CLIMBER SELF-GOVERNANCE

Rock climbing - an activity historically governed through social norms buttressed by distinctive jargon, culture, and clear in-group identities - is a context rich in opportunities for collective action research. Such research is substantively salient due the growing swell of new climbers transitioning from indoor climbing gyms to outdoor rock climbing areas. The resulting explosion in climbing participation is not only challenging long-held climbing norms - it is also imposing unprecedented demands on environmentally-vulnerable natural resources and the land managers charged with overseeing them. This page is devoted to this developing aspect of my research agenda.

Contributing to Local Stewardship & Advocacy

In this descriptive analysis of survey data (n=953) collected with a local climbing organization (LCO) serving climbers along Utah's Wasatch Front, I find that while the most prevalent impediments to local stewardship and advocacy contributions are practical (e.g. time/resource constraints), there are others that LCOs can address, such as ignorance regarding what LCOs do, how they do it, and how they leverage climbers' contributions towards those aims. Access the article online or download a free "preprint" version below.

Differences in Climbers' Bolting Preferences

This paper examines the bolting preferences held by climbers residing along Utah's Wasatch Front. The findings indicate that a climber's prioritization of one climbing discipline over another is more consistently related with, and more closely related to, their bolting preferences than other factors. The more a climber is inclined towards traditional over sport climbing, the less permissive their bolting preferences tend to be. Find the article at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jort.2020.100277 or download free "preprint" below:

Social Sanctioning among Climbers

This paper looks at two cases of climbers attempting to enforce community institutions. In one case, infraction of land management regulations created to protect nesting raptors not only violates climbing institutions, but may pose a threat to access to a popular climbing area. In a second case,  installation of climbing bolts violates long-held community norms without breaching formal rules. In both cases, the transgressors experience social sanctions online and face off-line consequences.

This study applies common pool resource theory to assess co-management efforts between the Bureau of Land Management and Friends of Indian Creek, a volunteer-run climbing advocacy nonprofit. The study identifies strengths and potential weaknesses of the governing arrangement, and evaluates climber compliance with management rules through the perspective of those involved in management efforts.

2019 Access Fund Survey

This survey, conducted in collaboration with the Access Fund, examined the climbing backgrounds, concerns, and preferences regarding climbing stewardship and advocacy in the U.S. Data from a total of 3,166 climbers nation wide were collected. Access a full summary survey findings report via the button below.

2019 Washington Climber Survey

This survey, conducted in collaboration with the Washington Climbers Coalition, examined the climbing backgrounds, concerns, and preferences regarding stewardship and resource management of Washington State climbers. Data from a total of 1,032 climbers were collected. Access a full summary survey findings report via the button below.

This survey, conducted in collaboration with the Boulder Climbing Community, examined the climbing backgrounds, concerns, and preferences regarding stewardship and resource management of Front Range climbers. Data from a total of 630 climbers were collected. Access a full summary survey findings report via the button below.

2019 Wasatch Climber Survey

This survey, conducted in collaboration with the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, examined Wasatch area climbers' engagement with, and perspectives on, the SLCA's stewardship and advocacy efforts. Data from a total of 1,132 climbers were collected. Access a full summary survey findings report via the button below.

This survey, conducted in collaboration with the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, examined the climbing backgrounds, concerns, and preferences regarding stewardship and resource management of Wasatch area climbers. Data from a total of 799 climbers were collected. Access a full summary survey findings report via the button below.

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STUDYING CLIMBERS

I began climbing in 2002 and am a member of the International Rock Climbing Research Association, the Access Fund, and the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA). I also serve on the SLCA Board of Directors and Policy and Conservation Committee. This type of "insider" research - in which the analyst is a member of the social group under study - stems from ethnographic methods. There are several advantages to the approach, including an understanding of the culture being studied and greater interpretive validity of research findings. Above all, it's my hope that my research will help guide climbers and climbing organizations in navigating the challenges associated with our sport's exponential growth.