Inside Track With Boone Speed
The journey began for me as a climber, over 30 years ago. It’s said I did some important stuff…by playing a role in the development of sport climbing, bouldering and indoor climbing. I’ve gotten to see the world and meet a bunch of life-long friends along the way. Eventually though (around the time I met a young Chris Sharma) it was time to change “careers”. So I picked up my camera and applied everything I’d already learned in life, and then a whole lot more to making pictures, focusing especially on the climbing landscape and its culture over the years.
Most recently, my wife and creative partner, Bailey and I set out to explore the reciprocal effect that climbing is having on urban culture and visa versa. The specific locations we chose for the Urban Climbing Project were Portland, Brooklyn/NYC and Barcelona, where Sharma recently opened a state of the art bouldering gym.
“We didn’t know what we’d find.”
Certainly the first thing we noticed is that all these places are packed! We’d expect it in New York, but Sharma’s gym is jammed on a nightly basis and Portland is thriving too. There’s lots of laughing and friendly interaction, especially in the bouldering zones and the energy is inclusive and supportive across the board.
From location to location, indoors and out we came away with more questions than answers. Call it what you will. But something is happening…climbing is evolving right now, in front of our eyes…there’s new blood and a fresh perspective.
“Fashion trends are skewing urban. Routes are getting set with dynamic, powerful moves by course-setters who are making a real, living wage.”
The latest climbing walls are designed and built using the same construction methods as today’s most iconic buildings. This is not like the old days of single panel woodies in a dingy garage, this is its own thing… it’s own community, climbers who might never leave the gym. But for many others, it’s a new way of being. And some of those climbers will travel and begin sharing what they’ve learned through climbing…from
the increasingly diverse climbing community. And as the climbing community has traditionally been ahead of the curve on issues like environmental stewardship, for example, I can’t think of a better way to share that ethos than through a greater reaching climbing community worldwide.
Climbing is alive and well, and in good hands. Looking forward to the next 30 years.