Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

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Adventure and Technology: To Tweet or Not to Tweet


This article in the New York Times really got me thinking. The use of cell phones has been an issue among my climbing and skiing friends for some time. And my own take on the issue has evolved over the years.

When I started climbing and skiing, it was in the era when flip-phones were the norm, cell-phone signals were hard to come by outside of highly populated areas, Facebook was still a fledgling social network, Twitter was not yet born, and Sierra Journal was nowhere to be seen.

At the time, I viewed the use of cell phones as an unwanted invasion into my pure wilderness world. Backcountry skiing and climbing was to me a purist adventure not be spoiled by the touch of technology that seemed more fitting in a conference room. If someone whipped out their phone on a summit to call their girlfriend to brag about their accomplishment, I scoffed. How dare you spoil my wilderness experience?

A couple things have happened since that has changed my mind. First, my cell phone has become my go-to camera. I wouldn’t leave it behind for that reason alone.

Second, my phone has become my GPS device. Should I really carry and additional device in my pocket when I’ve got a perfectly good one on my phone?

Third, reliable cell signals have become nearly ubiquitous, even in backcountry areas. It seems strange to ignore the bars on my AT&T network just because.

And finally, Facebook, Twitter and Sierra Journal have become very important ways for me to communicate with my friends, family and the community at large. And I do so regularly, as do my friends. I simply love getting Facebook status updates from friends while I’m at work, showing their alpine antics in real-time. It’s a source of inspiration for me (and usually envy).

It seems to me that to impose a no-technology ethos on climbing and backcountry adventures is simply anachronistic. I mean, if that’s the way you feel, why not go back to leather boots and wool pants? Has the use of crampons cheapened the sport? Why not go back to chopping steps all the way up Rainier? Hell, if you object to the march of progress and the intrusion of technology into our lives, why not go all the way? Move to Pennsylvania and join the Amish.

That last bit might be a stretch, but the logic holds true. Why draw such a stark technological line at the use of communications technology?

I’ve now fully embraced the use of my iPhone and social networks to share my love of the mountains. It’s made it all more fun.


Just one of hundreds of images captured on the author's cell phone, then shared via Facebook, Twitter an this site in real-time.

  • Mark

    I am always on call, my phone is my direct connection to work ($). Nothing quite as handy as setting up a job from top of tenaya pk