September 7, 2022
In all the din of attention grabbing social media shite, marketing and brands piggy backing on the back of climbing, and the outdoor lifestyle thing, it’s easy to lose sight that there are really not that many climbers on this planet. For example, 55 million Americans went fishing last year, how many went climbing?
When you travel around the world climbing, one thing you discover how every climbers knows each other, or someone who does. Yes there are the drop in climbers, the tourist climbers, the posers and the no-shows, the people who see climbing like badminton or cross-fit, who like the kit, but don’t really like the climbing, but as for climbers - elitist assholes that they are - there really aren’t that many.
I often think of it like the Irish, who living in a country of only five million, often take the loss of someone, some tragedy, personally, like family. Climbers are the same. When we see some high - or low - profile climber passing, or in trouble, we feel it in our gut. We don’t feel it quite the same for some yachtsman, or parachutist , or surfer.
There are too many ways to die climbing, and as I said to someone recently, I’ve lost more friends and acquaintances to climbing than I’ve had rock shoes, but that’s the deal, you risk you take, and so it goes.
But reading of the suicide of Cody Bradford, a climber lots of us know, but few have ever met, feels harder to take than any death by ground fall, or crevasse, or avalanche.
Very often we forget to thank people like Cody for what they give, that rather than the big store stars of climbing, these people are what make climbing what it is, maybe more than what it should be. We just just take it all for granted. It’s how we are. I suppose this is what makes suicide such a fuck you to life, to family, friends, your tribe, because it robs everyone the the chance to say what we’d always meant to say, the things that might have made a difference.