It was with baited breath that I awaited for the .PDF to arrive via email. I am so appreciative of today”s technology. Writing a guidebook without communication that moves just slower than the speed of light must have been ardous and tedious work requiring patience and tenacity.
Early this year I visited with Eric Bjørnstadt in Moab to file through his archives of desert climbing history. Searching through endless rows of three ring binders I truly began to appreciate the small, reliable MacBook Pro that was sitting in my truck and the digital camera that was stashed in my small, white possibles sack that lay on the floor among the collected history. In this small white satchel, I had a few folders, some photocopied guidebooks, a couple notebooks, a camera, and a random assortment of maps. Right now, here in Lander, WY, it is sitting on the floor next to me, the entire collection of resources that I gathered during my writing process. And the laptop. With its back-up hard drive. And digital camera(s). I can fit all the information into a small backpack. While my work is nowhere near the scope of Eric”s work, an appreciation for both his hard work and today”s technology (and my relative adeptness with it) washed over me as I was standing there in his trailer, turning page after page. The organization and thoroughness of his binders was something to behold, given the number of years he had acted as a clearinghouse and depository for new routes and exploration on the Colorado Plateau. Every letter, topo, dinner napkin with notes, envelope with addresses, and picture was slid into a sheet protector, labeled and diligently placed in the correct binder. I think about my filing system in “The Finder” on my computer and realize that while we may have the same organizational tendencies, that is where the similarities end.
Maybe I don”t have the patience, because, while not quite a Digital Native, I have been using electronic mail, online casino digital cameras, and computers for most of my life. I am used to things at light speed. I don”t have to wait for pictures to get developed. I don”t have to wait for people to send me topos or letters or information via the United States Postal Service. I can easily cruise the available resources and collective knowledge of the climbing community on websites such as Mountain Project or Super Topo or Utahclimbers. Having so much information at my fingertips has allowed me to pursue this dream. Everything from finding a publisher to finding first ascentionists to getting a high quality cover picture has simply become easier. Sure I made phone calls and did a little visiting and talking, but the anti-social and shy side of me favored the electronic mail.
So after several years of work, I have the .PDF proof on my hard drive and a printed hard copy in my hand. I didn”t have to wait for it to be sent through certified mail or have to wait at a mailbox. I sit inside and while the wind howls through the streets of Lander, start pouring over the proof. I scan the pages, looking for the small details that should not be overlooked and just for a little while I go back to the old technology of a printed page and a red pen.