If you’re like most climbers, daydreams of towering cliffs, spectacular routes and idealistic goals accompany you throughout the work day. Many online avenues indulge these musings, offering a small escape from the grind. Websites like Mountain Project, Dead Point Magazine, Climbing Narc and the little-known but award winning* blog Climbing House all provide ample fuel to keep our reveries alive and well.
*Regional Champions of the Region
Despite the instant ocean of climbing spray, banter and media that can be sniffed out by a mouse, print is still king. Climbing magazine has a readership of 150,000 people, including a hard-copy circulation of 45,000. There is good reason for this. Climbing employs professional writers, editors, and photographers to conduct exceptional journalism on the worldwide frontiers of the sport. Not surprisingly, their content is consistently high quality, their images are compelling and their readership is loyal and has grown over time.
Like many magazines, from Mother Jones to the Econimist, Climbing publishes letters and welcomes content from freelance writers and photographers. I was thrilled to have a piece published in the November issue titled, “Run For Your Life.” The 1-page Tech Tip discussed the advantages of a ground runner belay technique I first detailed here on ClimbingHouse.
Authoring an article for Climbing was unique, educational and fun. I originally sent the piece as a letter in response to a feature in a back issue of Climbing. That feature mentioned use of the ground runner belay but did not detail the technique. Shortly thereafter, Jeff Achey, Climbing’s technical editor, sent me an email asking if I’d be interested in working the topic into a Tech Tip. In the weeks that followed, we exchanged drafts and ideas, gradually approaching a final piece.
An editor must make sure a piece flows well, isn’t overly cumbersome and will maintain a reader’s interest, all while fitting into a very limited and valuable space (the 1/3 page add accompanying my article likely cost more than $2,000). This can be challenging when dealing with a technical and mathematical entry like the ground runner belay analysis. The writer should advocate for the inclusion of information important for the accurate and complete picture of the topic. Between the writer and editor, hopefully a clear, concise and entertaining product emerges.
Also unlike the blogosphere, contributors to the major print media get paid. For a graduate student, a little extra cash during the holiday season is nice to have.
Check out the final piece in the November issue of Climbing magazine or here in Climbing’s online Tech Tips.
Thanks to Jeff Achey for patient, quality and detailed editing and to Jamie Givens for a fantastic illustration.