No Place for Elieitism in the Outdoors

You would think that with the mission of this site being to encourage people to try new things outdoors I would be free from the "Elitism" plague that sometimes seems to show its face in the outdoor industry.  Sometimes, it creeps in when you ask an experienced climber how to set up an anchor, or an seasoned skier how to trim your skins, or an avid backpacker what to bring on your overnight trip.

Sometimes the response is along the lines of "Well, if you don't know you shouldn't do it." That's not what the outdoors are about.

Sure, suggest that the new climber might want to consider finding a mentor, or the new skier should take an avalanche course, or the new backpacker should find an experienced partner. But don't put out that flame for the outdoors. 

A few years ago, I climbed Kilimanjaro; I had the time of my life. I was also kind of an asshole. I totally judged the people achieving a life long bucket list item for using their trekking poles wrong, wearing completely inappropriate clothing, and for insisting on using up all of our toilet paper making a "sanitary seat" for our camp toilet. I actually thought "what business do some of these people have being out here?" Totally not cool. No one was doing anything dangerous and the environment was respected. We all had the right to be out there. 

Ok, I am still a little mad about the toilet paper thing. 

The thing that I missed was everyone, including me, was out there challenging themselves and exploring new places. There is no wrong way to enjoy the outdoors. For those in decent shape, Kilimanjaro is a relatively achievable bucket list item. There are highly trained guides out there to help mitigate bad choices from becoming deadly disasters. So what if someone was holding their pole the wrong way, they were getting out there, and no one was getting hurt. It's not like I didn't show up to my Avy 1 class in a cotton hoodie. I also fell over every time I did a kick turn until someone finally showed me how to do it on the last day of the class. I probably got judged hard core for that. 

The outdoors are a level playing field. We all have to start somewhere. No one starts with an arsenal of the perfect layering system. Not all of us aren't lucky enough to have grown up immersed in the outdoors. The huge variety of skills and know how regarding the outdoors is so vast that anyone can spend a lifetime amassing knowledge and still only scratch the surface. 

So really, unless someone is doing something dangerous, or trashing nature and ruining it for everyone else, just chill. Before judging, try to remember your own humble beginnings.