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More rock climbers needed to save the planet
OffLine 8a.nu
  2018-12-14 00:00:00    
Outdoor climbing has a very small impact on the environment in comparison to other sports where you almost always need to build and maintain an arena. Bouldering and DWS are quite unique and fulfills best the Tyroldeclaration, "We strive to leave no trace". Trad climbers leave environmental trace due to all cams and nuts needed meanwhile sport climbers need less gear but bolts.

Moving out people from practicing sports indoor into rock climbing outdoors will in the long run mean less impact on the environment, as less arenas are constructed and required.

Getting exposed to the outdoor makes it possibly the former arena sport-persons will develop into ambassadors for the planet's nature. They might also personally reduce their environmental impact and possibly adapt to the low budget/less impact outdoor climber style.

By strengthen the local community, which in reality means that more boulders and routes graded 3 - 5 should be developed, the number of rock climbers will increase. More climbs in your neighborhood will also mean travelling will be reduced.

Disclaimer - Surely, more climbers could to some extent have a negative impact for the local climbing community in regards respectful behavior and access etc. However, in regards saving the planet, each arena person we could get out in the nature becoming an eco-ambassador the better on a global perspective.

The Access Fund is working hard and just published - Climbing Areas Loved to Death and clearly this has a lot to do with access education. We do all need to interact on the scene...not just posting negative comments in forums.
Click to Enlarge Picture
OffLine Robert Kasper
  2018-12-14 14:52:56    
another very well thought out jens article. It is known that climbing and alpinism are amongst the sports with the highest carbon footprints. Only motorsports is worse.

Why is this? because climbers, even though wanting to care about the Environment, almost exclusively go climbing by car or plane.

Will all those swedish guys starting to climb go to deep water solo in the skärgård or will the take a plane to leonidio as suggested by this very site? How many times in the last years was the Headline of this site "climber xy drove 10000 km to do his Project. So passionate"


Come on, really it makes by brain hurt so much. Encourage people to go jogging. That would help more. Or stay at home and Play scarbble. But dont act like we would do the planet a favour by climbing.
OffLine Sebastian Peace
  2018-12-14 15:20:48    
Gardening is important aswell and so many other things. :)
Also if you think about guys like Anderl Heckmair - I know, different times - climbing can be very environmental friendly if you do it right.
I think Jens point is that you get more in touch with nature if you start climbing outdoors but that sure is not always the case. Maybe, if more climbing gyms start spreading awareness and educate instead of focusing on "come here, get great and big muscles" things might change. I hope they will and I find it important to talk about this. Thanks for your input Jens.
Edit: Also go vegan ;)
OffLine JLH
  2018-12-14 16:02:45    
"Moving out people from practicing sports indoor into rock climbing outdoors will in the long run mean less impact ..." -- on the contrary. Most of the indoor climbers most of the time visit their local climbing gyms if they don't have one of their own in their cellar. So majority of them walk, cycle, take a local public transport or in worst case travel few km's with their car.
When indoor climbers move outdoors, their environmental impact rise enormously. As Robert said, they travel long distances with cars or planes. Especially in winter time, central and northern European climbers are moving south, meaning few hundreds if not thousands of km's away from their homes.
Urban climbing centers are the main reason for exponential growth of the number of climbers in the last years. If you encourage those climbers to go outdoors, you are worsening, not improving the problems already present in (overcrowded) crags, threatening the restrictions of access or total bans.
OffLine Sebastian Peace
  2018-12-14 16:31:47    
I think most people travel with or without climbing. Sure, climbing gives another reason to visit specific (beautiful) places that are often far away, but would you skip your vacation if you would not know climbing? People will travel, climbing or not. Imho the important part is how they travel and how they behave. Education.
OffLine JLH
  2018-12-14 16:46:53    
Of course, most of the (young) people travel... The point is, they travel *much more* if they are outdoor climbers. Among my friends, they typically travel (in winter) 400--800 kms per week if they climb (also) outdoors and only a small portion of this if they only climb indoors (usually just one 'touristic' trip during the weekend).
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-14 16:55:36    
Which is the source that rock climbers are so bad for the environmen?

In general, I do nit think rock climbers use the car more than persons practice any other sport and my overall point here is that we should strengthen the local community by putting up more routes so less tavel is needed.

For me it seems that sports like slalom, figure skating and swimming have much more impact.
OffLine fahrradpedal
  2018-12-14 16:58:10    
I am 100% with Robert here. Its a an ironic contradiction that climbers value nature very much, but destroy it by their behavior. Myself included. I am thinking about that problem a lot and I fear that there isn't any satisfying answer to the problem. But what doesn't help are things like that (to name just a few): 1. postulating that climbers are somehow better persons just because they spend a lot of time in nature. One could easily say the opposite: Climbers love nature, but destroy it indirectly by their CO2 footprint 2. glorifying climbers that travel a lot (in saying stuff like climber X is especially passionate because he/she has already done big walls in greenland, bouldering in New Zealand, trad climbing at El Cap etc). The behavior of travelling a lot, just for going climbing is totally understandable and comprehensable, but its actually also very selfish: destroying the plante for the sake of compliance) 3. series of competition cups in bouldering, leading, speed at different age classes around the world

I guess its unrealistic to ask climbers for rigorous reducing their travelling behavior,as that is one of the biggest fun factors in that sport, but they should at least be aware of how big their impact is, especially regarding climate change. And then one should perform an appreciation of values. If we find, that climbing is most important we should strive to lessen our impact somewhere else. For example, trying to eat less meat, using green energy, living in a small flat, consuming as least as possible (e.g. buying clothes and technical stuff as seldom as possible)...

Here are two links that allow to calculate personal CO2 footprints:

https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx

http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/

Play aound with them and find out, what you personally can do to connect your passion of climbing with green behavior. You, Jens, should also do that, instead of making unproofen claims which give climbers too easily a quite conscience.
OffLine Freddie Chopin
  2018-12-14 17:30:00    
Even though I also think that the idea where increasing number of climbers somehow reduces the number of gyms is wrong (as if no outdoor climber trains in a gym, just because there are rocks everywhere, just around the corner, and there's no winter at all), I also think that the counterarguments you give are very stupid... From where I live to Leonidio it is 2400 km by car. If I would go there twice a year, I would still drive much less than a perfectly average car (15000 - 20000 km per year), and in this country there are at least 15 million cars. It's the same distance that is covered each year by a person working just 25 km from where they live, so I assume that a few orders of magnitude more people than climbers all over the world. Then the idea that "climbers are the worse as they go everywhere by car or plane" is just ridiculous... I wonder how golfers get to the golf fields? By bike? Or how about skiers and people riding on a snowboard? Do they travel from where they live to Alps by foot maybe? Or if someone is into bodybuilding, do you really think that most of such bodybuilders go to the gym by foot exclusively? How about... I don't know... almost anyone except runners and bikers (who - surprise - also like to travel to take part in events like marathons)? The number of climbers who can afford to go climbing (by car or by plane) for most of the year is probably so small that it can as well be compared with the number of presidents and high-rank officials of all the countries in the world, who also drive everywhere with their luxury cars with big engines or dedicated planes (; For all other "average climbers" the amount of driving we do each year is probably comparable with the amount of driving everyone else is doing. We drive to crags, "they" drive to cinemas, shops, to visit family or friends or just to chill in the mountains or by the sea/lake.

Nevertheless, debating "who is worse" when we're talking about personal CO2 footprint is really ridiculous too.
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-14 18:43:03    
Please, I am saying that the local community should be strengthen so less travel is needed...

"By strengthen the local community, which in reality means that more boulders and routes graded 3 - 5 should be developed, the number of rock climbers will increase. More climbs in your neighborhood will also mean travelling will be reduced."

Climbers do not differ from any other sport when it comes to competitions. The best athletes travel around the globe.

Non-climbers practicing sports in arena do travel long distance during their vacation. Outdoor climbers do the same but if we could make some charter tourists staying in all inclusive hotels and instead live in a tent on a camping for some weeks, the planet will will from such behavior.
OffLine Michael Borsdorf
  2018-12-14 23:32:35    
I agree with Roberts argument.
Everybody has to be aware of his / her carbon footprint and especially airtravel should be avoided.
OffLine Philip Kirchhoff
  2018-12-15 00:49:26    
YAML = Yet Another Markup Language
YaST = Yet Another Setup Tool
YABT = Yet Another Bullshit Theory
OffLine Perica Levatic
  2018-12-15 06:29:42    
Is there any data or science to back claims from this article?

It is not reasonable to just assume climbers are traveling the same as everyone else and then propose a solution based on that assumtion. If the assumption is right, great. What if the assumption is wrong? Then the ‘solution’ makes the problem even bigger.

I am personally very interested to know if the average climber is doing more or less harm to the enviroment than the average citizen? If anyone knows about some research done or valid/scientific resources on this, please share!

Robert, do you know of any research being done about carbon footprints in different sports?
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-15 08:23:50    
It is obvious that going out bouldering create less impact on the globe instead of practicing any sport in a constructed and heated arena. If we could strengthen the local community and develop more easy routes and boulders, climbers will also travel less.

Another thing, in comparison to arena sports, is that outdoor climbing do not attract spectators driving or even take the plane to that arena. I guess every day there are millions of spectators driving tens of million kilometers to arenas in order to watch a game etc.
OffLine Freddie Chopin
  2018-12-15 08:57:50    
@Jens:

> It is obvious that going out bouldering create less impact on the globe instead of practicing any sport in a constructed and heated arena. If we could strengthen the local community and develop more easy routes and boulders, climbers will also travel less.

You have a crag map on your website. Please take a look at it and tell me how does your proposal fit to places where there are just no rocks at all? It's not that they are everywhere, just waiting to be developed for local climbers. How about Netherlands, Denmark, northern Poland, all the so-called "Baltic countries"?

After you solve the issue of "no rocks available", how will you solve the problem of winter? How many climbers are so committed that they will climb also when there's 20 cm of snow and -10*C? 0.01%?

This whole idea is really just ridiculous.
OffLine Sebastian Peace
  2018-12-15 11:51:55    
There will be climbers traveling, no matter for what reason. Be it winter, no close rock or just wanderlust. If - as Jens proposed - the local community gets strengthened there might be ways to reduce environmental impact such as car sharing. You can't really force people to travel, they do it because they want to travel. Sure, more traveling means more impact but if you educate people they might behave environmental friendlier overall and on that trip and that - at least for me - is a win. Sustainable tourism.
OffLine Robert Kasper
  2018-12-15 12:46:24    
The swiss alpine club once wrote about this but a struggle to retrieve this article. The others are behind elseviers paywall. I will try to find some articles.

But from a personal experience i just see climbers, escpecially passionate outdoor climbers, produce a awful lot of trafic. Including me sadly. Next time at the crag just count how many guys come by train and bus. I think the result is quite clear.

I just stuggle with the fact that climbers enter a car any time they go climbing. And the crags in my region are very easily reachable by train!! Nearly any time i propose the train i am beeing looked at funny. I dont really know where this discrepany between " the melting of the glaciers is so sad" and "lets drive 300 km every weekend to find good powder snow" comes from. Climbers are individualists i guess and the project always has priority

Its just a strange idea how outdoor climbers should save the planet. No, they will not help in any way. My local gym is not heated and many boulder gyms are not, so that saves a lot of co2.
OffLine The Whistleblower 6
  2018-12-15 12:52:41    
[POLL CLOSED]: How would you rate the original article?

Final poll results:
* Awful: 69%
* Poor: 12%
* Average: 6%
* Good: 6%
* Excellent: 8%

51 votes in total
OffLine J S
  2018-12-15 16:37:38    
I specifically created an account to take part in this discussion, as I believe in discussions that help people to get informed. This topic is also close to my heart.

First of all there is big wish for more precision and clarity.

Start with the easiest: "How would you rate this article?" - Do you mean the original article or the whole discussion?

Back to the topic: In Jens original post are a few things mixed up.
1. (Proposal) Develop rock climbing areas nearby in an effort to increase the attraction of staying in the home area i.e. less travelling.
2. (Claim) Sportclimbing outdoors is eco friendly and eco friendlier than climbing indoors.
3. (Claim & Appeal) Outdoor climbers (should) become "ambassadors for the planet's nature".

It's clear to me that Jens and I have similar values: Live an eco friendly life. I'm happy about that. However, I'm quite frustrated as the strategies to achieve this eco friendly life are absurdly unfit in my evaluation, the underlying assumptions differ vastly from mine and, finally, Jens as a self proclaimed journalist doesn't even try to back his armchair reasoning up with some data (btw me neither).

To 1. This comes down to climb locally vs globally. I think the idea could work theoretically. However, I doubt it. As other mentioned: It is questionable to assume that climbers would stop travelling, even if all their climbing related desires are fulfilled at their local crag. However, I think it's obvious that climbing locally is better than globally in regards to your ecological footprint. Probably no argument about that.

To 2. This comes down to indoor climbing vs outdoor climbing. I suppose there is a "break-even-point":
On the one side, a gym offers 100 people the opportunity to climb per day. The energy necessary to build and maintain (walls, bolts, holds... everyting included) the gym over an assumed lifetime of 30 years equals XX kg CO2/day/customer. To come up with actual data is very unlikely as so many factors play into it. Ranging from energy consumption of the production of holds to how many customers per day and even the heating etc. It might be possible to make educated assumptions (ask your gym how many customers per day and ask for their energy consumption) but as it would only be for one gym everyone would keep arguing about the validity of the educated assumptions. Actual research will probably never happen as it is not even of minor interest to the public outside of the climbing scene. Which makes this whole discussion somewhat redundant. On the other side, climbing outdoors requires also a certain amount of gear (less than indoors as there is no need for articial holds) but I assume that on the access side outdoors is worse. Climbing as a sport is past the point of only locals going climbing. So, this factor depends on how the average climber comes to their gym / crag and how far away it respectively is. And the farer away the crag is and the less people sit in one car driving to this crag, the better the gym performs in regards to its ecological footprint. This stays open to discussion until there is solid research about this; ideally coming up with a formular like: If you drive alone in an average car XX km LONGER to the crag than to the gym, then a visit to your gym is eco friendlier than the visit to your local crag.

To 3. This thread of argument comes down to outdoor people vs. indoor people or climbers vs athlete of any other average sports.
While you can come up with sports like alpine skiing which is without doubt worse than climbing you can also come up with sports that are better e.g. running (locally, of course, we already discussed that under 1.), cycling, chess... In any case this does not lead us anywhere. As again you would need scientific data of the ecological footprint of each sport and and average of all sports and then come to a conclusion. However, what strikes me is the lack of differentiation. Driving to an arena to consume a sport event does NOT equal pursuing the sport activity yourself (How many people travelled to watch participate or document La Sportiva Legends Only? Even if the magnitude is different you must consider a world where everyone enjoys watching climbing as much as nowadays soccer. Think of spectators of the Climbing World Cup).
I will add another idea to this point, however. I consider climbing as the most expensive past time activity I ever had and the most expensive sport I pursued so far. A marginally low number of dirtbags aside, Climbing is expensive (based on my evaluation). That makes climbing a sport for the privileged. On a global scale it tend to be the wealthier nations that are successful in climbing. And to my "knowledge" and in my worldview privileged and rich people(on a global scale) are those with the biggest ecological footprint. Not because they are mean or unethical, but simply because they can, because they have the means to do so. And also within a wealthy society the ones who are uneducated and poor might not be informed about ecological issues and do harmful things out of ignorance but the educated and rich ones that are informed do even more harmful things out of convenience.

To sum it up:

1. I'm pro climbing locally vs globally.
2. I enjoy climbing outside way more than indoors and do it out of convenience whenever possible but think that because of the distance to the closest crag (1,5h drive) it is less ecological friendly thatn climbing indoors.
3. I think outdoor people (especially climbers) leave a bigger ecological footprint than indoor people - not because they love the outdoors, but because they tend to be privileged.

Keep the discussion alive!
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-15 19:52:23    
The article is based on developing more easy routes and boulders locally which will increase the possibility for the arena sportsmen to go outdoors.

It is not based on making 100 % of the people living in Amsterdam and Copenhagen start rock climbing and thus start driving 500 km every week to find rock. Once again, the article is based on strengthen the local rock climbing community. If you want to say that the logic of the article is wrong please explain why this is wrong.

"By strengthen the local community, which in reality means that more boulders and routes graded 3 - 5 should be developed, the number of rock climbers will increase. More climbs in your neighborhood will also mean travelling will be reduced."
OffLine Henning Wang
  2018-12-15 23:59:55    
I don´t really understand your logic here Jens beyond that you seem to want more easy routes/boulders?

To the general discussion I agree with most of whats´s been said already, but as you seem to want to focus on:

"By strengthen the local community, which in reality means that more boulders and routes graded 3 - 5 should be developed, the number of rock climbers will increase. More climbs in your neighborhood will also mean travelling will be reduced."

I will humor you.

Say you go out and bolt and brush and develop more easy boulders/routes in your local area. Will this actually reduce overall traveling?

Last I checked outdoor climbers didn´t stay at their home crag climbing grade 3-5 for very long.
They A, either got bored and quit. Or B, progressed to a higher level, eventually seeking out other areas, different rock, different weather/climate and so on, aka travelled somewhere else in addition to climbing whatever was close to home.

As mention above the climate in most places don´t allow for climbing outside all year so eventually you either have to go inside or travel.
If you only climb indoors and don´t compete, there is little reason to travel anywhere else for climbing as new routes/boulders magically appear every other week. As you most likely won´t be able to finish all before the next reset you might even be less inclined to travel as you only have limited time to finish your new project before it´s gone.

Adding more routes outside, especially easy ones that don´t take much time to do, would if anything make even more people start traveling around.
Why?
Even if they didn´t run out of routes, we still get back to that it would eventually get cold/warm/wet and having aquired a taste for real rock, indoors might no longer be enough.
If by some miracle there were both an endless amount of new routes and perfect weather the desire to check out new areas, diferent types of rock and so on would still be a much bigger factor for the ones now climbing outside, then those with no clue what they were missing that liked it in the gym.

There is also no reason to belive that these new climbers won´t find their way into a gym, creating the need for your arena, seeing as season change or just because it´s efficient/fun to train/climb indoors.
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-16 08:13:00    
It seems you base your comments on the headline rather then reading the article.

Do you not agree what has been written?
"Getting exposed to the outdoor makes it possibly the former arena sport-persons will develop into ambassadors for the planet's nature. They might also personally reduce their environmental impact and possibly adapt to the low budget/less impact outdoor climber style."
OffLine Henning Wang
  2018-12-17 21:18:07    
I did read the article and I strongly disagree on the main issue mainly because just climbing outside is not enough. There will always be the need for indoor/artificial arenas much for the same reason they are built for other sports (arrangeing competitions and providing space for spectators). But unlike many sports that don´t really need the arena for anything but that, we actually need some forms of constructed training facilities to efficiently train and avoid bad weather/winter/summer.
I then based my comments on the part you choose to highlight "By strengthen the local community, which in reality means that more boulders and routes graded 3 - 5 should be developed, the number of rock climbers will increase. More climbs in your neighborhood will also mean travelling will be reduced." After saying I agreed with most of what had been said by the others already. The reasoning behind just commenting on this part was both that the rest had been commented on fairly well by others already, and that you seemed to want to ingore that and just focus on this tiny part. If I somehow misunderstood what you meant linking this little part in your last comment then I understand your confussion.

However as you reply by doing the same again, just with a different part of the text, I rather think you are just trolling as usual.
"Getting exposed to the outdoor makes it possibly the former arena sport-persons will develop into ambassadors for the planet's nature. They might also personally reduce their environmental impact and possibly adapt to the low budget/less impact outdoor climber style."
To this one little part I will neither agree or disagree as it´s just pure guessing on your part and I have no basis for an argument either way.
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-17 21:46:08    
It seems most of you do not understand the definition of "alternative cost".

Further more, if a person say that "I will stop flying." This do of course not have any environmental impact in the short run as the flight schedule are already set. However, in the long run it just means that there will be less flight in the future.

If there will be more rock climbers this could also have an impact for how many sport arenas will be built in the future as the demand for indoor sport will go down.

If we can say that rock climbing, in comparison to other sport in general, create less impact on the environment that it is true that more rock climbers is needed to save the planet.

Surely you can disagree but you have to do it based of an alternative cost analysis.
OffLine J S
  2018-12-17 23:59:50    
@ Jens
As you like to quote yourself, I will try to do the same now.
"To 3. This thread of argument comes down to outdoor people vs. indoor people or climbers vs athlete of any other average sports.
While you can come up with sports like alpine skiing which is without doubt worse than climbing you can also come up with sports that are better e.g. running (locally, of course, we already discussed that under 1.), cycling, chess... In any case this does not lead us anywhere. As again you would need scientific data of the ecological footprint of each sport and and average of all sports and then come to a conclusion. However, what strikes me is the lack of differentiation. Driving to an arena to consume a sport event does NOT equal pursuing the sport activity yourself (How many people travelled to watch participate or document La Sportiva Legends Only? Even if the magnitude is different you must consider a world where everyone enjoys watching climbing as much as nowadays soccer. Think of spectators of the Climbing World Cup).
I will add another idea to this point, however. I consider climbing as the most expensive past time activity I ever had and the most expensive sport I pursued so far. A marginally low number of dirtbags aside, Climbing is expensive (based on my evaluation). That makes climbing a sport for the privileged. On a global scale it tend to be the wealthier nations that are successful in climbing. And to my "knowledge" and in my worldview privileged and rich people(on a global scale) are those with the biggest ecological footprint. Not because they are mean or unethical, but simply because they can, because they have the means to do so. And also within a wealthy society the ones who are uneducated and poor might not be informed about ecological issues and do harmful things out of ignorance but the educated and rich ones that are informed do even more harmful things out of convenience."

I read several times that you struggle with the English language... So I try to narrow it down to:

"As long outdoor-climbing is connected to a journey to the crag either by car or even plane it seems highly unlikely to me that its 'alternative cost' is lower compared to the average sport activity."

To back this opinion up a little bit: Soccer is probably the most pursued sport activity world wide. And even in western societies it is played mainly outside (no arena [and even the arenas for professional soccer players are not heated]) on the local soccerfield. Which means that the ecological footprint is probably lower compared to climbers. As the distance covered by a soccer player to reach the soccerfield will be shorter in most cases.

And my final nugget for you and hopefully for the community. I made the effort of typing "ecological footprint by sport" into the google search bar and voila my third result was this: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1441352318300184

here are the Highlights:

• Estimation of active sport participants’ annual carbon footprint and influencing factors.
• Average carbon footprint is 844.0 kg of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions.
• Income is positively associated with annual carbon footprint.
• Environmentally conscious participants have a lower footprint, but only in individual sports.
• ‘Environmental value-action gap’ exists in nature and team/racket sports.

and here is the abstract:

Researchers examining carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions (carbon footprint) in sport have focused on sport events and, to a lesser extent, sport teams, but provided only average or aggregate values. The author takes the perspective of active sport participants and considers the heterogeneity of individual sport participation behavior. Using online surveys, adult active sport participants (n = 6537) in 20 different sports with main residence in Germany were asked to report their sport-travel behavior in 2015, including traveling in the context of regular (weekly) activity, sport competitions/tournaments, league games, day trips, and training camps/vacations. Annual carbon footprints were estimated using information about travel distances and transportation means. The results revealed an average annual carbon footprint of 844 kg of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, with individual sports producing more emissions than team/racket sports. Participants in nature sports had the highest emission levels. Regression analyses revealed that environmental consciousness significantly reduced carbon footprint in individual sports, but not in team/racket and nature sports, supporting the existence of an environmental value-action gap. Activity years, club membership, weekly exercise hours, performance level, and income were mainly positively associated with annual carbon footprint, while gender was insignificant. The findings have implications for policy makers and managers in sport associations and clubs.

It's preeetty much in line with what I wrote earlier. Although I violated my earlier statement that I wouldn't try to back up my reasoning with data - well apparantly I did!

And don't you dare to talk about big sports events!
1. Of course they are horrible for the environment! No one said something different.
2. Climbing will be part of the 2020 olympics.
3. As I pointed out earlier consuming a sport event and being an athlete are two different things and we were talking about the latter one.
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-18 08:46:37    
As you say, rock climbing is for the privileaged ones we have to calculate the alternative cost for this group. Before we made them do more rock climbing, how much impact did their previously sport activity have. My speculation is that they will reduce their environmental impact and also that some will become ambassadors.
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-18 08:46:40    
As you say, rock climbing is for the privileaged ones we have to calculate the alternative cost for this group. Before we made them do more rock climbing, how much impact did their previously sport activity have. My speculation is that they will reduce their environmental impact and also that some will become ambassadors.
OffLine frank krane
  2018-12-18 10:18:21    
Tell me that all this is a joke, please.
OffLine Lulu Deubzer
  2018-12-18 12:15:21    
First of all, I find it very cool this discussion is happening here, even in a preliminary, speculative reasoning kinda way.
I think two points shouldn't get mixed up though:
There is on the one hand Jens' Hypothesis that more exposure to the outdoors will make people have a more "pro environmental attitude " which might eventually lead to "pro environmental behavior" in their everyday life,
and on the other hand the actual impacts this sport as a whole is causing at the moment that seem to defy this hypothesis as many of you have pointed out. (Btw JS, I like your point that this might be due to privilege rather than sport specific...).
On the hypothesis "Correlation outdoor recreation and pro environmental attitude/behavior" exists an extensive amount of research so far. With mixed results, unfortunately, probably due to the more complex interplay of other factors that affect the attitude-behavior relationship, as well as difficulties in standardizing the operationalization of environmental attitudes. But it's definitely not as ridiculous of an idea to have, and there are studies supporting that there might be a link between participation in outdoor recreation and environmental attitude, at least. Nevertheless, no study has addressed climbing specifically, so there is still need for further research to back up this idea.

In the mean-time, I believe discussions like this can potentially contribute some bits to making this hypothesis come true, because they themselves take place in this community we are talking about, and might help to shape the discourse in the climbing community in this direction, e.g. by making people realize in the first place that they care about nature and the environment, but their behaviors don't match their values yet. If "exploring your backyard" is more highly regarded within the climbing community than having climbed all over the world, this could have an actual impact on how environmentally intensive the sport as a whole becomes.
In this way, the second point you discussed, the observation that the climbing lifestyle probably is very Co2 intense – the way it is de facto practiced most often today – could change over time. Since, as I see it, climbing apriori is neither inherently unsustainable, nor inherently sustainable. It is the way we decide to pursue it that is decisive and that needs to be discussed.


P.S. I just realized that I also picked the bits that spoke to me the most, and the suggestion in the headline "more rock climbers needed to safe the planet" is of course rather questionable at this point. Probably we'd need to address the mentioned issues first, before we are justified to make such claims.
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-18 12:35:46    
Thanks Lulu :)

Surely, I hope this article and discussing it will hopefully have some impact making us exploring our backyard instead of travelling to other crags. The headline is, like they always are, written in order to create attention. My points are written in the article.

Göteborg is most probably the city in Europe closest to a major climbing area with everything from boulder, trad, sport and MP. We are talking more than 1 000 climbs rechable with a bike within 30 minutes from the city center of Göteborg with half a million inhabitants.

In this area there are still hundreds of climbs to be developed and that would mainly be 3 - 5 graded climbs. I am sure similar situation could be found in the rest of the world. It would be great with more local climbers and also that the advanced climbers would climb in their neighborhood. In the same way, national climbing magazines should promote their local area more instead of promoting crags in other continents.
OffLine JLH
  2018-12-18 15:19:22    
For those not having access to full text @JS mentioned above: among 20 sports studied, climbing/bouldering has the 4th highest footprint and a very large proportion (almost half) of this footprint caused by daily/vocational trips(!):

Table 5. Annual total and partial carbon footprints by sport (mean values in kg CO2-e).


























SportCF totalCF regularCF competitionCF leagueCF day tripCF vacation
Climbing/bouldering1156.0634.07.0119.3399.6
Diving2,840.7114.9134.52591.3
Figure/roller skating1238.4686.6435.615.9100.3
Fitness (gym)227.9159.19.159.7
Golf2195.0565.6161.993.41374.2
Headis267.199.0168.1
Hiking/walking901.1396.384.5420.3
Skateboarding717.9373.833.2105.3205.6
Surf sports2074.3176.245.5365.71486.8
Swimming622.7313.1165.9143.7
Track and field361.5134.8155.771.0
Triathlon774.8183.1282.1309.7
Individual sports1006.5363.4103.2123.1503.7
Nature sports1455.2477.512.2139.6829.5
American football842.0666.611.0140.823.7
Basketball681.3441.736.6198.14.9
Field hockey874.2529.571.6235.038.2
Football (soccer)337.4230.719.574.313.0
Handball405.4218.619.1155.811.9
Table tennis392.8232.346.6103.410.5
Tennis243.1156.331.733.821.3
Volleyball (indoor)404.8248.351.695.49.5
Team/racket sports514.0342.433.6121.416.6
Full sample844.0356.477.9121.4123.1337.8
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-18 16:07:58    
Thanks that was interesting. What does CF regular stands for?

As climbing/bouldering has 7 for CF competition, it seems this study has not separated inddor and outdoor climbing. I would guess that it is the competition climbers that are most interested going for long trips.

Does this survey take into account how much impact is caused by arenas?

It seems that among the sports outdoors in the nature, climbing has the lowest CF impact.
OffLine JLH
  2018-12-18 16:42:22    
CF=Carbon footprint (in kg CO2-e)
regular=regular (weekly) activity (in kg CO2-e), probably mostly indoor
7 CF for competition shows average climber very rarely takes comps
No, even among nature sports, climbing has high footprint (CF day trip + CF vacation).
OffLine Sebastian Peace
  2018-12-18 17:11:43    
Oo - So indoor climbing CF > outdoor climbing CF (day+vacation) ? Can you even compare this (day / week)? Sorry, I am not a stats person ...
Edit: Also Nature Sports CF > Climbing CF ? I am also not sure why Figure skating (ice) and roller skating (street) is in the same category and skateboarding is not. Edit2: fixed my ">".
OffLine J S
  2018-12-18 17:50:19    
@JLH Thank you so much for this contribution!

Anyway, as I'm desperatly craving for some satisfying outcome of this thread and as I have the assumption that Jens is just trying to do at least something to "save the planet" I have the following proposal:

Instead of going the road of exchanging beliefs, opinions and arguments all the way down, let's think of all the ways we know that are available to us, as climbers, to reduce our ecological footprint (Veganism, living in small houses etc is something I don't see as climbing related). Then later Jens can write a nice guideline similar to the red, yellow and green card ethics. The guideline ideally acknowledges the fact that climbing IS a sport with a considerable ecological footprint and therefore tries to point out ways how to keep it at the smallest level possible. Jens, I would love you to write a draft where the community can propose changes and then you publish the final thing in an effort to reduce our ecological footprint and increase awareness (I assume and hope these are you ultimate goals).

Gear: Buy (the most) sustainable or recycled products e.g. La Sportiva Cobra Eco, La Sportiva Mythos Eco, Edelrid Swift Eco 8.9mm, Edelrid Bulletproof carabiner, Edelrid Huascaran harness, Sublime Climbing Premium Boar’s Hair Climbing Brush. Lobby for a sustainable chalk option or go no chalk. Lobby for more wooden hoolds in your gym.
Behavior: Carpool to the crag and the gym or even go by bike. Forego climbing related traveling by plane etc.

I hope you guys will come up with even more suggestions!

Jens, you could even start collecting online signatures to create pressure on certain climbing related companies to offer more eco friendly products.

We could even have a collection of more articles that are connected to the issue.

https://www.climbing.com/gear/the-hidden-environmental-cost-of-climbing-chalk/
https://www.climbing.com/gear/years-most-sustainable-gear/
https://www.climbing.com/gear/how-green-is-climbing-gear/
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-18 20:03:55    
@ JLH: When I look at the table it seems what you say is dead wrong. "No, even among nature sports, climbing has high footprint (CF day trip + CF vacation)."

Further more, is the presented numbers of CF just based on transportation to the sport?

Good idea with writing an article how to reduce impact. I have already made a draft and I will post it here tomorrow in order to improve it.
OffLine JLH
  2018-12-19 10:50:08    
I might be "dead wrong"(?!) if you only read this table, but if you read the full article (and probably some others) you may see e.g. "... annual carbon footprints from snow-sport related travel of skiers and boarders in 2015 amounted to 431.6 kg CO2-e per person, with boarders producing a higher annual carbon footprint than skiers (519.2 versus 332.2 kg CO2-e)."
So climbers produced several(!) times more than that.
I strongly advice you to read scientific studies (there are many out there) and publish you recommendations based on empirical data and sound reasoning.
OffLine Lulu Deubzer
  2018-12-19 10:58:14    
@JS nice one. in my opinion the way you travel really makes up the biggest portion of our climbing related footprint. As you mentioned, car pooling or taking the train in some instances surely has a big potential, plan trips where you don't need to take a plane, but if you do , take more time than just 2 weeks. (Also: educate yourself of the Co2 impact this specific flight has, and how many other trips you could do for this amount instead / to how many days of trying to life sustainably(-ish) at home this corresponds)

Another thing I often struggle with is that most of the stuff I need to buy is climbing gear (especially for mountain climbing, not sport climbing). You already mentioned supporting particular brands who produce more environmental friendly. I found another neat way to try to reduce my footprint a bit is to buy second hand whenever it makes sense e.g. jackets, headlamps, sleeping bags etc. and repair my old stuff whenever possible.

Besides another point, more traditional, of course is to respect local nature protection regulations and contribute to a good cooperation between local crag development and nature protection.

I guess, as always when talking about habit changes in order to become more sustainable, it is crucial to strike the right tone, so people won't feel told of, but rather inspired by it...
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-19 11:33:05    
@ JLH: You are welcome to write an article instead of just complaining. Further more, I do not think that the carbon footprint of constructing and heating the arenas are including in your table. Here is a draft for a carbon footprint article.

Rock climbing is a great sport when it comes to carbon footprint and that goes especially for DWS and bouldering as no constructed arena and limited equipment are needed. At the same time, many of us take the car to the daily cragging and sometimes fly to other countries for climbing.

One way of reducing the travelling carbon footprint is to strengthen, develop and marketing the local climbing, which can be done by the local clubs, gyms and federation magazines.

While travelling, train or electrical cars are the best and always opt for car pooling. You also have the option to climate compensation meaning that you pay a fee for your travelling. Low budget is the key for accommodation meaning avoiding fancy hotels and instead sleeping in the car or in a tent if possible.

In regards equipment, resoling your shoes or buying Mythos Eco Climbing Shoes where 95 % of the material used are recycled are great acts. Edelrid has an Eco rope and a carabiner made partly of steel in order to last much longer. Another way of reducing your carbon footprint is to buy second hand when possible.

Please feel free to add further tips how climbers can reduce their carbon footprint.
OffLine Sebastian Peace
  2018-12-19 13:10:09    
I am not sure about skiing beeing better for the environment than climbing. Think ski lifts, ski slopes, snowmaking. .... Sounds pretty damn wrong to me but if you factor in heated gyms this might be true?? I don't know but I highly doubt it. Indoor ski halls ?!?! C02 is not the only problematic thing for the environment. Biodiversity, soil compaction, taking the living space of animals.
Another few tips for our collection:
* Respect the local climbing rules (e.g. no top outs of routes if not allowed -> birds).
* use trails and don't shortcut.
* take your trash home (e.g. cigarette butts).
OffLine Robert Kasper
  2018-12-19 16:05:35    
Jens: Writes article

some random guy: "Oh here is a study that contradicts you statements that seem to have fallen out of the sky"

Jens: "No you are wrong. I will now make wild conculsions from randomly selected data to prove my point"

Community: "But thats not how it works"

Jens: "It sure does"

I must say your second draft sounds better. How about making this the headliner? And working the articles a bit more in the future. Sounds like a good new year resolution to me.

I guess the world just needs less people all over. Nature does not need our species. How about free soloing without shoes? Reduces the amount of people and there is nearly no gear needed.

And thanks JLH for providing the data! I guess staying at home and knitting woolen socks is the most eco friendly activity possible.
OffLine Henning Wang
  2018-12-19 16:18:03    
Jens, it´s not that I don´t think your fundamental idea or hope for the future here isn´t admirable, but unless you want to have only bike riding climbers that only climb outdoors localy when it´s season for it and sit on their asses and don´t climb or travel when it´s bad weather/off-season, your concept will not work.

Unless you are a professional that can aford to always travel around the world to were conditions and fresh boulders are found, you spend most of your time as a boulderer in the gym. The gym has become essential for the sport to be viable as a year around activity, for training and for everyone with limited time that don´t have great outdoor bouldering 30-60 minutes from where they live, aka most of us.
Introducing more people to outdoor climbing will not change that, thougth as you keep pointing to, it might make them more enviromentaly friendly.
When it comes down to it thougth I still think the individual will do what he or she wants first, then think about the enviroment second.
Traveling and climbing have become interconnected, changing that persepetion and somehow making people that spend 3-6 months in the dark and cold not go to spain/greece/thailand for climbing holidays during the winter, nor climb indoors, but instead bumble around their local crag in -10 degrees with headlamps just don´t sound very realistic to me..
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-19 16:34:02    
@ Henning: It seems you still have not understood the concept of Alternative cost. Please Google it up :)

@ Robert: That study only measures driving it seems. My point was to strengthen the local climbing in order to reduce driving.
OffLine J S
  2018-12-20 10:37:17    
@ Jens I tried earlier to narrow the discussion down to the regular practice of rockclimbing (leaving out consumption of sport events and by that also the arenas. And, the travels as argued earlier people who are not traveling for climbing might still travel for holidays). This then means that in the table provided by JLH the second column "CF regular" is relevant. With 634 climbing is the third highest in this list. Keep in mind that the study was conducted in Germany and that people have to cover long distances to reach the next American Football facility as it is not popular in Germany.

Your statement "Rock climbing is a great sport when it comes to carbon footprint and that goes especially for DWS and bouldering as no constructed arena and limited equipment are needed." therefore contradicts all the scientific data discussed in this thread and all the users' opinions. Please change this passage into something like "As Rock Climbing is a great sport that we all love it is especially important that we are aware of its big ecological footprint. In the following are some ideas how to reduce our climbing related ecological footprint without having to forego climbing."

Concerning the snowboard vs climbing discussion... My best guess is that snowboarding is in most places even more season dependent than rock climbing. That makes its annual ecological footprint relatively small (as it can only be exercised in a quarter to third of the year). But I would also suspect that one daytrip into the mountains to climb has a smaller ecological footprint than one daytrip to skiing. At the same time ask some climbers from the alps whether they ski or board and you will see that, unfortunately, the snowboarding usually comes on top of all the other sports.

@JLH I want to encourage you in fact, too, to not give up and suggest your improvements to Jens' article. I have this hope that Jens can be brought to some reason with enough patient effort of the community. I think your role is vital for this.

@ Robert Kasper For me it's not about climbing or knitting socks, but about how can we do what we love do in a way that it has the least negative impact on our environment as possible.
For me that's really important. Because if you follow your logic to the extreme then having children is the worst thing you can do to the environment. But what is the final goal? Is it having the minimum impact or is it learning how to live as humans in a sustainable way? Well, for me it's the latter. Having no children at all is not sustainable. And arguing "Well, I don't have children so I can have three climbing trips per year without any concerns about my ecological footprint" for me is exactly the opposite of learning how to live in a sustainable way. By the way sustainable for me is only the means to prolong human life which I personally find very beautiful.

@Henning Wang's point and @ Jens I like the idea of developing the local crags in an effort to reduce climbing related driving and flying. BUT, as pointed out so often by now, Jens, your whole idea of reducing traffic only works out, and only then, when people in fact drive and fly less due to the locally developed crags! So, please!, make sure that you also include in the final article that the whole point of strengthening the local climbing community only has the desired effect when people also find a little bit of discipline to go without longer travels.
OffLine JLH
  2018-12-20 18:37:43    
@JS, respect your efforts, but after "deadly wrong" and "constant complaining" I don't believe this discussion can came to an end.
There are thousand of studies, declarations etc. on the "sport and environment" topic. I know some of this issues are also the part of formal education of climbers and instructors in clubs/national federations.
However, I'm not aware of any consensus text ('declaration') which is specific for sport climbing and bouldering, which is probably the consequence this type of climbing doesn't have an international governing body (as e.g. mounting climbing with UIAA, which has a long tradition in preserving the nature).
As it is, IFSC only cares about competitions and don't believe it is willing to address the environmental issues (outside of organising comps) in the near future.
So I guess there is a need in climbing community (climbers, clubs, federations) for such recommendations. But as I said this could not be done from top of your head in an afternoon in three paragraphs.

Perhaps the best way to do this is by the existing environmental group inside UIAA, which has a lot of knowledge and experience of the issue, and probably include some sport climbers, who have interest in the subject. But I'm not sure if this group would have support from the UIAA top officials (since 'sport' climbing was transferred from UIAA to IFSC).
If not, someone can write a book ;)
OffLine Jens Larssen
  2018-12-20 19:49:57    
Based on the table, the analysis was “dead wrong”.

I have presented a draft for an article and plan to present it. Everyone is invited to write an article instead of mainly just being critical :)