I was out climbing last night, and this suspicion I have had about the changing nature of the sport starting growing again. Let me explain:
I am not very old (26), but started climbing long ago with some old timers. Through the years, the reason I have climbed and will continue to climb, is that I find freedom in the mountains, gratification in using my body and mind simultaneously and equally, and pursuit (whether success or failure) of beautiful lines, rock, and mountains. I prefer trad to sport, but I enjoy clipping bolts too, although more for the workout than anything else. Sport climbing has made me a better climber and allowed me to take on more serious routes in the mountains.
It seems to me, that as climbing grows and becomes more mainstream, that the soul of climbing is changing. It has become a sport just like any other (with big businesses, hyped advertising, competitions) and lost some of its beauty. Of course, I can ignore a lot of this most of the time, but last night I found old classic lines with new bolts, stick clips, people spraying about grades, tick marks- all trademarks of sport climbing, yes, but the hype and popularity are spilling over into traditional climbing and mountaineering as well. Here is my question: Is there hope for the sport, or will I be too cynical to climb in another decade? Will climbing become as mainstream (and soul-less) as skiing/snowboarding? Will I find people 10 miles in the mountains on a grade V climb with the same disrespect for the soul and heritage of climbing as I do today on sport crags?