Outdoor Adventure Becoming Mainstream?
For those of us who live the outdoor lifestyle - rock climbing, backpacking, kayaking, etc. - we're used to opening up our favorite niche' publications and reading about the latest happenings in our enthusiast communities. When I open up an issue of BACKPACKER magazine... I fully expect to read about trends, great trips and great people doing none other than... backpacking. The same goes for Climbing, Rock & Ice, Outside, Blue Ridge Outdoors and the list goes on.
However, as Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson near the end of an 18-day enduro-fest up the never-been-climbed Dawn Wall on El Capitan we're seeing a new trending topic. What Caldwell and Jorgeson are doing in Yosemite is historic. A first ascent with 32 pitches of hard climbing up a 3,000 ft granite wall is awesome. I'd expect to see those kinds of feats covered in the likes of outdoor-focused publications. Still, I'm waking up in the morning and turning on the local and national news and seeing this epic climb covered by national media outlets. It's not the type of sports these outlets are used to covering. In fact, as I sit here writing this I'm watching a live stream of the final four pitches. It's being streamed on climbing.com but you can also find the same stream on nbcnews.com with a banner reading "Breaking News - Watch Live".
Brands like the New York Times, CBS News, CNN and others around the world are following Caldwell and Jorgeson's every move up the rock. I'm seeing a trend toward outdoor adventure becoming more mainstream. Not only in news media but in advertising. SquareSpace doing a national TV ad with Alex Honnold, commercials for both Marmot and the North Face appearing during NFL games.
I for one am excited to see the increased interest in these sports and brands. What are your thoughts... is this just a one time thing or are we trending toward increased exposure to outdoor activities? Do you think it's a good thing or is the growth in popularity going to hurt the wild places we all hold close to our hearts?
As someone who writes for outdoor oriented magazines and has shot videos dealing with climbing my goal has always been to inspire as many people to get outside and explore their world as possible. This is an exciting time for climbing and outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. Maybe people will start to see how cool these activities are instead of asking - "Why in the world would anyone want to do fill in the blank?".