Skip to content

Enshittification comes to climbing

For some reason I’m getting spam emails from some new vulture-capital-funded bullshit company that I have no business relationship with, and who should therefore not be spamming me with their bullshit. Their spiel is that they’ve helped themselves to the Mountain Project database, generated by work contributed gratis from users, for other users, and are going to sell it for a monthly subscription fee.

I’m sure this will work out exactly as well as did Gracenote/CDDB, Discogs, DejaNews, Reddit, Slashdot, StackExchange, etc. for all the folks who contributed their time to building up a user-generated database which will now become privately-owned and controlled, siloed, marketed, corporatized, ad-driven, AI-ified, and merged with skiing, surfing, mountain-biking, BASE-jumping, and e-biking, then eventually sold after the IPO cash-out enriches the VCs and employee numbers 1-9 for pennies on the dollar to the suckers^W stockholders, and all the PII, password, and credit card information of the original contributors ends up on unencrypted disks sold to the lowest bidder for data-scraping before ending up unrecycled in landfills leaching toxic metals into the local water table after using enough energy on LLM to drive the chatGPT-driven UI (so they don’t have to hire an actual human) to power Nigeria for a year.

Not to mention that it will bring even more people with even fewer outdoor skills or ethics into already trampled-out areas to get them closed to climbing forever. They even brag in the email about giving you the beta on climbing on private lands.

I’m sure that will work out well. Especially in modern-day Texas.

Supertopo and MP did no favors to the climbing community in the long run. If you think I’m wrong, see the inevitable wilderness bolting ban that’s about to come down. Pads are going to be not far behind. Back to the days of bruised heels, when we tried Midnight Lightning like it was meant to be done [1].

I’m not going to link to these vultures. I am pretty sad to see the AAC and AF involved in this bullshit. Though not surprised, especially by the latter, given the inside scoop I’ve heard from disgruntled former AF workers (all of them, it seems, never met one who had anything good to say about working there, and plenty of tales of the bullshit unethical work practices), and my own experience dealing with the highly ineffectual AF (local climbing area is still closed, going on 20 years now, with little-to-no-work by the AF, especially at the beginning when they wouldn’t even return our calls).

[0] Get with the program Firefox, stop telling me that the literal word of the year is misspelled. Oh wait, Firefox is on that enshittification list too…
[1] I got up to the match and mantle a couple of times with A Well-Known-Climbers’ running beta stream before I chickened out because there was nothing below me but a hard hard deck and Good Intentions spotting, and I had already broken both heels once… definitely the high point (literally) of my bouldering career.