/ OPINION: Cutting-Edge Climbing or Insta-fame?
If we're ready to glorify (and pay for, as sponsors do) athletic training and repeated attempts at scaling a small rock, why do we insist on belittling the work of social media professionals? To grow their audience to hundreds of thousands, influencers in any discipline hustle hard to produce and promote content.
Apologies for the following? post... I normally just click back and ignore threads that I don't understand, but I can't seem to drop this one.
Do a large number of climbers actually care about this? Do they watch other climbers on Instagram and other social media? Am I missing out on something worthwhile? I just climb, and post on here to exchange useful information and talk shite with like-minded people. I can't imagine following the sort of feeds mentioned in the article, it holds no interest to me whatsoever. It's not that I'm a technophobe, far from it. Maybe I'm just a weirdo?
Whilst I like the live-and-let-live attitude, I'm afraid I think the article rather misses the mark on a few aspects:
1. "It's unlikely, however, that anybody would be confused about their comparative climbing achievements." - this isn't true, as conversations with people who dabble in climbing will quickly tell you. However, that's not really a new thing, it's certainly been the case since I started climbing, and I include myself in those who didn't know hype/fame from sends when starting out in the sport >10 yrs ago (i.e. pre-social media).
2. "If we're ready to glorify (and pay for, as sponsors do) athletic training and repeated attempts at scaling a small rock, why do we insist on belittling the work of social media professionals?" - this is a simple answer and it's because climbers are interested in climbing, not advertising. It's the same reason why I would follow a climber on instagram but not an advertising executive (or a philosopher or ... ).
3. "A climber actively claiming to be something or someone they're not is deceitful, but if an honest climber presents their achievements as they are and is deemed an appropriate ambassador by a brand, then in what way is this detrimental to others?" - I think Bishrat is railing against the mid-ground between those two, in which a climber doesn't actively claim to be something they're not, but does allow a predictable presumption to exist without preempting it, e.g. the prevalence of posting photos on hard things you've not actually done without it being clear that you've not actually done them, or posting old photos without it being at all clear that they're old.
"It was on social media that I first saw strong confident female climbers"
I hope Geraldine Taylor, Hilary Lawrence, Gill Kent etc etc don't read this!
> why do we insist on belittling the work of social media professionals?
Because that's an oxymoron?
> "It was on social media that I first saw strong confident female climbers"
> I hope Geraldine Taylor, Hilary Lawrence, Gill Kent etc etc don't read this!
Not to mention Angela Soper.
I was travelling to the crag and we played a game of "name 10 famous climbers", (currently big in ?climbing, not historical figures). The first name that popped into my head was Hazel Findlay. I have no idea what her Instagram feed is like, but the articles she writes are inspiring and really strike a chord with me.
I think you make good points with 1 and 3. But with 2, I think it's you who is missing the point, or maybe twisting it.
Zofia is talking about social media professionals who are climbers. They may not be great climbers but surely it is clear that she sees their appeal coming from their [ability to showcase/discuss] climbing, not from their showcasing of advertising technique or philosphy or whatever.
For reasons I can't remember now, I talked with Jerry Moffat about this once. He may have been the best climber in the world but he attributed his success at getting and keeping sponsorship to his self-promotion skills more than his climbing. Hs ethic was to write and submit magazine articles about absolutely every trip he went on and I don't think it came easily to him but he saw it as an essential for a sponsored climber.
It can be a difficult pill to swallow for those talented at climbing but not media/marketing, but a decent climber who inspires others through good images or writing is just as worthy as sponsorship as an excellent climber who is less able to show that excellent climbing. Sponsorship is basically just a contract, and both sides need to benefit.
I think Zofia is perhaps just pointing out that the climbing public potentially benefit just as much from great climbing writing and images as they do from simply learning others have climbed hard. I don't deny there is value in the latter, but it is rather one-dimensional, especially without the former.
Just live and let live Barros, it’s not worth it
And Lynn Hill and Catherine Destivelle and Isabel Patissier etc etc
‘Those of us who remember the pre-social media era of landlines and floppy disks also remember the time when climbing was a niche and radical pastime for a bunch of punk misfits. This came right after upper class boys scaling big routes in the Himalayas stopped being cool and working class boys doing sketchy trad on the dole were all the rage.’
Interesting re-writing of history there!
> Nathan Barley?
> Not to mention Angela Soper.
There are loads of big climbing themed Instagram accounts now, the biggest all seem to just be collections of attractive looking women doing fairly unremarkable things on sunny crags.
The handful of accounts I follow are just real climbers doing real stuff. Most are either not sponsored, lightly sponsored or just aren't interested in it. I just like to see what people have been up to recently and likewise I usually post what me and my climbing friends get up to on our weekends.
> if you were to start climbing nowadays you would probably never have heard of any of those people unless you were really into the history of UK climbing ( and most are not)
Indeed. Social media probably has a lot to answer for in younger climbers only knowing about the here and now and not being able to put in in its historical context.
> "It was on social media that I first saw strong confident female climbers"
> I hope Geraldine Taylor, Hilary Lawrence, Gill Kent etc etc don't read this!
Surely the point of the article though is that for Zofia, it was social media that first allowed her to see them. She never said they hadn't existed.
Hi Zofia, I agree with all your main points and I think it's great that social media got you back in to climbing. That in itself is a good example of why it's a good idea for climbing companies to sponsor people on social media.
What I am less sure about is your characterisation of the climbing community before social media. I am not social media savvy and I only really use Facebook. I haven't honestly seen any change in the day-to-day behaviour or culture of climbers in general over that time apart from an increasing focus on bouldering and indoor climbing. I can't think of any major change in a way that would improve acceptance/integration of new climbers. Can you explain further? Is it more that you feel social media has opened up new pathways for meeting people and starting out, rather than changing what was there already?
> [Moffat]'s ethic was to write and submit magazine articles about absolutely every trip he went on and I don't think it came easily to him but he saw it as an essential for a sponsored climber.
This is true. However, at the same time, he was going around and crushing everybody's projects on both sides of the atlantic, so I'm not sure Bisharat (or similar) would have had a problem with it.
My take on it is that style is temporary, class is permanent. By that I think that the mediocre-climber-good-promoter people will be around for a short while, whereas the truly good climbers will be around for a lot longer.
My only concern is that the pot for sponsored climbers is small; although you could argue that the media influencers attract advertising dollars from outside the climbing industry (q.v. that Paul Robinson post in the article) so maybe it evens out.
In reply to OP:
Thanks for the article, you will probably get a bit of stick for it on here as it's an unpopular viewpoint among the climbing 'hardcore' (which may be why you wrote it). But I though it was interesting. Especially as I don't have an instagram account and have no idea of what you're talking about
Interesting, though I did find it hard to get past terms like "industry professional" and "athlete influencer".........
> Surely the point of the article though is that for Zofia, it was social media that first allowed her to see them. She never said they hadn't existed.
My point is that there have always been strong confident female climbers (we could go back to Lily Bristow) I just jotted down the first few names that came to mind from the time I started climbing. Zofia can't have been looking very hard.
I can’t help thinking that media use has always been there as well as the gap between quiet activists and loud opinionated media users. Eg Ken Wilson, Peak centric Crags magazine etc compared to activists like Cubby, Littlejohn, Boysen and many others. Only the media channel is different
i really doubt the Internet/social media is to blame for not having heard of strong femdel climbers of yore. Where should people be looking ?
> My point is that there have always been strong confident female climbers (we could go back to Lily Bristow) I just jotted down the first few names that came to mind from the time I started climbing. Zofia can't have been looking very hard.
You’re placing the onus on Zofia but media do have a role. The only women climbers I knew about as a youth were Edwardian ladies in crinolines until I found Gwen Moffat’s book in the local library. Having said that, given what I expect is Zofia’s rough age I would have thought she had a better chance of seeing climbing women in the media than I did as articles and images featuring women started to appear in the climbing mags in the ‘80s.
> Because that's an oxymoron?
I doubt that Mark Zuckerberg would agree.
> Always been the case, that most people dont know, nor care , about the history of the sport.
I was a bit shocked to meet a keen aspiring young alpinist who had never heard of Bonatti. That's a bit like a keen young footballer never having heard of Pele - maybe some havn't but I doubt it!
> I really doubt the Internet/social media is to blame for not having heard of strong female climbers of yore. Where should people be looking ?
I suspect that before the internet and social media people would have read more books (or at least extended pieces of writing in the magazines) and news round-ups in magazines which put things in context. Nowadays social media "feeds" will tend to be designed to "sell" the here and now.
This thread sounds a lot to me like a bunch of people using social media to bemoan the existence and influence of social media. Some of the participants on this thread are among the most prolific posters on the UKC Forums, and yet they seem surprised at the idea that there might be people who make a living from those interactions.
Anyway, rant over.
A post written by a woman, with 20+ negative comments written by men?
Classic UKC forums...
> A post written by a woman, with 20+ negative comments written by men?
> Classic UKC forums...
> "It was on social media that I first saw strong confident female climbers"
> I hope Geraldine Taylor, Hilary Lawrence, Gill Kent etc etc don't read this!
That's a bit unfair. Where else is a millennial going to find out first about strong Female climbers? In a magazine that was out of print before she was born?
> This thread sounds a lot to me like a bunch of people using social media to bemoan the existence and influence of social media. Some of the participants on this thread are among the most prolific posters on the UKC Forums, and yet they seem surprised at the idea that there might be people who make a living from those interactions.
I think there is a big distinction to be made between discussion on UKC forum threads and individuals' use of instagram (or whatever) for self promotion (which is what the article is about).
You can Google 'famous female climbers' and it brings up a little headshot on a (non-chronological) timeline, with their name.. click it and it brings up their search results, the first tending to be wiki. Aim for the black and white pictures and Bob's your uncle!
> You can Google 'famous female climbers'...
So, from the internet, then.
Social media is like TV - a useful source of information if you can find it amid the worthless froth. You just have to accept that alongside the stuff you want there is going to be 'reality' tosh like Love Island and quite a few phoneys and wannabes
> I think there is a big distinction to be made between discussion on UKC forum threads and individuals' use of instagram (or whatever) for self promotion (which is what the article is about).
Indeed, but that wasn't the point I was making. surely people who make heavy use of an advertisement supported site would not be surprised that somewhere there might be people who can make a living from that interaction? Or perhaps they still think the internet is entirely the construction of 14 year old boys using Commodore 64s in their bedrooms after school.
3 of the world's 5 richest people made their billions either wholly or partly from social media, so maybe it's time we stopped being a bit childish about the idea of 'social media professionals'.
Oh sorry, I didn't realise you had to research past heroes via means only available to them at the time.
> This came right after upper class boys scaling big routes in the Himalayas stopped being cool and working class boys doing sketchy trad on the dole were all the rage.
Stopped reading at these pathetic, tired, stupid cliches.
What was upper class about Doug Scott or Alex MacIntyre? What was working class about Johnny Dawes?
UPDATE: ok, resumed reading & found I was generally in agreement with the rest. Shame about the opening paragraph.
> Indeed, but that wasn't the point I was making. Surely people who make heavy use of an advertisement supported site would not be surprised that somewhere there might be people who can make a living from that interaction?
Of course not. I presume that some people at least partly make their living out of UKC. But I don't really think of UKC as social media - it is more like an online replacement for the old climbing mags with the forums being a vastly more extensive replacement for the mags' letters pages.
> 3 of the world's 5 richest people made their billions either wholly or partly from social media, so maybe it's time we stopped being a bit childish about the idea of 'social media professionals'.
There is a big difference between making money from running a social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram and using those platforms for self promotion so as to attract sponsorship as a climber, the influence of which is what the article is about and what is being discussed. Anyway, I don't think anyone is being childish about it!
> What was upper class about Doug Scott or Alex MacIntyre?
And who was that upper class boy who was in the summit pair on the first ascent of Kangchenjunga? Oh yes, Joe Brown?
> So, from the internet, then.
Google isn't Social Media.
> That's a bit like a keen young footballer never having heard of Pele
I recall reading that Annie Lennox had never heard of Aretha Franklin before somebody (record company?) arranged for them to record a song together. And if anybody is "the Pele of singing" it's Aretha Franklin.
> Google isn't Social Media.
Google is a lot of things, one of those things being an extremely successful search engine that indexes, among other things, social media platforms.
The point is that I don't really see why it's a problem that someone first found out about famous female climbers via social media versus, say, a magazine article. What difference does it make?
> ‘Those of us who remember the pre-social media era of landlines and floppy disks also remember the time when climbing was a niche and radical pastime for a bunch of punk misfits. This came right after upper class boys scaling big routes in the Himalayas stopped being cool and working class boys doing sketchy trad on the dole were all the rage.’
> Interesting re-writing of history there!
And if you read the article carefully instead applying your own assuptions she actually refers to these as stereotypes in the next line down.
She says she started climbing before the internet, like me, so presumably she could have noticed them the same places I did, in fact the only places *to* notice them, unless you knew them personally, ie. print media.
> And who was that upper class boy who was in the summit pair on the first ascent of Kangchenjunga? Oh yes, Joe Brown?
I wonder what the proportion of working class lads was on that expedition...
She could have but says she didn't. What is your point?
That the premise of the article is a little weak.
I think this is just terrible.
I don't know if the author is a 'millennial' or not, but there are two ideas in their that the millennial generation seem to think have validity that they will eventually grow out of and realise are absurd.
- that being an 'influencer' is a job. It's not. Look at top sports teams, they are sponsored by big corporates (sky cycling anyone ;-) ). These corporates simply want exposure time, they definitely don't sit around discussing 'influencing.'.
- you can be an 'industry professional' (not disrespect to Colette whatsername in the article.) You either do something as a job (in which case your job is xxx ... photographer, sales person, etc.) or not.There seems to be this idea that you can make a job out of what is (not what seems to be, but what IS) a hobby.
> - you can be an 'industry professional' (not disrespect to Colette whatsername in the article.) You either do something as a job (in which case your job is xxx ... photographer, sales person, etc.) or not.There seems to be this idea that you can make a job out of what is (not what seems to be, but what IS) a hobby.
You can. I was reading a bbc article this morning about people who make money playing computer games and streaming it live for others to watch. There are quite a few well-off people through social media now. It can't be easy though, there are a lot of people who have failed too.
I think you’ve got that wrong. As much as I f*cking detest the term, they do influence their followers to, in the main, buy stuff.
I know you 'can' - but it is absurd. It is quite ridiculous that society has reached that situation.
Lily Bristow, Mary Mummery, Dorothy Pilley....
I understand the concept. I vehemently disagree with it being a 'job', even if they do make money from it.
A bit like the concept of 'partners' or whatever it is sponsored sports people are called now. They're not partners. They are just sponsored by company x/y/ etc.
> I know you 'can' - but it is absurd. It is quite ridiculous that society has reached that situation.
Is it really any different from climbers appearing in gear adverts in the mags in pre-internet days?
Yeah - the climber gets on with climbing and the manufacturer promotes the product.
As opposed to their climber worrying about their instagram account and how everything will look in a photo.
"As opposed to their climber worrying about their instagram account and how everything will look in a photo."
I'm sure there were examples in the mags years ago where someone did a hard route, then went back later and got in position half way up for a marketing photo with a hidden top rope and wearing their sponsors' favourite shoes rather than the ones they wore for the actual ascent. Isn't that more mercenary than setting your camera up carefully for social media?
> I understand the concept. I vehemently disagree with it being a 'job', even if they do make money from it.
> A bit like the concept of 'partners' or whatever it is sponsored sports people are called now. They're not partners. They are just sponsored by company x/y/ etc.
“Ambassadors” It’s basically just constructing contrived tweets to work in some company’s shit they’ve got for sale.
> Yeah - the climber gets on with climbing and the manufacturer promotes the product.
This is strangley naive. It hasn't really been like this for many decades. See my earlier post re Jerry Moffat.
Regarding your other point that someone working in the industry is working as a photographer or merchandiser or whatever, and not as a climber: There is some validity to that but it is also true that in most cases, certainly in the core climbing businesses, that the climbing experience is almost as important to the role as the experience in the relevant business discipline.
> And who was that upper class boy who was in the summit pair on the first ascent of Kangchenjunga? Oh yes, Joe Brown?
Finding a few exceptions doesn't void an argument. That's why they are exceptions.
Insta-fame is a bit like getting into the Top40 - and similarly weakened by techno-imagery. How many songs would never have become famous without sequins, makeup and a good act? Happily Real Music does feature in the Top40 - and worthy of a place in history, but a larger number are built on fashion - a highly volatile trend-appeal, quickly forgettable after the initial buzz.
> Finding a few exceptions doesn't void an argument. That's why they are exceptions.
You could probably either look at Joe Brown on Kangchenjunga in the fifties as an exception or as the start of a change which had more or less fully taken place by the seventies and the "Bonington" era.
This is pretty interesting stuff and something I watch with interest and often dismay, not some much climbing in particular but more the 'adventurer' phenomenon that abounds my social media feeds. I think adventure on a personal level is great and to be encouraged in all forms and all levels of inventiveness and committment. Undoubtedly though many accounts lack any real substance – first person to wild camp at all four corners of the UK for example. Great, seriously. The social media content and reach are impressive and why not applaud it. However, the public don't see that, they see a serious adventurer, a top level performer, an expert in their field, which often they are not.
It's happening in commercial guiding as well, ill qualified, under experienced people delivering good/mediocre to dangerous activities for blissfully unaware customers, which they can in the UK because there is little regulation and they are effective at making noise on the internet.
It is now a case, oftentimes, of who can shout loudest.
* I appreciate Jerry was a bit loud
I'm struggling to think of who she's on about. Ok so Bonnington was a toff but other than that I can't think of many. I mean Whillans, the Burgess brothers, Haston, Hillary... they all weren't minted. To me this article is cherry picking examples to make a case. Whether she's right is a different story. To my mind the she's saying that it's all positive. The business model has clearly shifted from the sponsored climber to the sponsored content producer. How much content affects your purchases is debatable. So to me it boils down to whether sponsoring someone who is pushing the limits of the sport is more worthwhile sponsoring. I would rather see the very meagre amount of money I spend in kit going to those people who are pushing hard who genuinely need the money to give themselves the chance to be the best rather than someone who essentially just wants to go climbing all the time but in reality is a bit cack. As for all the kerfuffle about female climbers in the spotlight, first off there were fewer female climbers. Secondly there were not that many sponsored slots. So the ratio of climbers to media attention, I think was actually not bad. It's changed massively since I started climbing. It's all just a bit whiney to be honest. I can't imagine Dawes or Haston having the time to write in to on the edge to complain that they weren't being taken seriously... they did give a toss, they were too busy sleeping on sofas, climbing, and partying to care.
I didn't really pick up on any point or thesis that this wishy washy 'Opinion' article was trying to make among the buzzwords. Did it go over my head, or wasn't there a point? Regardless, I'm just going to respond here with my own unstructured brain dump. Look everyone, we're connecting, this is -the- conversation, #socialmedia! Add, share, subscribe, like!
I would say that being a cutting edge climber alone now just doesn't cut it to get sponsorship. I remember the witch hunt against Ben Heason 15 years ago - two of the leading climbers who stood most to benefit , weren't exactly Captain Charisma. Getting sponsorship deals was indeed never just about climbing hard, you needed a bit more pizazz too, or controversy. Otherwise all the dark horses in the country would've got more tangible rewards than underground 'street cred' on UKB
Yes, there's a lot of crap around, but so what? There's more room in the market than ever now for intelligent climbers making decent content, produced well, who have interesting things to say. Just like there was always room for people who wrote great articles and took decent photographs, and also climbed gnarly stuff really hard, like Ian Parnell and Andy Kirkpatrick. And there's still decent homebrew stuff on youtube too, even of Nesscliffe and Ogmore (Dixon and Crocker), from back in the day
I don't know what to make of this article. I just found it quite protracted and I wasn't really sure what point it was trying to make. I read it twice as well. As others have said, I also have no idea what it is talking about with regards the upper class shift from Himalayan climbing. It just seems like a lack of understanding of climbing history. As to 'why do we insist on belittling the work of social media professionals', when does that happen in the climbing world? I don't see it happening on UKC at any rate, apart from AK, but that wasn't climbing related. Maybe I need to read it a third time.
> This came right after upper class boys scaling big routes in the Himalayas stopped being cool
I think she's referring to the Option B MoNC30 crowd ;-)
More to the point I'm not sure they ever stopped being cool?
> That's a bit unfair. Where else is a millennial going to find out first about strong Female climbers? In a magazine that was out of print before she was born?
Books. If you write a dissertation you are supposed to find relevant books.
I'm not sure how seriously to take a dissertation on climbing, femininity and the media that does not discuss Alison Hargreaves and the posthumous trial by media of her fitness as a mother.
Ironically that book is also out of print. Yes I know there are second hand copies. I think we are kidding ourselves though if we claim there is a plethora of climbing books written by women, and certainly not if you want to read about contemporaries of the same generation. And if you are not an English speaker then there is probably going to be nothing available in whatever other language. Social media has infinitely more to offer in that respect.
Probably not many books, but there's at least one autobiography by a woman in French (Ascensions by Catherine Destivelle), and I think Lyn Hill's book has been translated into French
The article is just a response to the Andrew Bisharat article linked to at the start. I think its quite an interesting topic as addresses whether marketing for climbing should be focused on the 'lifestyle' or 'sport' aspect.
I think it's very sad that the author has been duped into 'returning to climbing' by seeing and following the heavily manipulated images of pro athletes on social media!
Just because they accept your 'friends request' doesn't mean they have any interest in you. Their profile is first and foremost a marketing tool for them and their brands. Those pretty images aren't the work of happy accidents- there is a huge amount of design and thought behind the every image and story they're selling you.
Surely enjoying the activity of climbing must be the end in itself otherwise what is the point of taking part in it? Who cares what the elite think of you? Don't confuse marketing with a real lifestyle.
My own relationship with social media has become far more cynical in recent years. As Bill Hicks said, 'if you're in marketing- killl yourself.'
I'm logging my attempt on this article as 'DNF'
> Ironically that book is also out of print. Yes I know there are second hand copies. I think we are kidding ourselves though if we claim there is a plethora of climbing books written by women, and certainly not if you want to read about contemporaries of the same generation. And if you are not an English speaker then there is probably going to be nothing available in whatever other language. Social media has infinitely more to offer in that respect.
Clearly social media is now a dominant source of information (and misinformation). An issue with sole reliance on social media is that it tends to present the view that nothing very much happened before 2004. The piece above with its misunderstanding of climbing history being a case in point.
I don't think Bonington was / is a toff - it certainly wasn't inherited wealth that enabled him to become one of Britain's greatest alpinists.
In general I was turned off the article by the line about climbing being a radical 'punk' thing pre social media - what tripe.
The the poor thing from a marketing perspective is that the most people with money to spend are those over 50 years old . Digital marketing for outdoor companies always targets milenials and not the over 50’s.
Quite honestly the marketing is poor.
They should be targeting both sectors.
For example why not digitally brand market stories around older climbers.
Well OK, I was more refering to the idea that he wasn't a working class hero like Brown and Willans were. And that he came from the Army Officer Cadre etc...
> I don't think Bonington was / is a toff
Public school then Sandhurst, sounds like a common upper middle class trajectory. There was a TV interview, can't remember exactly which, where he said that the class difference wasn't seen as a problem by Joe Brown but certainly was by Whillans.
Yes, certainly that was his background - but I don't see what relevance it has to his climbing achievements, in the same way that Dawe's more privileged background should reflect on his. I think one of the great things about climbing is that it doesn't matter what your background is when you're actually doing it.
It was the author making the distinction. We were merely pointing out that most of the post war until the revolutionary punk era top level climbers were not like suggested in the article, upper class. Quite the opposite in fact. Maybe in the pre war golden age they were, but even stars like Whymper weren't...
> Yes, certainly that was his background - but I don't see what relevance it has to (Bonington's) climbing achievements
Directly as a climber, none. As a fundraiser and expedition organiser, the networks that kind of background provides would certainly have helped, as would the social confidence it imbues. Anyway, we are getting away from the original subject,.
It's interesting how the discussion in this thread is focused on the class issue and overlooks perhaps a more salient point that no matter the class distinctions or Zofia's perception of them in that period (which is in fact loosely defined, she could be referring to Victorian and pre-war period), that 'upper class boys' and 'working class boys' were the prevailing characters in the sport. It's undoubtedly true that men were very much in the majority. Some women like Pilley and Moffat and later Hargreaves, Hill et al were pushing the boundaries- and no doubt numerous other women under the radar - but their achievements weren't in the limelight in the same way that many ascents by men were. Go to any second hand bookshop and you'd likely think that no woman ever existed in the climbing/mountaineering world back then. That we have the internet and social media to help look back on climbing history and to share stories and images of participation is a positive in this respect.
I think Bisharat and others are critiquing what is a broader cultural shift from a 'cult of character' to a 'cult of personality' - terms typically used in politics and currently very relevant looking at the state of world politics! The misuse of social media including lies and fake news is a big concern, alongside the negative effects that carefully curated images of happiness can have on others' mental health. It's crucial to look critically at what's being presented to you and not take everything at face value. I can see both sides of the coin.
> Directly as a climber, none. As a fundraiser and expedition organiser, the networks that kind of background provides would certainly have helped, as would the social confidence it imbues. Anyway, we are getting away from the original subject,.
But at least those adventurers were going to unique new places..The source of the nile or the high point in country most had never heard of. Many of today's adventure bloggers are following in the foot steps of literally thousands of others.
The author would do well to read up on the likes of Bessie Norton or Lily Bristow.. who were out doing routes with people like Mummery, Collie and Slingsby in the UK and the alps. As women they were excluded from the Alpine Club, so they formed their own in 1907.. just a few years ahead of digital revolution.
probably best to just think of them as models... aka, they are making money from promoting things , by looking good in photos where they happen to be climbing.
> But at least those adventurers were going to unique new places..The source of the nile or the high point in country most had never heard of.
Yes, I recently read Hillary's account of the 1953 Everest ascent and the lead up to it and was struck how especially in the predecessor "Nup La" explorations they could enter a valley and literally didn't know what was around the next corner. When we have GPS, Google Earth and every spot on the planet has detailed aerial and satellite images, it is hard to imagine how less than a century ago there were whole area that were unknown, at least to westerners. Anyway, I am distracting from the main topic again.
Sorry, I just disagree that women in climbing didn't receive as much attention. One of my clearest memories from an early age was picking up a copy of one of the mags and reading about Alison Hargreaves soloing the classic North Walls and being utterly blown away. Also Patissier, Destivelle, Erbsfield, Hill, Airlie Anderson, Lucy Creamer, Fliss Butler - to me at least they were very present and very inspirational.
Being a young teenage boy growing up when some great climbs were achieved by women, supposedly these silf like creatures who were at the time a complete mystery to me, it was even more inspirational than the latest dude rocking up their latest macho show piece. And usually done with a quietness and humbleness which was astonishing. And I simply wouldn't have known about them if I hadn't read about them in the press, or in books.
The author is arguing that climbing was and to some extent is elitest. If it was elitest, one of the greatest climbers alive could not have been a plumber, the Creag Ddu wouldn't have been such an influence, and living on the dole to go climbing would not have been a thing. She is conflating a statistically fewer number of female climbers with the sport keeping females out, which is simply not true, certainly not in my life time, I've only ever seen encouragement. I guess I can only be in one place at a time?
Is there sexism in the sport? Yes, I have no doubt as human nature predicates there to be - attitudes of all types are represented, simply because all sorts of people climb. Is it a prevalent attitude? You would be in a better position to judge that but in my one sided experience no. When you go to the wall these days there are huge numbers of women of all ages there. Does social media help? I guess you have to compare it to what existed previously - magazines. If magazines are paid for by subscriptions, and those subscriptions are paid for partly by women, then they have a commercial interest in ensuring gender bias doesn't exist. Likewise, it seems to me that quite a decent proportion of editorial at UKC and BMC has been produced by females, so I would hope those females have a reasonable amount of influence over what is published. So again I'm not sure how that part of the sport is particularly sexist.
Are more male cutting edge climbers sponsored than female? Again I'm not sure - looking at manufacturers "teams" they seem even enough - maybe behind the scenes they receive unequally? At any rate, she is bemoaning that social media is not taken seriously enough. To me social media means instagram, pinterest etc. and on these forms of social media I'd say everyone is very much wearing a mask. I am utterly unconvinced that these forms of media are actually a useful social commentary, or that they reflect in anyway what actually goes on in the real world. As others have indicated, I follow a few female climbers whom I know or am interested in : Alex Puccio because she is massively inspiring, Angi Rainer because she is very active in my neck of the Dolomites, Pamela Pack because again she's hard as nails and does things I could only aspire to and a few others. I think I probably follow more females than males for the reasons I indicated before - they report things in an unfussy way which I find really agreeable.
So for me personally, I would not say the vlogging professionals, the social media professionals, the lifestyle guru's etc, whatever you want them to be called are where social media is actually postitive. They are presenting an image which is carefully crafted and tailored to gain likes and followers and hence cash. As a news source for people at the cutting edge, it's great. But I have unfollowed people whom I initialy thought would be great, but actually it's mostly marketing fluff. So just like all attitudes being represented in climbing, all attitudes are also represented in social media. Figures I guess.
I might be totally off base ... I'm sure UKC Forum will correct me if I am.
Am I detecting a new editorial content strategy from UKC?
First we had the UKC opinion piece on the Sasha DiGiulian/Joe Kinder debacle. Now we have the UKC opinion piece on the Andrew Bisharat opinion piece.
Is the UKC editorial strategy changed so as to have an opinion on every current climbing topic/in vogue debate and if so - why/for what purpose? What is UKC getting out of it?
I ask because I don't recall UKC writing articles in this style before. It is particularly interesting question when you consider it in the context of this particular article. Has UKC developed this editorial style, I will call it the opinion-on-opinion style, to drive clicks to the site ... and hence sustain the site, and those who make a living from it, and presumably in doing so taking clicks/revenue away from someone else in the climbing community who might otherwise need those clicks/revenue to sustain their lifestyle of climbing hard rocks? Is UKC stealing $$ from our prized "athletes" who need those $$ to go climb things?
Can I ask - did Zofia get paid by UKC to write this article? And if so, is it ironic that her article is highlighting others "stealing" potential $$ from climbing "athletes" while she herself was paid to generate clicks & $$ for UKC and apparently doing the same thing?
@Zofia - I don't know you. This is not a personal attack. I am not pointing the finger at you or questioning if you should or should not get paid (I think you should get paid if you did the work). I enjoyed reading your article. It has started debate and I like that. I am asking this question of UKC and pointing out what might be a bit of the pot calling the kettle black.
another thought about this issue, is that some times its nice to see climbing media (not necessarily social) but certainly films and articles and books. that are not just about some hard yet inevitably boring climber doing some hard yet extremely boring to watch route. I think it is good if films particularly, show some different , exiting or interesting aspect of any sport. and if its interesting i dont really care about the grade... in my own film making (which I do for fun and never for money, though have had a couple of things in KMF, LLAMF and featured vids on here over the years) I really like to show something different or interesting rather than just hard..... so I sort of see both sides in this....
I find it puzzling that people can’t just get on an do stuff they like the idea of without having to be “inspired” by “strong role models”. Makes me question their real motivation.
You're about the same age as me Mike, so I agree and remember all of those climbers you mention from my early days, but I think pre-90s there was very very little attention to women climbing. Was it Gill Kent who was the editor of OTE from the early 90s? There was definitely a feminist push. When I started reading OTE there was a column by.... can't remember, her name will come to me in a bit ... which was almost like a women's column.
It was Jude Calvert Toulmin. You're probably right, I still remember the Javalin fleece adverts with the model wearing next to nothing. But we also need to control for the world just being a more sexist place in general. I simply don't believe that the number of women we now see in climbing is because of the emancipation of womankind through social media - it's because of the likes of those I mentioned managing to draw the attention of the editors of the time, going out and DOING truely mindblowing ascents. And it's certainly not because of some "adventure" vloggers posting stuff up. Caro Cavaldini - I want to read about HER...
Totally off-base I'm afraid. I decided to start an Opinion 'column' since it's something that many newspapers do well and it opens up discussion. People will always have an opinion on other people's opinions, since opinions fuel debate. However, the examples you point out are just two of many opinion pieces on the site, most of which aren't necessarily responding to one particular personal viewpoint. The topics for opinion pieces are roughly 70% initiated by writers, who suggest a particular piece to me, and 30% initiated by me or Dan through UKH. Zofia initiated this piece and yes, I paid her for her work. I appreciate the irony in money exchanging hands over this particular topic, but I think the fact that it has started a discussion makes it worthwhile for everybody. Content trumps $, or £, here.
Without these pieces, we likely wouldn't have discussed online bullying/social media use/gender equality/environmental issues in the same depth. Rather than thinking of UKC as some corporate entity sucking money from athletes - a bizarre argument, really - I think of the opinion pieces in particular as a platform for broadening our content and involving more people in journalism. As Zofia wrote about social media, surely allowing media to be 'in the hands of the many' is better than restricting UKC content to me, Nick, Dan and Rob? If you don't want to read other people's opinions, then don't read the pieces.
Can we have more from Zofia please? I thought this - http://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/the-shifting-uk-gym-scene/ - was a particularly good article of her's.
> I hope Geraldine Taylor, Hilary Lawrence, Gill Kent etc etc don't read this!
Not to mention Jill Lawrence.
It was on social media that I first saw a strong and confident female climber. It was social media that educated me about lifestyles other than the daily grind of 9-to-5.
I'm not really sure what this is saying other than the author must get rather a lot of her information from social media. It certainly wasn't where I first saw a strong and confident female climber. Long before I ran into people like Jill Lawrence and Louise Shepherd out climbing (with my strong and confident female partner) I was well aware of them.
I'm not saying there has ever been anything like equal numbers, but my personal experience of 40 years of climbing that I have always known of (and known) women who could climb harder than me and have always accepted it as completely normal. Of course, they didn't make a living out of sponsorship, but then only a tiny minority of climbers of either sex actually made a living out of it. I struggle with the idea that having a high profile is what climbing is about.
As I said - it wasn't a personal attack on Zofia or yourself.
Few things to go at there ... but I'm going to stick with OT.
It isn't a "bizarre argument, really".
UKC's own about page: https://www.ukclimbing.com/general/about.html "We'd like to ask one thing from you in return: your participation - give us your opinions; take part in the discussions; submit your articles, photos and news items; use your logbook - because the more you take part, the more valuable this site will be to you and to everyone else."
UKC isn't free. Yes I don't pay $$ to use it - but I am paying for it with my clicks, watching UKC adverts, commenting on the articles and providing my personal data w.r.t climbs/grades. No different from Facebook or Instagram. I am the product. If no one visited UKC - UKC wouldn't be on the internet.
UKC is a classic example of network effect. UKC is designed, your articles are designed, to drive traffic to the site and to make it sticky. It isn't a charity - it's a PLC with ~400k in the bank last I checked (2017ish). I come here, I see adverts, UKC gets paid. (+RockFax on the side)
I actually agree with vast majority of what Zofia is saying. I didn't knock her message.
What I am calling out is the irony in the fact that the very existence of UKC is a factor in the diminishing sponsor $$$ athletes can expect to get for climbing rocks. When you factor that in with other social media, the dilution effect due to so many more people taking part in the sport, and the fact that you don't need to climb hard to get a slice of the sponsor pie - the portion left over for athletes pushing the boundaries is even smaller.
It feels unfair for you to suggest that UKC is not a factor, one of many, in $$ made available for athletes trying to climb at the very top end of the sport. UKC business model, the model of the internet, is exactly one of the main factors that determine not only the size of the pie but how and to whom the pie is distributed in all sports.
We enable athletes to promote their achievements and their sponsors via UKC. We don't pay athletes to contribute to news reports about their climbs. If I understand what you're saying correctly, you mean that some money from brands/sponsors that could go towards athletes is going into advertising funds on UKC instead? You could look at it that way, but think it's a bit far-fetched to imply that we as a media company are 'diluting' the field. We may take a slice of marketing/advertising money, but without us the athletes wouldn't have a platform outside of their own social channels to push their achievements, and in many ways social media has made it harder for magazines and online sites to stay in business (largely the former) and maintain an audience.
God no - not Jude! Jude's couple of columns were in the early 00s, most famously topless! That was all post UKC/Rocktalk. Jude never claimed to really climb. I'm thinking of ten years before that and the writer was one of the top women climbers of the day. Maybe she later moved to the US - Boulder probably? Naomi something?
Come on! Some one help me out!
Honestly Nat ... I thought what I was saying, "its ironic UKC running article given they themselves are part of the system that is creaming off a cut of what could otherwise be paid directly to athletes working at the cutting edge of our beloved sport", was obvious. I didn't expect your or anyone to disagree with what I said - I thought it was pretty obvious. I was surprised when you did.
Just out of interest ... why doesn't UKC pay athletes directly? Why pay Zofia to write (remember - I have already said I agree that she should be paid if you have published something she has written) but not the athletes she writes about? In whose interest does that serve? Which parties in that relationship benefit and which parties do not?
In my opinion, UKC benefited (because UKC got traffic and hence ad revenue) and Zofia benefits (because she rightly got paid for her work). I am struggling to see how any climbing athlete/ambassador benefited?
> Honestly Nat ... I thought what I was saying, "its ironic UKC running article given they themselves are part of the system that is creaming off a cut of what could otherwise be paid directly to athletes working at the cutting edge of our beloved sport", was obvious.
What a bizarre point of view. Without the climbing media, what would be the point in brands paying athletes anything?
Do the newspapers pay Rafael Nadal/Sebastian Vettel/Geriant Thomas today for featuring them on their back pages?
> Honestly Nat ... I thought what I was saying, "its ironic UKC running article given they themselves are part of the system that is creaming off a cut of what could otherwise be paid directly to athletes working at the cutting edge of our beloved sport", was obvious. I didn't expect your or anyone to disagree with what I said - I thought it was pretty obvious. I was surprised when you did.
I would be pretty surprised if many people didn't disagree with you! UKC, by running news stories and providing links to other stuff both directly and via peoples' posts in the forums, gives loads of exposure to top climbers. Nowadays I get almost all my climbing news either directly or indirectly via UKC. And the claim that UKC is creaming off what you presumably think is rightly top climbers' money just seems absurd.
> Just out of interest ... why doesn't UKC pay athletes directly?
What a completely bizarre question!
> In my opinion, UKC benefited (because UKC got traffic and hence ad revenue) and Zofia benefits (because she rightly got paid for her work). I am struggling to see how any climbing athlete/ambassador benefited?
So? Why should they? Should politicians get paid every time they get written about in a newspaper?
Edit: I see Alan James got in with "bizarre" before me!
> What a bizarre point of view. Without the climbing media, what would be the point in brands paying athletes anything?
You've changed it from social media to all climbing media. And surely it's obvious? Just as during the magazine days, in the absense of teams and paid wholesale commercial sportsmanship within climbing, it would be an act of philanthropy enabling the sport to progress more quickly with little return other than the odd promotional photoshoot etc. That's how it was previously. I guess not as many people would be sponsored and manufacturers would have to concentrate on sponsoring people worth sponsoring...
We’re a media outlet and we try to maintain a clear distinction between news, editorial and advertorial content. I understand what you're saying, that the money we earn from brands could theoretically be given to athletes, but would you expect The Guardian/(insert newspaper) to give money it makes from advertising sports brands to Team GB athletes whenever they win something? No newspaper I know of works this way.
If Shauna wanted to write an article about being a professional climber (without brand endorsements), or a skills article, or a destination guide, or a bit of poetry, then we'd pay her for this editorial content. If she wins a World Cup or climbs a hard boulder, then this counts as news and although we don't pay for her to give us a quote (and we're not always able to contact athletes, anyway) she will receive exposure from the news report and her sponsors will be tagged at the bottom. This is her 'payment' of sorts in return for news content. I've also never worked with anyone who has expected payment for a news report promoting their achievement.
If news outlets paid for sports news, I think it could lead down a dangerous path, especially in a sport such as climbing where not every outdoor ascent is in the limelight of cameras and an audience. As Zofia writes, we're largely quick to call out lies and most top climbers will now document ascents, but paying for news is not a good idea, in my opinion.
I think I am being trolled by UKC staff ...
I make a comment "it is ironic a climbing media company posting articles defending climbing media's role in athlete sponsorship, or lack thereof (which some in the climbing community clearly think there is lack of), given they take a share of the total advertising pie and hence reduce what is available for climbers" and I get hammered down first by Nat (UKC Editor) and then by Alan (UKC Managing Director) for saying it. It is ironic.
Honestly - UKC Forum can be one of the worst places in the world for being a human being.
Have a good evening guys. I'm out on this. #submit
> I think I am being trolled by UKC staff ...
Don't be ridiculous. Your statement is being challenged because we disagree with it - that's all!
Trolling is something completely different.
User generated content definitely blurs the boundary between news, advertising, and editorial though.
I'm off to have a think about it.
And it's not a zero sum game; sponsoring entities paying cash to climbing media and climbers.
> UKC is a classic example of network effect. UKC is designed, your articles are designed, to drive traffic to the site and to make it sticky. It isn't a charity
Up to this point it is true...
> it's a PLC
No it isn't, it is a LLC - limited liability company. We have never offered shares to the public.
> with ~400k in the bank last I checked (2017ish).
Wow. I check every day with what I hope is a pretty secure password. Can't recall ever seeing £400K in the bank! Very interested to see where you are checking!
> I come here, I see adverts, UKC gets paid. (+RockFax on the side)
Actually, you come here, UKC incurs a cost due to content and bandwidth. More people, more bandwidth, more content, more costs. By promoting our user figures to the trade we are able to sell advertising space to companies but there is no direct link between a user visit and UKC receiving money - user visits always start by costing us.
>> user visits always start by costing us
Would you prefer it if we didn't bother?
> Wow. I check every day with what I hope is a pretty secure password. Can't recall ever seeing £400K in the bank! Very interested to see where you are checking!
Filings to Companies House are easy enough to find through their website and others and include the cash position at the point of filing. It sounds like you may be unaware that is public information, a remarkable number of small business owners are surprised to learn this.
> Filings to Companies House are easy enough to find through their website and others and include the cash position at the point of filing. It sounds like you may be unaware that is public information, a remarkable number of small business owners are surprised to learn this.
Of course I am aware of that, however we have never had £400K in a bank account (if only) so that is why I am questioning it. I suspect it is a misunderstanding of the Retained Profits figure, although I must admit that I find that figure hard to understand myself.
You will now have everyone looking at your unaudited financial statements at Companies house..............
The last accounts have £165k in cash at bank and in hand (which has to cover short term debt of £76k). I suspect the £400k figure is a generous rounding up of current assets or the net assets figure, neither of which are relevant.
I thought Stew's point was this: there is a finite pot of cash to hand out to climbers (advertising budget). UKC gets some of that budget. Therefore, there is less of the pot to go to sponsor climbers.
UKC acts as an advertising platform for sponsored climbers, so, no, it's not unreasonable that UKC don't pay sponsored climbers to promote themselves (and their sponsors). Just like no trade magazine would pay for publishing product announcements, or even placed technical articles.
For me, what has become evident from following a number of high profile climbers social media accounts, is how thoroughly boring, banal and void of any real personality a lot of them are.
I often find what the local elite climbers are doing is much more interesting than a 9-5 pro climber. Their dedication to training and getting out, while holding down normal jobs is truly inspiring.
> You can Google 'famous female climbers' and it brings up a little headshot on a (non-chronological) timeline, with their name.. click it and it brings up their search results, the first tending to be wiki. Aim for the black and white pictures and Bob's your uncle!
The article said "It was on social media that I first saw strong confident female climbers", implying that this wasn't something she had actively went looking for. Generally the first time someone is exposed to something, be it a sport, attitude, philosophical argument etc etc, it happens in this way. If you want to know more about something you can google it (and sometimes this works), but obviously you won't do this if the notion to look for something hadn't already occurred to you.
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