It might look new and shiny, but Zen and the Art of Climbing has been running since 2014. When I initially penned the title, I thought that I was being clever and original. I wasn’t.
As I later found out, there is a somewhat famous book named Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. I had probably heard the title somewhere and, having never read the book, promptly forgot. It’s like that time when the background muzak of a shopping centre surreptitiously entered your brain… You found yourself humming the tune and were pleasantly surprised when you suddenly realised that the EXACT SAME SONG was playing on the loudspeaker.
Sorry, folks. You’re not clairvoyant, and nor am I.
As a matter of interest, the original title was lifted from an even earlier manuscript. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance paid homage to Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, a fact that was freely acknowledged by Pirsig:
“It should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice,” he stated. “It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either.”
There’s nothing new under the sun, I suppose, and it seems fitting that I should also appropriate and amend the title for my own vastly different topic. All of this is a rather roundabout way of getting to the point of this entry – who we are and what we do here at Zen and the Art of Climbing. First and foremost, we’re a climbing blog. But we also touch on other adventures such as hiking and exploration. Either way, the crux of the matter is that Zen is a collection of tales and resources for the moderate climber and everyday adventurer. Like Pirsig, we’ll attempt to tease some deeper meaning out of these sports and explore what they mean and how we perceive them.
Most climbing magazines tend to focus on the cutting edge of our sport – the best athletes, the hardest sends, the toughest grades. In speaking with many climbers around the globe, it has become obvious to me that the many climbers care surprisingly little about such stories. They are inspiring and awesome to some, but they simply don’t reflect the undertakings that characterise the bulk of climbing activity. If I may be allowed to wander into the spurious world of anecdotal evidence, I have a good friend who has claimed many first ascents on remote crags who, until recently, had never heard of Ueli Steck…
Celebrity climbers aren’t what we’re about. Here, you won’t find any profiles on sponsored athletes, updates on the hardest sends or any assertions that climbing is now spelled “Sharma”. Instead, you’ll find profiles and stories from real climbers… folks like you and me. You’ll also find helpful information on techniques, locations and gear, all aimed at empowering the everyday adventurer.
Zen and the Art of Climbing is a celebration of weekend warrior culture. It is an affirmation that moderate is not synonymous with mediocre. It is an inquiry into adventure, both near and afar. Get after it.
Ryan Siacci, Esq.