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July 16, 2008

The Naked Climbing Trend

It's become a tired joke in journalism circles that if something occurs three times, it becomes a trend. Well, you can say what you will about the declining journalistic standards on this side of the Atlantic, but if America's newspaper writers want to feel good about themselves, they should look at some of their British counterparts. There, all it takes is one steamy photo shoot to make a full-fledged "extreme sport craze."

Courtesy of Dean Fidelman

One of the country's many naked rock climbers

The Daily Mail, hardly a paragon of investigative reporting, recently ran a photo spread featuring fit women rock climbing without any equipment—including clothing. In the accompanying article, credited only to a Daily Mail Reporter, there is a description of the new sport of naked rock climbing. "Without clothes, specialist shoes or other equipment, participants say the experience captures the 'true essence of the climbing spirit,'" they write. "It is the latest extreme sport craze to sweep the US, and is now tipped to become a popular pastime in the UK."

And what evidence do they bring to support this new extreme sport craze? A single series by an individual photographer. Dean Fidelman is a photographer and rock climber in California. He has produced a calendar and photo series titled Stone Nudes, which features stark naked female rock climbers in stark black and white.

Fidelman has not been enjoying the success that one might expect to accompany a sport that is reportedly riding a wave of popularity. "For years I've been struggling to make these photographs," he tells Gelf. "They're not all that popular here in the States. I only make 2,500 calendars per year; the money that I make doesn't support the project."

He was approached by a writer from the news service who happened to be one Fidelman's few customers. The writer, a climber himself, asked Fidelman if he would mind if they ran an article about his work. The underexposed photographer was happy to agree.

Fidelman has gotten a kick out of the small burst of publicity. "You've got to have a good laugh about yourself sometimes, and so right now I am," he says. "I'm glad that people enjoy the work." Clearly, people enjoy looking at the photographs, but does anyone actually enjoy the sport of naked climbing?

"Actually, yes, I have heard of people climbing naked," says Fidelman. "Lots of climbers throughout the years have climbed without their kit. It truly is a fun thing to try at least once. The problem doing it now, though, is that with all of the people that climb these days, it's difficult to get away from staring crowds."

Courtesy of Dean Fidelman

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- Sports
- posted on Dec 20, 08

I think these women are awesome! What an expression of power and confidence. Not to mention how beautiful they look, their magnificent strong bodies taking on a mountain and conquering in the nude! They must have nerves of steel. I love them!

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