Climbing as an Aesthetic

I was inspired by the aesthetic chosen by Maya Rudd involving climbing.  As a frequent climber myself, I though it would be easy to incorporate climbing gear that I already have into my upscaling project.  I decided to make my aesthetic for my project climbing, but focusing on the art of balance.  Balance is a major component of climbing and is often the difference between completing a problem and failing.  This is often why climbing is so difficult.  There is pain in balancing on the tips of your toes and strength is balancing between moves with only your finger tips in contact with the rocks.

Climber balancing on the tips of toes (1)

Not only is there beauty on the physical art of climbing, but also in the gear being used.  Everything to do with climbing has such purpose and is solely focused on usability and climber safety.  For these reasons, gear is often made as simple and basic as possible.  Much beauty comes out of this simplicity, there is never anything more that necessary.  At the root of climbing, the way to be most connected to the big walls is trad climbing.  For trad climbing, the climber only uses the gear that they carry to protect themselves, and removes everything from the wall afterwards.  This preserves the climbers safety while allowing nature to remain seemingly untouched.

Trad gear carried by climbers(2),(3)

For my upscaling project I’ve decided to focus on the balance and the gear involved in climbing.  Its amazing to see the aesthetic of the gear over the years get stronger and lighter, but always be instantly recognizable and fundamentally the same.  it doesn’t matter if you are looking at a set of Chouinard trad stoppers from the 80’s, or a brand new set from Black Diamond, the design remains untouched.  Engineering of new gear will always continue to grow and items such as Cams and offset stoppers will be produced as climbers learn the best possible way to work with the rock.  In a way, the new gear balances out the old and vise versa.  All the time giving a friendly nod to the pioneers that paved the trail.

Old set of stoppers(4) vs New Stoppers(5)

In the end, climbing as an aesthetic represents many different things.  From balance and strength, to the gear utilized, every aspect of climbing can almost be regarded as its own aesthetic.  This is why I chose to incorporate two of the many into my project.  The gear and balance have to work together on the rock and my goal is to represent that in my project.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Callum Schulz
    February 8, 2021 1:51 pm

    Hey Ben, I’m really curious to see what you end up making for your upcycle project. I used to climb a lot a few years back, but have been out of it for quite a while. How were you planning on incorporating the climbing gear into your design? Best of luck with your project.

  • Hunter Meissner
    February 7, 2021 12:15 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your response about how climbing is an aesthetic. I liked how you referenced and came back to strength and balance at the root of your desired aesthetic. What are you thinking of making for your artifact? I really look forward to seeing what you utilize in order to represent this aesthetic of strength and balance.


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