Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Cochrane Conjecture

I've observed a trend, which has continued now for long enough that I've got to call it out. Much like Godwin's Law of the internet, it goes like this:
As any potential change in the climbing community is discussed, it is inevitably identified as a potential access issue. Initial supporters withdraw, discussion halts, and change is discarded for the status quo. 
I think a fitting label for this would be Cochrane's Conjecture

The problem is this... I think as climbers we've moved away from many meaningfully positive changes over the years, but has security of access to our crags really improved? 

Community ideas which cited as perceived access issues, some of which were scrapped:

1) Compensation of route developers for hardware costs
2) Posting climbing information on websites with large followings (Mountain Project bad ... CEC o.k.)
3) Putting in a walking gate at Cochrane lane
4) Trail maintenance at Sunnyside 
5) Contacting landowners for any reason, whatsoever 
6) Conducting safety courses, meant to help climbers to make informed choices

... and the list could probably go on. 

The point is this, before throwing out potentially interesting ideas, we should reverse the onus. If there is no reasonably compelling evidence to suggest something is a serious and grievous threat to access, than our community shouldn't accept speculation as cause to discard good ideas. We sell ourselves short when we do. 

I concede that sometimes the road to hell is paved with good-intentions... fair enough. However, having seen our access privilege survive endangered species and several serious accidents, I have come to see it as more durable than most. Hopefully I'm not taking it for granted. I know that the principal of avoiding contact with landowners sits uneasy with me. People who have something to hide tend to sneak around. I don't think climbers have anything to hide. Good dialogue with landowners builds good relationships, and that leads to secure access. Hopefully the local climbing community will organize, and build some good relationships. Seems to me that the last 4 years have been relatively smooth sailing... making now a great time to pursue some progressive ideas.

Anyway, let's just give things a fair discussion in the future and try and avoid the Cochrane Conjecture. After all, aren't we all just a bit tired of doing the barbed-wire limbo over a piece of sand-crusted goat turd? I know I am. 


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