Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Danger, Will Robinson

The Dangerous Book for Boys is making quite a splash in the media right now, and I think looking at the fundamental premise of the book it does help in our task of getting kids back outside. On Amazon it is getting close to a five star rating, with some comments suggesting that the facts are sometimes wrong. I'll report more after I read it. In the meantime, here's a piece on the book by Karen Heller published in the Philly Enquirer.
The Dangerous attraction is its stealth assault on the great indoors favored by young Americans tube-tied to one screen or another. Children ages 8 to 18 spend 6 1/2 hours daily with their electronica, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

I will comment on the premise of danger and boys. I spent a large amount of my teenage years along with my twenties, hanging out at crags in the northeast, climbing every chance I could. I was lucky that my Mother asked very few questions about these activities, and seemed to trust that I was always safe and used good judgement. For the most part we were safe, and built good judgement through experience. One of the crags we would frequent is called the Shawangunks or Gunks. This band of cliffs stretches north south about an hour or so north of NYC, and has been a mecca for climbers since Fritz Wiessner saw the cliffs shining in the sun after a thunderstorm when he was climbing on cliffs along the Hudson River. Here's a shot of one of the classic climbs, Shockley's Ceiling (photo from

When we did this route I remember the second pitch more than the last. The top of the first pitch is a small comfortable ledge but the second pitch starts out to the right up through steep overlaps, which looks crazy from the belay ledge (photo by Mike Day).

Of course, its only 5.6, so huge holds appear from just out of sight. I wonder if we had taken photos that day and I had shown my Mom this shot with me in it, if she would have continued to encourage me to get outside as much as I did. Probably best that I did not ever show her many of my climbing pictures...