/ OPINION: Cyborg-Climbers - Come to your Senses!

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UKC Articles 16:07 Thu

Chalk it up to obsession; healthy and unhealthy. Find a balance.Sarah-Jane Dobner asks whether some facets of the prevailing obsession with training and nutrition in climbing are causing some of us to disconnect emotionally from the sport, and in extreme cases, from our own bodies...

Are we are losing touch with our senses? A recent UKC article by Mina Leslie-Wujastyk on Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) described her progressive dissociation from hunger, from tiredness - how she mentally pushed through physical warnings, controls and barriers. Looking around, such disjunction from the body appears increasingly fashionable in this hobby of ours. But our sport is so visceral! So tactile! What's going on?


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Paul Sagar 16:54 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

Is there really anything interesting contained in this long self-centred stream of consciousness? Another predictable jumble of well intentioned but ultimately extremely superficial political perspectives of the sort we have all heard a hundred times before? Don’t get me wrong. I’m corruptible. But have we ever stopped to ask ourselves - why are we bothering to read another Sarah Jane Dobson piece? Is it because the over use of question marks makes her musings seem profound? Is it because we are simply bored at work? Or is it something deeper, a desire to hurt ourselves against our best instincts?

But here’s what I do know. Body image problems? Bad! Consumerism? Bad! Other people’s preferences for suppressing their evolved predilection for nice tasting food as part of a calculated attempt to manipulate biology for a tangible reward in conjunction with a training process they personally enjoy? Bad! 
 

Am I wrong to write these words? Does anything really matter? Are we all just cyborgs? Is an opinion worth reading just because it exists? These are the deep questions we must as UCK readers ask ourselves. 
 

or, y’know, not. 

Post edited at 16:55
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Lankyman 17:05 Thu
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I just want to know the answer. Or do I?

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Alex1 17:32 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

The rant against training is bizarre - the number of people I see at climbing walls (London) doing specific training is tiny compared to those just climbing things.  The campus board is lucky if 1 or 2 people use it properly on a busy evening...

The protein thing whilst valid is not specific to climbing, covers every sport and the food industry.  'High protein = healthy' is just the new 'low fat'.

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AlanLittle 18:05 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

> We're all training now! All getting fit! But it wasn't always so. When I started climbing, no-one used to train - they just climbed. 

Just because you didn't know or hang with people who trained doesn't mean nobody did. 

When I started climbing forty years ago most of the people I climbed with trained, so I did too. In my case it didn't make me into a great, or even good, climber. But it gave me something far more important and valuable, namely a love for physical activity and striving that has consistently been one of the most valuable threads running through my life. I had a long time away from climbing, but filled that time with other things - yoga, mountain biking, snowboarding - that kept me fit, healthy and moving in the mountains. 

You either love the training grind for its own sake or you don't, and not doing so is fine. But suggesting there's something new about it is absurd, and suggesting people who do are characterless cyborgs with no aesthetic sense is obnoxious.

> But if you climb for enjoyment, where does happiness lie? In the appreciation of landscape

I enjoyed looking at the stars on my New Year's summit bivvy in the Karwendel, and a couple of days later I enjoyed getting close to my max hang personal best on my beastmaker in my living room. Who the hell does Sarah Jane Dobner think she is to tell me one of these pleasures is valid and the other isn't?

Post edited at 18:13
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jezb1 18:07 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

You know plenty of people enjoy training? 

I love climbing. I love training.

Training makes me love climbing even more.

I love the fact climbing is so many different things to so many different people.

Article sounds like a predictably boring rant to me I’m afraid.

Post edited at 18:23
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teh_mark 20:13 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

In the readership survey I commented that the quality of content, generally speaking, is excellent, but some of the opinion pieces are drivel of the highest order.

This is the sort of opinion piece I had in mind when I wrote that.

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Yanis Nayu 20:47 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

Absolute horseshite. It’s like someone’s kid being indulged and let loose at their parent’s work. 

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Donesy 21:11 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

Wow. That was like being cornered by the girl who's had too many chin-swingers at a house party. Pinned to the wall and unable to escape as an unstoppable, mile-long locomotive of words just keeps coming.

I started open minded, went through a couple of head-in-hand moments and was broadly on board by the end. but in the interests of a thorough discussion I do have a few counter-points

Sarah, it would be impossible to say you dont have some good/great points but I also think you might be taking the internet a little too much at face value and applying it to reality, or at the very least, underestimating peoples ability to filter off what they don't need. I'm sure 99% of recreational climbers (the guys your article is pitched at) dont live a life where the only punctuation of their training regime is a self-loathing fueled product consumption binge.

The main issue I have is with the idea put forward that there's something wrong with wanting to get better at something. Seeing your skills and ability improve in any activity due to the application of ones self to said activity is an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience. so much so, mother nature, has made it something of a compulsion for us. Its addictive. This desire to improve, for me at least, is definitely driven internally not because Magnus Mitbo told me I'm crap at climbing. But Your'e dead right, companies use/exploit our compulsion to better ourselves to sell us products that may or not be useful but with regards to the compulsion itself, it's to be celebrated.

Using Mina's (a full blown, sponsored pro climber)  story as an example, proof even, that there is toxic attitude towards training in the recreational climbing community might be a little wide of the mark. I have no personal or direct anecdotal experience of REDs so I could be completely wrong but I'm sure if statistics were available they would show that nearly all climbers who suffer from it are either already professional or at least have some level of sponsorship and are looking to turn professional. I hear what you are saying about kids absorbing attitudes towards training and I have to hold my hands up and say I don't have the answers to that but the vast majority of youngsters in climbing aren't exposed to those attitudes.

The food branding was the head-in-hand moment. just let it go. Plus I think you have things slightly the wrong way around. Essentially they are a product, you got that bit right. products are subject to the laws of economics and rule number one of economics is demand must precede supply. That is to say they are the symptom not the disease. 

My own experience of changing my diet due to my desire to climb better has been entirely and spectacularly positive.  When I started climbing at the age of 35 (two years ago) I was probably just short of 80kg @5ft10. Not anywhere even close to overweight but I was certainly carrying a little bit more than my 19 year old self. I thought if I can lose 10kgs I'm carrying a rack of gear for free. Dave Macloed said low carb' worked for him so I thought I'd give that a go. No more dull cereal for breakfast, now it's mixed nuts and seeds and raisins, loads of full fat Greek yogurt and black forest fruits. It's probably my favorite meal of the day. whatever mundane Sandwich I was eating for lunch has been replaced by a salad of mixed leaves, tomato, olives, beetroot, onion, pepper, cucumber, chicken and pesto. Bananas on hand for when I get peckish. My partner is vegan so we eat a home cooked meal of veggies in the evening. we don't buy any pre-packed foods any more, just whole foods and veggies. Not only is my diet now super healthy but it's also immeasurably tastier, directly because of my desire to up my grade.

I also use protein shakes to supplement my training. I dont think it makes me a cyborg. I use them to leverage better results from a certain amount of input. if they taste crap so what? I certainly dont feel like i'm sacrificing anything by using them or even having to endure any kind of hardship.  

As far as your points about prioritization of the visual and consumerism are concerned you are basically preaching to the converted with me. What I would say is that these expensive branded clothes are borne of the same economics as the 'toxicly masculine' protein bars. companies make them because people want them. I'm a skint furniture maker so I am the guy that wears his work clothes to the crag but would I spend £80 on a nice waterproof jacket if I had it, yep. Would I spend £350 on one definitely not.

If our motivation for buying these products is a purely utilitarian desire to have something that is well suited to the task at hand then all is well. But I think sometimes we are guilty of at best mistakenly believing a product intended for elite level sportspeople is something we need for a bit of cragging and at worst the allowing ourselves to fall victim to consumerism. Would a jacket that keeps the wind and the rain off be dead helpful? Yep. Would the latest high tech, lightweight, super expensive version make me a tangibly more successful climber than the £80 one, even in bad weather, almost certainly not.

Your idea about a Neo-Liberal Late-Capitalist conspiracy theory probably holds up when it comes to fashion centered clothing but for utility garments like the ones we use in recreational climbing it probably doesn't kick in until the price-point get a bit silly and the performance gains are marginal.

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TheoKelvin 21:19 Thu

Another article that makes me angry to read even though I don't disagree with the general message

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bensilvestre 21:33 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

I agree with the main thrust of this article, which is to say that I do find it interesting how prevalent training has become, often seemingly to the detriment of those who train more early in their climbing careers than is really necessary, when they could be gaining valuable experience doing actual climbing. All in all this is a conversation which needs to be had, and so I want to start by saying well done to the author for opening it. Unfortunately, like most of the author's writing, it's fairly well seeded with identity politics and capitalism bashing, which will force countless reactionary statements from users of this forum. Of course, there's much I disagree with too, but I'll try and write a balanced answer. Undoubtedly I'll miss some things, but here's a few points to consider, in response to the many questions asked in the article. 

Besides climbing, my other main passion is cooking. I actually find cooking lands me in a state of 'flow' more readily than climbing does. I definitely do not have an under eating problem, but I do eat healthily and with a mind to reducing meat and dairy intake for the sake of reducing my carbon footprint. Now let's consider protein intake. The most up to date research indicates that someone of my build, who is training for any sort of sport, or just leading a very active lifestyle for that matter (I do manual work as well as climbing) aught to be eating 100-120 grams of protein a day (protein, unlike fat and carbohydrate, is rarely used as fuel and is necessary to promote the regeneration of damaged muscle). Not only this, it aught to be separated into 20 gram portions at 3 hourly intervals. So 6 portions a day. This is because the body can't process more process than 20 grams or so of protein at once. Without supplementation this becomes fairly desperate, not to mention time consuming. I can still eat three good, taste filled meals a day, with two or three shakes in between to make sure I'm recovering properly. It has nothing to do with wanting to look good, or being marketed to, it's just well proven science and what I need to do to prevent injury down the line.

Here are some facts to balance the opinions about protein intake in the article (I even included one about gender differences in protein metabolism, which aught to soothe the author's passions):

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23459753

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19056590

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11706282

Following from that, why do I want to train, why do I want to get better? Well, most simply, because some of the most inspiring routes I've ever seen also happen to be rather difficult. Therefore I need to improve if I ever want to climb them. That seems pretty straightforward, pretty simple, so I won't expand on it.

Perhaps more demanding of an explanation is why I need to be challenged, why pleasure isn't enough, why I cannot just do this, revel in this, be this. Don't get me wrong, I love the seals and the way the light reflects off the water and dances on the rock at the bottom of the cliff, I love how lonely it is down there, how quiet my thoughts are, the smell of kelp and the feeling of barnacles beneath my feet, and I really love the memories going to those places forms between me and my friends. I need those things even. But the challenge, I need that more than anything else. I'd hate to get through life only to realise that it was a life of hedonistic pleasure seeking, nothing more than that. Pleasure is all well and good, and has its place (it's particularly fine as one basks in the sun after fighting the good fight), but to work towards something, and to eventually see it through, is far more rewarding than doing something easy could ever be. Wisdom, after all, is the ability to delay instant gratification for some future purpose. But perhaps the author hasn't learned to do this yet - the way she rants identity politics may even prove me right.

But I do agree that the culture of training has grown too big for its boots. I have this conversation with a friend of mine quite often, and it does seem that there are many people who train because that culture is the one promoted in magazines and websites. Some of those people might find themselves more satisfied if they went outside a little more often. But then there are also those who train because of time limitations (work, family etc), and then there are those like me, who have reached a plateau after many years of only climbing outdoors as often as possible, and yet still want to improve (for reasons stated above and others). Some people just love lifting weights, too. More power to those people. Literally.

This is getting pretty long now so I'll round it off by repeating my initial point, which is that there are some nuggets of truth in this article, hidden beneath the rest, and the conversation aught to be had more openly about whether training really is always the best thing for beginners and climbers operating at the lower grades to improve. Also that many of us do have our sense of worth tied too closely to our performance at times - it would be dishonest of me to say that this had never been the case for me. And finally, its clearly important that people need to eat well, and shouldn't get too obsessed with their weight because they'll just get injured in the long term. It's just a shame the author couldn't have said this in less confrontational terms.

Post edited at 21:46
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eroica64 21:38 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

Abstract of Sarah-Jane Dobner's master's thesis; "In a cultural web of myth, sexualisation and prejudice, how do older, British singletons gain access to health-giving, non-sexual touch? This study takes interview material from five single women and three single men (all cisgender, white, heterosexual, British, between 37-76 years) and interlaces it with autoethnographic commentary, poems and artworks to explore negotiations around touch. Drawing on Haraway and Barad’s theoretical concept of “entanglements” (2008; 2007), cross-disciplinary connections are woven across feminist new materialism and social sciences, the body and discourse, the conscious and subconscious. Findings, which are partial, provisional, messy and complex (Haraway 1988), include powerful narratives of shame, denial and cauterisation of touch-needs. These coexist with corporeal tales of the richness and variety of touch-opportunities, the tactile importance of cats and a “turn” by the oldest, female participants away from a romantic, heterosexual partner towards bonding with the landscape."

*********

Autoethnography: Autoethnography is a form of qualitative research in which an author uses self-reflection and writing to explore anecdotal and personal experience and connect this autobiographical story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings.

********

I find this abstract mystifying and a long long way from the discourse seen and enjoyed on this forum.

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Si dH 21:41 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

I rate most UKC articles very highly. My wife is a writer so I know how much effort must go into some of them. The standard is very high. 

Unfortunately this one is garbage. I found myself disagreeing with the premise of almost every paragraph. It is also poorly written and so poorly structured that I stopped half way down. 

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Wicamoi 21:44 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

All this nae-saying is tedious and pedestrian. The article contained the best sentence I've read so far this year, and is justified by that alone. 

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In reply to eroica64:

So on the basis of Sarah's thesis abstract, she isn't welcome to participate on this site/in the forums, in your opinion? I'm not sure what purpose your bringing her academic background into the thread serves other than 'othering' her. 

Post edited at 22:03
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Rad 21:51 Thu

Sometimes y'all's comments are much more entertaining, articulate, and insightful than the article. Carry on carrying on!

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Bob Kemp 22:09 Thu
In reply to eroica64:

> I find this abstract mystifying and a long long way from the discourse seen and enjoyed on this forum.

Good job it's got nothing to do with the original article then eh?

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Bob Kemp 22:17 Thu
In reply to Si dH:

> I rate most UKC articles very highly. My wife is a writer so I know how much effort must go into some of them. The standard is very high. 

> Unfortunately this one is garbage. I found myself disagreeing with the premise of almost every paragraph. It is also poorly written and so poorly structured that I stopped half way down. 

It would be useful if you could say exactly what you disagreed with and why. It's not entirely garbage - there are some interesting ideas there. I thought the point about prioritising the visual was definitely interesting and it would have been nice to see some serious discussion about ideas like this. As for the writing, it's not enough to say it's poorly written. I think it could do with an edit, in particular shortening, and some work on producing a flowing argument and narrative but it's not the worst seen. 

Post edited at 22:17
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In reply to UKC Articles:

Disappointing.  I was hoping it was about actual cyborg climbers with robotic arms.   That's my best chance.

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myrddinmuse 22:41 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

55 rhetorical questions in one article. Who knew it was possible? Impressive (?)

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alex 22:51 Thu
In reply to eroica64:

I’m pretty sure most masters abstracts are fairly mystifying. Hers does sound pretty cool though. 

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bouldery bits 23:05 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

Someone's touched a nerve. 8/10. Chapeau!

Angry middle class white dudes all round!

I do take issue with the 'Grenade' fitness stuff being marketed to 'toxic masculinity' though. I think it's just marketed to bell ends 

Post edited at 23:16
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olddirtydoggy 23:06 Thu
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

I think our issue is her articles are not particularly well written. Paul Sagars point above is pretty much exactly what I took issue with some time back on an older article. If somebody is contributing material that isn't popular then it might be worth considering if it's working.

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Paul Sagar 23:14 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

WON’T SOMEBODY PERLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN???!!!!

https://i.redd.it/jfzebq4dq7z11.jpg

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Wilberforce 00:12 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

Great post! 

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Misha 01:21 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Good article but perhaps a bit over-dramatic. I wonder if the author’s perception of the climbing world is skewed by the people she knows. In reality, most regular climbers don’t do systematic training, don’t diet or drink protein shakes and don’t wear fancy clothes (at least not for rock climbing).

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Michael Gordon 07:25 Fri
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

> If somebody is contributing material that isn't popular then it might be worth considering if it's working.

I hope 'unpopular' articles with continue on UKC. Let's not have some sort of censorship. 

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Michael Gordon 07:28 Fri
In reply to eroica64:

> I find this abstract mystifying 

Is that another way of saying you just aren't sure what she's talking about?

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Michael Gordon 07:29 Fri
In reply to TheoKelvin:

> Another article that makes me angry to read even though I don't disagree with the general message

Why does it make you angry then?

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olddirtydoggy 07:45 Fri
In reply to Michael Gordon:

I don't think getting rid of material that members don't like is censorship, it's quality control. It would be like giving me a page up there, I'm well aware I don't have the quality for such things. We all have our skills in various areas and it seems a good proportion of us feel the writers skills might be better served somewhere else.

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Andy Moles 08:02 Fri
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> I hope 'unpopular' articles with continue on UKC. Let's not have some sort of censorship. 

If choosing not to publish something they judge will not be liked by their readership is 'censorship', then editors have a lot to answer for.

I guess the question is, is it unpopular because it's challenging, intelligent and provocative, or because it's not very good? 

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LeeWood 08:20 Fri
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I agree its a bit ranty and repetitive, but much of what is said here on UKC is just that. I have long pondered on this phenomena of our life and now our sport:

> Constant growth (= we must always be getting better and better) (from article )

ie. that we are powered by this notion - an expectation that everything is getting better, and that we must get better with it, and that its all powered by science and technology. And I suspect that many people like this and are swept away by it. Its less fashionable to talk about the experience of the day or the feelings it creates - but rather how hard and how many.

The theme St Exupery's The Little Prince runs parallel - we can get bogged down with a focus on quantification, when the Real experiences of life are tactile, emotional and spiritual.  

BUT we must live and let live - its right for some and for many it will just be a life phase before they wake up to the Real. 

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ianstevens 08:23 Fri
In reply to myrddinmuse:

> 55 rhetorical questions in one article. Who knew it was possible? Impressive (?)

Top effort on counting - it struck me as quite a few...

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ianstevens 08:25 Fri
In reply to Misha:

> Good article but perhaps a bit over-dramatic. I wonder if the author’s perception of the climbing world is skewed by the people she knows. In reality, most regular climbers don’t do systematic training, don’t diet or drink protein shakes and don’t wear fancy clothes (at least not for rock climbing).

What you mean is most climbers you know don’t do those things. Most people I know didn’t vote for the tories, yet with have a Tory government. There’s (always) some perception bias at hand! 

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Andy Moles 08:31 Fri
In reply to Lee Wood:

> Its less fashionable to talk about the experience of the day or the feelings it creates - but rather how hard and how many.

I think Ben's response to this aspect of the article back up the thread is worth reposting, because it absolutely hits the nail on the head.

> Perhaps more demanding of an explanation is why I need to be challenged, why pleasure isn't enough, why I cannot just do this, revel in this, be this. Don't get me wrong, I love the seals and the way the light reflects off the water and dances on the rock at the bottom of the cliff, I love how lonely it is down there, how quiet my thoughts are, the smell of kelp and the feeling of barnacles beneath my feet, and I really love the memories going to those places forms between me and my friends. I need those things even. But the challenge, I need that more than anything else. I'd hate to get through life only to realise that it was a life of hedonistic pleasure seeking, nothing more than that. Pleasure is all well and good, and has its place (it's particularly fine as one basks in the sun after fighting the good fight), but to work towards something, and to eventually see it through, is far more rewarding than doing something easy could ever be.

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Paul Sagar 08:47 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

FWIW (not a lot), i have no problem with UKC running opinions I don’t agree with, even those in this sort of vein that rub me up the wrong way. Not least as the UKC community is still small enough that voiced dissent in the comments doesn’t just get drowned out by volume, and instead sparks conversation. I personally just find the author’s style has become so parody-able that I couldn’t resist a little parody as a way of voicing my disagreement. 

as for “censorship”, nobody is calling for that (I hope), and as for there being articles one doesn’t like, well editors have to make decisions and as an author myself (here and beyond) I don’t always like them, but regarding UKC specifically I think Natalie does a superb job of selecting the content for the website overall, even if (as is inevitable) I don’t always agree with her about every specific piece. But believe me, a world in which there were no editors would be a much, much worse one. If you don’t believe me, well go and look at the stream of raw sewage that goes by the name of Twitter. 

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Dave Garnett 08:57 Fri
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

> So on the basis of Sarah's thesis abstract, she isn't welcome to participate on this site/in the forums, in your opinion? I'm not sure what purpose your bringing her academic background into the thread serves other than 'othering' her. 

Not sure it's 'othering' her any more than the language she uses in her articles.  I'd say the abstract is entirely consistent with the way she writes here.  On the other hand, you might conclude it gives her some credibility, depending on your view of academic sociology.

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Alex Hallam 08:58 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

I mean I still go climbing in my old motorbike jeans and holey t-shirts. I am a bit too fat to be a climber these days sure and never get any good because I have far too many other hobbies I enjoy. It reads like you don't have a choice in these matters... But still a good article none the less; I like to think it is directed at the new age climber who has only just started off in the sport. Some gyms can be all about 'warming up' and 'training programmes' and some people need to be told it's ok just to do whatever you want!

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Ged Desforges 09:31 Fri

It's quite funny that this article generated such outrage, but another article suggesting that the average UKC user can get better at winter climbing by doing press ups, goes largely untouched.

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Deadeye 09:48 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Well, I read it.

Made me laugh - there's an amusing irony in how the article is written, given the message it seems to try to send.

However, if I'd known before I started how little I'd get out at the end, I wouldn't have read it.

This thread is comedy though.

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galpinos 09:57 Fri
In reply to Donesy:

> Wow. That was like being cornered by the girl who's had too many chin-swingers at a house party. Pinned to the wall and unable to escape as an unstoppable, mile-long locomotive of words just keeps coming.

I feel like this statement pretty much undermines anything you write after it!

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galpinos 10:05 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Not my favourite article as the author's points get a bit lost in the confrontational style of her writing (maybe on purpose?) in my opinion, but there are some real nuggets of truth in there. There is a real, visceral joy in movement over rock (and, I'm increasingly finding, to my surprise, on plastic) that can be missed in the drive for training and self improvement but it doesn't have to be that way.

As to why I want to improve, because I look up at Right Wall, Poistron etc and my whole self dreams of being up on those walls. I've a full time job and a family so "just climbing outside more" is not an option for me, so I might end up in the cellar hanging off a strip of wood once the kids are in bed and the drive for me to hang on for that extra second is the thought of me high above the pass/the sea pulling on those tiny holds with confidence as I quest on up.

Post edited at 10:23
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galpinos 10:06 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

I pretty much agree with every word of this post from:

> Following from that, why do I want to train, why do I want to get better?

However, I'm not sold on the 20g of protein 6 times a day stuff!

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Rog Wilko 10:07 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Am I alone in being staggered and a little horrified by the huge tsunami of bile this article has created?

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jezb1 10:09 Fri
In reply to galpinos:

> However, I'm not sold on the 20g of protein 6 times a day stuff!

Why not? There’s research to back it up.

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bensilvestre 10:16 Fri
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I guess the question is, is it unpopular because it's challenging, intelligent and provocative, or because it's not very good? 

It's unpopular because it is deliberately confrontational, in a way which often comes across as arrogance (are we to believe, given the title of the article, that the author has seen the light, that she has been awakened to some higher way of being - that we are lesser, inferior, asleep?)

Furthermore because it clearly serves a political agenda which aught to have no place in an article about nutrition and training habits (again the title, indication of her woke-ness). Understandably people are frustrated that these ideologies intrude on almost every aspect of their life, even climbing - which for many, myself included, is something of a sacred space. Which isn't a good reason for the political to not intrude, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

I wouldn't be happy if we stopped seeing these articles, I just think the author does herself a huge disservice by writing in such confrontational terms. The writing is designed to create a reaction which she inevitably gets, and this further perpetuates her ideology, because clearly these white middle class men would only be angry if she was hitting the nail on the head. Sadly it isn't that simple.

But again, I want to reiterate that beneath all of that, there is an important conversation which needs to be had. I do often see climbers tying their sense of worth too closely to their performance, I see climbers acting with a high degree of selfishness due to their need to 'find their limit', I read countless articles which focus entirely on performance when I'd much rather read about relationships. That the culture of performance has become so prevalent is definitely interesting, but the reasons for this are multifaceted, and whilst our sociopolitical and economic structure might have something to answer for, many of those reasons run much deeper, right down to our biology. 

Post edited at 10:42
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LeeWood 10:17 Fri
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I think Ben's response to this aspect of the article back up the thread is worth reposting, because it absolutely hits the nail on the head.

I'm glad you drew my attention to that paragraph - but its not that alone which he wrote - those gov/pubmed links threw me off scent.

Challenge and results can all be part of the Real - for me just as much as anyone, its just a question of balance. The starting point of the article is imbalance - as exemplified by Wujastyk's health breakdown; the manner in which we we engage in the sport is largely a result of phsychological pre-determinants - which happily are modifiable with correct intellectual stimulation.

When you meet a new character in life you can decide on the instant that you don't like them. Or with reflection you may perceive virtue and commonality. The article can be taken similarly - It's all food for thought, look for positive meaningful elements which may then steer towards healthy balance. The struggle for this balance goes on in my own head as much as I see it elsewhere.

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Dave Garnett 10:19 Fri
In reply to jezb1:

> Why not? There’s research to back it up.

And what about the research linking high protein intake with increased cancer risk?  I’m not saying a short protein shake fad will give you cancer but it’s an example showing there’s always a balance to be struck.

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99ster 10:19 Fri
In reply to teh_mark:

> In the readership survey I commented that the quality of content, generally speaking, is excellent, but some of the opinion pieces are drivel of the highest order.

> This is the sort of opinion piece I had in mind when I wrote that.

Spot-on.  This was exactly my response too.  The whole article - the very definition of a 'First World Problem'.

Post edited at 10:28
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galpinos 10:21 Fri
In reply to jezb1:

> Why not? There’s research to back it up.

I'm a cynic?

Basically, all the studies are tiny (one study Ben quoted had 6 participants) and I'm inherently dubious of any nutritional studies as a lot of them are driven by industry or a trying to find a simple conclusion to a very complex system (the human body). I also know a couple of people in the field who have a bettre knowledge of ALL the research out there. The upshot seems to be, for me, eat plenty of protein, what is enough protein no one really knows, don't worry about the 20g 6 times a day bit, that's guess work.

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bensilvestre 10:25 Fri
In reply to galpinos:

I don't stick to the 6 times a day thing like clock work, but its a good guideline to aim for, and there seems to be enough research out there to suggest that staggering protein intake is more beneficial than only having it 3 times a day with main meals.

Post edited at 10:26
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galpinos 10:28 Fri
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> And what about the research linking high protein intake with increased cancer risk?  

Which itself is mixed up with causation/correlation issues due to the high protein diets also generally being nutritionally poorer and from processed products. It's all pretty complicated and intertwined. 

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bensilvestre 10:28 Fri
In reply to Dave Garnett:

That research depends entirely on the type of protein eaten. High intake of processed meat and to a much lesser extent red meat have been linked to an increase in cancer risk, but from white meat down through dairy and plant based proteins no link whatsoever exists.

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Misha 10:50 Fri
In reply to the thread:

There’s a lot of criticism of the article on this thread. I wonder if there’s an element of some people realising that some of what the author is saying actually applies to them but not wanting to admit it.

I think the article makes some very good points. It’s just that it’s a bit over dramatised as I mentioned above. 

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Mike Nolan 10:58 Fri
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Do you have a link to this? 

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bensilvestre 11:03 Fri
In reply to Mike Nolan:

This website in general is a good resource but here is a relevant article. Lots of links to research

https://www.climbingnutrition.com/diet/protein/untangling-protein-risk/

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Dave Garnett 11:04 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

> That research depends entirely on the type of protein eaten. High intake of processed meat and to a much lesser extent red meat have been linked to an increase in cancer risk

I think the risk there is the presence of carcinogens like nitrosamines, but there is also an issue with any high protein diet being linked to increased IGF-1 levels, although, I agree a lot of this is shown the other way round (ie low protein = low IGF-1).

Anyway that wasn’t really my point. As Galpinos says, it’s complicated but you can bet there’s no such thing as a free protein shake lunch.

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Mike Nolan 11:08 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

Thanks Ben, I've read that article previously and some of the studies. I was just trying to make a point!

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Misha 11:11 Fri
In reply to Donesy:

Mostly agree with you but don’t think it’s right to say that products exist because there is a demand for them. That is correct in some cases but when it comes to ‘fancy’ products like protein shakes and bars, a lot of the demand is down to marketing. A company creates a product, markets it (here it is, it’s cool, you need it, you want it) and that creates demand. Making a product to meet a demand is a bit basic really. Creating demand by making a product is where the marketing skill lies.

Does the climbing (and wider) world really need protein shakes? Of course not. Climbers can get that protein in different ways. More importantly, most of them probably don’t even need that protein. Climbers aren’t body builders after all. But some climbers think they need it and that’s down to marketing and peer pressure (my mates are using it so I should as well).

I’d love to train properly but I’m too lazy and not sufficiently committed. Protein shakes would be wasted on me. May be if I followed a structured training programme, I’d get taken in by the protein shake marketing... But I’d stick with the programme for about two days and that tub of protein or whatever it is would sit on the shelf...

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1poundSOCKS 11:15 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

> High intake of processed meat and to a much lesser extent red meat have been linked to an increase in cancer risk

I think you need to be careful when you read 'linked to' and assume there's causation. If you look behind the 'link' you'll often find just a correlation based on survey data.

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bensilvestre 11:15 Fri
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> you can bet there’s no such thing as a free protein shake lunch.

Agreed. But certainly for me in the short term not having enough protein has been more detrimental to my experience than having too much. Whether I'm climbing and training lots or just grafting.

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simoninger 11:19 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

I wonder if troll bait comes in handy powdered form nowadays...

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bensilvestre 11:22 Fri
In reply to Misha:

> More importantly, most of them probably don’t even need that protein. Climbers aren’t body builders after all. 

And there is one of the biggest misunderstandings about protein. Its the way you exercise, not your protein consumption, which makes muscles bigger. Whenever you do demanding exercise you will tear muscle fibers, and you need a high protein intake to account for that. Either that or develop chronic issues over time due to never recovering properly.

> Protein shakes would be wasted on me. 

Supplementing protein can be very useful on multi day alpine climbs where weight is a huge restriction on the amount of food you can bring

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Misha 11:24 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

Great post.

I keep coming back to the protein thing though. Sure, for someone like yourself who has a physical job and climbs considerably harder than I do, protein supplements of some sort may well be necessary. But I can’t see that the average climber who has an office job needs them. However most average climbers don’t use protein supplements anyway, so that part of the article is mostly irrelevant...

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Misha 11:29 Fri
In reply to ianstevens:

Fair point but I know a wide cross section of climbers, from average local / national club members to very good climbers who aren’t sponsored (top tier amateurs if you like), as well as guides and instructors. The first group is the largest in terms of the climbing population (and the people I know) and my comment above applies to them. 

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bensilvestre 11:31 Fri
In reply to Misha:

Quite possibly. It depends how often and how hard they're climbing after work. When you start working as a guide you might find your protein needs increase significantly. And regarding difficulty its all relative. People can push themselves equally hard on 6c as 7c, its ultimately the input required which dictates how much they need to recover. In the end, you'll get enough protein over the course of several days to recover, but you can optimise that process by taking protein more frequently than you normally would do

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jezb1 11:33 Fri
In reply to Misha:

> Does the climbing (and wider) world really need protein shakes? Of course not.

Most of us who use protein know full well we could get the protein elsewhere. It's for convenience. Simple as that.

If I don't use protein supplements then my protein intake is low, due to my diet. Of course I could change my diet, but food bores me mostly.

Paying attention to what goes in to my body made a world of difference to me, so I'll stick with the protein shakes as a part of that.

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bensilvestre 11:34 Fri
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

Yes fair enough

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Misha 11:37 Fri
In reply to Ged Desforges:

Don’t you crack out 50 press ups before a winter route and then another 20 on each belay?

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bensilvestre 11:38 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Anyway all this talk is distracting me from my training regimen and I'm due a protein shake so see ya!

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cathsullivan 11:41 Fri
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> Am I alone in being staggered and a little horrified by the huge tsunami of bile this article has created?

No

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Misha 11:50 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

Yes, I do wonder about nutrition for Alpine / winter stuff. Mostly I focus on remembering to actually eat and drink something and then on getting enough carbs/sugar but clearly there needs to be other stuff in the nutritional intake as well. Trouble is, most bars taste like cardboard! May be I should try Grenade...

My recovery strategy from a longer than expected day out yesterday seems to be reading and participating in this thread. There must be a better way... like having breakfast.

Post edited at 11:53
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Misha 11:54 Fri
In reply to jezb1:

Fair enough. With you on the changing diet bit and convenience. 

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stevevans5 11:57 Fri
In reply to Misha:

When I started bouldering once a week or so I got in the habit of eating a can of tuna when I got home. If I didn't for whatever reason then my forearms would hurt for literally twice as many days afterwards, so I came to the conclusion it must do something to help!

Eating tonnes of tuna all the time isn't especially cost effective so I looked into some convenient alternatives. I actually really like the taste of some of the whey shakes, and it's fairly cheap and very convenient.

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Ed morris 12:10 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

I often feel this opinion on training is shared by many who don't train and feel some guilt for not wanting too (not that they should).I know that the majority of my richest experiences onsighting hard trad have been a result of a combination of training and broad climbing experience. 

Post edited at 12:10
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Bob Kemp 12:11 Fri
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

> I think our issue is her articles are not particularly well written. Paul Sagars point above is pretty much exactly what I took issue with some time back on an older article. If somebody is contributing material that isn't popular then it might be worth considering if it's working.

But this is popular... look at the number of responses! There's nothing wrong with a bit of provocation now and then. 

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bensilvestre 12:18 Fri
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Agreed that provocative writing is welcome. And in contrast to Rog Wilko's post the comments have for the most part actually been well reasoned and thoughtful. I expected worse when I initially read the article

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full stottie 12:27 Fri
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> Am I alone in being staggered and a little horrified by the huge tsunami of bile this article has created?

No, you are not alone, but you shouldn't be too surprised either. Any opinion piece posing challenges to the wide spectrum of UKC forum users will get opposing opinions and rants thrown back. If someone writes an article next week telling me I'm too old, too unfit and too useless to call myself a climber unless I do some serious training, dieting and spending on stylish gear, I'm going to give them both barrels. If nothing good comes to mind, I can always criticise the writing style.

I thought she makes some good points and she doesn't deserve the abuse she's had. Much of her perspective applies to many aspects of our contemporary society beyond climbing.

Post edited at 12:28
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ChrisBrooke 12:35 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

I'll add my 2 cents.

Firstly, I have no problem at all with articles like this appearing on UKC. They serve as a provocative starting point for often interesting and fruitful, albeit sometimes fraught, discussions, which are part of why I spend so much time on here...

Secondly, kudos to those on this thread who've taken the time to respond with more depth than 'what a load of bollox'....although, those responses have their place too I suppose

On the food question, personally I don't think the powders taste that bad (if you can find one you like, and I've tried a few), and are always used (in mine and I'm sure many cases) as part of a balanced diet with plenty of fresh, whole, healthy stuff. It doesn't have to be either/or. As others have said, it's a cost effective (on a per gram basis) and convenient way to get some protein in after exercise. Now, I'm clearly someone who has bought into the 'advertising' around this, and so it behoves me to engage in a little self-reflection about whether I'm doing it based on my best understanding of the science around it, or as a slave to a fad. Protein is being pushed on every corner (Protein Mars bar anyone!?!) so there's clearly a lot of marketing weight behind it, and it is all the rage these days. It doesn't and shouldn't have to be at the cost of eating real healthy food though - it's a supplement. 

I think it feeds directly into the discussion about training. In fact it gets to the core of the article, which is essentially 'why try to improve at climbing?' I think fundamentally, satisfaction, fulfilment, and, to a degree, happiness can be found in choosing a difficult task and striving to achieve a degree of mastery in it. Whether it's climbing, horse riding, playing an instrument, martial arts, painting, sugar craft, poetry...... it doesn't matter. In going on 'the journey' towards mastery we have to give something of ourselves: our time, our attention, our commitment, our effort and energy. The more we can put in, the more fulfilment we can get from it. The need to strive, to overcome difficulty, to give of ourselves, runs very deep, and the rewards can touch us deeply. So whether it's climbing, piano, jiu jitsu or whatever, we can taste satisfaction at the early stages of the pursuit, which leads us towards wanting more through a greater level of competence and mastery. There is a reward system at play which drives us onwards and upwards. As you say - on the journey towards endless progress, in the pursuit of ever greater rewards..... of course it doesn't work like that forever (diminishing returns), but many (most?) of us likely don't get anywhere near our potential so there's usually plenty of 'headroom' for improvement.

In this internet era, there is more information available to us than ever in human history. When I started climbing (1997) if you wanted to get inspired by climbing films, you bought the Masters of Stone VHS tapes. If you wanted info you bought the magazines. There might have been the occasional bit about training, but not much.  Now, in 2020 the access to information, articles, podcasts etc about nutrition, training, sleep, recovery, etc I have is incredible. I can hear direct from the experts on any subject...especially as most of them have podcasts these days   The result of course is that there's so much info, one has to approach with scepticism, develop a 'filter' and make your best judgements, taking what is useful and leaving what isn't. It's an amazing position to be in. What that means though, is that we can see ways to improve, so we take them. Nutrition, training, technique: all can be researched like never before and that research can be put into action. It's an amazing time to be alive. 

I think you're absolutely right to question whether this is making us happier though. Would you give up a session bouldering in the sun because you've got to get your 45 min circuit board session in today? In my case, hell no! I don't train at all. But that's for the individual to decide. I think each person needs to understand why they climb, what they want out of it, are their goals really 'their' goals, or goals they feel they should have as part of community pressure...... Answering those questions is all part of living an examined life though, and we're all in a different place along *that* journey. 

Thanks OP for the article and long may UKC bicker about this sort of thing.

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cb294 12:36 Fri
In reply to Rog Wilko:

I am surprised that there can be any other response. It is only January, but this article and the recent piece of new age psychobabble ("Speak to me softly" was the title, I think) must be hot contenders for shit article of the year. Useless premise, badly formulated. There is only one thing I can agree with here, and that is the bit about weaponisation of food and other civilian stuff. Another idiotic US import, where association with guns and military is (probably correctly) seen as appealing rather than off-putting.

CB

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bensilvestre 12:51 Fri
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

> I think each person needs to understand why they climb, what they want out of it, are their goals really 'their' goals, or goals they feel they should have as part of community pressure...... Answering those questions is all part of living an examined life though, and we're all in a different place along *that* journey. 

Great post, but that bit is absolutely spot on. This really is the heart of it all. And people sometimes need to realise that what they want out of climbing can actually change over the years, or even from year to year.

Post edited at 12:52
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TobyA 12:56 Fri
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

> When I started climbing (1997) if you wanted to get inspired by climbing films, you bought the Masters of Stone VHS tapes. If you wanted info you bought the magazines. There might have been the occasional bit about training, but not much. 

I would disagree on that - in OTE in particular I'm certain Gresham was writing long complicated sports-science influenced articles on training before then.

My thought after reading Sarah's article that probably everyone's reaction will be dependent on how long they've climbed. Unconnected to this, I was trying to work out the other day if I got my first rope in 1990 or 1991. Anyway, its either 29 years or 30 since I got properly into climbing. Sarah says in the twenty years she has climbed so much has changed. It doesn't feel like it has really to me. And I'm sure if I said the changes all happened in the 90s someone who started in the early 80s would come along and tell me my impression was wrong!

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In reply to Rog Wilko:

No. The spectacle of 100+ posters piling into an author is unedifying. And yet I find myself wanting to join in, because the article did annoy me hugely. If I were to pick just a few...

The false assertions. Apparently dieting, climbing and fashion are things that are new in climbing. "Which is to say, it never used to matter how we looked. And now it does." Does the author not remember the 80s with its lycra, chickpea diets and mammoth cellar training sessions? The only new thing is for the training to become more structured and effective.

The straw men. Climbers are apparently "following regimes rather than listening to their bodies." The two are not exclusive you know. Nor are they necessarily correlated.

The anti-commercialism. Whether climbing is too commercial is an interesting topic, and the author has some valid points, but the conflation here with training culture seems forced and unnecessary. 

The preaching. "But if you climb for enjoyment, where does happiness lie? In the appreciation of landscape,...". To be honest, I wouldn't mind the points above, if the article didn't come across as if it's having a pop at climbers who might have different motivations to the author. What if my sense of happiness is a fingerboard PB? To be fair, the author tries to accept this - "it is a sport for all proclivities", but this one sentence fights against the entire piece, which essentially de-humanises climbers - "more cyborg than human" - who enjoy something different to the author.

The maddening thing is that the subject is fascinating, and close to my heart. The simple pleasure of being outside with friends can be in tension against a desire for self improvement and - yes - competition. How do you strike that balance? Is there a right answer, and what leads people to push themselves so hard they either make themselves ill or stop enjoying climbing?

It's such a rich and important topic and deserves a great article. In my opinion, this isn't it and I'm not surprised it's raised a few hackles.

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planetmarshall 13:02 Fri
In reply to eroica64:

> Abstract of Sarah-Jane Dobner's master's thesis; ...

I agree with Natalie. It strikes me as a bit of a personal attack to bring Sarah's masters thesis into it when it has nothing to do with the discussion.

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ChrisBrooke 13:06 Fri
In reply to TobyA:

Happy to stand corrected on that. That’s my memory of it, but perhaps I wasn’t paying attention as it didn’t interest me. 

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planetmarshall 13:09 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

> ...(again the title, indication of her woke-ness). 

Can we have a moratorium on that term? Or is this what we have to put up with now that using terms like "SJW", "virtue signalling" or "triggered" just makes you look like a bellend.

(Edit - not having a go at you Ben, I enjoyed your post but I just detest this kind of wank terminology.)

Post edited at 13:11
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Lynnew 13:20 Fri
In reply to planetmarshall:

I am also with Natalie on this. I found the article interesting and I felt that rather than being 'aggressive' or preaching, it was just posing some questions for consideration. I am not getting the 'ranting' thing that other people are objecting too. I also disagree that it is badly written - it isn't, though it does use aspects of an academic writing style that, it appears, have annoyed some readers. I find the level of vitriol in some of the comments on this thread to be extraordinary. 

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PJoutdoors 13:21 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thank you Sarah-Jane for an interesting opinion. 'Prioritisation of the visual (= how you look matters more than how you feel)' was a point well made.

Training has made me a better climber. Expensive clothing and social media motivations have not. 

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cb294 13:21 Fri
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Because it fits with the style and substance of the article. I could not be bothered to look it up myself, but am not surprised at all.  The abstract is as painful to read as the article, and I find it insulting for me as an academic that stuff like this is passed of as an art or science

I do not normally train for rock/plastic climbing*, in fact I started climbing as part of the training for another sport (judo) which I took quite seriously. I would, however, argue that in general, if you really like to do something, you will enjoy it more if you can do it well, whether that is piano playing, cooking, judo, or even climbing.

To get better at any of these activities will take practise, and even practise of isolated aspects of these activities. In terms of sports, this is what I would call training. If you fail to enjoy the grind of training, then by all means don't do it, but please don't pontificate on something you do not have the least idea about. Worst of all, don"t couch your criticism in pseudo academic terms.

*I do try to get fit before mountaineering holidays

CB

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bensilvestre 13:23 Fri
In reply to planetmarshall:

I can't stand it either and was using it somewhat ironically. Sorry if I triggered you!

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Richard Horn 13:27 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

I was trying to remember which of these apparently "new" evils are actually new... When I started climbing nearly 20 years ago I remember reading in awe of the School Room and the hard nuts that trained there, I fell prey to the capitalists at Big Up productions by buying all their Dosage DVDs, watching them over and over and feeling psyched to get better at climbing, was a slave to slick marketing when discussing with all my buddies (many of whom started climbing at a similar time) what make of expensive down jacket we should throw £200, and worst of all we started training in a home built woody :o/

Oh and we often met up and got hideously drunk - that was a lot of fun and not sure why it is listed in the article as a bad thing.

That said... there are some people that take it a bit seriously, including myself. I trained/climbed more and more until I got to my early 30s, started injuring myself, realised I was never going to achieve what I had dreamed of, lost psyche and basically quit climbing.  Now having hit 40 and had a family, I am starting up again (slowly) - I can safely say I have zero interest in become a climbing cyborg, for me its about time outdoors, spending time with friends etc.

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HeMa 13:29 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

I love a good rant... but this was way too long for that.

And climbers have always been training, I remember a vivid example from a certain mr. Colton on how he was training as described in one of the climbing mags of the time (of how John Dunne trained)... until someone stated that John doesn't train like that anymore... or that was the essence of it anyway.

Same applies for all sorts of diets, and those that are into performance sports are fast to pick those fads as well.

So contrary to the article, this has been going on for ages. The only big difference is that together with commercial climbing and climbing centers, the masses have grown and you start to see it.


That being said, I kind of agree with Sarah... in the sense that I see these people really training systematically at the climbing gym (campus, system board, 4X4s) and then do more stuff at the climbing gyms gym (pull-ups, hangboards and so on). Oddly enough, when I happen to come across them outside, all that work doesn't really seem to materialize as climbing performance... at least when I compare them to myself, that get's lucky if I can hit the gym twice a week during winter (and only climb, often only giving a  few goes per problem before moving on)... Of course this isn't true for all, but there is a large populace where I live that seems to be the case. Each to their own though, perhaps they like to train instead of climbing ;).

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Misha 13:35 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

Or even from one day to the next! One day you might want to try something challenging to push your limits, the next day you might want a chilled day climbing easier, less committing routes with good friends at a nice crag in the sun.

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bensilvestre 13:42 Fri
In reply to Misha:

Yes exactly, and really that is most often the case. I generally enjoy all the aspects of climbing simultaneously. Amazing really, it almost seems like we can have our protein shake, and eat it too!

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Robert Durran 13:51 Fri
In reply to Misha:

> Or even from one day to the next! One day you might want to try something challenging to push your limits, the next day you might want a chilled day climbing easier, less committing routes with good friends at a nice crag in the sun.

Yes, we can do excatly what we like. The forercast's great for the weekend, but, you know what, I'm going to train indoors tomorrow because I've got a sport cloimbing trip imminent and I want to maximise my chances of onsighting 7b. Sunday I'll bag a Munro or two and be on top in time to take some photos at sunrise. I could go winter climbing, but I've no psyche at the moment and don't fancy it. Climbing is wonderfully multifaceted and it's all good.

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Coel Hellier 13:52 Fri
In reply to Lynnew:

> I also disagree that it is badly written - it isn't, though it does use aspects of an academic writing style that, it appears, have annoyed some readers.

It's not an "academic" writing style.  Real academic subjects don't write like that. 

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planetmarshall 13:56 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

> Sorry if I triggered you!

Touché

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cb294 14:21 Fri
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Precisely. If I wrote "Looky here: Stem cells..." anywhere I would laughed out of town, and rightly so.

It pisses me off that the author started her only point I agree with with this part condescending, part childish phrase. Actually quite an art to pack these two things into two words.

CB

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Lynnew 14:30 Fri
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Aspects of, Coel, not overall. Also, it depends on the area of academia. True, you would not see this type of writing in science based subjs but I see similar writing, style-wise, a lot in arts/creative disciplines. 

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duchessofmalfi 14:34 Fri
In reply to Coel Hellier:

You've a very blinkered view of the world don't you?

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Iamgregp 14:47 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Yeah I'm not sure if the "eating food that isn't particularly tasty because of our climbing aims" is anything new.  Where was it that I read a story of someone who worked in a climbing shop in the 80's eating a toilet roll for lunch?  An Andy Kirkpatrick book maybe?

Mind you it wasn't a health and fitness branded toilet roll so it was all different back then. 

Post edited at 15:02
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ChrisBrooke 14:50 Fri
In reply to bensilvestre:

> I think each person needs to understand why they climb, what they want out of it, are their goals really 'their' goals, or goals they feel they should have as part of community pressure...... Answering those questions is all part of living an examined life though, and we're all in a different place along *that* journey. 

> Great post, but that bit is absolutely spot on. This really is the heart of it all. And people sometimes need to realise that what they want out of climbing can actually change over the years, or even from year to year.

It certainly can. My focus has really changed, mostly triggered by having children and moving to Sheffield. I used to think I had to be an all-rounder, trad focussed of course, but with reasonable sport fitness, Scottish winter and Alpine ability etc. It's taken a loooong time to realise that if I get scared on trad, ice, or Alpine stuff and don't really enjoy it (even in a type 2 way)  I really don't have to do it. That wasn't obvious to me for years and years. I think I've managed to find my groove with bouldering, as it plays to my strengths (physical, such as they are, and tenacity) while avoiding my weaknesses (head-game/fear, and a dislike of good old suffering). I'll still do some trad, sport and Alpine when I can, if there's a particular route in mind, but it's not my focus now. As I've matured as a person, my actions have become better aligned with my true motivations, as I understand them better, and am better at filtering out external pressure as to what sort of climber I 'should' be. I think it's part of the growing process, and I was quite slow at it.

I was thinking over lunch about motivation to progress and wanted to expand on it a bit.

Climbing has been my main interest in life for over 20 years. Being 'a climber' is an important part of how I see myself, of my identity and how I perceive my place in society. It's definitely second in importance to my role as 'father and husband' but it takes more of my conscious thought. I don't often lie in bed thinking 'how can I be a better husband' (I probably/almost certainly should...) but I do drift off to sleep thinking 'perhaps if I rotated my wrist a little more on that press-away I'd be able to get my foot higher on that problem....etc'.  Getting better at it is therefore important to me.

We tend to gravitate towards and enjoy the things we're good at, so I don't think I would have stuck with it so long if I didn't see progress. I think the desire for improvement and progress in our lives is completely natural, healthy and in some ways essential. It applies to (almost?) everything. Who doesn't want to be a better spouse and parent, more accomplished in their work, better at their hobbies, have a longer 'healthspan'? However, the pursuit of those things can become pathological. You have to balance satisfaction with what you have, who you are, what you have accomplished, self-acceptance, self-love, etc, with a recognition that you could be 'better', and work towards that in a healthy way. I think it can be really difficult as that balance lies at the heart of our deepest selves. The balance between self-acceptance and self improvement. Tip the scales too much one way and you can become lazy and stagnant, too far the other way and you can develop unhealthy behaviours which impact your own physical and mental health and your relationships with others. 

Perhaps I'm overthinking this...

To interrogate my desire to improve at bouldering for example: I want to get better and stronger and climb harder problems. Why?

1. The challenge. The joy of focusing on something difficult and eventually achieving it.

2. The joy of the movement itself. Self explanatory on a climbing forum.

3. Specific problems that look cool.

4. Specific problems that will give me a sense of kudos, deserved or otherwise: I've climbed x problem, x grade....oh aren't I good.

5. Ego. See above. My sense of self-worth will be improved by meeting certain benchmarks, be it grades or particular problems. This is likely a reflection of deeper insecurities about who I am and where I stand in social hierarchies (in this case, my chosen society of climbers....obviously no-one else understands or cares even if they did...)

6. I like having something to focus on/obsess over. It helps pass the time before death. This may sound flippant, but given that it's all ultimately pointless, being a good family man and a moderately accomplished punter is how I chose to create meaning in my life and pass the time before I die.

Anyway, if you've read this far you really need to find something better to do with your time ;)

Post edited at 15:03
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Qwerty2019 15:03 Fri
In reply to HeMa:

Perhaps they don’t use you as a measure of improvement

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HeMa 16:08 Fri
In reply to Qwerty2019:

Of course they don’t. But considering on the fact that they don’t seem to be progress at all. Year on year out. Which I find Odd, but as said perhaps they like training. 

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Blue Straggler 16:18 Fri
In reply to HeMa:

I don't train, I just climb, but I don't progress, I stay at the same level "year on year out" whatever that means. Where do I fit into all this then?

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HeMa 16:39 Fri
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Same as me. Albeit I still seem to progress, but at a snails pace. 
 

and it’s all fun and games, unless you hurt some one. So If you like to progress. Fine. If you don’t. Again fine. And even If you prefer training, fine again. But the last option seems a bit pointless, Why train for climbing If you don’t really capitalize on it. Seems a bit daft, but that is just my opinion. Like I mentioned earlier, perhaps they like training ;).

Post edited at 16:39
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In reply to UKC Articles:

I agree with a lot of the article. However, I can see why so many blokes are getting upset - and it does seem to be them the angry shouting and belittling. Mr Eroica in particular, who thinks that a coherent counter argument is to delve into the author's academic background and slag it off - what a sad sack he is.

I read the Mina LW article and thought that had a real sense of "poor me" about it. She was entirely responsible for her problems which could have been so easily avoided. Admittedly she is sponsored and therefore is a victim of the pressures of that "industry", but that got universally positive responses - presumably because she's a "personality" and it wouldn't be acceptable to criticise her.

I see plenty of climbers wrecking themselves in training sessions, and even not coming out climbing because they are training. I've seen the shit people eat in place of real food and the wage packets wasted on £140 jeans and branded t shirts for £45 - and they really need to stop doing all that crap and get back to basics.

The article asks lots of question and - as when I get into confrontations with hunters and shooters on the moors roundabout - the "ounter arguments" quickly become personal and insulting, rather than having any coherence of legitimacy to them. Lots of gamekeepers have told me to "f*ck off back to the city" rather than engage in reasoned debate and the responses to Sarah-Jane's article remind me of many of those confrontations.

As far as "articles like these" are concerned, let's have more of them, especially if they annoy people. I'd rather have that than pieces by sponsored climbers which are met with tidal waves of sycophancy.

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snoop6060 17:02 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Sarah Jane Dobner is made up isn't she. Has anyone ever actually met her? This is like the climbing version of The Onion except it's absolutely shite. 

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In reply to UKC Articles:

Thanks Sarah, I enjoyed reading it.

Climbing did used to be a lot better, less popular, scruffier, punkier and more about the outdoors. Allowing for the rose tinted specs of nostalgia, it still was. The differential just increases with time, much like my climbing ability (I climb harder with every new guidebook published).

These climbers still exist but because they are not a commercial target (climb in rags and too poor/tight to spend), they are largely neglected by the climbing media so you tend to think they are on the decline. That is until you go climbing with your mates at a suitably unfashionable crag.

The industry has split climbing into disciplines so they can insist you need specific gear for sport, trad etc so they can sell you "essential" gear for each. How long before this trend gives us the first "sea cliff specific harness" not too long I would wager. 

I am totally with you on the nomenclature thing. I would love to be able to buy an ice axe called the daffodil, crampons called kittens. The macho thing amuses me, are climbers more likely to buy something because it has a tougher sounding name? This smacks very much of the childhood pink for girls, blue for boys nonsense. 

The training concept (as a commercial venture) exists to attract traditional sportspeople into climbing, they are bigger spenders. The sport you took up to avoid school sports is now attracting the people you were trying to get away from. Climbers have always trained, we just used to call it climbing.

You have a great title and concept for a dystopian Sci fi climbing novel/film should you choose to take your ideas further.

Also credit where it is due to UKC for publishing such an industry critical article, glad to see you aren't afraid to at least bark at the hand that feeds. Judging by the length of the thread, the numbers you report to your advertisers are benefitting. 

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Arms Cliff 17:25 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

Love this article in that it made me think about my personal choices for each of the points raised. It made me realise that I’m happy with my decisions in each of the areas it covers, but I can understand why it may make people feel insecure. 

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Tom V 17:26 Fri
In reply to Blue Straggler:

As long as there are accessible routes available for you to enjoy at your chosen  standard, the rest is unimportant.

I suppose once you've ticked off all the 2 and 3 star routes at your preferred grade in the UK you might have to bump up a level but the mere act  and adventure of seeking out those routes would be a lifetime's climbing for most.

I think that progress, like most other things, can be measured in more than one way.

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Michael Gordon 17:29 Fri
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I guess the question is, is it unpopular because it's challenging, intelligent and provocative, or because it's not very good? 

It is certainly provocative. I'm think I'm going to sit on the fence regarding the other two words.

I put 'unpopular' in inverted commas earlier, as forums seem a rather unsatisfactory measure of people's gut response to an article. Folk are (understandably) often influenced by others' responses. A better way would be to provide people individually with a selection of articles and ask their thoughts on each. 

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Michael Gordon 17:32 Fri
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> Am I alone in being staggered and a little horrified by the huge tsunami of bile this article has created?

It has been rather unpleasant. I'm not surprised, unfortunately.

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scot1 18:04 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

I'd never considered the more tactile,sensual side of climbing but anything that puts us in touch with ourselves has to be good. It's a bit like making love to the rock/environment and feeling that connection both physically and spiritually (much like making love to a beautiful partner in a lot of ways (not literally in a lot of positions, I just mean in a sense). Shame so many today seem to be without this realisation, the trainers, the grade chasers. Who connects at this level with a fingerboard?

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Paul Sagar 18:11 Fri
In reply to Lynnew:

Have to say, as an academic who works in the humanities, that I don’t think it’s just scientists who can justifiably object to the writing style here. But then, I’m one of those humanities academics who thinks that large chunks of the humanities have lost their f*cking minds. (“Autoethnography” is LITERALLY a fancy word for “me studies”. Whereas ethnographic study is a crucial part of the important and respectable discipline of social anthropology, there is a reason respectable social anthropologists don’t do “autoethnography”. For example.)

Also, is it just me, or is Sarah Jane’s thesis abstract saying “some of the people I study are crazy cat ladies”? Nothing wrong with that, just it seems to be one of the things the jargon is attempting to say. 

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jezb1 18:13 Fri
In reply to scot1:

> ....(much like making love to a beautiful partner in a lot of ways (not literally in a lot of positions, I just mean in a sense)... Who connects at this level with a fingerboard?

I expect there's "special" sites for that kind of thing.

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scot1 18:19 Fri
In reply to jezb1:

I've been there and it ruined my relationship.

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Deadeye 18:37 Fri
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> Have to say, as an academic who works in the humanities, that I don’t think it’s just scientists who can justifiably object to the writing style here. But then, I’m one of those humanities academics who thinks that large chunks of the humanities have lost their f*cking minds. (“Autoethnography” is LITERALLY a fancy word for “me studies”. Whereas ethnographic study is a crucial part of the important and respectable discipline of social anthropology, there is a reason respectable social anthropologists don’t do “autoethnography”. For example.)

> Also, is it just me, or is Sarah Jane’s thesis abstract saying “some of the people I study are crazy cat ladies”? Nothing wrong with that, just it seems to be one of the things the jargon is attempting to say. 


I loved this bit: "qualitative research in which an author uses self-reflection and writing to explore anecdotal and personal experience".

I can write down what I think about stuff too.  But I don't call it research.

Or maybe I've got it all wrong.  If I say instead "I've autoethnographically researched this article and concluded that it's badly put together" does that make my view more acceptable?  Do I avoid being called defensive for finding it pretty awful?

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Michael Gordon 18:43 Fri
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> Whereas ethnographic study is a crucial part of the important and respectable discipline of social anthropology, there is a reason respectable social anthropologists don’t do “autoethnography”. > 

I hadn't come across the term before I read that abstract, but my first thought was "hmmm, is that really 'research'?" It sounded like something anyone could do just sitting at home brainstorming. 

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Michael Gordon 18:46 Fri
In reply to Deadeye:

> If I say instead "I've autoethnographically researched this article and concluded that it's badly put together" 

I don't think that's the way the term would be used.

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eroica64 19:02 Fri
In reply to planetmarshall:

You said: "I agree with Natalie. It strikes me as a bit of a personal attack to bring Sarah's masters thesis into it when it has nothing to do with the discussion."

I found the language in the article odd - and looked the author up on LinkedIn and other sites. This led me to the Masters' thesis and abstract. I thought it was priceless, so far beyond parody as to be fantastical. I also thought the language and thoughts in the abstract cast some light on the language and thoughts in the Cyborg-Climbers - Come to your Senses! article.

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Roberttaylor 19:29 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

'Why get "better' at all"? Why "improve"?'

If you have to ask, you won't understand the answer.

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Michael Gordon 20:25 Fri
In reply to eroica64:

The "autoethnographic commentary, poems and artworks" bit does give me a real sinking feeling, but I've got no objection to the general topic of study. I don't think one should judge a paper on the abstract alone, either. 

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Michael Gordon 20:30 Fri
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> Also, is it just me, or is Sarah Jane’s thesis abstract saying “some of the people I study are crazy cat ladies”? Nothing wrong with that, just it seems to be one of the things the jargon is attempting to say. 

Considering the topic studied, I wondered if it was an obtuse way of remarking on the valued physical companionship of pets. But it's hard to say without reading the thesis. 

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Yanis Nayu 20:35 Fri
In reply to UKC Articles:

It’s certainly generated a discussion, you’ve got to give it that. 

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Michael Gordon 20:37 Fri
In reply to scot1:

> I'd never considered the more tactile,sensual side of climbing but anything that puts us in touch with ourselves has to be good. It's a bit like making love to the rock/environment and feeling that connection both physically and spiritually (much like making love to a beautiful partner in a lot of ways (not literally in a lot of positions, I just mean in a sense). Shame so many today seem to be without this realisation, the trainers, the grade chasers. Who connects at this level with a fingerboard?

Of course we could all just enjoy the feel of the rock on v-diffs. Or even just sit at the crag looking at the view (though in that case might as well just go for a walk). But there's also the 'sporting' aspect of climbing, challenging yourself to break personal barriers and the deep satisfaction which comes from that. It's hard to do that without chasing grades at least some of the time. 

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bouldery bits 20:42 Fri
In reply to Roberttaylor:

> 'Why get "better' at all"? Why "improve"?'

> If you have to ask, you won't understand the answer.

Errr...hang on. Explain that too me. 

I've often questioned why I want to improve and found the answers enlightening and humbling. 

I don't improve at climbing anymore, but I'm getting faster and faster on my feet. The reasons for my improvement are my own but are of value. The reasons I want to improve provide the motivation for actually improving. 

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In reply to Bob Kemp:

Well, some basic syntax (along the lines of "subject, verb, object" or actually including some verbs would be nice. I know there is some rhetorical merit to using telegraphical syntax but it should be used to add emphasis, not make your authorial voice sound like a robot on Ritalin. 

There are some interesting points in there, particularly around the prioritization of the visual, that could apply across any aspect of the health and fitness industry, and it's  interesting how climbing holds itself as being above that aspect, almost in fear of vanity (sort of "I'm here for the limestone, not because it gives me a six pack" attitude) despite the drastic rise to millennial popularity of bouldering and climbing gyms. Overall, though, the arguments and their validity get swallowed in a morass of oversimplification, generalisation, ranting, and a bizarre prejudice against using any grammatical structure that isn't a subordinate clause.

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Roberttaylor 21:46 Fri
In reply to bouldery bits:

You're right that it's perfectly sensible and helpful to scrutinise our own motivations. But that is very far from the author's intent! She wants you to know that your motivations are wrong and hers are right and that we are all mindless robots.

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abarro81 22:08 Fri

If I were nice I'd echo midgets of the world unite's post.

But I'm not.

So I'll just say that this is some of the most moronic crap I've read on ukc. Which is impressive.

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Pefa 02:33 Sat
In reply to UKC Articles:

Interesting thought provoking article which I enjoyed reading. Thanks. 

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SenzuBean 04:35 Sat
In reply to galpinos:

> The upshot seems to be, for me, eat plenty of protein, what is enough protein no one really knows, don't worry about the 20g 6 times a day bit, that's guess work.

I would also like to add, that the 20g 6x times a day (even if true), would not be protein required to be eaten, since food can take many hours to digest. As long as the protein is available to the body, it doesn't matter whether it was freshly eaten or eaten 8 hours ago and almost finished.

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Andy Gamisou 06:41 Sat
In reply to UKC Articles:

Read the article (which I liked though don't think that's especially relevant to my next points) and the read the first dozen or so comments.  The thing that strikes me about UKC in general is that whenever a women writes anything that doesn't immediately connect with the predominantly male and middle-aged (or older) demographic (of which I'm a member) is that the same demographic has to immediately spew forth a bunch of negativity that I can't help feel is thinly disguised misanthropy. No wonder so few women actively identify as such and contribute to the forums.  UKC subscribers should collectively hang their heads in shame.  Personally, I'm thinking in giving up on the site entirely (admittedly, no great loss, to me or the community).

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Michael Gordon 06:56 Sat
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

I don't disagree about the demographic of forum users, but I suspect the reaction would have been the same if the article had been written by a man.

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HeMa 08:09 Sat
In reply to Michael Gordon:

I agree. My biggest problem was the flawed starting point, that some how training and diets are a new thing.

Sure, both are more evident know, due to simply the reason that there are more climbers around and also the training facilities are open to all paying customers. 
 

A lot of those that took climbing seriously (I’d venture to guess 70s onwards), have done training and all sorts of diets. Basically ever since free climbing started to pick up. John Bachar was already training in the early 70 with rope ladders. John Gill certainly was doing systematic training even before (he was a gymnastic after all). Moon and Moffat were training and doing diets in the UK in 80s and so on.

So simply knowing this, eats away the foundation of the article from the start. Have these things become more popular, why yes they might have. But how to measure popularity. Amount of people doing it, sure but then we also need to consider the amount of people doing climbing in total head count -> percentage of climbers. I might even agree that even that might have risen from the 70s. But now let’s look at the level these people are performing, well I think on average the level is now higher. And to an extent this is a reasonable assumption, bouldering and bolt clipping are mostly physical things, and after a certain level being fitter certainly helps (I’d guess this would be in the upper 7s in ‘bleau or French grade) and again almost a requirement in the 8s. For UK trad, this is less true as a strong head is needed. But strictly speaking I doubt that there are many high end climbers ticking E7s or E8s that don’t also do bouldering and/or sport. And some sort of training (other than climbing), plus look into their diet a bit.

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LeeWood 08:25 Sat
In reply to Roberttaylor:

> She wants you to know that your motivations are wrong and hers are right and that we are all mindless robots.

Another way to look at it - that its simply journalistic licence to overstate the case - to stimulate debate and stir up reaction. It seems 'we' have an image of this woman penning her piece as a lofty academic - deadpan and serious - when in fact she prepared it with a wry smile and a chuckle.

I reckon the number of climbers that this article actually applies to is very much a minority - but its a minority which gets high exposure on UKC and as someone else commented - top marks to UKC - as it critiques the comercialisation which powers the site !

In all events the article is a success because it has engaged a lot of users . Its all made me wonder whether UKC could implement a system to put greater value on these qualities which mean so much to us - you know - an extra tickbox or rating for logged climbs. Oops! - back to quantification :D 

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L Scrufflepeck 10:43 Sat

I'm not a climber; I’m a caver. We are a different - superior - species. I’ve served my time over the years in climbing centres (because we cavers climb too, you know. We just don’t make such a huge obsessive deal of it) and have always regarded the legions of shirts-off, po-faced, hyper-self-regarding, exclusive, slender muscley poseurs (mostly male but some female) as utterly hilarious in their strutting pomp. Worthy of contempt and mockery in equal measure. Let’s face it, they (you) look ridiculous. We cavers generally love a good laugh, we have great senses of humour and never take ourselves too seriously. The opposite is true of our climbing comrades. We don’t give a sh*t about how we look - nobody’s watching and no-one can see underneath all our scruffy shredded gear in the blackness we inhabit and explore. I read Sarah Jane’s article as a breath of fresh air in a community with more than its fair share of over-serious, boring t*ssers. No surprise that it attracted such vilification. I recommend that Sarah Jane hangs up her shoes (ludicrously uncomfortable) and joins the underground community where she will be welcomed with open arms. 

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Michael Gordon 10:56 Sat
In reply to Scrufflepeck:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but surely caving doesn't require any training? It's more reliant on experience and skill set. So it's a totally different type of activity.   

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Paul Sagar 11:01 Sat
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

I can’t speak for others, but personally I could not give less of a toss about the gender of the author. My reaction was based on the fact that a) I thought the piece wasnt very good combined with b) this is not the first time this author has written something in precisely this vein and so it is getting a bit boring now to hear it yet again. 

There are plenty of men pushing this sort of stuff (usually with a dollop of awkwardness and self-hatred because the dominant ideology they subscribe to demands it of them) and I hate it just as much from them as from any woman/non-binary person/Alien from the planet Zog. Because - crazy notion here - I’m capable of distinguishing an idea/argument from the individual who happens to hold it. 

But hey, nice way to just shut down anybody who disagrees with you as a bigot whose opinion can just be ignored. There is an irony here, you know. Can you see what it is?

Post edited at 11:03
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Dell 13:17 Sat
In reply to UKC Articles:

It's a 'good' article because it's had a lot of views and received a lot of comments. 

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bouldery bits 13:17 Sat
In reply to Scrufflepeck:

F*CK off Mike from Spaced.

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scot1 13:38 Sat
In reply to Michael Gordon:

I agree. I was tacking the piss out of this ridiculous article.Some middle class,arty climbers seem to be prone to trying to justify what is in essence a physical thing by giving it a higher meaning. Lets watch Beckham try this with football,why is football any less spiritual?

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LeeWood 13:52 Sat
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> There is an irony here, you know. Can you see what it is?

Yes! The irony is that you have contributed for the 5th time to the thread which is quite frankly amusing you ! As you said you knew the author and knew you disliked her writing you could have refused reading it in the 1st place!

However not to miss yet another point - thanks for helping generate discussion - I preume you too were using journalistic licence to overstate your argument ;)

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scot1 13:54 Sat
In reply to Scrufflepeck:

So caving is devoid of competition? Is it all folks doing it for fun with no desire for anything other than the experience? Sounds great! I assume there's no physical training required and that a person won't be judged for not being able to fit through a squeeze? 

Post edited at 14:14
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In reply to snoop6060:

> Sarah Jane Dobner is made up isn't she. Has anyone ever actually met her? This is like the climbing version of The Onion except it's absolutely shite. 

In reply to your perhaps not serious question. Sarah Jane is a real live living person like me and you. I bump into her now and again and she is really warm and friendly. I remember climbing with her once when I persuaded her to come to a north facing sandstone crag in the Forest of Dean on a very chilly day on 16th January 2001. The heating on her car had packed in so it was freezing throughout the whole of the journey there. I remember that air was cold and damp at the crag and had that distinctive mulch smell from the decaying fallen leaves. We didn’t climb anything that hard but it was a fun day out and she was really good company.

I think I would rather have pieces like this rather than those really tedious “destination articles” telling me about some amazing crag thousands of miles away. This article has had 150 responses, some of which are really excellent, and over 4000 views. 

Whilst I may not agree with everything that Sarah Jane has written I do thank her for taking the time to put her thoughts down and provoke some of us maybe to think more existentially about the game that we play.

PS I had a salted caramel flavour protein powder which I mixed with semi skimmed milk and it tasted delicious.

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scot1 14:27 Sat
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Sarah is trying to 'other' anyone interested in improving. She's creating a dichotomy between the soul climbers and the cyborgs. I don't think I've met a climbing cyborg who wasn't as human as a soul climber, as if the difference exists.

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Paul Sagar 15:40 Sat
In reply to LeeWood:

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been really bored and doing a lot of procrastinating this week

And yes, as you’ve noticed, I’m not above a touch of provocation and micro trolling, myself...

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DenzelLN 15:50 Sat
In reply to UKC Articles:

Where are you looking to find the "fashionable disjunction" that you speak of?

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jimtitt 17:00 Sat
In reply to HeMa:

> I agree. My biggest problem was the flawed starting point, that some how training and diets are a new thing.

> Sure, both are more evident know, due to simply the reason that there are more climbers around and also the training facilities are open to all paying customers. 

> A lot of those that took climbing seriously (I’d venture to guess 70s onwards), have done training and all sorts of diets. Basically ever since free climbing started to pick up. John Bachar was already training in the early 70 with rope ladders. John Gill certainly was doing systematic training even before (he was a gymnastic after all). Moon and Moffat were training and doing diets in the UK in 80s and so on.

Of course, back in the 60's and early 70's as a student I was doing 2 x 2hrs in the gym and 3hrs pumping iron along with my buddies with a semi- professional coach, thats why we could onsight into E3 even with crap gear. Holidays and weekends I was a rooftiler to get fit.

And no, the climbers that were professionals didn't wear "work clothes", the managers, directors and sales guys I climbed with all had whatever the fashionable gear of the day was.

The scientifically recommended diet was sausage, chips beans and a few pints as a recovery diet and at the crag sardines/pilchards  and chocolate with Kendal mint cake or dextrose tablets if things got grim.

In a later life (nothing to do with climbing) I had the benefit of a trainer from California, like he said "training is a substitute for talent".

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bouldery bits 18:46 Sat
In reply to jimtitt:

> In a later life (nothing to do with climbing) I had the benefit of a trainer from California, like he said "training is a substitute for talent".

Right on Jim

Right on

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chris wyatt 19:07 Sat

I thought it a good article.  The main question for me is not. 'What do i not like?' but more 'How can the ideas she expresses help me live more fully?' 

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Misha 19:42 Sat
In reply to Roberttaylor:

> 'Why get "better' at all"? Why "improve"?'

> If you have to ask, you won't understand the answer.

Indeed. Some people are happy with where they are in climbing and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a personal thing. However it’s not nice when those people start questioning and looking down on others who are trying to get better. Live and let live! Just because someone doesn’t want to improve, doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with those who do.

Why the to improve? There are lots of reasons. One struck me today - to be able to move well on the rock. I was actually thinking about this in the context of skiing but it applies to climbing as well. Look at a good skier or climber - they move with grace and precision. I want to be able to do that as well. Sure, it’s fun to climb a VDiff or a VS or an E1, but to do so with skill and confidence you need to operate at a higher grade. At your highest grade you might be just about scraping it, getting up without much grace. But drop a couple of grades and you’re flowing up the rock. That is psychologically and aesthetically pleasing. Something to aspire to whatever level you are at. I guess some people don’t really care about climbing style, they just want to get up a route any old how, and that’s fair enough.

The author could do with appreciating that different people have different motivations for different reasons. As you say, some people just don’t get it, partly due to being unable to see things through other people’s eyes. I don’t know if this is the case with the author or if she is just being deliberately controversial. As others have said, the combative style does invite combative responses of the type there have been plenty of on this thread. That’s a shame as the article does make lots of good points. It may be patronising but I think the author needs to chill out a bit.

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Twiggy Diablo 19:54 Sat
In reply to UKC Articles:

Enjoyed this article. A lot of it resonated.

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L Scrufflepeck 23:15 Sat

No she doesn’t need to “chill out a bit”! What patronising shite. She’s identified troubling trends manipulating the sport she loves and she’s shining the necessary spotlight into the thicket. Look at all the feathers she’s ruffled! Here’s the one and only explanation, listen carefully: EGO. Mostly male ego. Ego is the beginning and end of all of this twaddle and verbiage. Look within! Or, if you’ve got a brain, look underground! There you will learn that you are no different from all matter on this planet. I thoroughly recommend The Vice in Daren Cilau to bring you down to earth.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp0qUNmZPIk. Fecking climbers, jeez....

Post edited at 23:24
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bouldery bits 00:22 Sun
In reply to Scrufflepeck:

That's it, I'm going over to UKCaving to call you all smelly, unsociable, 70's throwback troglodytes. Bet you love a cup of hot Bovril don't you?

How do you even get 4G down there to be able to post?

Humph.

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Hati W 08:45 Sun
In reply to UKC Articles:

I has expected this article to be insightful. There were some good points but they were always  unmade by the narrow-minded waffle that completely ignored the wonderful variety in the climbing community!

It would be boring if we were the same, why not find admiration/wonder in difference rather than the usual 'us and them'?

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LeeWood 10:41 Sun
In reply to Hati W:

> I has expected this article to be insightful

mate - your  spelling is shocking - correction: inciteful

;) 

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Misha 10:50 Sun
In reply to Scrufflepeck:

Nice. I don’t disagree that the article makes lots of good points. As I’ve said above, it’s only really applicable to a certain subset of the climbing community. Most people don’t train properly, don’t diet and don’t buy loads of expensive climbing wear for rock climbing (winter and Alpine is different as the quality of what you wear actually matters, to a degree).

It’s probably fair to say that most climbers want to get better but equally most people know their limits  and that they will only get better to a certain point, at least not without radically changing their lives. There may be an element of ego but there are many reasons for trying to improve which have nothing to do with ego. These have been set out above by Ben and others.

What doesn’t help the author’s case is the combative style. It doesn’t help your case either. Insulting people isn’t the best strategy either (“if you have a brain” - I think I do).

I don’t know anything about caving but I can see the attraction of it. It’s not something I’ve ever wanted to get into but I’m sure it’s a great sport/activity/passion. As are running, mountain biking, horse riding, you name it. Each to their own. I suspect there is creeping commercialisation in most sports. If caving isn’t one of them, that’s great. Happy caving. 

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Hati W 11:19 Sun
In reply to LeeWood:

Granted, my spelling for 'had' was shocking but I meant insightful as in widening perspective rather than inciting hate! 

;) right back at ya!

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Hati W 11:30 Sun
In reply to LeeWood:

Just got the joke, slow Sundays!

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In reply to scot1:

I'm not convinced that Sarah-Jane is trying to divide climbers into distinct groups and turn them against each other. She's concerned about (over)training for the sake of it, overemphasis on looking good and impressing others to the detriment of our physical and mental health and well-being. Commenting that her research background is far away from 'the discourse seen and enjoyed' on this forum, with no other comment on the article itself, however, could be perceived as an attempt to discredit Sarah-Jane's work and suggest she/her work is not welcome here. Dave Garnett wrote that it could give her some credibility, but disappointingly it seems like people are instead discrediting her based on her studying something they don't understand and making fun of it. 

Climbers can do what they like, and Sarah-Jane says as much. She's simply expressing her opinion and her concerns. It is a very different perspective to the prevailing articles pushing training and improvement, that's for sure. I don't see her language as aggressive at all, though - maybe it depends on the voice you read it in. More whimsical. The belittling talk in this thread of 'girl', 'ranting' and 'being cornered' and the article being like a 'locomotive of words' is more concerning and comes across as insecurity. When Sarah-Jane talks about the toxic messages in advertising and fitness culture, she writes: 'They do not accord with the men I know, the climbers I know.' She is criticising the far-reaching impact of the patriarchy, not saying that any or all men who train are complicit in this.  

Sarah-Jane is one our most skilful writers. It's a shame I have to defend her work, really, but compared to the response on social media some comments here read like unflattering personal attacks.

Training's not new, but with the influence of social media and YouTube etc., these issues have become more serious. I've seen the impact first-hand. I'm to blame for the 'thinking of the kids' part - but trust me, it's really worth thinking about. 

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Misha 13:06 Sun
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

I think partly the response is due to what you said and partly due to the combative, controversialist style of the article. Nothing wrong with that style as such but a lively response is to be expected and indeed that’s the point - to encourage discussion. It’s fair to say that some of the responses have been OTT and I don’t condone that but it’s not surprising. If the article had instead been humorous, the response would probably have been quite different. 

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GrahamD 14:21 Sun
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

I don't have a problem with article. But it doesn't describe a single climber I've ever known, personally.

I'm sure there is a (probably small) subset of climbers for whom her characterizations are true. Unfortunately this article reads as though it's a mainstream thing, whereas in reality mainstream climbers are pottering around VS, HVS and lower E grades or 5 to 6c

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cb294 14:38 Sun
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

>... Commenting that her research background is far away from 'the discourse seen and enjoyed' on this forum...

There is no research. "Autoethnography", FFS.

> Dave Garnett wrote that it could give her some credibility, but disappointingly it seems like people are instead discrediting her based on her studying something they don't understand and making fun of it.

No, the argument works the other way round. The criticism stems from the author having no clue at all about the mindset of a competitive climber (or anyone who sets themselves goals for improvement), but feeling bold enough to pontificate about it, because autoethnography....

I barely did or do structured training for my climbing aside from some stamina laps to end a wall session, and if I were serious about climbing I should clearly start by dropping a stone or three. I did, however, train for > 20h per week for my main sport (judo) when I competed at national and international level as a student 25 years ago: Mat work, weights, cardio, training periodization and training camps tailored for peaking a specific comps, supervised diet, regular perfomance assessments, the works. I think that this gives me sufficient "autoethnographic" insight into the mindset behind the admittedly often obsessive training of elite climbers to call BS on the ideas proposed in this article.

CB

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LeeWood 17:49 Sun
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Has she got a UKC profile ? If not ... it can feel that she (and others) are superior beings who don't mingle with the masses - but rather preach from their ivory tower.

It would help if we had a more personable grasp of her life and climbing interests - could we insist on this for all article authors, I mean it could only help relations ??

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Michael Gordon 17:51 Sun
In reply to cb294:

> There is no research. "Autoethnography", FFS.>

The abstract, which I presume you've read, says "This study takes interview material from five single women and three single men (all cisgender, white, heterosexual, British, between 37-76 years) and interlaces it with autoethnographic commentary". So your above comment is blatantly untrue.

Unlike a thesis, an article doesn't have to contain research. Anyone can try writing one, and it helps if it is thought provoking (like this article).

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Michael Gordon 17:55 Sun
In reply to LeeWood:

I disagree. There's no need for someone to have climbed X,Y and Z or grade E-whatever to qualify to write an insightful climbing essay. Unless, of course, they are claiming to have personal experience of climbing hard routes.

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Robert Durran 18:02 Sun
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> I disagree. There's no need for someone to have climbed X,Y and Z or grade E-whatever to qualify to write an insightful climbing essay. Unless, of course, they are claiming to have personal experience of climbing hard routes.


Of course not, but it might simply be interesting to know from what sort of experience they are writing.

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cb294 18:32 Sun
In reply to Michael Gordon:

You call bits of interviews with eight people, mixed with a bit of sniffing your own bum "research" or a "study"?

I certainly don't, I call it taking the piss. Subjects that award degrees for that kind of crap should be laughed off campus, a view shared by most serious humanities researchers.

The article felt to me as if it came from that direction even before eroica(?) dug up that abstract, pontificating on stuff the author manifestly had no idea about to start with and  did not bother to put in the effort to do the research (i.e. change that ignorance).

I absolutely agree that an article does not need to contain novel research, but what it does need is a coherent argument from established facts.

As I said, there even is one point I agree with (I would never buy clothes from that military wank brand UnderArmour), but even that is devalued by her ridiculous turn of phrase.

CB

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Andy Clarke 18:50 Sun
In reply to LeeWood:

> Has she got a UKC profile ? If not ... it can feel that she (and others) are superior beings who don't mingle with the masses - but rather preach from their ivory tower.

She has written some fine articles on climbing destinations, mixing poetry and prose to very good effect. I particularly enjoyed her poem on Resista (6c), which captures the excitement and constant movement of the route, in this article: https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=11965. If I ever get myself organised to write an article about poetry that sets out to capture the physical and mental sensations of climbing specific routes - as opposed to generalised reflections - I'd certainly want to include this.  While I appreciate that the article in question is of a different genre, I feel some of the more furious denunciations of her style are a little too spittle-flecked for comfort.

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Michael Gordon 19:25 Sun
In reply to cb294:

> You call bits of interviews with eight people, ... "research" or a "study"?>

Well, by definition it has involved research or at least data gathering. It's incorrect to say it hasn't.

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HeMa 20:08 Sun
In reply to Michael Gordon:

And by most scientist, they would note that the subset does not provide any statistical value (for a real analysis). And adding whatever that term was, well has nothing to do with science. 
 

Arts, why yes. But not science. 
 

Funnily enough this opinion and the abstract of her thesis do have some things in common. On both, she takes a small dataset and interprets with her own opinions and hands out the results as ‘hard data’. Which is flawed from numerous points, granted when I hit my maximum of errors portrayt as facts, I stopped reading. So perhaps there was something good afterwards, but I doubt it. 
 

Now, as I wrote in my first post in this thread, I do love good rants (even if I don’t agree with them). But a good rant should not try to portray opinions is scientific facts. Unless you’re into flat earth society, that is ;).

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Deadeye 20:24 Sun
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

>  discrediting her based on her studying something they don't understand and making fun of it. 

Natalie

Several of the detractors here have peer-reviewed research that has been published in high-impact factor journals.

We are pointing out that reflecting on what a handful of people said doesn't constitute credible research - no matter what elaborate jargon they dress it in.  Furthermore it's presented in an unneccesarily confrontational and provocative style... and, well, if you choose to live by the sword...

You don't have to "defend" her work - that's not your burden to bear - but the points that are valid within it could have been presented in a much better article.

As for the reaction - we all respond differently to things.  I am, perhaps inappropriately, drawn to satire.  It strays into ridicule.  That's actually softening, not sharpening the response.  If folk simply dissected the weaknesses of the article, it would be a grim read indeed.

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Michael Gordon 20:44 Sun
In reply to HeMa:

> And by most scientist, they would note that the subset does not provide any statistical value (for a real analysis). And adding whatever that term was, well has nothing to do with science. 

> Arts, why yes. But not science. 

> Funnily enough this opinion and the abstract of her thesis do have some things in common. On both, she takes a small dataset and interprets with her own opinions and hands out the results as ‘hard data’. Which is flawed from numerous points, granted when I hit my maximum of errors portrayt as facts, I stopped reading. So perhaps there was something good afterwards, but I doubt it. 

> Now, as I wrote in my first post in this thread, I do love good rants (even if I don’t agree with them). But a good rant should not try to portray opinions is scientific facts. Unless you’re into flat earth society, that is ;).

Clearly the subset doesn't provide any statistical value. Does the thesis claim to be scientific? It seems to me it is likely more telling the story of these individuals.

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HeMa 21:27 Sun
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Well. My narrow minded view sort of implies that you use research to back up science. If you’re not doing science, there is no burden of proof. So no need for research either.

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Misha 22:31 Sun
In reply to HeMa:

You can do all sorts of research which has nothing to do with science. For example, reading archive materials and conducting interviews with people is historical research and history is an art rather than a science. But we digress.

I’m with you regarding the way the article comes across - it seems to imply that this is what the average climber is like these days. Which is not the case. I don’t know if this was intended or just poorly written. It wouldn’t be difficult to rewrite it - “some climbers... in some circles... you sometimes see...”. To be fair, there is some qualification - references to the author’s housemates for example. But mostly it’s written in terms of “we”, lumping all climbers together. Incidentally, that tars the author with the same brush! 

Post edited at 22:34
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Blue Straggler 22:51 Sun
In reply to Andy Gamisou:

Did you mean misanthropy, or misogyny, after highlighting gender differences in your post?

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In reply to UKC

Everyone who thinks the author is bashing training has totally missed the point.

I feel she is examining the base motives behind training. 

I once heard an anecdote: "climbers are either analytical or intuitive". The author is the latter and finds it alien to be so cerebral about a pastime she views as spontaneous and essentially pleasurable. Wish people on here would appreciate someone else has a different perspective and stop feeling so attacked..

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