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.
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.