Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Supporting the Companies that Support Climbing

Something has been bothering me lately.

Two days ago, I received the newest issue of Vertical Times in my mail box (yes, mail box). I read through it immediately. I got to the second-to-last page and, as always, I am careful to review the entire list of corporate donors. Until this evening, I couldn't tell you why I do that. I couldn't put my finger on it, but now I can tell you: I was interested in seeing which companies are actively involved in the climbing community - which companies demonstrate a vested interest in the activities that I'm interested in.

But why does that matter? In some of the same ways that it makes sense to "buy local" (stimulating the local economy, local owners have an interest in the community prospering, these people are often our immediate friends and family, their product offering can be, and often is, unique and nearly one-of-a-kind, and they often support other, fellow local businesses and causes), it makes sense to support the companies that support your interests - in my case and those of many of my friends, climbing.

Here's a list of the AF's current corporate donors: http://www.accessfund.org/site/c.tmL5KhNWLrH/b.4992449/k.C75D/Corporate_partners.htm

For starters, let me say that I don't know over what amount of time these donations have come in. They may reflect lifetime donations by an organization. I plan to contact the AF to see what the numbers actually mean, and I'll update that on this post.

A couple things surprised me about the list:

1. PrAna, which I thought to be a fairly small organization, is one of the top five donors. Experience has told me that PrAna makes the absolute most comfortable climbing clothing ever, but I did not expect a top five from them. It really makes me wonder why we don't see other brands that make apparel that high up the list: Marmot, Mammut, and Arc'teryx, in particular.

2. I didn't think Outdoor Research made that big of an impact in the climbing world. I guess I was wrong.

Here's the biggie, and here's really what sparked this post:


Yesterday, I was at my local climbing gym, Vertical Endeavors, in Warrenville, IL. I looked around and this is what I saw: 8 out of 10 climbing harnesses on 70+ climbers were Black Diamond brand. Another 10% were Petzl and the final 10 were probably Wild County, Mammut, etc. That's a lot of cash going Black Diamond's way from the climbing community.

I then thought about my own, personal gear: carabiners, quickdraws, slings, harnesses, nuts, cams, tents. I'd say 80% of my climbing gear is Black Diamond brand, 10% is Petzl, and the final 10 is a combination of Trango, Metolius, and C.A.M.P. Again, that's a lot of money going to Black Diamond.

Considering these sorts of numbers, Black Diamond should be able to donate eight times the amount of money that Petzl donates and closer to 16 times the amount that Mammut donates. But on the Access Fund donor list, all three companies are in the same bracket. The simple numbers here mean that Black Diamond should easily be in the next rung up. (They all give/have given between $50 and $100k.)


About one year ago, I wrote a letter to Mountain Hardwear, expressing my unhappiness with where their company ranked on the Access Fund donor list. The company did eventually respond by saying that they donate to a number of organizations and are constantly working on giving more. Interestingly enough, the company is not listed in the current issue of Vertical Times, though they are listed on the donor list on Accessfund.org. I'll have to contact the AF to see what the deal is there.

My next step:

  1. I'll call the AF and see what's up.
  2. I'll write a letter to Black Diamond.
  3. I'll buy my coffee from Intelligentsia (who gave the Access Fund between $250 and $500!)

1 comment:

  1. Just a quick update: I emailed the Access Fund yesterday!