Valley Uprising Nostalgic

Smart piece by Andrew Bisharat about the new Reel Rock Tour film Valley Uprising that premieres tomorrow night in Boulder, CO:

Why are we watching this film in 2014—really? And what does our pervasive nostalgia for 1970s-era Yosemite climbing culture suggest about our sport today?

It just so happens that I’ll be seeing the movie tomorrow night, and I’ll definitely be keeping a lot these points in the back of my mind as I take in the show.
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Posted In: Asides, Media


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8 Responses to Valley Uprising Nostalgic

  1. HeMan September 10, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

    What an impressive essay! Best piece of his that I’ve read in a while. He really had something to say

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  2. Dave September 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    “I’ve never been a huge proponent of the Stone Monkey’s media machine that somehow finds a way to awkwardly insert itself and its legacy at every opportunity it gets” THANK YOU FOR FINALLY SAYING IT!!! although he didn’t go as this far, its terrible to put the ‘stone monkeys’ on the same level as the others in this film and those missing (Hubers, skinner, piana, etc). although I haven’t seen it, its sad that the film cut out such great climbers for the lameness that is the monkeys (god please no more Cedar!!!)

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  3. jiri_ September 11, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    Really a pretty tremendous piece in my opinion, and something that tracks with what I’ve been thinking about; that is, what the climbing media thinks the climbing public wants to hear about.

    As an aside, I wonder how much of the counterculture of yesteryear – and its seeming lack these days – is due to the perception of climbing, period. Back in the glory days, if you will, climbing was a thing that no one did, I guess; apart from the drugs and the sex being a climber was an alienating act by itself. Today, it seems to be the fastest-growing form of exercise in the US. Chris Sharma is in ESPN the Magazine, Sasha DiGulian is on the cover of Women’s Health, and some hipsterino named Brian Runnels is doing live commentary of pebble wrestling competitions. Why would would Sasha move to Ten Sleep and sell pot for a living when the establishment is throwing money at her and enabling her to live the dream?

    Would there have been a Stonemasters if a 17-year old Jim Bridwell had been offered what Daniel gets from Sportiva and The North Face? I’m not speaking in terms of the climbing accomplishment, but the mythos.

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    • Frode Mauritsen September 13, 2014 at 4:34 am #

      “Valley Uprising is the story of modern rock climbing in Yosemite—which is to say, the story of modern rock climbing period. If you’re a climber, then Valley Uprising is our Bible: chapter Genesis.”
      “Royal Robbins, the architect of our entire sport”
      Ultrabiased, US-centric perspective on climbing in a Bisharat article. Tick.

      “Why are we watching this film in 2014—really? And what does our pervasive nostalgia for 1970s-era Yosemite climbing culture suggest about our sport today?”
      It suggests that, much like any other nation/culture, you are eternally holding on to a pretty clear pinnacle in the GLOBAL history of rock climbing that happened to belong to a certain area/location/people. This is not any different from French climbing-culture not being quite able to move past the Verdon/Edlinger/Berhault days, Italians still droning about Comici-Cassin-Maestri-Bonatti and maybe Manolo if you are a bit of a progressist, so US climbing media are not the only ones at fault here.

      “The Valley really has become a shitty place to hang out, and it only seems to be getting shittier every year. But who is going to do anything about it?”
      IF overcrowding is the reason why Yosemite Valley is “a shitty place to hang out”, well, chances are that this is due to its overglorification, that same inability to go “four issues without a Stonemasters reference”.

      Good points about nostalgia and hipster culture, but, as whole, it seems like some pretty obvious cause-consequences relationships are being missed here.

      I do believe climbing media have a duty to educate the audience, trying to scout noteworthy destinations, climbers, exploits and stories that are not known enough and explaining them to a bigger audience, rather than keep on barking up the same trees because they sell.

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      • jiri_ September 15, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

        As for the Valley, I feel like there’s a lot of whitewashing going on. I don’t really disagree with the idea that it’s ‘a shitty place to hang out’, but that’s not really anything new. Ask Richard Jensen and Mark Smith. But that ties into much bigger issues of climbing culture than simply ’70s nostalgia (which is pretty pervasive in the US at the moment in most aspects of popular culture).

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        • Frode Mauritsen September 16, 2014 at 11:49 am #

          I think that the type of attitude toward life and climbing that AB seems to be longing for still exists, it just that it’s not the one of the cutting edge climbers (in terms of difficulty, style, vision) anymore just because the “sport” got big enough.
          I can’t speak for places I haven’t been to, but when I went to Siurana, in Spain, there was a small community of young 5.14 climbers from other countries living off some 100-150 euros a month and just existing for climbing, effectively, slumming it like the big hippies used to do back in the day. Now, whether they were all trying to break some barriers and end up being professionals or whether they were just enjoying their climbing without other targets in mind, I can’t really say, but I did see that approach and lifestyle and by this day and age, there’s still something to rebel against (first generation of people who’ll never be able to afford a house anyone?)
          You just can’t expect it to be that of the top climbers anymore, things got big enough.

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  4. Matt September 13, 2014 at 6:12 am #

    Because she is getting an Ivy League education….. paid for by Red Bull and Adidas. Why sell weed in Wyoming when she’ll be clearing $200k a year in a few short years, half of which probably will come from her hobby.

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    • steve September 14, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      you are agreeing with jiri, read it again bud

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