Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Going, Going, Gone

I'm a big believer in tipping points. The idea that, things change incrementally and often unnoticed, but, at some stage in the process, a certain point is reached, and the entire system falls over the edge.

In my opinion, my local mountaineering club (and I use the term mountaineering very loosely) is at such a tipping point. The club, originally, and, in years past, full of very active people who actually did a lot of climbing and ski touring, has over the years gradually slipped towards the point wherein there are virtually no longer any mountaineering trips on the schedule and the most popular trips are easy half day hikes on trails and easy ski tours to little cabins.

We had a brief resurgence in climbing interest a number of years ago, that lasted for three or four years. This was soon after Doug and I joined the club, bringing fresh enthusiasm and energy to the club. We organized weekly climbing nights at the local gym, week long climbing camps, ran workshops and courses, and led trips. And, for a few years we had good attendance and interest. Climbing nights used to attract 6 to 12 people, climbing camp 6 to 10 people, workshops upwards of 10 or 12 people, and trips were reasonably well subscribed.

And, then, gradually and incrementally, interest waned. Weekly climbing nights staggered on for a couple of years with between 1 and 3 people showing up, until I canceled it due to lack of interest. Climbing camp garnered between 1 and 3 people, again, not enough to keep it going. Attendance at workshops and courses slowly trickled off, until even very well designed and taught courses offered at bargain prices could not be filled. And, finally, any enthusiasm for offering harder trips was lost because no-one signed up for them.

There has recently been a push to reinvigorate the club with membership posters and flyers placed around town, advertising at local outdoor events, and an honest, but disorganized effort to recruit more leaders who might lead more aggressive trips. While I am in favor of all of this in principle, I fear that the club has reached and fallen over the tipping point from which there is no return. 

A Good Turn Out For An Easy Ski Tour

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