Peter Beal’s Art and Climbing

Peter with his wife and child in RMNP.

I “met” Peter Beal a few weeks ago during the Dawn Wall, when one of my posts, What Nobody is Saying About the Dawn Wall went rather large in the interweb.  After enjoying some good conversation with Peter, including the line “I see you stuck your paw into the meatgrinder that is mountainproject… lesson learned, I assume”, I began to read up on his work.  Peter is an excellent writer, and a bit of a renaissance man, to boot.  His work has been featured in a variety of publications, most notably in Alpinist.  Outside of climbing, and writing, Peter is an art history teacher at Front Range Community College.  I caught up with Peter the other day for this brief but telling interview.

Fringe’s Folly: How long have you been climbing?
Peter Beal: 38 years.

FF: Writing?
PB: Since I was a kid.

FF: Painting?
Same, though I stopped in large part because of climbing

FF: Favorite type of climbing?
All kinds, though the main focus has been bouldering recently.

FF: Place to climb?
PB: Rocky Mountain National Park

FF: Is climbing important?
PB: Yes, I can think of few physical activities that can be as complex and thoughtful, and also be instinctual in nature.

FF: In your piece, Climbing and Art, for Alpinist’s Newswire, You wrote: “In fact, the lack of general agreement within the climbing community about what constitutes valid or ethical climbing practice represents a crisis of sorts about the meaning of climbing.” What is the meaning of climbing to you?
PB: Climbing is about inner exploration, the rest being superficial labels and measurements. An insistence on applying external metrics to the sport to make it valid is deeply mistaken.

Peter’s work is of an incredibly high quality.  Recently, I caught wind of Katie Ives, editor in chief for Alpinist Magazine, admonishing him to write more.  Sounds like good advice to me.  To see an excellent example of Peter’s fantastic work, head on over to Alpinist.  In his piece, Climbing and Art, Peter blends seamlessly his passion and talent for painting, writing, and climbing.  Though the original publishing date was 2010, his words still ring incredibly true today – especially in the context of the Dawn Wall, and the media coverage that ensued.  To follow Peter’s writing, be sure to visit his blog.

Thanks a lot for letting us talk to you and peruse your writing, Peter.  If any of you readers out there have work you want to contribute to Fringe’s Folly, don’t hesitate!  We are always looking for stories, art, love, and light from the community.  Check back every week, there’s always something new to catch your fancy!

Peter the painter, crushing at Chaos.

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