“LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS YEAR,” read a cryptic email from Julie Ellison, then the editor of Climbing. It was January. Bitter winds blew off the Continental Divide west of Boulder, Colorado, and I figured this was it: I was being canned. I’d been splitting my time copyediting between Yoga Journal and Climbing, hanging on by a financial thread as I struggled to keep our family of four housed and fed, wondering if a husband and wife, two boys, cat, and a dog could all live in a refrigerator box, and which underpass had the best hobo fights.
“I’m leaving,” Julie said, as we sat in her office. “I want to hit the road and get back to writing and shooting. I think you’d do a great job as editor.” I’d held the job from 2007 to 2010; seven years off is a long “rest day,” but perhaps I could shoe up and give it another burn. Julie is now our editor at large, providing killer content as she has been for years. And, it seems, I’m editor again. So here we go.
As much as the landscape has stayed the same in the past seven years—climbing, after all, is still climbing—it’s also shifted and grown. The sport is bigger, bolder, more self-aware, and more inclusive. Great things are happening. Women are now climbing consensus 5.15 (did anyone other than misogynist Internet trolls doubt this would happen?)—turn to page 31 to learn about Margo Hayes’s road to La Rambla. People of all ethnicities and backgrounds are taking their rightful place at the table in a sport that, with structural and economic barriers to entry, has for too long been primarily the playground of upper-middle-class white people—see page 20 for Julie’s piece on Latino Outdoors. The Access Fund and local climber organizations are more creative and proactive than ever in forming partnerships with land managers and nonclimbing locals to protect and promote our crags—see page 22 for Carolyn Webber’s piece on exciting developments at Joe’s Valley, Utah. And, on a tougher note, one of our sport’s greatest legends, Royal Robbins, has passed away (see page 12).
I’m psyched to be back at Climbing again. It’s a new era, one of big numbers, big gyms, big crowds, and Big Internet, but the need for great storytelling about and imagery of our sport remains. That, in the unpredictable maelstrom we call life, might be the only constant. MATT SAMET, EDITOR
IN 2017, CLIMBERS, APPARENTLY, ARE “SENDING” CARS. ANDREW BURR CRANKS AT CARHENGE, NEBRASKA.