• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • TNB: Big Wall Soloing Sustenance – Cookies vs. Bugs
  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
  • TNB: The Risk of Climbing
  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
  • TNB: Joe Kinder Visits the World's Hardest Cave
  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
  • TNB: Five Things Every Gym Climber Must Know About Climbing Outside
  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
  • TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson
  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal - The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept - Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak - Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery - The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem - Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
  • TNB: Travels with Delaney Miller - National Champ Turns to Rock
  • TNB: Jail Food and Booty
  • TNB: Love on the Road
  • TNB: Is Pakistan Safe for Climbers?
  • TNB: Flash Floods, Climbers and How to Get Out of the Way
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Level
  • TNB: Best in Show - Brand New Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show
  • TNB: Adam Ondra Ties the Knot
  • TNB: Under Pressure - Trotter and Honnold On How Bets Can Help You Send
  • TNB: The Tragedy of Tito Traversa
  • TNB: DR's Crazy Brain Puzzle. Get It Correct or Else.
  • TNB: What Happened To Climbing Films?
  • TNB: Cry of the Colorado Fussy Snivel
  • TNB: Mystery Solved!
  • TNB: The Mystery of Moses Tower - Help Answer a 25-Year-Old Question
  • TNB: No Such Luck
  • TNB: Erasing Midnight Lightning
  • TNB: Mayhem - Crawling, Balling & Brawling on the Evere$t Soap Opera
  • TNB: Watching the Boston Marathon
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • TNB: Born-Again Gumby
  • TNB: Super Unknown - Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
  • TNB: Fearless?
  • TNB: The Big Freaking Deal, Ain't Bouldering
  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
  • TNB: He's Either Crazy or a Poet
  • TNB: The Fish Cheat and the Prince of Climbing
  • TNB: A Letter from Santa... I mean Sharma
  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory - El Potrero Chico, Mexico
  • TNB: A Year Ago - Athol
  • TNB: Gun Control
  • TNB: What's the Problem?
  • TNB: Derek Hersey's Magic Carpet
  • TNB: The Apprentices
  • TNB: The Jungle
  • TNB: Klem Loskot is Back Climbing V15 and 5.15
  • TNB: Eliminated
  • TNB: The Hurt Locker
  • TNB: The Perils of Sport Climbing
  • TNB: Baddest Climb of the Year
  • TNB: Crossfit Misfit
  • TNB: Eating People and the Real Seventh Summit
  • TNB: Bring It On, Bitch!
  • TNB: What Would Warren Harding Do?
  • TNB: The Curse Of The Bandit
  • TNB: Reality Pro
  • TNB: Chris Sharma and The Art of Jeep Maintenance
  • TNB: American Dirtbag
  • TNB: How Not To Climb 5.12
  • TNB: Project FAIL
  • TNB: The Backwards Future of Climbing
  • TNB: The Death of Progress
  • TNB: The Da Vinci CO
  • TNB: The Philosopher King
  • TNB: Spam Alert
  • TNB: Bad Genes - The Different Types of Gumbies
  • TNB: Mouth Wide Shut
  • TNB: Outside Reality
  • TNB: The Day I Saved Jésus
  • TNB: My Pad, Your Problem
  • TNB: House Rules
  • TNB: Five Things I Don't Hate About Climbing
  • TNB: Metro-Pointing
  • TNB: Beast in the East
  • TNB: Artificial Intelligence
  • TNB: To Boldly Go Sprad Climbing
  • TNB: Self-Destruction
  • TNB: Soul Sport
  • TNB: Nine Pitches
  • Video Spotlight
    FOREVER – It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
    FOREVER – It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo

    TNB: Spam Alert

    By Andrew Bisharat

      Spam is no longer the kitschy canned treat that used to feed anyone with little money and lots of courage (e.g., soldiers and mountain climbers). It is now a virus relentlessly infecting our e-mail accounts with nonsense.

    I digest about a hundred spam e-mails a day, which is probably easier than digesting one can of the miraculous mystery meat whose first ingredient is, “Pork with ham.” Well, so what? The ingredients of spam the e-mail are far more redundant and just as repulsive. For example, my inbox just blurped at the arrival of a new message—this time, from “Carmela Vernon.” The subject line reads, “Separate yourself from other men.”

    That sounds good, I think. I open e-mails like I climb bolt ladders and fill out electoral ballots—mindlessly and quickly. This one, I find out, is nothing but an advertisement for something called “Penis Enlarge Patch RX.” Haven’t heard of it? This antidote to timidity purports to “expand erectile tissue longer and wider without any extra effort.”

    No extra effort? Holy balogna, this is too good to be true, I think (not really). So I keep scrolling. At the bottom of the message is a picture of a pretty brunette holding a tape measure up to a penis the size of a baby’s arm.

    The brunette looks surprised, but I’m not. Like I said, I get 100 of these things a day. With so many spam-mails crawling into my computer and promising me a better sex life, more happiness or the chance to make $9 million by simply handing over all of my bank-account information to Prince Toto Bouba of Nigeria, it’s a red-letter day when I get spam that succeeds in shocking me.

    That day came last month, when I was spammed by a fellow writer. My lawyers and conscience have agreed that I should not publish his name. And why would I, when I can just as easily refer to him by some cleverly appropriate nickname like “Spam Male”? Anyway, Spam Male was asking for large amounts of money to go climbing abroad. It started like this:

    Hello friends:

    As many of you know, I’ve been in the mountaineering world since 2000, climbing nearly 40 peaks across the globe. However, I now have a unique opportunity to climb [blah blah mountain in some Asian country] this year.

    The e-mail then went on to explain the details of the ironic “self-supported” slog: how many miles they’d need to cover each day, etc. It continued:

    Along the way I’ll be documenting my trip and writing about it for a climbing, men’s or adventure publication. Why am I doing this? For a challenge that’s not a trek. This is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    Wow, this is an amazing opportunity, I think (again, not really, since I know what’s coming next).

    I’m raising money to help defray the cost of the climb ($2,800) and flight ($1,500) … all superfluous funds are going to help the Children’s Hospital … I’ll be asking companies to help with donations of gear … and I will be selling my “[Spam Male] Climbs Asia” T-shirts in the coming months, too.

    Thanks for your help in advance. More to come, including a Paypal donate button.

    Spam Male

    When I saw the words “children’s hospital,” iThrewup on my iMac, and now I need a new one. I will be raising money for a new computer with T-shirts, rubber bracelets and other superfluous garbage that I am guessing you are smug enough to put on your body.

    If you would like to be part of this exciting opportunity to see humanity grow through me getting anything I want for free, send checks directly to me at once.

    Yeah, right. There’s a rising trend going on, and this time, it’s not a freak-out over Harry Potter. That is, more and more people think that they shouldn’t have to pay full price for anything anymore. From my perspective, this is especially true in Boulder, where the Spam Male is based, along with many others like him: mountaineers intent on tagging humanitarian missions onto their trips to the Himalaya in order to make themselves feel as if mountaineering really isn’t the most selfish thing in the world.

    It’s not just with mountain climbers, either. The same phenomenon manifests itself in many ways; namely, with the bling’d out band of young climbers who, on some level, believe that the climbing experience climaxes when you finally become sponsored.

    There’s something terrifically entitled about Boulder. I can’t walk two blocks in that town without being asked for a dollar or a cigarette. Now these egg-suckers have figured out how to set up Paypal accounts and send e-mails. I’m not safe, not even where I hide (that is, live) in little Carbondale, Colorado.

    Open letters concerning the state of our high-gravity sport are the new thing, so here is mine: “Dear adventuring humanitarians: Just because you’ve successfully invented a charitable mission, it does not automatically mean that your trip to go play your ridiculous gear-laden Western sport should be free. Besides, it’s obvious the only reason you want to go to the Himalaya is so you can justify having a giant American house filled with all those Tibetan prayer flags and gongs you bought from Beardy McWeirderson on Pearl Street.”

    I thought that the trend of “Save the Children 2008 (And Climb Mount Himalaya, Too)” had died out. What’s so bizarre and crazy is that I was wrong, which never happens.

    At one time, let’s say the mid-90s, it was popular to scam gear companies and other people with lots of money and little courage into sponsoring an adventure. Then, after enough people saw the genius in using guilt to get free money (like the church), the whole scam became so overdone and prosaic that it stopped working. Or so I thought.

    I’m sure I will get a lot of flak for being cynical, but that’s some rotten skin I’ve become accustomed to wearing. Not to say that there aren’t worthwhile humanitarian groups out there. I think the folks at the dZi Foundation and the Central Asia Institute (CAI) are truly doing good, meaningful work, and deserve all the support they can get.

    Unlike those groups, however, are people who say they want to save the children, or whatever their cause of the week is, and then refuse to leave their kayak on the roof of their 4Runner where it belongs (right next to skis or bikes, depending on the season). Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.

    Spam Male wants $3,000 just to go climbing. That’s a lot of money to spend on yourself. I never thought I would say this, but Whole Foods was right: People really will pay for anything, especially if it makes them feel elite.

    Do you think Spam Male really needs the money? This is America, and anyone with enough free time to consider a month-long departure from reality is probably fat and happy enough to float themselves. Which makes Spam Male’s plea even more disturbing. By making his trip seem like a big, important mission, he’s really just buying himself a brand-new raison d’etre. Spam Male’s trip now has the facade of a worthy purpose that successfully covers up what this whole thing really is: a vacation.

    This tiny fact allows Spam Male to impress others with phrases like, “I’m going abroad to save the world and, gosh, maybe climb a mountain or two.” This mock coupling of heroism and bravery unfortunately really stands for, “I want to go climb mountains, bro. To hell with everyone but me.”

    Being sponsored gives new meaning to the daily grind as well. Instead of his typical training (for nothing), he’s now training for something. Do you see the difference? Some have said that you can’t put a price on giving your life meaning—but you can: $3,000.

    The same goes for many sponsored rock climbers. For some reason, getting free gear justifies an existence spent on the entirely selfish pursuit of climbing all the time. You should see the number of hoops sponsored climbers go through just to get a free pair of $80 shoes four times a year. The effort is hardly worth it, but it’s not about the money—it’s the exterior validation of their worth as climbers. That’s priceless.


    Everyone complains that there’s no money in the outdoor industry—but that’s because no one is putting any money into it. Many companies literally have about 100 people on the shoe-dole. When was the last time you paid retail? These days, everyone is either sponsored or knows a bro to hook ’em up with a pro deal. When did everyone turn “pro”?

    The need for freebies comes with a price, and the providers will, of course, want payback. This has affected the way many climbers act. First, no one can go and do anything anymore without a camera. The magazines need to know about your great achievement—or, barring the 99 percent chance that you don’t actually achieve anything great, whatever second-rate thing you end up doing instead. You better turn up in a magazine with a feature or in a climbing film with your shirt off and your free shoes on, or the taxman will come and get you.

    As climbers are increasingly rewarded for self-promotion, the “pure climbing experience,” as ironically overused as that phrase is by the people I’m talking about, is lost. This experience is all about climbing, with your friends and having fun. That’s it. Climbing becomes pure when you realize that even if there was no one else around to spray to, you’d still be climbing the same things, enjoying it for yourself. Likewise, when you go abroad just to save the children, because that’s your true passion, you’ll have a much easier time raising money from optimists like myself. Also, you won’t be a lying hypocrite, which is important for reasons too stupid to type.

    Otherwise, do yourself a favor and check out this one grant program. The application is easy: Fill out a form with your name, address and Social Security number and send it to Visa. If you win the grant, Visa will send you a plastic card. Show the card at gear stores and airports, and you will get all that you need.

    Like most spam that promises “no extra effort,” the Visa grant may seem too good to be true. When you get back from your big trip with nothing but awesome memories, stories to tell your friends around the campfire and one giant credit-card bill, you will realize the universal truth—nothing is for free, and the true self-supported missions offer the best reward programs.


    Andrew Bisharat gets lots of free gear as a senior editor of Rock and Ice. He also sends out weekly spam. Sign up here to get E-Blasts sent directly to your inbox. The children are counting on you.

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