Challenging paradigms 


Words by Ainhoa Martínez

Welcome to the third edition of CLIMBERS... Magazine? Newspaper? Poster book? Anthology with climbing tales that are not really about climbing? What is this, really?

That’s what we asked ourselves at the beginning of this issue’s production journey. It always starts with a collection of stories and visuals, some submitted by keen readers and others sought and crafted by us. But, instead of continuing our previous printing format and layout, this time, we felt like exploring a new territory—one framed by the edges of giant tabloid-sized pages. The reason? There’s not one but a few. More printing real estate calls for a reading experience that is even more distant than the one offered by our phone/laptop/tablet devices; it’s more surrounding and tactile. It also allows us to include a bunch of climbing posters, some of which we will tear out and stick up on our training den walls for when we need extra motivation*. Lastly, it’s a creative challenge for us and a surprise for you; why stick with the old? Why not play with the boundaries if a chance is available?

This reasoning probably makes a lot of sense to you because I believe searching for something new and audacious is a fundamental quality in us climbers. We go to different gyms, crags, and countries just to try new lines. We keep attempting a route or boulder even when, at times, the progress we make is millimetric. We love exploring and pushing ourselves, we pursue evolution and growth, we often question how our life path should be walked, and we dare to break conventions.

A project that, in my opinion, perfectly embodies this thinking is Rocks On Wheels by the Kiwi artist and engineer Mike Hewson. It is a public art installation and playground located on Wurrundjeri Woi-wurrung land, Southbank, Melbourne. It features some 300-ton recycled Victorian bluestone boulders placed on seemingly flimsy domestic scale dollys, connected through ropes, hanging bridges and a bunch of seemingly out-of-date features (I’m talking about steel ladders, quite the essence of 1980-90s playgrounds). It deems unstable, rough, and dangerous—the opposite of what a child’s playground ‘should’ be.

But this perception is, of course, just that: a mere illusion. All aspects have been studied to detail, intentionally built, and adequately tried and tested to current codes (remember, this is Australia, where we have guidelines for virtually everything in the public realm). Mike’s purpose? To challenge the established play design conventions and, more or less intentionally, deliver a space where kids and parents can test themselves by experiencing what it feels like to (safely) step out of their comfort zone—but the actual risk is the same as in any other neighbouring park.

I’d like to think that CLIMBERS magazine, in general, and this issue in particular, manifests this spirit: its form and content may feel alien and unexpected at the start, sometimes even confronting and uncomfortable. But we’ve intentionally worked on it to the millimetre, crafting a sequence of stories that hopefully bring new feelings, questions and understandings of the many different ways climbing threads throughout the fabric of our lives. Hopefully, this adventurous and open soul carries on in whatever you do next.

Thanks for reading!︎ 

(*) Fun fact: when we finally decided on the newspaper format (which took a while!), I had a clear vision of the posters I wished to have in this third issue. One would feature Jake Bresnehan (because he is the epitome of psyche and motivation), and the other would feature one of those iconic images of Lynn Hill climbing The Nose in the 90s (a poster I really wanted when I was a teenager, but never found anywhere). The first is a reality; the second must wait some more—after a few contact attempts, I still haven't heard back from the author of those classic photos. Perhaps on issue 4? Keep dreaming...

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