Home > Profiles

Social Media and Climbing Go Way Back

Social media is a good tool for climbers to share their projects and sends. In 1999, an historic expedition livestreamed updates from a big wall in the Karakoram

In the film the Dawn Wall, Tommy Caldwell “accidentally” drops his phone during his three-week free-climbing push up the Dawn Wall with partner Kevin Jorgeson. We’re led to believe that Caldwell ultimately grew tired of social and mainstream media (and who can blame him), but over the years prior to the first free ascent of Dawn Wall in 2016, he regularly used it.

In November 2014, he wrote on Facebook from a portaledge: “Oh my goodness!!! After six years, I finally sent this beast of a pitch. Inspired by Keven’s fight-to-the-death near miss. This officially means all the hard individual pitches have been redpointed. I am so psyched my hands are shaking.” In 2014, Instagram and social media livestreaming weren’t as advanced and easy to use as they are in 2023. In 2011, Caldwell regularly updated his Facebook page on their progress to a group of more than 4,000 people.

Caldwell’s Facebook in 2011

In 1999, Mark Synnott, Alex Lowe and Jared Ogden made the first ascent of the northwest face of Pakistan’s Great Trango Tower. The trip had a reported sponsorship budget of $50,000, a full camera crew and daily online updates using a satellite linkup from base camp. Synnott later told The New York Times, “It was a necessary evil. The idea is pretty cool if it can be done the right way.” He noted that without the media team there wouldn’t have been a trip or new route. If Instagram was a thing in 1999, they surely would’ve been using it. Read a trip report by Synnott here.

Social media was pretty new in 2011 and it looked a lot different than now. Facebook was the choice for most pro climbers, whereas in 2023 it seems Instagram is the way to go. Just this week, Will Bosi livestreamed a flash attempt on Burden of Dreams V17 (watch below). With so many climbers now having their own media teams, YouTube channels and more, it seems we’re heading into a time when there’ll be no shortage of inspiring climbing content coming our way.