A few years ago, I decided that climbing would be my life. I had never really touched rock, much less used any of the equipment required to indulge in this activity. But the pictures of rock stars and those capturing the magic of the mountains were enough for me to quit my job and delve into this new passion. I was ready to escape the mediocrity of my job scene, where people were so catty with each other. I couldn’t wait to meet people who were beyond such pettiness. And so I signed up for the many clinics around the country–the Red Rocks Rendezvous, Goddesses on Rock, the Ouray Ice Festival, the Squamish Mountain Festival, Women’s Rock WE, etc. I wanted to learn fast, and thought that learning from the best would be the only way to become an accomplished all around climber.
I met many of the athletes often pictured in magazines. It was a lot like meeting really movie stars. I would take clinics with them, spending hours on end with them. I was in awe. I would pick their brains about climbing, about how they got where they are at, about how great it must be to belong to such a community. And this is when I found out that any community suffers from the same issues that us, normal people, experience everyday.
Recently, I was taking a rock rescue clinic and my teacher yet another famous athlete started telling me about the negative sides of this dream world. “In the climbing community,” the athlete said, “people are most hypocritical. They pad each other on the back when they see each other, but otherwise, they just trash each other. People criticize others non-stop. It seems like bad mouthing is even more a passion than climbing! It’s as though people are so insecure that to shine brighter, they just dump on other people. It’s a shame that there is such nauseous competitiveness amongst elite climbers and alpinists, but it’s the reality of it!”
I had left my job, aspiring to belong to a pure spirited community. Yet, I have disappointingly come to realize that the snow is just not any whiter on the other side of the ridgeline.