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march-fixer
2012-12-09 16:27:51
Why? - Answers on a postcard(s) please!
Question: You are a walker, or even a hill-walker. What do you know about mountaineering? Come on ... surely you have an opinion? (Well, on mature reflection - why should you?)

Question: You are browsing the magazine racks. Would you pick a mountaineering magazine as reading material? (Why not?)

Question: You are amongst a group of mountaineers. They try to inspire and inform you about walking/hill-walking. How would you feel about it? (Teaching your granny to suck eggs?)

Walking, hill-walking and mountaineering, derive from the same source: getting out on terra firma (or not so firma!). In a simplistic way, you could say that as you move higher from walking the fields and valleys, you start hill-walking and where that becomes overly difficult, then you start mountaineering. While walkers may not have done any mountaineering, conversely, mountaineers most likely have done hill-walking at some stage.

The Difficulty: walking and mountaineering occupy totally different media spheres. True mountaineering is an exotic and thrilling activity. Conversely, while walking does not provide the same adrenaline rush, it is no less enjoyable and exhilarating.

So, why in the name of all that is sane and reasonable, should Mountaineering Ireland (MI) be the organisation developing a national culture for walking in Ireland? Why even bother to venture outside their main sphere of interest? How many oars are in the water now? Too many cooks spoiling the broth? Why should MI bother to represent the escapades of walkers in their august Mountain Log (ML) magazine. The sheer buzz of mountaineering achievement enthrals a totally different audience than does the report of a spell binding new walking circuit. Do not expect to read a walking report any time soon, not matter how many may be submitted! Is ML going to be the official mouthpiece for Orienteering groups as well? Why not?

Summing up - there is too great a dichotomy between mountaineering and walking/hill-walking to be represented in the same media sphere (ML) or indeed by the same organisation (MI). Nature always finds its own level or peer group. Walkers like to proceed at their leisure, converse amongst their peer groups and post their reports where there is a reasonable probability that their effort (literary at least) will be seen and even appreciated.

Home Exercise: List how many organisations, formal, informal, governmental, non-governmental, funded, non-funded, etc., are involved in outdoor pursuits and I guarantee that you will be amazed, just before you are truly shocked. Shocked ... because notwithstanding all this extensive activity, such a large resource of funds and effort as has been, and is being expended, it does not seem to be having anything like the desired effect. Disjointed is a term that comes readily to mind!

(Don't shoot the messenger ... it might be more productive to dispatch some of the many cooks instead?)
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