Logo Alan Watts Interview East Face of Monkey Face
Corinne Labrune onTrivial
Pursuit (5.10d R) in 1986. In light of what
you were doing in the mid-80's and
90's, how has that changed climbing
over the last ten or 15 years?

Alan: There are so many different
areas of climbing that anytime you
start talking about how climbing has
changed in general it's really difficult.
People talk about who's the best
climber, and there are all these
arguments that miss the whole
point. Like arguments where people
are trying to compare top alpine
climbers with those who are winning
climbing competitions and those who
are bouldering really hard and those
who are doing El Cap and Half Dome
in a day.

There are just so many different's like arguing who's
the best skier. Is it a cross country
skier or is it someone who won the
Olympic downhill? They're so different
they can't really be compared.

In the area of climbing at Smith Rock,
and the rock climbing that I person-
ally was interested in -- which is just
a narrow segment -- the biggest
change has been the emergence of
sport climbing. The routes, and the
way the routes were put up in the 80's
was originally very controversial. But
now sport climbing is common and
completely accepted and that has
brought a lot more people into the
sport. That led to the popularity of

climbing gyms and, in turn,
brought more people into the sport
and more money into the industry.

Overall, that's the biggest change
in rock climbing in general, the whole
sport climbing movement. It led to
a variety of other things and it
translates to an awful lot more
people climbing and a lot of money
generated in the industry. All of the
new people getting into the sport
-- it's not like anybody is really
getting rich -- but there's a huge
number of people making their
living now, either working for a

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