"I realize that anytime you discuss high-end climbing, especially sport climbing, eyes roll and knees jerk. We live in the age of the Everyman: when elitism is a dirty word, when we feel it’s our birthright as Americans to judge Idols, and when all media channels are made for you—your Tube, your Space. Your perspective affirmed and put on a pedestal.
Climbing magazines have prostrated to this trend as well. Trips you can take. Climbs you can do. Best 5.9s at your local crag.
Climbing isn’t a spectator or fan-based sport. Whether we’re on 5.5, 5.9 or even 5.14, it’s easy to feel like we should be the one starring in the next Dosage film. Consequently it’s difficult for many of us to care deeply about anything outside of our own experience. Moreover, most of the best free climbers in the world are weird, shy, awkward or otherwise completely average people—anti-celebrities. In what other sport is the world’s best athlete an 18-year-old tantrum-throwing kid who looks like a skinnier, less cool version of Harry Potter?
I get the sense that what’s raddest about this sport—the practice, progression, and art form of free climbing, and what I consider to be its highest expression: high-end sport climbing—doesn’t matter in America beyond a superficial, amateur experience.
Of course, it isn’t important how hard you climb. No one has ever said that grades are the most important thing in climbing, and the only people who think that’s the case are insecure about their level and abilities in the first place. To me, it’s not about where you currently are on the scale—only that you are passionate about moving up it, or are at least deferential to that process."
The author also has another great post up here.