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Tricksters & Traditionalists Revisited: 2006 PDF Print E-mail

Climbing Styles Revisited:
Where Now and Next?

Tom Higgins

When I wrote "Tricksters and Traditionalists" in 1984,1 climbing styles loomed so large and burning climbers first nearly came to blows over it in a Tuolumne parking lot. Erasing routes began. The Tuolumne guidebook featured multiple pages on contending styles of the day.

Now, with commonplace route working bouldering style, tension rests, bolts placed from above or on hooks, sport style seemingly ended the tension between traditional and all that wasn't. In fact, climbers calling themselves traditionalists, new or old, climb and enjoy plenty of sport routes. Isn't the style debate of yesteryear dead?
Apparently not. A review of recent climbing magazines, web site chatter and forums shows there are still two camps on styles picking at one another. The same old nagging erosion of comradeship and clarity in climbing persists. Maybe parking lot brawls have ended, but not the simmering war of ideas and wills.

After twenty years, don't climbers deserve better? What can be learned? What might bring calm and resolution? What follows isn't an old traditionalist's rant, but a search for settlement.

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