with others, has been constantly active in UIAA politics. His concern (supported by Reinhold Messner) has always been to put a brake on the headlong European rush to bolt up everything in the name of progress.

This debate pushed the UIAA to breaking point in attempts of a vociferous faction to establish competition climbing as a serious Olympic event. This upcoming BMC election merely reflects a new chapter in a constantly developing struggle.

With the UK Olympics soon to be amongst us it appears that elements in the BMC, wish to re-emphasise (in the name of progress) these forms of "conventional" sporting competition in a dangerous sport that is clearly is not suitable for them. It appears that if this view prevails, climbing wall and sport-climbing training will soon have an influence comparable to the velodromes and give us a whole new group of state-produced "champions" who will eclipse our currently acclaimed top performers (Macleods, Pearsons, Bullocks, Braceys, Parnells).

We must tenaciously protect our current and highly effective methods of identifying top performers and reject these periodic pressures to adapt the sport in an attempt to convert climbers into conventional sporting heroes ... all in the interests of state pride and marketable commercialism.

Scott therefore offers to best choice for those who wish to reject such a trend.

Ken Wilson

Doug Scott and Rab Carrington, BMC Presidential candidates.
© various

The BMC - AGM: Make sure you vote.

All members of the BMC are welcome at the AGM at Plas y Brenin and all members have the right to vote. You can vote in person at the AGM, or you can vote by proxy using the card supplied in the March issue of Summit magazine (more info here), or by downloading the Proxy Voting Card here.

Also read BMC AGM - How to use your vote

Ken Wilson   © UKC Articles
Ken Wilson

Ken Wilson - Who is he?

Ken Wilson's influence on the global climbing media and climbing politics is far reaching and influential.

He was editor of Mountain magazine from 1969 until 1978 and owner of the outdoor publishers Diadem from 1978 until 1989, until it was incorporated into Hodder. In 1993 Hodder downsized, Ken then set up the publishing house, Baton Wicks.

He has been publisher and author of many important outdoor books including: the Hard Rock series, The Games Climbers Play, The Black Cliff, Cold Climbs, Wild, Classic and Big Walk, and others including, Argonauts of the Western Isles, Canoeing across Canada and Run River Run.

Once the world's most authoritative climbing periodical, Mountain magazine is still spoken of in hallowed tones today and influenced quality publications such as Alpinist magazine, as a mountaineering journal of record, with a strong voice, beautiful photography and as a place for robust intellectual debate. Ken's background in architecture gave a him a good grounding in photography and design and this was reflected in Mountain magazine's clean and graphic look.

Ken is a member of the Climbers' Club, he edited their journal in 1976, and is intimately involved with the BMC, both as a volunteer and a critic. He is an Alpine Club Member and an Honorary Member of the BMC.

He was involved in the argument against the government regulation of climbing and mountaineering in the late 1960's. In the 1980's he led the charge, both verbally, in print and at the crag, against the threat that bolts and sport climbing posed to traditional climbing. His vigorous intellectual debate is not for weak at heart or weak of opinion. Be prepared to defend your point of view and your very existence on planet earth.

He says, "my role as editor led me into a variety of political positions.... I felt that Mountain magazine should have a position on the key issues of the day and my editorial word only had authority as I spoke for a range of advisers, contributors and supporters who were (I tried to ensure) amongst the main figures in world climbing. I could not have pushed views had they not been the general ethos of the climbing world.

Obviously when new issues arose or new trends, they had to be incorporated and a position developed. Lightweight alpinism as opposed to conventional expeditions being one of the evolutions during my stint. "

Now in his late 60's Ken is still going strong out at the crag and as a defender of the true faith, kept honest by his beautiful wife Gloria.

Support UKC

As climbers we strive to make the kind of website we would love to visit, with the most up-to-date news, diverse and interesting articles, comprehensive gear reviews, breathtaking photographs and a vast and useful logbook system. As a result, an incredible community has formed around the site - we’ve provided the framework but it’s you who make the website what it is today. If you appreciate the content we offer then you can help us by becoming an official UKC Supporter. This can be a one-off single annual payment or a more substantial payment paid monthly or yearly which includes full access to Rockfax Digital and discounts on Rockfax print publications.

If you appreciate then please help us by becoming a UKC Supporter.

UKC Supporter

  • Support the website we all know and love
  • Access to a year's subscription to Rockfax Digital.
  • Plus 30% off Rockfax guidebooks
  • Plus Show your support UKC Supporter badge on your profile and forum posts
UKC/UKH/Rockfax logo

7 Apr, 2009
Hilarious. First he compares the fact that some people think that climbing should be an Olympic sport with the Great Depression. The fact is that even if climbing were to become an Olympic sport this would have no effect whatsoever on the activities of 99.9% of UK climbers. I quote from Rab's candidacy statement - 'My aims for the next three years are: • Improve the efficiency of the BMC organisation. • Improve communications between the BMC, its members and the outside world. • Safeguard all forms of mountaineering, climbing and hill walking for the future' Does that sound like the manifesto of a single issue zealot pushing for climbing to become an Olympic sport? Time to buy some new records Ken - your old one is scratched and keeps repeating the 'no bolting' mantra.
7 Apr, 2009
"A far better analogy is Roosevelt/Hoover in 1932 when the great depression threatened. Scott as Roosevelt, Carrington as Hoover." Seems ridiculous. Firstly, we're talking about the institutional politics of a very minor sport on one hand and the history of the largest economy in world on the other. Secondly, Ken appears to have got his analogy the wrong way around. Hoover has been accused of believing in a laissez-faire approach to the economy and letting the depression deepen as a result, whilst FDR began the greatest programme of intervention and centralized control the US economy has ever seen. Secondly many seem to believe that Hoover's support for prohibition helped lose him the election. Alcohol might not have been good for the soul, but ultimately that's what many people wanted within certain limitations. Change alcohol for bolts and think through the analogy again.
7 Apr, 2009
LOL, the anarchist in a bow tie picture, was it a set up? I didn't know he even possessed a tie, never mind a bow.
7 Apr, 2009
With support like that, who needs an opponent ? I think a Sarah Palin analogy is at least as applicable. Y
7 Apr, 2009
I'll be interested in the numbers when the votes are counted. My guess is a landslide to Rab. Places like the Climbingworks have been actively campaigning for him. Just because Rab's ticked some sport routes lately, I don't think he's a rabid Euro Gridbolter. I can only guess that Ken Wilson's piece is ironic, and he's actually supporting Rab, otherwise, he's out of touch. No change there then.
More Comments
Loading Notifications...
Facebook Twitter Copy Email LinkedIn Pinterest