American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

The State of the Art, Five Ranges, Five Views

  • Feature Article
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001

The State of the Art

Five ranges, five views

It is all too easy to proclaim a route done today as the best route a particular area or a particular discipline has seen. Many factors contribute to this: media pressures that encourage the use of superlatives to sell their product, sponsor pressures that encourage spin for the best possible angle, and thus marketability, our own unbridled egos, or a simple ignorance of historical context. Are we really climbing harder, faster, better today, or are our routes simply an extension of what has been done in the past, improved by better equipment, refined foods, improved training ergogenics, and the psychological breakthroughs of those who have come before?

We put this question to five climbers who are deeply involved in the respective areas upon which they report. Their answers vary with their experience and perspectives, but collectively, they leave us with a context from which we can see our own climbing more accurately. We are grateful to them for their efforts to show us where we stand as a community, and where we can take our adventures in the years to come.


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