There’s very few climbers who get ‘paid to climb’ by sponsors. Very few. In the UK you could count them on one hand probably.
There are a few that get paid to attend tradeshows or events, but this is obviously different. I get paid to attend tradeshows and events by UKClimbing.com. But I’m not ‘sponsored’ by them!
There are a lot of climbers in the UK who receive equipment support – ie. free gear.
What am I getting at?
Harking back to Adam Long’s Local Hero piece on UKC (see my earlier blog and the original article), I find it strange that some climbers differentiate so strongly between climbers who are ‘sponsored’ and climbers who are not.
Such as this:
“You know, the climber who quietly onsights E6s every time they go out, but isn’t bothered about lowering their ethics to headpoint the big numbers and court the media and the sponsors.”
From Adam’s article.
|by – kevin stephens on – 07:32 Fri|
|In reply to UKC News:
I and many others haven’t bought Climber for year. It’s content has been limited to articles for beginners and sychophantic articles about sponsered heroes with nothing of interest for vast majority of dedicated climbers leading real lives
Now I respect everyone’s right to slag off the climbing media – of course – and I can see how an overdose of ‘sponsored hero’ might be too much, but is there any difference between a climber who gets three pairs of free shoes per year and a climber who does not?
I spoke to Nick Bullock, a sponsored hero, someone who “struggles with being sponsored” ethically, but he doesn’t know why, “it’s just a British thing isn’t it”. I guess he doesn’t want his very pure climbing tinted by commercialism? Unless he gets a free camera of course! 😉
However Nick also said that if a company gave him three free pairs of shoes per year, then he wouldn’t say he was sponsored by them.
Pete Robins is sponsored by 5.10. He receives, I believe, 3 free pairs of shoes per year. He has been on the front of two major DVD’s in the last couple of years, playing a starring role. He has graced the cover of several guidebooks and magazines, and top of the pile, he’s been on UKC of course. So he’s a top climber and he’s ‘in the media’. He’d buy 5.10 shoes anyway, so I’d guess he’s quite pleased with his saving of about £220 a year and more than happy to say he is sponsored by 5.10 if they want some extra coverage. (See this UKC news item)
But it only costs 5.10 probably about £60 in reality to give him those shoes. Great value for them.
I personally have no problem with any of this, and I have a similar deal with Evolv’s distributor Beyond Hope. It is great for me, and I should think it works out for them too. It’s a business deal between the climber and their sponsor.
So where do expedition grants come in?
Recently I have seen that the MCof S have been awarding ‘grant money’ to young rock climbers (see the base of this UKC News). THIS IS GREAT! Traditionally these type of grants have gone to people walking up snowslopes in Greenland, or something… and always to the same people every year…
Anyway, it just struck me that if a climber gets a grant of £1000, which is a pretty usual amount (I have applied for a few of these, but never succeeded in getting one), then that equals 5 years of shoe sponsorship deals (if you count shop price) or 10 years if you count cost price!
So, that’s my point really. A few free pairs of shoes, or a grant cheque. Which is more tainted by commercialism? The MCofS/BMC/whoever want members. A shoe company wants to sell shoes. Climbing would be in a poor state of affairs without the BMC/MCofS you say. Well, it would be without rock shoes too!!
Right – better go photograph some crags!