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AAC Climbing Report


Original Post
curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 69

Any thoughts on the AAC report? IMO, some interesting data is presented, but no real take-aways..

https://americanalpineclub.org/state-of-climbing-report

Greg Koeppen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

thanks for posting

plantmandan · · Brighton, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 50

1) The cover is awesome. Whoever designed it should be promoted.

2) As many have suspected, climbing has been gentrified (page 7). The portion of climbers who make six figures ( at least 19% of non-AAC members and a whopping 33% of AAC members), is much higher than that of the general population (about 5-6% according to census bureaus data). I wonder what the income breakdown would have looked like in past decades.    

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 7

i bet the AAC has always trended toward higher-earning membership. Membership fees are no small price. In contrast, the access fund accepts donations of any size.

one stat that stuck out to me:

In total, climbers spent $168,989,622 on gear in 2018, up 14.4% over the 36-month study period.
However, while spending is on the rise, further analysis reveals that it is unit price increases which are driving sales increases. During the same 36-month period, the average change in prices for all categories of climbing gear rose 23.3%; in contrast, the total change in units sold dropped 7.2%.
so climbers are spending on average more money on fewer products.....
Rob Dillon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 730

I just wanna know why the year with the most fatalities was........................................................................................................................1972?

Everyone switched to nuts, but didn't know how to use them? Large increase in popularity of climbing? Dawn Wall fever, original version? 

Easy Cheese · · Denver, CO · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 0
plantmandan wrote: 1) The cover is awesome. Whoever designed it should be promoted.

http://thebonfirecollective.com

Cosmiccragsman AKA Dwain · · Las Vegas, Nevada · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 101

Looks like I have to sign up and give them my email addy before I can read it.
Forget that!

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 69
Cosmiccragsman AKA Dwain wrote: Looks like I have to sign up and give them my email addy before I can read it.
Forget that!

Use a fake email brah

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107
plantmandan wrote: 1) The cover is awesome. Whoever designed it should be promoted.

2) As many have suspected, climbing has been gentrified (page 7). The portion of climbers who make six figures ( at least 19% of non-AAC members and a whopping 33% of AAC members), is much higher than that of the general population (about 5-6% according to census bureaus data). I wonder what the income breakdown would have looked like in past decades.    

it would obviously have looked a lot lower, as the average income for everybody was a lot lower then....  six figures is basically middle class these days.  i don't think climbing is really any more gentrified than it was 30 years ago in terms of a percentage basis, and it is likely much LESS gentrified than it was 100 years ago.  there are just a LOT more people doing it now, and gentrification is a major buzzword so people pay more attention to it.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

one of the concerns i have with the report is the overly rosey picture regarding the drastic increase in the number of climbers and climbing's popularity.  the report says something like "not only is it a burden, but a gift as well."  no, it's not a gift, as anybody who has seen countless climbing areas devolve into tp/shit infested lagoons of awkward modern music toprope jamborees can obviously attest to.  the increase in climbing's polularity licks balls.  camping has turned into a mega shitshow pretty much everywhere.  the new breed of climber's incessant need to have 100 people around them at all times is some sort of mental illness or something. 

another issue i have is this desperate need for more diversity in climbing and the belief that a lack of diversity is a serious problem.  do we also need to create some big drive to increase the number of caucasian NBA basketball players?  not really, just let it all be and quit trying to force everything into some weird preconceived notion of how things "need" to be.

FosterK · · Edmonton, AB · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 60
another issue i have is this desperate need for more diversity in climbing and the belief that a lack of diversity is a serious problem.  do we also need to create some big drive to increase the number of caucasian NBA basketball players?  not really, just let it all be and quit trying to force everything into some weird preconceived notion of how things "need" to be.

They are not comparable problems. It's a worthwhile exercise to ask what barriers exist to the climbing community reflecting the general community at large. 

Fehim Hasecic · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 170
slim wrote: one of the concerns i have with the report is the overly rosey picture regarding the drastic increase in the number of climbers and climbing's popularity.  the report says something like "not only is it a burden, but a gift as well."  no, it's not a gift, as anybody who has seen countless climbing areas devolve into tp/shit infested lagoons of awkward modern music toprope jamborees can obviously attest to.  the increase in climbing's polularity licks balls.  camping has turned into a mega shitshow pretty much everywhere.  the new breed of climber's incessant need to have 100 people around them at all times is some sort of mental illness or something.

another issue i have is this desperate need for more diversity in climbing and the belief that a lack of diversity is a serious problem.  do we also need to create some big drive to increase the number of caucasian NBA basketball players?  not really, just let it all be and quit trying to force everything into some weird preconceived notion of how things "need" to be.

Where do you climb? I’m at the Front Range, the most overcrowded shit show according to most, and I’m yet to deal with the “hordes” in my 7 years of climbing here.

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 16,716
Rob Dillon wrote: I just wanna know why the year with the most fatalities was........................................................................................................................1972?

Everyone switched to nuts, but didn't know how to use them? Large increase in popularity of climbing? Dawn Wall fever, original version? 

There was a huge increase in climbing/climbers during the late 60's - early '70's. One source of data on this is the number of annual passes (climbing buttons) sold by the Mohonk Preserve for the "Gunks".  I don't have the actual numbers, but I think it went from about 300 in 1968 to over a thousand by 1972-3.  Not only technical climbing, but also hiking, backpacking and other "outdoor activities", even such things as running. It might have had something to do with "Earth Day", but that's just speculation. I don't think anyone actually "investigated" the causes.

Of course, It's nothing like the jump in numbers that we are seeing "today" with the advent of the climbing gyms; but it was an amazing jump just the same.

The switch to nuts MAY have had something to do with the accident increase, but in 1972 most of the "resident" pitons were still in place on most of the popular climbs. (It is REMOVAL of the piton that, in most cases, causes 90+% of the damage to rock, and climbers had pretty  much figured that out by the early-to-mid 1970's)  
Dana Bartlett · · CO · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 890
Fehim Hasecic wrote:

Where do you climb? I’m at the Front Range, the most overcrowded shit show according to most, and I’m yet to deal with the “hordes” in my 7 years of climbing here.

Well, it can happen. My friend had only a few hours and couldn't go far so I (reluctantly) suggested Canal Zone - always a relatively crowded area. We turned around. Every climb except the scruffy gear route at the end had a rope on it, and I stopped counting after I got to 90 climbers.

Mike Mu. · · hagerstown · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 65
slim wrote: one of the concerns i have with the report is the overly rosey picture regarding the drastic increase in the number of climbers and climbing's popularity.  the report says something like "not only is it a burden, but a gift as well."  no, it's not a gift, as anybody who has seen countless climbing areas devolve into tp/shit infested lagoons of awkward modern music toprope jamborees can obviously attest to.  the increase in climbing's polularity licks balls.  camping has turned into a mega shitshow pretty much everywhere.  the new breed of climber's incessant need to have 100 people around them at all times is some sort of mental illness or something.

another issue i have is this desperate need for more diversity in climbing and the belief that a lack of diversity is a serious problem.  do we also need to create some big drive to increase the number of caucasian NBA basketball players?  not really, just let it all be and quit trying to force everything into some weird preconceived notion of how things "need" to be.

Agreed. Places (cliffs, hiking trails, campgrounds) are just being overrun with the gram-mers. But as long as they stay at the sport crags to take shits--fine by me.  What happened to surfing 20-30 years ago is what is happening to climbing now.  Here on the East coast there were lots of folks that when surfing became cool they ran out and bought boards and wetsuits in hopes to get pitted, so pitted.  They stuck with it for a season or 2, then dropped out en masse.  My hopes are that same thing will occur in climbing.  People will try it for awhile and realize it is just not for them.  There will be lots of trad racks for sale then.  

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 16,716

To Mike Mu, and others, I'd like to say that I HOPE your premise that They stuck with it for a season or 2, then dropped out en masse comes true, and it may very well THIS time. But the increase of the 1970's did not.  True, the increases slowed down (sort of like the National Debt when some "financially conservatives" get some power in Washington) but the level stayed the same.
On the other hand, I did see actual drops in numbers in whitewater paddling.  Again, big increase in the 70's and '80's; then sort of a "die off".  My speculation is that the "newbies" got to a certain level of competence and then "topped out".  Getting better involved real work, and also once you were better, usually real risk (at running rivers that were likely to kill you if you f***d up.)
That's why, I think, the current climbing "crop" is on the sport climbs.  First, it takes real work and dedication to learn the technique(s) of  safe trad climbing, and even then there's real risk involved.  
Back when I was doing a lot of "mentoring" and training (1960's-70's) I made an observation that if a new climber didn't make the transition to "mountaineering" (or at least what we'd call "cragging" today) they would usually drop out of the pure rock-climbing sport. Not everyone, but most. Maybe we'll see this with the "new crowd", but there are two differences today: 1) With sport climbs now up to the 5.12, 5.13, 5.14 etc there are challenges for everyone even within the sport-climbing venue.  2) The "love of the mountains" (in all it's forms) seemed to be the driver for the 'transition' from rock climbing to mountaineering; today the driver seems to be totally different for the 'new crowd'.  I'm not saying it's good or bad, but it seems quite different.

Me...I just take my 70+ year old knees and walk 20-30 minutes to crags that are a bit off the beaten path. Never find crowds, hardly ever even find anyone else there, and if I do they "love the mountains".   
 

Nathan Sullivan · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 0
Fehim Hasecic wrote:

Where do you climb? I’m at the Front Range, the most overcrowded shit show according to most, and I’m yet to deal with the “hordes” in my 7 years of climbing here.

Same, I ran in to a guided group in Boulder Canyon that took over a whole crag once.  Other than that one time, I climb in the canyons on weekends and don't have issues finding parking and getting on climbs.  Are people just mad that they don't have an entire wall to themselves, or that they may have to share routes with others?

Mark Pilate · · MN · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 10

It is interesting that climbing is still growing.  Almost all other adventurous endeavors are shrinking, some quite drastically.   In the river eddy, there are fewer and fewer whitewater boaters under late thirties-40’s.  Same with motorcycles, same with scuba, same with parachuting, sailing, etc.  

Part of it is shifting economics and part with generational attitudes (like call for a chopper cuz the sun is setting ;)

I think Robert is right that just stepping a bit beyond the beaten path and upping the risk slightly gets you away from the crowd.  The growth bubble is mostly confined to the easier end (work-risk wise) of the spectrum like gym, sport, and bouldering.

Pretty soon the remote alpine will just be populated by a handful of creaky knee’d old curmudgeons tottering about who can’t climb for shit but have basketball sized cajones.

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 69
Mark Pilate wrote: 
Pretty soon the remote alpine will just be populated by a handful of creaky knee’d old curmudgeons tottering about who can’t climb for shit but have basketball sized cajones.

one can only hope :)

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 612
plantmandan wrote: 1) The cover is awesome. Whoever designed it should be promoted.
  

2) As many have suspected, climbing has been gentrified (page 7). The portion of climbers who make six figures ( at least 19% of non-AAC members and a whopping 33% of AAC members), is much higher than that of the general population (about 5-6% according to census bureaus data). I wonder what the income breakdown would have looked like in past decades.    

I don't think gentrified is the right word.   Climbing has been mainstream for years now, with all the ramifications that brings with it.  So of course the income of climbers is higher than the general population, just like most sports. Really poor people don't have the disposable income or energy after a hard day's labor to recreate all that much.  Dirtbag climbers are such a small percentage of the climbing population they are essentially negligible.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107
FosterK wrote:

They are not comparable problems. It's a worthwhile exercise to ask what barriers exist to the climbing community reflecting the general community at large. 

why is this a worthwhile question to ask?  there are literally no barriers existing to becoming a climber, unless you are 14 years old, don't have a driver's license, and live smack dab in the middle of kansas.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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